It’s another St Patrick Day in Lent and it is a call to church and leadership renewal. Donald Anderson McGavran in one of his contribution ‘Have we lost our Way in Mission’ explained that the churches are loosing the fight to wind the world for Christ … because churches and church members no longer have an urgent, compelling sense of mission.’ According to him, ‘one’s convictions regarding the nature of the Christian mission determine the zeal one brings to the task.’ In the footstep of Apostle Paul, the pioneer apostle of indigenisation, St Patrick knew why he was sent to Ireland. He knew why he was commissioned to preach the Gospel and make disciples. 2022 St Patrick’s Day challenges the churches, church leaders and members to ask ourselves, ‘Do we still know precisely why we send out missionaries (or train ministers)? Do we still have strong convictions about what missionaries (leaders) are supposed to be doing? Do we know unmistakably at this moment in history what is the mission of the Christian church?’ The sad response by McGavran is that, ‘much of the evident indicates that we do not. Our primary objective has become diluted. Many church members are, in fact, reluctant to believe unequivocally that for this era the Christian mission is indispensably unique.’
St Patrick remains one of the greatest missionaries of all time. He remains a model to call the churches, church leaders and members back to our lost missional senses and ways. St Patrick was converted, practised, and believed that no man or woman comes to the Father except through the Son, Jesus Christ. For St Patrick, the only thing that saves, he practised and understood the Bible to say, is faith in Jesus Christ.
Beyond the legends and other folklores of green beer or leprechauns, banishing snakes from Ireland, using shamrocks to teach the Trinity, or walking stick growing into a living tree has anything to do with the real Patrick. St Patrick’s Day is more important than what he did in Ireland because of what he symbolizes in such a season as this and at a time when the church is declining, loosing its identity, authority, and bearing.’ St Patrick’s “Confession” bearing in mind his captivity at age 16 by a band of Scottish slave-dealing pirates who sold him to the Druid chieftain, Milcho, a ruthless pagan chieftain reminds us the importance of forgiveness and personal conversion in our walk with God. St Patrick in the solitary pasture as a ‘… young slave called to mind the divine lessons which his pious mother had so often read to him.’ Patrick said “When I was a youth, I was taken captive before I knew what I should desire or seek, or what I ought to shun.” Patrick’s encounter with Jesus in his servitude in the bleak forest of Northern Ireland inspired him to become a missionary to the heathen people and nation, a country which was ‘spiritual but had a spirituality which lacked roots.’ St Patrick’s experience of ‘having been captured as a youth and taken as a slave informed his pioneer role as ‘the first to write a stance against slavery and trafficking.’ As a slave who became an evangelist, St Patrick wrote, ‘but I fear nothing, because of the promises of heaven.’ St Patrick’s Day put before us a choice between heaven and hell.
At a time when high birth rates was outpacing the covert rate, the Celtic religion within the Irish people was ‘closely tied to the natural world and they worshipped gods in sacred places like lakes, rivers, cliffs and bushes. The moon, the sun and the stars were especially important – the Celts thought that there were supernatural forces in every aspect of the natural world.’ St Patrick stirred up the Celtic belief within the Irish people with purity in Biblical doctrine. St Patrick, a Bible-reading, Bible-believing, Bible-preaching missionary changed the course of the world’s history with the Celtic Christianity shaping the destinies of the Church of the West. Gordon Robertson, President and Chief Executive, Christian Broadcasting Network explained that ‘Patrick went into the villages of Ireland preaching the Gospel not in Latin—the language of the church—but in the language of the people. As they became Christians, he selected converts and trained them to become leaders of their local congregations. He understood the importance of raising up leadership from within the community rather than imposing foreign priests on them.’ Beyond the ‘auxiliary tasks’ of healing the sick, educate the ignorant, championed the oppressed,’ Robertson aptly explained the missional motifs of indigenisation in propagating the Christian faith by raising, discipling and using the natives from and within the community ‘self-supporting, self-reliant, and evangelistic.’ Robertson said, “To train these new leaders, Patrick established monasteries to develop learning, to preserve biblical texts, and to send out missionaries. Some missionaries that he inspired went beyond Ireland’s borders to convert the nation of Scotland.”
Patrick did not redefined the Christian faith to suit the natural world of the Celtic religion but His missional ‘methods worked because they mirrored the Apostle Paul’s. The Bible tells us that Paul would spend time in a place evangelizing, having power encounters, and converting people. He would then raise up pastors from within their midst, appointing and laying hands on them.’
History reminds us that St Patrick challenged the “royal authority by lighting the Paschal fire on the hill of Slane on the night of Easter Eve … the occasion of a pagan festival at Tara, during which no fire might be kindled until the royal fire had been lit.” Anointed and filled with Holy Spirit, St Patrick challenged the king, the druid priest, and all the forces of hell and the flame of revival sweep over all Ireland with tears of repentance. In the year 428 A. D Easter morning, St Patrick and his assistant missionaries marched into the presence of the monarch and told him that ‘Christ was the light of the world and preached Jesus crucified and risen from the dead with such persuasive eloquence that the king was born again by the Spirit of the living God.’
St Patrick’s indigenisation, with non-governing by foreigners nurtured Christian faith that took root in Irish soil and beyond today. St Patrick lifted the Irish out of the darkness of paganism into the glorious light of the Truth. John L. Stoddard states: “During the sixth, seventh and eighth centuries, especially, this farthest boundary of the Continent held aloft and kept aflame the torch of Christian faith, and glittered like a star upon the dark horizon of the western world.’
Today, we live in a ripening world, the field is white and the labourers few, St Patrick’s indigenisation method provides the most revolutionary and encouraging fact in missions. St Patrick’s indigenisation offers salvation not just deviation substitute of service or good deeds. Good deeds and services that leave us exhausted and unable to search for and win ripe population breeds pride, unbelief, decline, divisions, schisms, and wars. St Patrick’s indigenisation did not trade in place of “make disciples of all nations” for the secular agenda and stress by churchmen “teaching them all things.” St Patrick’s indigenisation did not emphasised loving and perfecting to the exclusion of holiness and discipling. St Patrick’s indigenisation is not about building ‘budgets which direct nine-tenths of our resources to perfecting members already in the churches and one-tenth to evangelism, and fail even to see ripening fields, have we not lost our way in mission?’ St Patrick as apostle of indigenisation calls us to a special spiritual flame in our hearts to set the church free from church decline and invasion of secularism. Please join me in this:
Prayer for Personal Renewal on St Patrick’s Day:
“I bind to myself today The strong
power of the invocation of the Trinity;
The faith of the Trinity in unity; The Creator of the elements.
” I bind to myself today, The power of the incarnation of Christ
With that of His baptism; The power of His crucifixion
With that of His burial; The power of the resurrection
With (THAT OF) the ascension; The power of His coming, To the sentence of judgment . . .
” I bind to myself today, The power of God to guide me,
The might of God to uphold me, The wisdom of God to teach me,
The eye of God to watch over me, The ear of God to hear me,
The Word of God to give me speech, The hand of God to protect me,
The way of God to prevent me, The shield of God to shelter me,
The host of God to defend me, Against the snares of demons
Against the temptations of vices, Against the lusts of nature,
Against everyone who would injure me Whether far or near; Whether few or many.
” I have set around me all these powers, Against every hostile, savage power
Directed against my body and my soul; Against the incantations of false prophets, Against the black laws of heathenism, Against the false laws of heresy,
Against the deceits of idolatry, Against the spells of women, and smiths, and Druids. Against all knowledge that blinds the soul of man.
” Christ protect me today, Against poison, against burning, Against drowning, against wound, That I may receive abundant reward.
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ within me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ at my right hand, Christ at my left, Christ in the fort (when I am at home), Christ in the chariot-seat (when I travel), Christ in the ship (when I sail).Of the Lord is salvation; Christ is salvation; With us ever be Thy salvation, O Lord!
in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks to me;
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.”
 The Indigenous Church: A Report from the Fields (Chicago: Moddy Press, 1960), pp. 4-8
 The Indigenous Church:, p. 4
 Robertson, Gordon, https://www1.cbn.com/devotions/taking-the-gospel-to-ireland
 The Indigenous Church:, p. 5
 Robertson, https://www1.cbn.com/devotions/taking-the-gospel-to-ireland
 The Indigenous Church:, p. 13