The Power of Story

jackie.jpgChristians love to sing of the story of Jesus:
I love to tell the story
of unseen things above,
of Jesus and his glory,
of Jesus and his love.
I love to tell the story,
because I know ’tis true;
it satisfies my longings
as nothing else can do.

I love to tell the story;
more wonderful it seems
than all the golden fancies
of all our golden dreams.
I love to tell the story,
it did so much for me;
and that is just the reason
I tell it now to thee.

I love to tell the story;
’tis pleasant to repeat
what seems, each time I tell it,
more wonderfully sweet.
I love to tell the story,
for some have never heard
the message of salvation
from God’s own holy Word.

I love to tell the story,
for those who know it best
seem hungering and thirsting
to hear it like the rest.
And when, in scenes of glory,
I sing the new, new song,
’twill be the old, old story
that I have loved so long.

I love to tell the story,
’twill be my theme in glory,
to tell the old, old story
of Jesus and his love.

But not until I read of Jackie Pullinger in Chasing the Dragon did I understand the power of simply telling that story.

Jackie Pullinger recounts being called by God at age 20 to Hong Kong to work amongst the prostitutes and drug addicts living in the notorious Walled City. Strangers were not welcome there. Police hesitated to enter. It was a haven of filth, crime and sin. Prostitution, pornography in magazines and in videos including online websites like and drug addiction flourished. Thirtty thousand people-maybe twice that-lived in a few cramped, dismal acres.

Her method seemed to use no program or plan.

She just told people the story of Jesus’ love and forgiveness and then loved them herself. She went to them and was Jesus to them.

Unbelievable miracles started to happen. As she told the story she loved to tell, brutal hoods were converted, prostitutes retired from their trade, and heroin junkies found new power that freed them from the bondage of drug addiction. Hundreds discovered new life in Christ.

As I read the book I wondered why such abundant miracles seem rare in America. The Kingdom of God broke into the Walled City so often. Lives were changed. These things happened not because Jackie Pullinger tried to make them happen.

Invasions by the Kingdom of God and changed lives were the fruit of her real purpose and passion – telling the story of God’s great love, and living that love every day and every minute. As she says, “I saw that a man, provided he was willing, could be freed through the power that Christ gave him as he prayed in the words of His Spirit. We never forced the addict to pray when going through withdrawal; it is impossible that anyone can ever be forced to pray. We simply reduced the alternatives to nil, or rather to one alternative—of suffering.”

The uniqueness of Ms. Pullinger’s work can be seen as she searched for helpers: “I needed to find Christian workers who loved the people they were working with more than the activity through which they were trying to reach them…. Their idea of the teaching role was to hold a Bible study with the boys and preach at them for one and a half hours. I discovered that this was how they had been taught to conduct Christian work—having meetings, having a title and preaching was as much as they understood. They had not
learned about Jesus washing His disciples’ feet.”

Too often westerners seem primarily to want to change lives and to advance the Kingdom of God; the story of God’s love through Christ is just the means. Ms. Pullinger, on the other hand, loved telling the story of Jesus’ love most of all. She had faith that after hearing the great story, the listener would embrace Christ and the Lord would do the rest. And she was right: the mere telling of that story of unmatched love had the power to produce miracles. And therein, I think, lies the secret of her success.

Ms. Pullinger was a storyteller whose story was power, resurrection power. After telling the story her audience saw the story in action as Ms. Pullinger lived among them: “Their faith did not depend on any understanding of theological concepts but on seeing Jesus working in others and on their willingness to let Him work in their lives. Each time they prayed, their prayers were answered, and their faith grew as they were healed.”

And she found that living with the least among us is not easy. There was disappointment and was hurt. As Ms. Pullinger put it, ministering to the poor uses up all your heart. However, she demonstrated the power of the gospel, living daily depending on the grace and strength of the Lord:

“The remarkable fact that after so long we still see most addicts who come to us believe in Jesus, pray in tongues and detoxify from drugs painlessly does not obscure the fact that they need a changed mind. So the voyeurs leave. They have their video clips, but they never saw. It was either all too good or all too bad, and neither was accurate. We love our people whether they turn out well or not, and the successes do not vindicate our ministry nor do the disappointments nullify it. What is important is whether we have loved in a real way—not preached in an impassioned way from a pulpit.”

That is Ms. Pullinger’s story. That is the story of Jesus which she loves to tell.

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