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Musician fine-tunes work with addicts

Christians who made a difference by Rosemary Dawson: Jackie Pullinger (b 1944)

Life was controlled by powerful gangs, and prostitution and drugs were rife

MORE than 50 years ago, Jackie Pullinger realised her childhood dream of being a missionary. It had gone on hold while she was studying at the Royal College of Music, but after she became part of a Christian house group, her youthful ambition was reawakened.

Jackie’s minister advised her to buy a ticket for a ship travelling to many destina­tions and pray throughout the journey that God would tell her when to disembark. So in 1966 she bought the cheapest one-way ticket she could find. She left the ship at Hong Kong with just £10 in her pocket and no idea what to do next.

Jackie found work as a teacher in the infamous Walled City. In her spare time she started exploring the area – the most deprived, dangerous and overcrowded in Hong Kong, where the police had no jurisdiction. Jackie was appalled by the conditions. Life was controlled by power­ful Triad gangs, and prostitution and drugs were rife.

Determined to improve the situation, she set up a youth club for boys who belonged to gangs, and she supported countless drug addicts by taking them into her home. Eventually she gained their trust, and one by one they became Christians. Miraculously, they also came off heroin and opium without suffering any with­drawal symptoms. Many others followed.

After years of working among drug addicts, homeless people, gang members and prostitutes, Jackie has now established several houses in various countries. The houses continue to take in vulnerable people and help them get their lives back on track.

This series has celebrated some of the Christians who have made a difference in the world, changing lives across continents through God’s love – helping to bring hope, equality and social justice to the disadvantaged.

We can’t all become missionaries, civil rights leaders or Nobel prizewinners. But we can ask God to show us how to be a caring neighbour and make a difference where we live.

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