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Be honest, how many inaccuracies did you clock in that sentence? Four points are available. He never drank Guinness (that’s the easy one), he wasn’t Irish, there were no snakes in Ireland when he arrived, and he wasn’t even called Patrick (his real name was Maewyn Succat).
As a young man, ‘Patrick’ was captured by pirates and enslaved in Ireland, where he was forced to tend sheep. Six harsh years on a bleak hillside later, he escaped. But after he’d been home a while, he sensed God calling him back to the land of his captivity to share the gospel. And so, this young man who had faced much hardship, often plagued by depression and self-doubt, crossed the Irish Sea to share the message of Christ’s love and forgiveness.
Now fast forward 1500 years. Allow me to introduce you to St. Patricia.*
Unlike Patrick, Patricia is Irish. But, like Patrick, she is acquainted with brokenness. She grew up in a dysfunctional family. After ‘escaping’ to England to study, she faced a mental health battle which meant she was unable to finish her degree. She returned home, crestfallen. After some time, she was offered a job in England, which she felt was from God. Like Patrick after his call, she crossed the Irish Sea, only in the opposite direction.
During her time in the land of St George, one of Patricia’s frontlines was tutoring Daisy, a GCSE student. Daisy was bright and funny, with a perceptible inner strength. At the end of each session, Patricia and Daisy would chat, and over time Daisy opened up to Patricia. Daisy’s mum had recently become a Christian, and Daisy was furious about this; she felt like she was losing her mum. Daisy had all kinds of objections to Christianity, and wasn’t shy in expressing them.
Patricia didn’t have all the answers, but she felt that the Holy Spirit helped her respond with grace. Each week at the end of their sessions, the conversation would continue. The rage subsided, the hardness thawed, and eventually (with her mum’s permission), Daisy got plugged-in to the youth work at Patricia’s church, and loved it.
The good news of St. Patrick’s Day is that God works through the lives and words of broken people, even people like us. Through us, whatever our frontlines, the gospel continues to spread.
*Not her real name
Church Team – Research & Development, LICC