DMINLGP

DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Where are they now?

Written by: on May 24, 2018

While reading the book, “Chasing the Dragon”, by Jackie Pullinger, I found myself confronted by a myriad of mixed opinions. The reality of this book is that it will challenge how you believe in the power of God on one level, and yet have you celebrating the power of God on the other. Aside from the fact that this book looks deeply at the Spirit-led ministry of a young Christian woman who seemed to act without a plan other than to trust in the leading hand of God, it also confronts the reader with stories of miracles and spectacular medical feats that most, even the most faithful of Christians, might struggle with believing. When searching my own soul, I have always believed that the power of miracles was still a prevalent possibility in our world; however, I have also seen far too many “ministers” trying to use “miracles” for money-making potential. I love a grand holy tale as much as the next Christian, but when lightning strikes so many times in the same place, I fear I start to become skeptical. However, with that said, I am not calling the author out; I am merely point out my own hesitations throughout this reading. I believe her devotion to God, and furthermore, I have no problem believing that she was able to accomplish great things in a far from great environment. I enjoyed the way this source pulled me in to each story, eager to know its outcome.

Because of the grand nature of its telling, it does not surprise me to find that online sources like Goodreads.com and CMF.org were prevalent with others offering positive reviews of its content. I was a little surprised when one particular woman[1] actually had a problem with the number of stories of conversion presented in the book; however, I pondered whether she too many have struggled with the many miracles of it all. At the same time, I could not seem to shake a comment that was made very early on in the introduction of the book, which read, “We have little evidence as to what happened to those whom Jesus healed in the Gospels. The accounts, for the most part, stop suddenly.[2]” I was not only curious to find if this book would focus more on the “saved” or more on the minister, but also curious how I would view both through the reading. The reason this stuck with me is that my own belief system was challenged often in this book…did I need to believe in the miracles in order to be joyous regarding the ministry? The question is still kind of haunting me a little. It has forced me to question what my hopes are with my own ministry…to be honest, this is a question I have always tried to repeatedly ask myself. I know that I am vulnerable to having a big ego; after all, I have a church that for most part loves me and are very complimentary to remind me of that. I have papers declaring the degrees I have achieved, and with the thickness of my calendar, could easily boast of “what a dedicated minister I am.” But is that why we do this? Or worse, when we rejoice over stories of conversion, do others interpret them as boasting rather than celebration? I want to hear stories without always having to interrogate them for the truth, and yet, I still want to know if the facts are really…well…facts.

In regard to my own paper, I found one of the statements made later in the book very enlightening; after all, I am hoping to present a hard biblical message in my own dissertation. The topic was discussing two Jesus personalities. “Why don’t you ask him? If you are going to be a Christian, you can’t follow two different leaders called Jesus. You must decide which one.” I believe this is the issue that drives my own ministry; though not necessarily two personas of Jesus, but rather truly finding the message of Christ in our ministry as opposed to allowing the world to turn our ministry into something else. After all…we can only serve one…I want people to serve Jesus. As I read the various stories of conversion, the reality that I hold true is that miracles only happen and ministry is only really effective when it is obedient to God’s will, not mankind’s. Christ gave us a warning as ministers I believe in Mark 4:18-19, when He told the parable of the seeds: “Now these are the ones sown among the thorns; they are the ones who hear the Word, and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.” My dissertation is going to (at least I hope) force the reader to ask themselves where the foundation of their faith and beliefs actually lie. I want to challenge us to hold fast the doctrines of scripture, especially since the world is trying to diligently to silence it.

What happened to the people converted in the early church? The reality to this answer lies in how well they held to the doctrine that was taught to them. I have always loved the message of Galatians, but not because it was an encouraging, uplifting book; but rather instead, because in it, Paul slaps them around spiritually for their failure to hold on to those things which he had taught them. “I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from Heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.[3]” However, he does not stop there; “For do I now persuade men, or God? Of do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would NOT be a bondservant of Christ.[4]” To stay on point, perhaps the reason we do not hear the follow up stories to the conversion stories is because each story depends on how lovingly devoted the new Christian chose to stay connected to the Word of God. For that reason, I believe the real success of books such as this one is in the ministers’ ability to pass that necessity on to those whom they helped to convert. Who are we as ministers if we fail to encourage those we have entrusted with, to cling to God’s Word wholeheartedly?

 

Bibliography

Good Reads. August 17, 2015. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/801823.Chasing_the_Dragon (accessed May 24, 2018).

Latham, John. CMF.Org.uk. 2018. http://www.cmf.org.uk/resources/publications/content/?context=article&id=1122 (accessed May 24, 2018).

Pullinger, Jackie. Chasing the Dragon: One Woman’s Struggle Against the Darkness of Hong Kong’s Drug Dens. Minneapolis: Chosen, 2001.

[1] Good Reads. August 17, 2015. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/801823.Chasing_the_Dragon (accessed May 24, 2018).

[2] Pullinger, Jackie. Chasing the Dragon: One Woman’s Struggle Against the Darkness of Hong Kong’s Drug Dens. Minneapolis: Chosen, 2001. P 9.

 

[3] Galatians 1:6-8.

[4] Galatians 1:10.

About the Author

Shawn Hart

8 responses to “Where are they now?”

  1. Chris Pritchett says:

    Hey Shawn I find it quite ridiculous that someone would be upset by the number of conversions reported in this book, unless Jackie were trying to make money off it, as you mentioned is sadly the case for too many evangelists. She reminded me a lot of Mother Teresa, but not exactly. I’m asking others so thought I’d ask you to think about: Do you think it’s possible she’s a modern day prophet? Do you believe there are prophets who God calls in certain times and places to help the church become a little more courageous?

  2. Dave Watermulder says:

    Thanks, Shawn,
    I was also struck by that story of the guy having to choose which “Jesus” to follow. It’s almost emblematic of the questions that we all have to ask: is it a Jesus that is in our own image, or who shares our own political leanings, or who approves of all of our choices… or, is it Jesus the Christ. I also share your wondering about how those of us in pastoral ministry in fairly “settled” settings should think about the kinds of amazing changes that Jackie Pullinger experienced with the people she met. It’s hard to get into the comparison game, because you can never win. But, one good outcome from this book is making us think about what we’re doing, and learning from what Jackie has done, even as God leads us in our own unique ways.

  3. mm M Webb says:

    Shawn,
    Thanks for your post and critique of Chasing the Dragon. I think it is always good to apply the Holy Spirit lens of discernment on everything, especially claims of miracles in ministry. I too have been confronted with questions and challenged the veracity of many modern-day miracles. I go with my spiritual gut most of the time and trust the Holy Spirit give me what I need, even if I do not understand or believe, so that I can keep moving forward for my good and His glory.
    After reading your personal reflection on ministry I thought of Apollos. Not much is know about him, but Paul credited him with “watering” the Kingdom seeds of the Gospel. Now, if someone was to have an ego, it would be Paul. His strength of ego is what God used to put him out there to so many. It was also his weakness, and God used a “thorn” to always remind Paul of where his real strength came from. I thank God for the “thorns” in my life, that help me stay centered, humble, and focused on watering Kingdom seeds. I suspect Pullinger views her ministry in similar ways.
    Stand firm,
    M. Webb

  4. mm Jay Forseth says:

    Hi Shawn,

    You have had an amazing couple of weeks, with your surgery and your wife’s family. I am lifting you up my Brother. Dr. D. is doing the same.

    I am very grateful that I do not have to sort out “true” conversions or false. I trust God, as I know you do. I feel Mike is good at understanding that Satan throws doubt into the midst, and works through people who have wrong motives…irregardless, the works of God portrayed in this book are inspiring.

  5. mm Jean Ollis says:

    Hi Shawn! While the miracles/conversions in Jackie’s story may sound too good to be true…isn’t that the reason we call it a miracle? I’ve lived long enough and seen enough that I try not to question what one calls a “miracle” – it could be something small or something large…either way I believe in the power of the spirit – that anything is possible. What I do appreciate is your humility towards evangelists that are putting on a show. Their “act” seems fairly easy to sniff out.

  6. mm Jason Turbeville says:

    Shawn,
    I too read at the beginning with skepticism. In my denomination the Holy Spirit is often neutered or at the very least relegated to a lesser position. I was convicted in reading about the spirit language and prayers that brought healing, convicted in the form of seeking out others in other tribes who have a spirit prayer life and humbling myself to hear what they had to say. It seems even a book can convict a hard heart. 🙂
    Jason

  7. Shawn,

    Thanks for bringing the text of Galatians into the conversation. We do well to examine everything for fruitfulness. It is also wise to declare, as you did, that while a miracle may occur, but it is up to each person to continue living out that miracle of following Jesus even after the miraculous moment has occurred.

  8. mm Kyle Chalko says:

    Great job Shawn.

    Thanks for your honesty in sharing. I too was convicted by the reading. I wanted to give you a little bit of my perspective on one statement you made, “it also confronts the reader with stories of miracles and spectacular medical feats that most, even the most faithful of Christians, might struggle with believing.”

    I would disagree. I come from a very similar faith background as Jackie Pullinger and amongst our ranks I would say that many Christians believe stories like this. Legs growing out, bones healed, autism healed (check out Rob Ketterling’s testimony of his son). Pentecostalism really emphasizes, teaches on, and expects that manifestations of the HS. By going into it expectantly it, you bring a lot of faith. I think this is why stories like this are common amongst pentecostals. My own senior pastor was announced as a quadriplegic after breaking his neck in a golf cart accident, and was healed.

    All that to say, More than just the most faithful few Christians believe this stuff. I think its one of those lense things and the faith system one is brought up in.

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