Reporter: Good morning, Augustine. Thank you so much for joining us and agreeing to tell us of your ministry to the Angles in Britain.
Augustine: You are very welcome, and I hope that the stories I share, both of my own weakness and of our Lord’s great mercy, will edify the readers.
Reporter: Your passion for reaching the British people has become the subject of Christian legend. Describe how you came into this ministry.
Augustine: Gladly. The story of my mission to the Angles truly begins with the story of Pope Gregory, known as Gregory the Great. According to the famed story, Gregory observed men selling boys with bright, blonde hair as slaves. Intrigued, Gregory inquired after those boys. When he learned that the country where they came from—Britain—was pagan, he declared:
‘[H]ow sad that such bright-faced folk are still in the grasp of the author of darkness, and that such graceful features conceal minds void of God’s grace…That [the fact that they were called Angles] is appropriate…for they have angelic faces, and it is right that they should become joint-heirs with the angels in heaven…[After learning that their king was named Aelle,] it is right that their land should echo the praise of God our Creator in the word Alleluia.’ (Bede 103-104)
Reporter: What a powerful story of a passion to preach Christ. Could you tell us about your journey to Britain?
Augustine: As I mentioned earlier, I will tell of my weaknesses, one of which was fear. While traveling to Britain with several other monks, all commissioned by Gregory, fear overtook us. The idea of forging into virtually unknown territory among pagan people frightened us. We considered returning home. I even returned to Gregory, but the pious pope sent us a letter, encouraging us and assuring us of the reward we would receive in Heaven for our work. Strengthened, we continued our journey.
Reporter: This rather unknown part of your story really reveals some truths about life on the mission field, doesn’t it? Strongholds of sin can harm the fruitfulness of a missionary’s ministry or even the beginning of it.
Augustine: You speak the truth. As you can see, the Lord taught me that lesson very early in my ministry.
Reporter: Please continue with your story, how did the Angles receive you?
Augustine: After arriving in Britain on an island near the mainland, my companions and I sent Frankish translators to King Ethelbert, the ruler of that kingdom of Britain. The king’s wife, Queen Bertha, was a Frankish princess who faithfully practiced her Christian faith despite marrying a pagan. Soon King Ethelbert came to hear our message, and we preached Christ. Although he refused to turn from his pagan religion, he allowed us to do what work we wished among his people and provided for our needs.
Reporter: God’s provision of a lax king must have been a great blessing. Describe your work there. Did many convert?
Augustine: The Lord blessed our work greatly. We established a church where I became the bishop. Many people accepted Christ and received baptism, and eventually, King Ethelbert professed Christ. After a while, questions arose about how to direct the church. To resolve the problems, I sent a letter to Pope Gregory, asking for guidance. Many of the questions related to practical things, such as the marriage of two brothers to two sisters of different families. Others related to spiritual topics, such as how to manage the differences in practice with the Gauls. Gregory provided prompt advice for my questions, and I was grateful for his letter.
Reporter: Praise God for the people that entered His kingdom through your ministry. Is there some final word you would like to add?
Augustine: Soli Deo Gloria. To God be the glory for all the souls who professed Christ. The fact that God used a simple monk like me to be an instrument in the Angles’ salvation never ceases to amaze me.
Reporter: Thank you so much for sharing your life with us, Augustine. May your story inspire others to sacrificially share the gospel as you did.
Bede. Ecclesiastical History of the English People. Translated by Leo Sherley-Prince, revised by R. E. Latham, Penguin Books, 1990, pp. 72-79, 103-104.