We had the privilege of working with Saint Stephen’s Society, the 50 year ministry of founder and director Jackie Pullinger. Jackie is the author of the heart-impacting book, Chasing The Dragon. This humble and successful ministry is primarily focused on those ensnared in addictions, but also extends to others trapped in various forms of poverty, pain and hopelessness. We worked alongside “the brothers” (those living in the facility) sharing meals and hearing their stories of redemption and hope. It was also wonderful to work with “the helpers” (the staff) and hear their amazing stories of how the Lord called and led them to such a joyful-yet-costly work.
Many stories were shared as we worked alongside “the brothers”. Over lunch, one man I will call Bai, who happened to be my age, shared with me his story. As a young man he worked on cargo ships that traveled the world. Because of his entry into international ports he developed a fairly prosperous drug trade. But, as his drug habit grew, his health began to fail and he ended up back in Hong Kong, sick, severely addicted, jobless and broke. His young wife let him know he was not welcomed home. Bai came across a friend who he had formally shared needles with. Bai told me his friend’s face was bright and full of life! He asked him “what happened”? Bai’s friend had given his life to the Lord and with the help of Saint Stephen’s Society was clean of his drug habit. That very day Bai’s friend took him to meet Jackie Pullinger who welcomed him into the Home. Bai gave his life to the Lord and a new addiction-less, hope-filled life began! He was later reunited with his family. Bai, with his amazing Chinese smile, took my hand, looked me in the eye and said all of his children were Christians and also college graduates! His joy and gratitude were uncontainable! Bai now has a job “on the outside” but returns often to “give back” to those who are seeking the freedom that he knows only the Lord can provide!
The 7 times 70 Approach – The primary focus of Saint Stephen’s is to bring the addicted first into a relationship with Jesus and then, through the power of the Holy Spirit walk them through breaking addictions. But this is not a straight path! It is not unusual for a brother to run away, sometimes several times. Their heart approach is ALWAYS to welcome the brother back, celebrate his return and to once again start with him the journey to freedom. The parable of the Prodigal Son is enfleshed on their bones!