Animal evangelism

St Piran, the patron saint of Cornwall, was thrown into the sea by crooks who were threatened by his preaching. He survived and landed at Perranporth, where he built a chapel and eventually attracted a crowd of followers. I say "eventually" because according to the legend, his first congregation there consisted of  a badger, a fox and a boar.

This was a good 800 years before St Francis taught that animals are our brothers and sisters and preached to them. Both of these saints remind me of Mrs Jones, a Welsh retired nurse, who, aged in her 80s, taught her pet budgerigar to recite:
"Jesus loves me, this I know
For the Bible tells me so."

I may not have done much good in my life," she used to tell me, "...but at least I converted a bird."

In one of the alternative endings of Mark's gospel, Jesus told his followers to "preach the gospel to all creation." I often think of that when a squirrel tries to stare me out, a blackbird runs for cover as I come near or a passing dog comes for a friendly sniff at my legs.

Author Hugh Lofting created the character of Doctor Doolittle, who could talk to the animals. Research into animal intelligence is showing that some animals are more clever than we previously imagined - particularly crows, squirrels and octopuses as well as chimpanzees and Orangutangs.

We assume that only humans have the facility for language but how do we know? Animals definitely communicate with each other.Bees give other bees directions tcathrough dance. Ants use smells. I'm convinced that crows count and  I can speak a bit of cat  - I can recognise "please", "thank you!", "thats nice!" "I'm annoyed with you!", and  "you're mine" in Cat Speak.

Many years ago archaeologists were puzzled by symbols carved on Egyptian monuments. Then someone discovered the Rosetta Stone which bore  the same message in hieroglyphs and two other languages. What if somehow someone could make a similar connection between English and Orangutan?

What if some of our domestic animals have already cracked the code and can understand us even though we can't understand them? We can only speculate but next time you have the attention of a living, created being, tell it about Jesus, their Creator and Saviour as well as ours.