Report From The Tower
In the book "Chasing The Dragon", Jackie Pullinger describes her missionary work in Hong Kong from when she went there in the late 1960's to the mid '70's. She says that she grew up in Croydon, (quite a nice area of England), and then she worked among Triad gangsters in Hong Kong, who lived violent lives, making money from the results of dealing in drugs and forcing girls into prostitution. She says that many of their lives were completely changed when they received God's Holy Spirit and the gifts of his Spirit.
In chapter 10 of the book "Chasing The Dragon", Jackie Pullinger describes the events surrounding the conversion of one of the gangsters, Ah Kei. Picking up the story, it says: "The time was 12.15 am; the location a Chaiwan street stall, ... Ah Kei emerged from the shadows in a belligerent mood. "'... If you can convert me I will give you a thousand disciples!' He enjoyed thus throwing down the gauntlet; indeed it was almost as if we were preparing for a duel as he stood there in his black leather gloves, jeering. "'I can't convert you, Ah Kei,' I replied. ... 'If you believe in Jesus that is your decision. ...'
"Sitting down at our table he ordered dishes and dishes of expensive food and drink. He scattered his largesse, conspicuously inviting all around him to eat. He would make sure we all knew how many hundreds of dollars he spent - how generous he was. ... "I showed him pictures of Ah Mo looking fat and healthy now he was off drugs. Ah Kei knew him well as they used to deal together. He became rather thoughtful and after the meal invited me to accompany him alone to a secret destination where he had something to show me. "We began to walk toward the shanty town area whose vice he controlled. He was carrying his mackintosh slung over one shoulder and turned to me suddenly, '... do you look down on drug addicts?'
"I thought that a difficult question to answer without appearing condescending, except for a Christian. "'No, I don't, Ah Kei, because they are the people Jesus came into the world for.' "'Are you willing to be friends with one?' he asked, and both he and I knew to which one he was referring. "'Actually the people in the walled city criticise me because I am more willing to be friends with an addict than with someone who thinks his life is allright,' I replied.
"By this time we had come to an unlighted path which led through the shanty shacks. We walked on in silence until Ah Kei stopped by the outside of a tin hut. The darkness outside gave no hint of the brilliant lighting inside, and when Ah Kei pushed through the blackout material curtain I found myself staring at dozens of surprised gamblers. The door watchers came up to us - although this was one of Ah Kei's own dens they were obviously worried by the presence of a strange western lady at three in the morning. Ah Kei held up his hand for silence; there was a hush. "'Don't be afraid,' he said, 'She does not look down on us, she's a Christian and she's come to tell us about Jesus.' He then gave me the floor and invited me to preach. Afterwards he took me into his opium den next door. Inside the den was a terrible spectacle - there were little grey and yellow old men lying on a low platform covered with grime and slime. There were half empty cups of green tea and large spittoons filled with sordid saliva and sediment. The men lay like giant stick insects, more limbs than body, and half of them were insensible. ...
"All those who were actually conscious listened carefully to what I had to say and when I left I gave them a pile of my Chinese Bibles ... "To have spoken about Jesus in two of these dens was amazing itself, but now Ah Kei became a determined evangelist; he insisted that together we visit more of his empire of drug, vice, and gambling dens. ... In each place he introduced me as a Christian, and each time I was heard with respect. It was an amazing journey into vice. I scattered Chinese Bibles as I went.
"In one of those dens they brought me a man doubled up with pain, whose face was contorted with suffering. 'Are you a doctor, Are you a nurse, Do you have any money, Can you take him to hospital? He is in agony.' ... "'No, I'm not a doctor or a nurse and I don't have any money to take him to hospital, but I tell you what I can do. I'll pray for him,' I said. They sniggered at this but they agreed to find us a little room at the back where it was quiet. Then they stood around waiting curiously to see what I was going to do. "'I'll pray for him on one condition,' I said. 'No one is to laugh because I'm going to talk to the living God.' Complete silence.
"I laid my hands on the sick man and prayed for him in Jesus' name. His stomach immediately relaxed and he got up looking surprised. He had been completely healed. Everyone else looked a bit surprised too; one of them asked, 'Is this the living God - the one you've been telling us about?' They began to believe, because they saw through his works of power who Jesus was.
"At the end of the evening - it was nearly morning - I gave Ah Kei a Bible ... He had no intention of reading it and it was in fact strange that I had given him a Bible at all knowing how such men hated to read. "For the next three months I followed Ah Kei around. He had a wife and family but used to sleep wherever he found himself late at night - often on a staircase. ... "Sometimes Ah Kei would sleep for three days at a time. At other times he would not sleep at all. During these binges he would go through a fantastic amount of money. He was being fed drugs all the time by his gang members. ...
"Meanwhile I had armies of Christians all around Hong Kong praying for him; this had to have an effect. And so one day when I caught up with him he said, 'God's been talking to me.' "'What do you mean, God's been talking to you?' I asked crossly. I was annoyed because I thought he was joking. "'Yes, God has been talking to me,' he insisted. 'I've been reading in the Bible and it says he gives special grace to people like me.' "'What do you mean by special grace?' I said. "'It says in the Bible that if you've sinned the most you get forgiven the most.' He sounded so privileged that I almost felt jealous, but he was completely serious about this discovery and was ready to ask for the special grace. We were in a hut next door to the gambling den he had originally taken me to. Ah Kei sat down on the floor and I sat down in the darkness too, hoping I had avoided the cockroaches. We prayed together for the first time and Ah Kei asked Jesus to take his life and make him a new person. He believed that Jesus died for him, but at that point he had very little sense of sin and was still rather proud of his past. "I rushed across the harbour to Mei Foo where Jean and Rick were living. I knew they would be delighted to meet Ah Kei after praying for him so long and even more pleased that he had become a Christian.
"We had a party, a grand celebration of Ah Kei's first birthday. Sarah, the Willans' Australian friend, and their daughter, Suzy, were there too, and shared in our gladness. We usually prayed at parties and as Ah Kei had not yet received the gift of the Spirit we told him that God gives this power to all who follow him. All of us sitting round began to pray together in the Spirit and when he heard this Ah Kei suddenly fell forward onto his knees with a terrible thump. Afterwards he told us that when he heard the tongues he was knocked down by the awareness of his past life of robbery, drug pushing, and selling girls into prostitution. As he gained this terrible sense of his own sin he felt that he could no longer sit in front of God, he had to kneel; and he began to pray in tongues. It was a near impossible sight of a Triad boss on his knees; in Chinese culture it is the most servile of positions and a gang leader lowered himself to no one. ...
... "That same night we took a taxi to a beach where Rick baptised Ah Kei in the sea. "During the weeks before his conversion, when I was getting to know him, Ah Kei and I sometimes settled down to read the Bible in a wooden shack at 3 am or so. He told me that he would not believe in Jesus in a hurry because if he built a house quickly it would fall down just as fast. But the night he was baptised he began to put his life in order immediately. He went home to his wife for the first time in many months. She looked as if she would like to believe Ah Kei had changed but she had such a deep distrust of her husband that she was afraid it would all turn out a forlorn hope. ...
"In a way Ah Bing was right to be cynical, for when Ah Kei decided to build his Christian house it demanded too great a cost. He not only relinquished his vast illegal income and control over men, with no alternative source of cash to care for his family, but also had to face coming off opium and heroin. "He did not come off drugs and I did not know what to do about it. Some addicts who became Christians were delivered instantly, while others went to pastor Chan's centre to withdraw where there was a greater amount of after-care. Ah Kei applied to this centre and others but was refused admittance because there was no place available.
What could I say to him, 'Pray, Ah Kei and you'll get off drugs miraculously?' I had seen God do this and did not understand why he did not do it every time. I could say, 'Pray and perhaps you will cut down gradually." That would be compromise. I could try, 'Pray and maybe God will give you money for your heroin.' But surely God did not support drug habits.
"I could not take Ah Kei into my house for it was already full of boys who either were supposed to have quit heroin already or had come out of prison officially drug-free. I wondered what was happening in that house sometimes - some of the residents behaved very strangely - and I certainly did not want to mix an open drug-taker with them. Instead I encouraged Ah Kei with a weak, 'God will work it out,' and hoped that he would get into a withdrawal centre sooner or later. "Just before Christmas I was awakened by a 4.30 am telephone call. (They always seemed to choose the middle of the night.) I never liked to sound as if I had just woken up - my solution was to clear my throat and practise saying, "Good morning - Good morning!" very brightly so that by the time I picked up the receiver I sounded like the bird of the dawn.
"Ah Kei was in no mood for sunrise salutations. He had rung to say goodbye. "'Thank you ... for these past nine months of Jesus talk, your care and consideration; but my gang brothers were right all along. I can't be saved.' "'Yes you can, Ah Kei. Anything is possible with God.' I meant it sincerely, but my words sounded weak to my own ears. "'It's no good. I can't be a Christian any more.' "'What do you mean, you can't be a Christian?' "'I can't afford it. I've given up running the gangs, I've given up running the girls, the gambling and the drugs. Now I have nothing left to live on. I can't afford to be a Christian. Thank you very much, Miss Poon, for everything you have done; I'll never forget you but I will not be seeing you again. It just didn't work.'
"I tried desperately to reason with him, I dragged up every argument I could think of ... But Ah Kei's voice sounded harder and harder and he was impossible to reach. He was far colder than before he had become a Christian and he started to speak cruelly and bitterly. I could hear him carrying on a simultaneous argument with someone at the other end and then he said he was going out to find Ah Chuen to kill him. "'Ah Kei, you can't kill people, you're a Christian.' He was long past listening to my pathetic interjections. He was high on heroin and having furiously informed me that he would shortly be forced to do a couple of robberies to raise some money, he rang off.
"I stared at the phone in the gloom. I really could not believe what I had heard. I did not want to accept the fact that someone who had believed in Christ could contemplate murder. Quickly I rang up Jean and Rick. They knew that both Ah Kei and I had a talent for the dramatic but soon listened with deep concern. "'You've got to get up and pray. I think Ah Kei is going out to murder someone and he's planned a couple of robberies.' There are not many people I could do that to at that time of night. The Willans prayed.
"I prayed desperately all through the Christmas celebrations. I cried all through the Christmas carols. 'Joy to the world?' I thought tragically. 'It doesn't look very joyful to me.' Because I was grieved for Ah Kei I was also a little angry with God. "Lord, I really believed you were the answer. How can it be that he knew you and then didn't want you? You didn't do everything you were supposed to either, Lord, did you? I mean, Ah Kei believed in you and others did too and look at them now. There are a load of addicts and spiritual cripples lying around the streets being a reproach to Christ. People look at them and mock, "What a god - he started a miracle but it didn't last; it was something that came and went."' ... "Some days later Ah Kei turned up on my doorstep. 'I don't know why I've come - I was just passing - but anyway, goodbye.'
"'Wait a moment,' I said, 'What about the robberies?' "'Well,' said Ah Kei looking rather sheepish, 'My wife got the pillow cases all ready, hoods for our armed robbery, slits cut in them so we could see through. The first time we got everybody together we found that one of my own gang had given the game away. So we couldn't do it. Then the second time we were sitting in the car all prepared with knives. We were ready to drive off but I just did not feel like doing a robbery that day so we didn't go.' "He had also been unable to find Ah Chuen the night he had telephoned me. I thought it was now time we did something positive about Ah Kei's future. "'Right,' I said, 'We are now going to see the Willans; you have got to talk to them. It's time someone was firm with you.'
"We left the house and on the way Ah Kei bought a gift of oranges wrapped in pink paper. He presented it to Jean and Rick and we all ate dinner together. As usual Jean was extremely hospitable but I could see she was becoming more and more annoyed at a situation where a true believer was not coming off drugs. "'Do you have any problems?' she asked him while I translated. "'Oh no, no problems,' he said and then added, 'Well, just one; I'm still on heroin." "'When we were in Indonesia and had no money,' Jean continued firmly, 'we prayed and it simply appeared before us. If you are really serious about Jesus he will do anything you ask.' "'I'm serious,' nodded Ah Kei. "'Well, would you like to stay here and withdraw from heroin?' Jean asked. I was amazed; this is what I had hoped for and longed for but never dared to suggest as I knew how precious the peace of her home was to Jean. She herself had never meant to suggest it either, but concern for Ah Kei's future and the Spirit of God worked together in her to bring out an invitation which surprised her. "'I agree,' said Ah Kei. He opened up his jacket, took out some red paper packets of heroin and flushed them down the lavatory bowl.
"Next Ah Kei made some dramatic gestures; first we went back to his resettlement home, where he tore down the idols his mother kept and threw them out of the room. Then he reached under the bed and dragged out a box containing several weeks' supply of heroin. He washed it all down the lavatory while we watched. Finally we took him back to the Willans' flat in the Mei Foo district where he climbed into bed. "Jean called a Christian doctor and asked what to expect from a ten-year-old addict with a hundred dollar-a-day habit. The doctor said that without medication Ah Kei would suffer agonies, accompanied by chills, fever, vomiting, diarrhoea, and intense stomach cramps. He might roll on the floor with pain and become violent to the point of attacking his helpers. He did not advise it - but if Jean insisted on her course of action he would come round and administer a substitute drug, methadone.
"'We will try Jesus,' said Jean refusing his offer, and so began the experiment. "I spent three sleepless nights sitting with Ah Kei; I expected all the terrible side effects forecast, but he slept like a baby. At the end of three days I looked haggard and unkempt and he looked wonderful. If, when he did wake, he experienced any twinge of pain, we quickly urged him to pray in tongues, and the pain miraculously disappeared. Now we knew without a shadow of doubt that praying in the Spirit was the answer for painless withdrawal from heroin. Ah Kei was able to eat well too and ordered cheese sandwiches which he swallowed heartily.
"After four days Ah Kei's wife came round to see him. She tried to persuade him to go home as he was cured. We opposed this firmly; he still needed care and a drug-free environment. Fortunately he was suddenly seized by withdrawal effects, sensations of terrible cold followed by feelings of tremendous heat. As Ah Kei had once before tried unsuccessfully to withdraw from heroin in China, he knew how terrible the pains could be.
We all went back to praying in the Spirit to obtain relief and as we worshipped God the pains left him. Again God had delivered him. On the fifth day Ah Kei knew he was free from heroin, but he still badly wanted to smoke; he did not want to give up cigarettes. Rick insisted that if he did not free himself from tobacco addiction as well, then he was not free. Ah Kei was very unhappy about this, and on the seventh day he persuaded the Willans' Buddhist maid to give him a couple of filter-tips. Almost immediately he felt the pains he should have felt during his heroin withdrawal. All of us redoubled our prayer effort. And once he was willing to agree to Rick's demand the pain disappeared. "Throughout his withdrawal period and for the next few months I was commuting between my own house and Mei Foo, because the miracle of Ah Kei's healing was repeated with several of his friends. Jean took Ah Kei to the Hilton to get his hair cut; there he ran into his old friend, Wahchai, whom he had introduced into the crime rackets years earlier. He persuaded him to come back to the Willans' flat and we had an impromptu meeting.
During the meeting I had a message in tongues, but there was no interpretation. As St. Paul says there has to be an interpretation every time someone has a message in tongues, we waited and waited but no one spoke. Finally Wahchai admitted that he had had an interpretation but had been afraid to speak; he could not believe that God would use him because he was still on drugs, even though he had recently been converted and received the gift of the Spirit.
As he told us the interpretation of my message he began to weep uncontrollably. After that it was only a matter of sitting with him while he had a painless withdrawal from heroin; as with Ah Kei, whenever he had pains, he began to pray in the Spirit and so felt better."
From: The book "Chasing the Dragon" is by Jackie Pullinger (with Andrew Quicke), publishers Hodder and Stoughton Ltd. The book was first published in 1980. ISBN 0340257601. Copyright Jackie Pullinger and Andrew Quicke, 1980.
Stephen L. Bening
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