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  • Writer's pictureKristen Bruce

St. Paddy, The Unlikely Missionary

A kidnapped child. Human trafficking. Slavery. A divine calling, years of ministry training, and a brave YES. Not many would associate these things with what we have come to know as the fun-loving, luck-of-the-Irish holiday that we know as Saint Patrick’s Day. But this is the origin story of the modern-day celebration, and how cross-cultural missionaries have much to learn from and relate to the man that we call Saint Patrick.

St. Patrick (named Maewyn at birth) was born in Roman Britain around the 5th century. His typical childhood was interrupted abruptly when, as a teenager, he was kidnapped and taken as a slave to Ireland, a land of “pagan peoples.” While in slavery, he leaned on his Christian faith and grew spiritually, despite being largely isolated from other believers. He eventually escaped back to Britain only to receive an irresistible calling from the Lord to return to the very people who were his captors and aggressors, the Irish, and share the Good News of Christ.

Any one of his friends or family members could have told him not to go back to Ireland because it was dangerous. That would have been a reasonable response. Any one of them could have claimed that the Irish culture was too different, or that “There’s so much need right here! Why go so far away?” But when God has placed a calling on your life, even when it appears to be illogical in the eyes of everyone else, He is faithful to see it carried out. He will equip those He calls. He will provide for those He calls. And He will receive the glory because the story isn’t about us anyway.

Centuries later, historians attribute the arrival of the Gospel, the Good News, in Ireland to a man who is now known as Saint Patrick. This man who answered a call to GO despite his fears and doubts: the unlikely missionary, St. Paddy.


Kristen is the founder and Executive Director of VER International, a poverty alleviation 501c3 ministry. Her hobbies include reading, writing, photography, and learning new languages. She lives as a full-time missionary in Honduras with her husband, Natán, and little boy, Kairo.

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