Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
Today is the day we honor the memory of one of the great missionaries of the church. Patrick obeyed God’s call to the carry the gospel to his former persecutors, and his legacy changed the course of world history through the efforts of later Irish scholars and missionaries.
Our ladies’ class watched a video on Patrick last night, and there was general agreement that the holiday has been distorted to something that really has no relation to Patrick’s life and work. Of course, we are hardly the only ones to notice that. Christianity Today online has a great article today on alternative ways to celebrate Patrick’s life and work. One suggestion, I found intriguing was the idea that we might use the day to raise awareness of the issue of modern day slavery. I checked the Department of Justice’s website and discovered that, in the United States alone, an estimated at 293,000 girls are either victims of sex trafficking or considered high risk to be exploited. Many of them are runaways or throwaways. Some of them come from abusive or unstable homes and have never had the example of healthy relationships. They are preferred by pimps because minors are more naive and comparatively easy to manipulate. The internet has also made them more vulnerable because their “services” can be listed online and because the web has made it easier to distribute and buy pornography. One of my student’s did a research paper on this issue a couple of months ago and discovered that there are less than ten shelters in the United States that specialize in helping girls rescued from trafficking. They come with complex issues and obstacles and the average shelter for teenagers simply does not have all the training and resources to cope with their needs.
And, as enormous as this problem seems, it is only the tip of an international iceberg. The problem exists everywhere, and it is worse in countries where women and children are traditionally seen as property in any case. I find myself wishing every time I see fresh statistics that the entire body of Christ was more vocal about the rights and dignity of women.
I don’t know if this is a cause to associate with St. Patrick’s Day or not, but what better way to celebrate Patrick’s life than to proclaim liberty to the captives? Perhaps, too, greater public outcry against prostitution would shame those who use this day as an excuse for debauchery.
What about you? You don’t have take up this cause, but how would you like to see the church honor St. Patrick’s ministry? How should we celebrate the day?