Friday, December 23, 2011

Ninth Book of Christmas: "Chasing the Dragon"

Twelve Books that show how Christmas changed the world.

On the ninth day of Christmas, our True Love gave the world: liberation for drug addicts and prostitutes.
Jackie Pullinger, Chasing the Dragon
Chasing the Dragon is well-written and fast-paced, and offers a little of everything: cops, robbers, farce, trajedy, an argument or two, and most of all, lives changed by the Gospel. Jackie has led a remarkable life, but wears her experience lightly, with a sense of humor. Having lived in Hong Kong, visited her church and known people who worked with her or become Christians through her ministry, the book was especially interesting to me.
Jackie is not alone in doing this sort of ministry.  She is one of hundreds who have reached out to those addicted to drugs, or forced into the sex trade, in East Asia alone. 

Since I took this picture, in
the late 1980s, Snake Alley
in Taiwan has become just a
tad less overtly seedy -- fewer
underage girls, it seems.   OMF
missionaries continue to reach
out to them.   
I once traveled around Asia to do research on forced prostitution and AIDs. There is a great need, as drugs and the sex trade ruin hundreds of thousands of lives. Many of the most successful Asian evangelists I have met were once drug addicts or criminals. This book might also be a good book to give to a non-Christian friend or to a Christian police officer who has become cynical and forgotten how God can change lives.  The miracles Pullinger and Quicke recount are sometimes pretty amazing.  But perhaps an even more important theme of the book is the perception, echoed by criminals as well as a pastor, that "You really care." 

Readers should beware of a "one-size-fits-all" attempts to emulate the exact ways in which God's spirit works.  (I knew a Christian in Taiwan who became frustrated, after reading Pullinger's books, because his own apparently quite successful ministry to drug addicts did not seem as spectacular in terms of miracles as the story in this book -- though he saw some pretty amazing things, too.)  Jesus should be the pattern for all of us. But like he said, "The fields are ripe to the harvest. Pray the Lord of the Harvest to send out workers."

This book is also part of the larger story of how the Gospel has affected China.

Other books:  Pastor Hsi tells the remarkable story of a Confucian scholar in late 19th Century northern China, who had been an opium addict, and then converted and helped other Chinese escape addiction.  Most general histories of Christianity in China seem to emphasize the tremendous reform the Gospel brought and inspired in East Asia, but some of the best of these (for instance, by 顾卫民,林志平 and 远志明) have not, I think, been translated.  Latournette and Broomhall's general histories, and Aikman's Jesus in Beijing, touch on some of this, as does my True Son of Heaven: How Jesus Fulfills the Chinese Culture.  It's also interesting to read Matteo Ricci's journal from this perspective, or the biography of many later missionaries (Nevius, Ross, Taylor, Mackay, etc.)   

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