Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Acts 29-46 (The Message)

Written by: on September 6, 2018

Early in the reading I thought, “A title equally befitting Pullinger’s Chasing the Dragon would be Acts 29-46 (MSG)!” The stories were much like those we read of the early Apostles where the light breaks through the darkness and is described with the plain speak of The Message paraphrase. From the opening chapter to the closing, the narrative radiates with the supernatural intervention of God in the most dismal circumstances, where people find themselves in the most desperate need. There were three summaries which I continue to reflect on from this reading.

First, the transformation process God takes each person through as he invites us to partner with him in his mission on the earth. This is a call to walk through a crucible with the intent of shaping us into the image of Christ. This journey of trust may resemble Abraham’s story, as Jackie’s did, and early on she took the posture that made her clay in the Potter’s hands. She describes this through her interaction with Richard Thompson as he guided her through decisions of obedience, “He never suggested that I had to achieve anything at all; I had simply to follow wherever God led. I, too, felt that I could not lose on this adventure” (35). Their conversation clearly solidified a simple faith in Jackie that became her anthem for the decades of ministry to come. Her disposition of simply doing what she heard from the Holy Spirit, rather than living out of ambition to build her own reputation or ministry, opened the door for God to do the miraculous.

The second aspect of Chasing the Dragon that I am reflecting on is that Pullinger’s practical theology and mission were forged in the streets, not in an office, pulpit or classroom. The shaping tool of experience taught her what righteousness truly is, versus the human understanding often equated with it. She understood the inside out journey of the human soul, rather than the outside in which focuses on behavioral morality (53). She quickly recognized that her own strength and ability were completely insufficient for the place she had been called. She came to understand that to be called means to immerse oneself into the place and people via a one-way ticket. Her posture had to be different than what the people had come to understand from Western missionaries for their past experience had caused disdain toward the message of the love of God. It had been spoken from the stage but not lived out among them in the streets (59). They had visited the neighborhood, but never moved in to become one of them. Jackie lived in simplicity and with great personal sacrifice for the sake of incarnational ministry. If the people of the Walled City were to believe in the love of Jesus who is with them, they would need to experience it in the flesh within their dark world.

The third reflection that I continue to ponder was her dependence on the supernatural, specifically praying in the Spirit and the way she portrayed it. Though living among the people for many years and showing them practical expressions of the love of God was crucial to their acceptance of the gospel, it was not enough. We see this turning point in chapter five as something is initiated in Pullinger’s life that no human strategy could accomplish.

I grew up in a classical Pentecostal church and saw much abuse of the gifts of the Spirit while often hearing about the “power,” yet I recall nothing like what I read in Jackie’s story. For some time, I turned away from this experience and relationship with the Holy Spirit. My journey led me to a pastor whose disposition about life in the Spirit was much like Jackie’s and it opened me to a fresh perspective and encounter. Today, I hear many missionaries speak of supernatural works throughout the world, but sadly, most Westerners have become more caught up in arguing the doctrinal points rather than living in communion with the Holy Spirit as we read in Pullinger’s account. Her focus on prayer was as simple as her approach to faith. She came to understand that God was helping her “to pray perfectly” and she continued the practice saying, “Lord I don’t know how to pray, or whom to pray for. Will You pray through me – and will You lead me to the people who want You?” (65). The effects of this prayer are striking as she tells of the openness of those she began to be led to. Instead of the resistance she initially experienced, she was now meeting people hungry to hear the good news and to respond, and the miraculous was often the outcome.

This developed a core belief which was obviously integrated in Jackie’s practice as she leads each person not only into a relationship with Jesus, but to believe they would receive the ability to pray in the Spirit and through it they would find the help and freedom they needed (79). She also learned that Western ways of thinking about discipleship would not be effective in this place, it would require a Spirit-led process. A poignant moment when she learned this is seen in the story of one boy who disappeared for some time and when he returned she asked why he avoided her for so long, with embarrassment he said, “I wanted to know Jesus, and you gave me a library” (79).

As I read story after story of the miraculous work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of these people I found myself grateful and challenged. Grateful that we are beginning our doctoral journey with this simple book to remind us that the work of the Spirit is central to the mission of God. I am challenged to believe, experience, and model this kind of desperation and dependence and lead others into the same.

Yes, Acts 29-46 in The Message, The Acts of the Holy Spirit in Hong Kong!

About the Author

Tammy Dunahoo

Tammy is a lover of God, her husband, children and grandchildren. She is the V.P. of U.S. Operations/General Supervisor of The Foursquare Church.

5 responses to “Acts 29-46 (The Message)”

  1. I love that your first point was similar to the theme of my post. But unlike you I grew up in the opposite doctrinal camp: Plymouth Brethren. Sola Scriptura was one of the prime virtues of the church I grew up in. Not bad, of course, but there was hardly any teaching on the Holy Spirit, much less any experiences with Him. All my theological knowledge and learning had little to do with the Holy Spirit’s work and importance in the believer’s lives — which appears to be the norm in American Evangelicalism. Of course there are reasons why we in the West are bereft of the power, peace and comfort that is ours through the Holy Spirit. And I am poorer for that. However, it’s great to be reminded that indeed we do have “…everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” [2 Peter 1:3]. Thanks for your post.

  2. Mario Hood says:

    Well, it looks like we were in the same line of thinking with the Acts reference. It was remarkable to read about her journey and those in the book. As you mentioned, “Pullinger’s practical theology and mission were forged in the streets, not in an office, pulpit or classroom.”

    The experience of the three extensive’s was one of the reasons I was drawn to this program and not others. I didn’t want to just read about Global Leadership I wanted to experience it. Much like we learn in Chasing the Dragon, experience plays a significant role in our walk of faith, but it seems we have overemphasized the headspace over the walk (at least in my experience). We need to tell more stories (good, bad and ugly) to recapture the walk of Faith in this generation and those to come.

    Great post, thanks for the insights!

  3. Rhonda Davis says:

    Thank you, Tammy, for your insight and open heart. I especially resonate as I read your reflection on Jackie’s experience of spiritual transformation. Most days, I find myself so keenly aware of how much bigger God’s plans are than my ability to accomplish them, that I pray for grace not to mess up what He has already started.

    Our current celebrity culture so easily creeps into ministry, but stories like Jackie’s serve as good reminders of what is possible when we abandon our own ideas in favor of God’s plans for transformation. I, too, was inspired by her audacious faith and total reliance on the Spirit. I am sure this story will serve as a great anchor for us as we continue our research and study.

  4. Rev Jacob Bolton says:

    What I love about this post is your reference to Peterson and practical theology.

    What Euguene Peterson does so well in The Message is use his “head space” – translating original Biblical languages, a very difficult skill – into a more modern Americanized English vernacular – thus allowing people easier access into the “heart space” of the Word of God.

    Many preachers are very good at lifting up one or the other, either the head, or the heart. Most of the best sermons I have heard have powerfully touched on both. Upon reading collections of Peterson’s sermons, his did a masterful job of focusing on both the head and the heart.

  5. Harry Fritzenschaft says:

    Tammy, thanks so much for the poignant reminder of the boy’s comment, “I wanted to know Jesus, and you gave me a library.” I wonder what else all of us have substituted instead of simply giving of our time and our lives to walk with another as we walk with Jesus. Like you I am very pleasantly surprised to start with this book in our doctoral program. While it is tremendously inspirational, it also reminds us to remember what all our study and research is for: to discern through the Holy Spirit how to partner with God’s transformation desires for those he brings into our lives. Thanks again for your thoughts and your perspective.

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