With the blessings of the bishops of Britain and possibly the Pope, Patrick became the first missionary bishop. The servant boy was returning as God’s messenger with the Good News of Jesus Christ. A missionary bishop was apostolic. The apostolic ministry goes to an area previously unevangelized and preach the gospel with signs and wonders. Indigenous churches would be planted which in turn would plant other churches. Mentoring relationships were developed so that in turn they could teach and train others. Well, let me get back to the story.
Patrick arrived in Ireland and returned to Folclut. Wouldn’t you have love to seen the faces of his former slave masters when he arrived with his entourage of priests and nuns? Imagine their surprise when the slave returned and presented himself. He didn’t deny who he was nor who he belonged too. God had called him, God would protect him and give him favor. Favor was granted and fruitfulness followed.
Patrick would arrive at a settlement and present himself to the tribal chief and his advisors. With their permission his entourage would set up camp outside the village and befriend the Irish and begin conversations. Living and serving among the people and inviting them to worship with them, these faithful Christians would lead many to eternal life. By the end of Patrick’s life it is estimated that 700 churches were planted and over a 1,000 priests had been ordained to ministry. Forty to fifty tribes had become majority Christian.
There were times when he would pray for a miracle. For instance in one village the villagers were not catching any more fish out of the river they depended upon for food. Patrick prayed and once again the river was yielding up its harvest of fish.
Patrick loved the Irish people. Their love of nature, stories, numbers, and triad truths were one of the ways in addition to building relationships that he would engage them with the gospel. He would use their love of numbers and triads to teach them about the Trinity.
It’s interesting to me that building relationships, communicating with story and at long last a growing appreciation of nature and nature’s God is still effective at reaching people with the gospel. Signs and wonders that point to the loving truth claims of Jesus Christ still accompany the preaching of the gospel.
You would think this successful ministry would have been welcome news to those who had blessed his going to Ireland. Such was not the case. Some thought Patrick was spending to much time with sinners and pagans. Of course that was said of Jesus. Others thought that the Irish should be civilized before they were evangelized. They should speak and read Latin like proper Romans before they could become Christians. Part of me wants to go, “You can’t be serious!”
Patrick didn’t allow his critics to stand in the way of Christ’s mission to “seek and save the lost.”
Tomorrow lessons we learn from Patrick that matter today.
Peace and Joy!