In 1966 a 21year old college student ended up traveling to Hong Kong when the cultural revolution was beginning in China. There were loads of refugees trying to get across the boarder into Hong Kong. In between the boarder was a place called the Walled City, this very deprived and dangerous area of land didn’t belong to anyone. It was a small, overly crowded and lawless place where prostitution, gangs and drugs were high in number. She wrote:
“I loved this dark place. I hated what was happening in it but I wanted to be nowhere else“
This lady was Jackie Pullinger, a Christianity missionary who later founded The St Stephen’s Society.
When I read this my heart warmed, the thoughts and feelings she was describing seemed familiar. From misheard instructions and a wrong turn, to a beautiful discovery that changed the way I saw a desolated, broken and troubled area. A taxi man had driven me and my friend to a ‘dodgy’ part of town as he’d misheard the address – they call it the ghetto.
As we pulled into the street we had supposedly asked to go to, I stared out of the taxi window, nose pushed against the glass, curious. I saw a street from a movie set. Lines of shot gun houses, some in use but most of them deserted, ivy curling in and around the houses with a gang hanging out on one of the porches.
Whilst my friend’s Grandma locked the doors and wanted to get us out pronto my eyes were opening to the beautiful imperfections.
As we drove away I was fixed on this beautiful disaster I softly mumbled the words
“See you later, I’ll be back soon”
Two years later with the help of God, my parents and friends I went back.
It’s this time that reminds me not only of God’s faithfulness, protection and strength but also of Jesus. If Jesus’ heart was a chocolate I bet you it would be a silky, smooth caramel.
My point isn’t about the chocolate however yummy that sounds but his soft heart, as he went to places where he was rejected, mistreated and later crucified.
Jackie Pullinger describes it beautifully
“God wants us to have soft hearts and hard feet”.
Our hearts need to be full of compassion and love but if we are going to make any sort of difference in this broken world it will lead to hard feet. We will have to walk down some tough paths and face uncomfortable challenges.
But overall love conquers all.