I’ve just finished reading an incredible book! Chasing the Dragon by Jackie Pullinger is the story of her powerful ministry among opium addicts, gang members, and prostitutes in the Walled City of Hong Kong.
Her unlikely journey began in 1966 when she left England with a one-way ticket on a slow boat to China. She had no missions organization, very little training, and no support. She simply went on the belief that God had sent her and that she must obey.
When she arrived she followed her heart to find the direction for her ministry. Compassion led her into the Walled City, a putrifying maze of opium dens, pornographic movie theaters, brothels and squaller. There she found the offscourings of humanity—people given over to worst depravities, abusing and abused, apparently lost forever.
Of course, she began to share Jesus. She told them of the cross, Jesus’ great love and sacrifice for them, how He rose again from the dead, and how He would change them. But Jackie found little success until one day she was baptized in the Holy Spirit. A couple from China prayed with her and she received the gift of speaking in unknown tongues.
It was certainly miraculous, this language coming up out of her heart. But in her case there was little emotion with it, and no immediate apparent benefit, so she did not continue to employ this gift from heaven. But when a couple from American moved to the city, they taught Jackie about the benefits of the gift of the Holy Spirit, and how it would enable her to be built up in her most holy faith and empower her to be a witness (Jude 20, Acts 1:8) They challenged her to pray in tongues every day.
Immediately, things began to change in her ministry. Although she used the same words and same methods in sharing the Gospel, now she began to see powerful results. As she walked about the Walled City praying in the Spirit quietly under her breath, hearts were miraculously opened and lives changed! Drug addicts and gang members began to receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
When Jesus came into these young men’s hearts, the battle was on. Opium did not easily give up it’s grip on their lives. Jackie prayed for an answer and continued to minister. As she struggled, she came to realize that the same power which had given her the ability to reach others with the Gospel could give these young men power to overcome the drug habit that enslaved them. She began to pray immediately with those who received Jesus as Savior that they would be baptized in the Holy Spirit. Gang leaders, pimps, prostitutes and others were instantly filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke in other tongues.
Coming off of opium is a painful experience. Few are able to accomplish it. However, Jackie discovered that when those who were addicted would pray in the Spirit, the pains would subside and they were able to go through withdraw successfully. It was an amazing discovery!
Praying in tongues was the great tool which God used to help these young men to know and experience God and to overcome their problems. Many of them lived in one-room shacks with 10 or 12 people, so they could not have a “quiet time” or normal devotional life. They had no background in the Bible to draw on, but the one thing that they did have was the manifestation of the presence of God when they prayed in other tongues. This is something that they could do all the time, even as they walked through the streets of the Walled City.
Of course, this was not the end of rehabilitation process for these young men. Their minds had been warped by life in the Walled City and required renewal. And their bodies needed healing from the destructive effect of the drugs. Jackie and her team began to house these young men (and later women), disciple them, and help them to find mental and emotional stability in order to function in society.
Eventually, those who were redeemed from destruction through the love of God as expressed through Jackie’s ministry began to be ministers of reconciliation also, going out into the streets and bringing others to the Savior’s love and leading them into the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
The Walled City of Hong Kong has been torn down, but the depravity of man and the resulting problems persist. “Chasing the Dragon” shows us that there is an answer for the great problems that are in the world today. Those who are fighting the opioid epidemic in America, for example, could take a lesson from Jackie’s story. There is power in Jesus Christ to overcome every addiction and affliction of man, but we must not be afraid to “take on the dragon” and defeat the enemy by the power of the Holy Spirit.
This book challenged me to pray in the Spirit more and to encourage others to employ this gift also. Speaking in tongues is biblical … and it is for today! Let’s not forget it’s value, nor allow religious tradition and the fear of man to keep from speaking in tongues as the Spirit gives us utterance. The needs are too great, the hour is too late, and hell is too hot for us to neglect to use this wonderful gift to help us to reach people and deliver them from Satan’s grip.