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St. Patrick and the Missionary Mandate

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By now your television screens, inboxes, and minds are flooded with news of coronavirus. It’s a harrowing hour to be sure. Instead of fretting at every bit of news that comes out, we can use this time to remember God’s faithfulness. God has a missionary heart and has been seeking and saving the lost from the beginning of time.

Today is Saint Patrick’s Day. Just over 1600 years ago, Patrick was stolen away from his home in England and forced into slavery in Ireland. While enslaved Patrick had a vision in which he was told that he would return to his native country (Confessions 17). Around the age of twenty-two, he escaped and traveled two hundred miles to board a ship bound for England. Back in England, Patrick had another vision in which he received letters from those back in Ireland: “We beg you, holy boy, to come and walk again among us.” Patrick says, “This touched my heart deeply, and I could not read any further; I woke up then. Thanks be to God, after many years the Lord granted them what they were calling for” (Confessions 23).

Patrick’s call to take the Gospel back to Ireland was clear and he never wavered. But he did delay. Instead of hopping on the closest ship and heading back to Ireland because of the urgency of the call, he took a few years to prepare. In other words, he went to seminary. He studied the Bible so much that he was often called a “man of one book” (Haykin, Patrick, 41). The call to teach the Bible comes with a call to train.

On March 17 the world pauses to remember this missionary to Ireland. Patrick had a call from God, a message, and training, and with these things, he, through the Holy Spirit, saw a country come to Christ.

Let this be our prayer: “Lord, even in this perilous hour, raise up men and women who fear only you and who will take the Good News to the ends of the earth, so that all might know Christ!”

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Dr. Brian J. Arnold
President, Phoenix Seminary

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