The Startling Truth about Justice and St. Patrick’s Day!

St. Patrick's

We took our sons to Ireland many years ago.  Joseph (pictured) still has the hat.  He also bought a big leprechaun hat, but there are some pictures a freshman in college refuses to show.  Ireland is a beautiful island with friendly people and a rich history – including St. Patrick.  Knowing this Irish story allows us to discover the startling truth about justice and St. Patrick’s Day.

St. Patrick’s Day

St Patrick’s Day was first celebrated in the 17th century.  Today, in the United States, we throw parades, drink beer and go green in clothes, hair and even the Chicago River.  Irish blessings are shared on Facebook:  “May you live as long as you want, and not want as long as you live.”

While fun, there is a deeper truth that might be missed in the festivities.

St. Patrick was a human trafficking victim

When Patrick was 16 he was walking along a beach in England where he was kidnapped by pirates and sold into slavery in Ireland.  Patrick was a victim of labor trafficking.  He had no freedom and was forced to work without pay.

Today thousands of individuals are brought from other countries to America as sex or labor slaves.  The United States is the second largest destination country in the world for trafficking.  While hard to imagine, trafficking takes place near you.  Don’t you want to do something about such injustice?

Attend Restore 117, June 8-9 at Judson University in Elgin.  Register Now for the early bird rate.

While amazing speakers will inspire you to better understand God’s heart for justice, we have a panel of experts to equip you to address the needs of human trafficking victims.  Hear Congressman Randy Hultgren share legislative efforts to cut demand and support victims.  Learn from Miguel Keberlein who has represented hundreds of labor trafficking victims and leads the nation’s oldest legal aid provider, Metropolitan Family ServicesAnne Polenchek runs a national restorative justice ministry for sex trafficking victims called New Name.  Learn how churches and others can be involved.  And Kim Fay leads Administer Justice’s Project AT LAST (Attorney’s Targeting Labor and Sex Trafficking).

God rescued St. Patrick.  In a vision Patrick was told to travel 200 miles to the coast where a boat awaited him.  Will you be a vessel of rescue for today’s slaves?

St. Patrick was an immigrant missionary

Patrick became a priest after obtaining his freedom.  In another vision he heard the voice of Ireland calling him to return.  Patrick willingly immigrated to the island in the 400’s.  He demonstrated love and service toward former captors that caused them to take notice.  Patrick is said to have used the shamrock – a three leaf clover – to explain the triune God.  One God in three persons.

St. Patrick's

Patrick understood justice was found in Jesus.  But justice must be wrapped in loving service – even toward one’s former captors and enemies.  As a result the pagan, Celtic island converted to Christianity and St. Patrick remains the patron saint of the island.

We can learn much from immigrants today.  They frequently come with a rich, vibrant faith, strong work ethic and family values.  Even in the face of great opposition and hatred, they show us how to love our neighbor.  The fastest growing segments of the church today are immigrants, yet too often other segments of the church join the cry against our immigrant neighbors.  We need to turn off our TVs and open our Bibles and our hearts to listen and learn from our immigrant brothers and sisters.

Join us at Restore 117, June 8-9 at Judson University in Elgin.

Michelle Warren is a leader in the Christian Community Development Association.  Intervarsity Press recently published her book, The Power of Proximity moving beyond awareness to action.  She has spent decades living and working with immigrants and you will benefit from her insights as she takes our main stage.

St. Patrick demonstrates timeless unity.

Patrick brought together factions across Ireland and united them in common faith.  The legend of Patrick driving all the snakes from Ireland is representative of his casting out evil and bringing people together.  But the island would forget.   The island would split between north and south, catholic and protestant.  While the two factions share a common history and patron Saint, they continue to not interact with one another living in separate neighborhoods and establishing separate schools.

The Snake returned to Ireland and turned brother against brother.

We certainly experience these divisions.  Injustice is rooted in the dehumanizing of others.  When the Irish needed help during the great potato famine of 1845-1849 many Irish came to America.  They were not welcome.  Seen by many as violent, ignorant, spreaders of disease and stealers of jobs, they were not wanted.  The cartoons of the day heightened this position.  If Facebook had existed we might not have just celebrated St. Patrick’s Day.  Instead we came to realize our common humanity and that we were richer with the Irish.  This is true for all refugees and immigrants.

St. Patrick's

Join us at Restore 117, June 8-9 at Judson University in Elgin.

St. Patrick would probably attend Restore 117

Harvey Carey has spoken at Willow Creek’s leadership summit and The Justice Conference to standing ovations.  He will lead off our conference with a message of rescue and restoration.  Rescuing us from the divisions created by our true enemy – that snake of a devil.  And restoring us to unity and shalom in Christ.

Hear Killa Marti, an attorney serving refugees, as she provides practical ways to live this out in your community from our main stage panel in our pre-conference.

St. Patrick was an amazing historical figure.  A victim of trafficking, he voluntarily immigrated to love and serve his captors.  He united an island and set an example of courageous faith.  He loved people and would not mind having a pint while watching crazed people in green parade around town.  But he would be the first to get up and do justice the next day.  Do the same.

Start by attending Restore 117, June 8-9.