Friday, October 17, 2008

Book Review: Chasing the Dragon by Jackie Pullinger with Andrew Quicke

Title: Chasing the Dragon
Author: Jackie Pullinger with Andrew Quicke
Publisher: Hodder & Soughton, London, England, 1980, 2001.
Genre: Autobiography - Missions

At the age of 22 Jackie Pullinger, British subject and graduate of Royal College of Music specializing in the oboe, felt she was to be a missionary. But when all the missionary societies turned her down, she followed the advice of a pastor who told her, “go out and buy and ticket for a boat gong on the longest journey you can find and pray to know where to get off.” She bought a ticket from France to Japan. When she got to Hong Kong she knew this was the place.

Soon she had job teaching music and English conversation in Mrs. Donnithorne’s Primary School located in the “Walled City”, the old walled village of Kowloon. Through historic concessions it had become a haven for gold and drug smuggling, illegal gambling and every kind of vice. In 1966 this part of Hong Kong was six acres of stinking alleyways, prostitution, gambling and opium dens where Triad gangs reigned.

Soon Miss Poon (as Pullinger was called) became aware of the drug addicts and prostitutes that haunted the walled city’s streets, alleys and dens. But mostly her heart ached for the teen boys – mostly gang members – who were trapped in this lifestyle of violence and addiction.

Pullinger was nothing if not idealistic. “My mission was to help the Walled City people to understand who Christ was. If they could not understand the words about Jesus then we Christians should show them what He was like by the way we lived. I remember He had said, “If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.’ So this was the beginning of what I called ‘walking the extra mile’. There seemed to be a lot of Christians who did not mind walking one, not many who could be bothered to walk two, and no one who wanted to walk three. This in need that I met seemed to need a marathon.”

Chasing the Dragon tells the story how between 1966 and 1976 Jackie’s mission of fleshing out Jesus to the people of Kowloon became reality. The 2006 edition I read also contains two chapters added to the original 1980 edition by Jackie in 2001. They tell a few stories of what has happened and continues to happen through the St. Stephen’s Society since then.

Some of the things that impressed me about Jackie and her life:

1. She operates in the power of the Holy Spirit. After living in Hong Kong for about a year, she became increasingly aware of how difficult the work in the Walled City really was, and how fruitless. Other missionaries didn’t help. “They did not expect people to be converted and explained this by saying that there was a spiritual cloud hanging over China which covered Hong Kong too.

Yet as she read the Bible she saw that Jesus operated in power. “Some Christians claimed that these things still happened, and I certainly needed to find them.”

One day she met a couple who seemed to have “it” whatever “it” was. She sought them out and understood them to say that the difference was the Holy Spirit. Insulted, she insisted she did have the Holy Spirit. How else could she have been converted? However, they invited her over to their house for a prayer meeting – a meeting she describes quite hilariously in the book. The long and short of it is that that night she encountered the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues.

Not much changed after that, for a while at least. Until she met the Willans – an American couple new to Hong Kong. They impressed on her the importance of praying on tongues as a part of her regular devotional practice.

When Jackie demurred, saying that she had never found tongues that helpful, Jean Willans replied, “The Bible says he who prays in tongues will be built up spiritually, so never mind what you feel. Do it!”

Jackie began praying in tongues part of her regular devotional practice (set the timer and prayed for 15 minutes a day). Here, in her own words, is what happened:

“After about six weeks I noticed something remarkable. Those I talked to about Christ believed….This time I was talking about Jesus to people who wanted to hear. I had let God have a hand in my prayers and it produced a direct result. Instead of my deciding what I wanted to do for God and asking His blessing, I was asking Him to do His will through me as I prayed in the language He gave me.”

This was only the beginning of remarkable things. One of the most incredible miracles that came out of Jackie’s ministry was drug addicts coming off drugs – detoxing – without pain and illness. This happened to addict after addict for whom she and others prayed. She encouraged them to pray for themselves and each other as well. Probably hundreds, maybe thousands, accepted Christ and then received the Holy Spirit in this tangible signs-following way with this remarkable ability to leave drugs without suffering the usual excruciating pain and sickness that coming off heroin or opium usually entails.

2. She was bold about sharing the gospel. She took every opportunity to talk to a drug addict or gang leader about Jesus. The Triads in Hong Kong were organized hierarchically with each “little brother” responsible to a “big brother.” Whenever a little brother accepted Jesus, she asked him to introduce her to his big brother. Many times the new convert would say, “He won’t want to meet with you.” Yet when she insisted and the junior gang member called up his senior the man would agree. Whoever Jackie met with, her message was always “Jesus” not getting off drugs or cleaning up one’s life.

3. Jackie stayed and lived with the people. She didn’t leave after a few years, go home on furloughs, etc. (not that she would say that’s wrong – it’s just something she never did; she lived there after all, and was not there under the auspices of any mission board anyway). Instead she took these people to her heart and showed it by loving them in tangible ways – seeking them out, visiting them in their opium dens, hovels and in prison, finding them jobs, legal counsel, places to stay.

Altogether this is a book of gripping stories could be called The Acts of a Modern Apostle. Jackie Pullinger, with her compassion and readiness to extend physical help and comfort reminds me of Mother Theresa. After finishing it last weekend I wrote in my journal: “I continue to live with a tinge of regret. How can someone not live with a tinge of regret after reading a book like Jackie Pullinger’s and reflecting on one’s own unremarkable life."

  • A list of mp3 messages by Jackie are linked here.
  • Jackie Pullinger mentions at Ottawa Inner City Ministries.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Memory verse - week 6

Come to Me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.

- Matthew 11:28-30 NIV

(With apologies to the NIV translators for changing the personal pronouns for Jesus to begin with upper, vs. lower case.)

At the end of last week I wrote in my journal: Striving. That is the word that comes to me at the moment as a description of my writing life... striving to be read, striving to do well, striving to get established.

I'm tired of striving, Lord. I want to labor under Your light burden and easy yoke. Teach me how to get out from under this burden of striving.

striving: to make earnest effort; to engage in strife, contend, fight, vie, emulate.

emulate: to try to equal or surpass, to rival or vie with successfully.

vie: to strive for superiority, contend, compete as in a race.

I figured this would be a good verse to fill my mind with this week - a constant reminder that life in/with Christ is one of light burdens, peace, the opposite of striving.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Memory verse - week 5

Your ears shall hear a word behind you saying, "This is the way, walk in it," whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left.

- Isaiah 30:21 NKJV

I'm always wanting guidance - wanting to know what the next step is before I take it. This verse is interesting in that it implies God guides from behind: "Your ears will hear a word behind you..." How does that work?

There are forks in the road. Do we go right or left? This verse seems to say we simply make a decision, take the steps and listen for the 'word behind us.' Seems like a good description of the life of faith.

I've experienced this. Sometimes I've taken on writing assignments for the simple fact that I've finished the last project and this one came along at just that time. There were no prophetic words, voices or holy thrills - not even a scripture verse to hang my hat on. Not uncommonly I'll question whether I've made the right decision, especially when the writing gets tough or the piece gets rejected. Later, much later sometimes, I'll get confirmation in some way that the project was a 'God thing' (it gets accepted, I get an email or note from someone saying it blessed them, it wins a prize, gets republished).

As far as I can see, this is the way we live the Christian life most of the time.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Verse for week four

For as the rain comes down and the snow from heaven
And do not return there but water the earth
And make it bring forth and bud
That it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to me void
But it shall accomplish what I please
And prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

Isaiah 55:10-11 NKJV

Love this verse! It's the reason I have the nerve to put up something so audacious as a blog that looks at the Bible with kids. Who would think that such an old book would have something to say to kids in the 21st century.

But it does. It speaks today like it has for thousands of years because it is a supernatural book with the wind of the Spirit in it. Through it we find living water, the bread of life, the way the truth and the life, the door, the resurrection and life and so much more. It speaks of our Creator God, our Savior, Redeemer and Rescuer Jesus and our counselor the Holy Spirit. I love the Bible and I'm so happy that I have the opportunity through technology to spread its good news on the internet.

Thank you Lord!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Verse for week 3

Enlarge the place of your tent
And let them stretch out the curtains of your dwellings;
Do not spare;
Lengthen your cords
And strengthen your stakes.
For you shall expand to the right and to the left
And your descendants will inherit the nations,
and make the desolate cities inhabited.

- Isaiah 54:2,3


Thoughts and questions:
Line 1 - "Enlarge the place of your tent"
This is what I do. Act in obedience to what I know and feel to be God's directions to me.

Line 2 - "And let them stretch out the curtains of your dwellings;"
Who is "them"? Who will be a partner in this enlargement of ministry and sphere of influence?

Line 3 - "Do not spare"
Love this! It speaks to me of living life large, with abandon, nothing kept in reserve. It reminds me of this bit from Annie Dillard: "One of the few things I know about writing is this: Spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book or for another book, give it, give it all, give it now...Some more will arise for later, something better. These things fill from behind, frm beneath like well water.

"Similarly, the impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful, it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes."

Lines 4 & 5 - "Lengthen your cords
And strengthen your stakes."
Speaks to me of making sure that the supports (the cords) and foundation (stakes) are in place and secure. I take this personally as a reminder to stay close to God - in both attitude and action. Let Him lengthen those cords and strengthen those stakes with the input of His word through the Holy Spirit.

Line 6 - "For you shall expand to the right and to the left."
Opportunity? From every direction?

Lines 7 & 8 "And your descendants will inherit the nations,
and make the desolate cities inhabited."
I claim this as a specific promise for my Bible Drive-Thru devotional. My descendants will be those who are introduced through God and Jesus through the blog and the Bible passages they read on thee. They will inherit nations - in other words, they will come from all over the world; possible because it's on the internet. They will make desolate cities inhabited in that their knowledge of God will bless cities of the world with little knowledge of Him and make those cities His dwelling too.

What great verses! Praise the Lord!!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Verse for week 2

The verse I'm memorizing this week is the verse I've chosen as my life verse for the year. I've been working on it all week, so let's see if I can type it from memory:

Let Your work (the signs of Your power) be revealed to Your servants and Your glorious majesty to their children.

And let the beauty and delightfulness and favor of the Lord our God be upon us: confirm and establish the work of our hands, yes the work of our hands confirm and establish it.

Psalm 90:16,17 (Amplified)

Yes, I quoted it perfectly!

One day this week I looked up some parallel passages.

Psalm 44:1 "We have heard with our ears, O God; our fathers have told us what you did in their days long ago."

- One of the ways God's deeds are revealed to us and our children is by having them passed on. We do that ourselves when we tell these stories - from the Bible and personal experience - to our children.

Psalm 77:12 "I will meditate on all Your works and consider all Your mighty deeds."

- Meditating on the stories we've heard helps us make application to our own lives.

Psalm 90:4,5 "For you make me glad by Your deeds, O Lord: I sing for joy at the works of Your hands. How great are Your works, O Lord, how profound your thoughts."

Friday, January 04, 2008

Verse of the week - 1

I have made a resolution this year to memorize one verse a week. I have also resolved to work on this verse as part of my quiet time every morning.

Here is the verse I chose for this first week of January:

Proverbs 16:3

Commit your works to the Lord and your plans will be established. (NIV)

Commit your works to the Lord and your thoughts will be established. (NKJV)

And here it is in the translation in which I'm memorizing it:

Roll your works on the Lord -- commit and trust them wholly to Him; [He will cause your thoughts to become agreeable to His will and] so shall your plans be established and succeed. (AMP)


Here are some word study notes that enhance its meaning and make it even more powerful:

commit - galal, Strong's #1556: to roll, to roll down, roll away, remove. In this text the reader is encouraged to roll his works into God's care. The picture is of a camel, burdened with a heavy load; when the load is to be removed, the camel kneels down, tilts far to one side and the load rolls off. (From "Word Wealth" - New Spirit Life Bible)

establish (established):
1] To make secure, stable or permanent; fix firmly in a particular place or condition.
2] To set up, found or institute on a firm or lasting basis: to establish a government, colony or business.
3] To cause to be securely or permanently settled in a particular place, position, occupation, etc. : to establish oneself in a new home.
4] To introduce (a law, custom, practice, etc.)and gain lasting acceptance for; initiate and cause to last: to establish a precedent.
5] To cause to be widely or unquestioningly recognized and accepted: to establish oneself as a writer.
6] To clear from doubt; demonstrate convincingly, prove: to establish one's innocence.
7] To find out, figure out or make clear from available evidence. They were unable to establish where she had been.
8] To cause to be the official church or religion of a state or nation.
9] In card games to get control of (a particular suit) so that all subsequent tricks can be won.

Thus on the basis of our complete and utter entrusting of our 'works' - what we plan and carry out - to God, giving Him full responsibility for them, He works in us, in our minds, to give us the thoughts that will lead to our eventual success. Our work and reputation will be fixed, secure, recognized, permanent, stable. What a way to face a new year - with a promise like that in my pocket, head and heart!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...