Over 1,627 years ago in 387 AD, a British boy was born. In his teenage years he was captured by Irish raiders and forced into slavery, he later escaped back to Britain, and then God laid on his heart the great desire to reach the people of Ireland. Today we celebrate a holiday in honor of this missionary!
Today I’m so thankful for people like St. Patrick! I’m reminded of how my ancestors were once animistic people groups who were unreached people groups – people with no knowledge of the gospel. These ancient relatives were Celtic pagans in Ireland, pagan Picts in Scotland, animistic Norse vikings in Sweden, and so on (I’m quite a mix of ethnicities). Sometimes we forget that we were once unreached; and that the reason our ancestors came to know Christ was through people following Christ’s command to “go and make disciples”.
Men, women, and children all over Ireland came to know Christ through St. Patrick’s evangelism. 102 years after St. Patrick died an Irish abbot, St. Columba, left for Scotland and preached the gospel in Iona and throughout the Highlands until his death in 597 AD.
Sadly, many of the areas St. Columba ministered to were raided by the Vikings. Which leads me to the next man whom I’m thankful for! St. Ansgar, born in 801 AD in France, was the first to preach the gospel in Sweden. In 829, Björn Ironside of Sweden – a powerful Viking chieftain, requested a missionary to the Swedes and cordially received St. Ansgar. Ansgar also brought the gospel to the Danish king, Haarik II. Though St. Ansgar visited Scandinavia in the 800s, the Bible wasn’t translated into these languages until the 1500s.
I’m so grateful that Christian missionaries were willing to go and take the gospel to my ancestors a few hundred years after Christ’s death and resurrection; they’ve had access to the gospel for over 1,500 years!
The sad news is that there are still 2,500 people groups, like the ones above, who are considered unreached and are still waiting for someone to go and tell them the Good News! Will you go?