Meeting under the theme “Equipping God’s People: Going deeper in intentional discipleship” at the seventeenth Anglican Consultative Council (ACC-17) in Hong Kong, the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby took a break from the meetings to see discipleship in action. He visited the Shing Mun Springs Multi-Purpose Rehabilitation Homes and Jackie Pullinger on yesterday (1 May).
Jackie Pullinger MBE travelled from England to Hong Kong more than 50 years ago. Initially, she began work as a school teacher in the Kowloon Walled City. At that time in the 1960s, it was one of the world’s largest opium-producing centres and was run by criminal triad gangs. In 1967, Jackie founded a youth club to help addicts and others who had been abused find a safe place for them to meet and play.
Over many years, it grew it into a major justice-based ministry and is overseen by the St Stephen's Society as it continues to share the love of Jesus by working with addicts, the poor and gang members. The rehabilitation centre houses about 200 people, some in the first stages of drug withdrawal and others who have lived there for years.
During Archbishop Justin’s visit to the Shing Mun Springs Home, he prayed with several young people who also prayed over him. As he toured the facilities, he met other teenagers who attend an on-site school learning work skills and who take time to pray every day. The centre also houses a number of elderly people who have difficulty in adjusting to society. The emphasis at all times is on Christian community living and fellowship to the poor.
Commenting on this visit Archbishop Justin told the Anglican Communion News Service: “I am reminded of the humble spirit of the L’Arche community. Those who the world thinks are weak are strong and those whom the world sees as strong are weak.”
Consistent with the discipleship theme of ACC-17 St Stephen’s Society identifies its purpose as exiisting “to preach the gospel, reach the poor and see people set free through faith in Jesus Christ. Our heart is to go to the ends of the earth to make disciples…”
Jackie’s story is chronicled in the book Chasing the Dragon, which has been translated into several languages. A photographic account of her work A Crack in the Wall: The Life and Death of Kowloon Walled City has also been published.