Jackie Pullinger’s life story, Chasing the Dragons, is inspiring and convicting. Her grit and perseverance liken the sacrifice of Mother Teresa and the tenacity of Rosa Parks. When the only criticism of her work (literary and contribution to the community) can be found on websites which question the validity of the Christian faith, it’s evident she is highly respected and God ordained.
Jackie’s first act of total surrender to God’s will and purpose for her was the purchase of a one-way “boat ticket for the longest journey she could find”. Hong Kong became her mission field in 1966 and she still is serving there today. Jackie withstood danger, persecution, poverty, filth, and language barriers. She faced discouragement and failure but she never deterred. “Undaunted, Jackie was determined to bring the gospel to the Walled City’s inhabitants “I loved this dark place” she later wrote. “I hated what was happening in it but I wanted to be nowhere else. It was almost as if I could already see another city in its place and that city was ablaze with light. It was my dream. There was no more crying, no more death or pain. . . . I had no idea how to bring this about but with ‘visionary zeal’ imagined introducing the Walled City people to the one who could change it all: Jesus.”
There are several poignant and important lessons in Chasing the Dragons – the power of the spirit through speaking in tongues, the power of living like Jesus rather than talking about him, and the power of women in ministry. Applying these three vital components of ministry to the protestant faith in the United States gives me pause. How are we doing here (stateside) in our clean, orderly, church on the corner? My first reaction is “not so well”! How should our ministry evolve to be effective? Here are my thoughts…
Jackie started telling people in the Walled City about Jesus but made little impact. The only Christianity these people knew about was a Christianity that looked down on them and considered them worthless. Realizing she needed to demonstrate Jesus rather than talk about Him, she started a youth club to reach out to the thousands of young men whose only future lay with the Triads. Most of these young men were addicted to heroin or opium.
We need to stop judging! Christians are dubbed “hypocritical” by non-Christians. Why? Because we are. We judge, we rank sin based on our own understanding or our own biases and discomforts. “Do not judge or you too will be judged” Matthew 7: 1-2. God will be the judge of each of us…“You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Matthew 7:5. Instead, view situations and people with the eyes and heart of Jesus.
Talking with a young man who expressed interest in Christianity one day she handed him a gospel of John to read, whereupon she did not see him again. Encountering him unexpectedly two years later she asked why he had stayed away so long. He answered: “I wanted to know Jesus and you gave me a library.”
The act of preaching the gospel and giving someone a Bible is not enough! Words and “lectures” don’t matter if there isn’t lived faith and action behind them. We must become the hands and feet of Jesus, not just leaders in our faith communities who are esteemed for their knowledge and biblical teaching. Be vulnerable and real – this is the way for a non-believer to know Jesus.
The book includes many cases where heroin addiction was instantly ‘cured’ without withdrawal symptoms, but with the addict immediately praying confidently in tongues and often receiving knowledge of Jesus despite barriers of language and literacy….It is, rather, an account of long haul work for the Kingdom where, despite many disappointments and apparent failures, faith and an almost naïve trust and complete reliance on the Holy Spirit’s power push back the influence of evil and deprivation.
Rely on the Holy Spirit! As controversial and uncomfortable as it might be, “the gift of praying in tongues, in Pullinger’s experience, was a necessary and consistent part of the Holy Spirit’s presence in her and her community.” How appropriate to discuss just after Pentecost. Even Pullinger resisted praying in tongues for a lack of understanding it or its usefulness. Yet, when she experienced its dramatic power, she eventually accepted that praying in tongues must be good; “since God created and gave it, then who was she to judge or restrain it?” How do you incorporate the Holy Spirit into your faith congregation? Do you avoid it or harness its power? Jackie shows that the spirit cannot be ignored because it has the power to fully transform.
Now and again, people would say (concerning her ministry in Hong Kong), “Isn’t it WONDERFUL that God would choose a woman to go? I would say, “No, it’s not wonderful. Excuse me for being rude about God, but He can pick who He likes.” I mean, it’s no more wonderful for Him to send a woman than a man, or an old man or young woman. He picks who He wants. That’s His business. It was God’s wisdom that sent me. I was just doing what He made me for. That’s no credit to me; it’s all credit to Him. If He’s made you for something, you just do it.
Just do it! Jackie has boldly expressed her thoughts on women in ministry – If He’s made you for something, you just do it. Jackie’s path was not easy as a woman (although she is clear that women are accepted into mission work more than preaching/teaching). Legalistically our “church” in the United States has done their own interpretation of the Bible related to women in ministry (some are accepting and some are not). Rarely is the faith community challenged like Jackie does in her statement. Women, we must listen to God’s call for us – regardless of what the “church” says. If you are called to preach – then preach. And no Christian man or woman should question God’s call on your life and talents.
Jackie Pullinger’s story is powerful and convicting…I plan to evaluate myself and my ministry based on her clear demonstration of following God, the Holy Spirit, and His call on her life. Will you join me?
 Jackie Pullinger, Crack In the Wall: Life and Death in Kowloon Walled City (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1989), 16.]”