Preparation: You may bring shamrock stickers or a hand stamp to give to the children at the end.
Lots of people celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. They wear something green, they might decorate their classrooms or homes with shamrocks, or they may even eat Irish food like corned beef and cabbage for dinner. But most people don’t know very much about St. Patrick’s life and what he did. I want to see how much you know about him. Raise your hand if you think St. Patrick was Irish. (Acknowledge hands.) Now raise your hand if you think St. Patrick was ever a slave. (Acknowledge hands.)
The first question seemed easy, but if you raised your hand to the first question, you were wrong. St. Patrick was not Irish. He was a Briton, born in the part of the world we now call Wales. And if you raised your hand when I asked if St. Patrick was a slave, you were right. Patrick was kidnapped from his country around the year 400 and taken to Ireland where he was sold into slavery. He was only sixteen years old when he was taken by the Irish pirates, and he spent six long years working for his Irish master.
During those six years, Patrick cried out to God in his prayers. He was lonely and sad and frightened. Slaves were not treated very well. Finally, with God’s help, he escaped from Ireland and made his way back home. There, he studied and became a priest. Then he went back to Ireland, back to the people who had made him a slave, to preach the good news of Jesus. God gave Patrick courage and even though he was almost killed several times, God always kept him safe. Because of Patrick’s work and preaching in Ireland, slavery was ended there, and Christianity spread across the whole county. Patrick lived to be a very old man. He lived to see Ireland transformed by God’s message of love and forgiveness.
What do you suppose would have happened if Patrick had not been able to forgive the Irish people for making him work as a slave? (Discuss with children.) Do you think it would have been a long time before someone dared to try to tell the Irish pirates about the forgiveness of Jesus? Because Patrick was able to forgive those who mistreated him, God was able to use Patrick to tell a whole country about Jesus.
Prayer: Lord God, we thank you for your servant St. Patrick. Help us to forgive others, too, and use our lives and our words to tell people about Jesus.
Key Words: Missions, Courage, Preaching, Witnessing
By Ruth Gilmore © 2002 – 2011 All Rights Reserved