Contemporary Christians lesson plan

Jackie Pullinger in the Walled City. Contemporary Christians lesson plan.
Jackie Pullinger in the Walled City. St Stephen’s Society.

This teacher’s copy of the Looking at a Contemporary Christian lesson plan is printer-friendly.


A tape measure or something to measure 120 cm.


Optional: There is a book which shows the story of Jackie Pullinger with many
photographs and the stories of many ex-drug addicts: ‘Crack In The Wall (Life & Death in Kowloon Walled City)’ by Jackie Pullinger Hodder and Stoughton ISBN 0-340-49067 5.


Q. What do you want to do with your life when you get older?

Get married and have a family… have a house of your own… have a good job…
go to Spain for your holidays… play sport at the weekends… big flash car…

(Teacher’s note: Ask the children who have given the most definite answers:)

Q. So what would you do if you were asked to give all of that up, and to move to the poorest, dirtiest place in the world?

Would you leave the comfort and security of your home and job?

Q. What things would be the hardest to lose?

Clean running water… chocolate and sweets… money… clean house… safety, that is, not in constant danger of being killed… expensive car…

We are going to look at the life of a young woman.
She gave up so many things in 1966, to work in one of the poorest, filthiest, most
dangerous places in the world.
At the time of writing this, (2003), she is still working out there, 37 years later.
This is her story:


When Jackie Pullinger was 22 years old she had a dream.
She saw a desperate woman holding her arms out to her and then she saw some words:
‘What can you give us?’

Off to Hong Kong to help people

Jackie is a Christian and she believed that God was telling her to leave home and go to Hong Kong!
So she applied to lots of churches and missionary organizations to see if they had any opportunities there, but she was told that she was too young and too inexperienced and that she had the wrong qualifications!

In spite of this, her local vicar encouraged her to go anyway.
Not because he didn’t like her!
So in 1966, Jackie Pullinger got together all her money, which was only enough to pay for a one-way boat ticket to Hong Kong!

Q. How brave or foolish was that?

Into the hellish, lawless Walled City

When she was there she managed to find a job as a music teacher in the primary school of the Walled City.
This area was so lawless that the Hong Kong police had no real control over it all.
They avoided going into it because it was so dangerous!
The authorities couldn’t even enforce any planning and building regulations, so the houses were built next to each other with no gardens.
These houses were regularly added to, going higher and higher, and also further outwards, so they ended up being not very safe.
There were no proper toilets.

Q. In the mornings, do you have to queue for the toilet?

There were just two on the ground floor level of the Walled City for thirty thousand people!!!
And we wouldn’t call them ‘toilets’ because they were just two holes over an open sewer!
The main street was more like a small dark tunnel about 120 cm wide!

Q. How wide is 120 cms?

(Teacher’s note: Move some desks to 120 cm apart).
This is how wide the street was.
Imagine (your local town) having the High Street this narrow!
But worse than that, right through the middle there was an open sewer!
It was almost dark inside this street because loads of rubbish had got caught up in all the overhead, illegal electrical wires and pipes.
This formed a smelly, rotting ‘roof’.
Rats ran on this roof and they also ran along the street.
Dead people were often lying in the street because they had died from taking too many drugs.

So let’s take a walk on this street and imagine how awful it must have been.
(Teacher’s note: Get the children to walk along the ‘street’, – half in one direction and half in the other direction and describe some of the sights as they try to get past each other).

This place was the home for thousands of criminals, prostitutes, drug addicts and gangsters, where twelve or thirteen-year-old girls were sold into slavery.
There were about 50 loosely connected gangs with an estimated total of about 100,000 members.
The gangs were violent, they blackmailed people and ruled by terrifying anybody who was not in their gang.

Nobody trusted her

So Jackie Pullinger made this her neighbourhood.
At first, the people there did not trust her, they thought that she would get fed up and go back to a comfortable home in Britain.
Even though she was fearful for her own safety, every day she would try to chat with people who lived in these desperate conditions.

But after six months she felt as if not much had happened, and she began to ask God why she was there.
Then she realized that she should give food, provide shelter and give medical care.
She also visited the prisons and tried to help the prisoners.

Bearing fruit from her labours

Eventually, she gained the trust of the gang members.
They saw that she was going to stay and that she really did care about them.
These hardened boys started to become Christians!
Many of them were in a very bad state, their bodies and minds had suffered years of drug abuse.
She began to see many miracles with these boys breaking free from the terrible grip of heroin and opium addiction.
Normally, when someone stops taking these drugs they experience terrible pain and nightmares, but as Jackie witnessed, many of the boys prayed for Jesus’ help and they came straight off it without these problems.
They put it down to the power of God.
Their eyes would change from a look of total hopelessness and desperation to a look of peacefulness, and their whole body would change shape from one of twisted pain to standing straight with a smile!

Jackie opened a home for anybody who wanted to break free from the drugs.
Soon there were so many people that she opened a second house, and then a third.
Early on, Jackie had started up a small youth club, and some of the gang members went to it.
But one night the youth club was destroyed by vandals, so a gang leader sent some guards to watch the building so that it wouldn’t happen again!
This gang leader said later, that he didn’t want his gang members to be addicts any more than she did.
She had succeeded where he had failed and therefore he would support her to free his boys from drugs.

Q. Why do you think he wanted his gang members to be not addicted to drugs?

Because they would work better, and they would be able to get on with their criminal activities!

Q. Would Jackie Pullinger have been pleased with that?

Q. What do you think she said to him? Bearing in mind her life could have
been in danger if she went against the wishes of the gang.

She said that she wouldn’t help the boys escape their addictions so that they would become gangsters again.
She said that if they were to be followers of Jesus, they had to leave the gangs altogether!
To her amazement, the gang leader still wanted to guard the youth club, and he would allow any boys to become Christians.
This was amazing because to be a gang member in Hong Kong was for as long as they lived.
It had a total claim on their life.

Jackie and her friends have carried on this work and they have formed the St. Stephen’s Society, which has become one of the most successful drug rehabilitation programmes in the world, rescuing hundreds of young people from a life of misery on the streets of Hong Kong.

The Walled City has now been demolished but the gangs and the drug abuse still go on.
Jackie Pullinger and the St. Steven’s Society still help people in Hong Kong, but they also now do their work in the Philippines and Thailand.


Q. How committed is Jackie Pullinger to what she does?

Q. What caused her to be so ‘successful’ with those drug addicts and gang members?

It was a huge commitment, but it was more than that.
She was willing to put herself in the dirtiest and most dangerous place because she wanted to help other people.
She put other people second and herself third!

Q. So who came first in her life?

God was the most important person in her life.

Q. So does that make her a superhero who is wonderfully good?

To answer that, here is something that Jackie Pullinger once said:

Jesus is everything. If it weren’t for Him, I’d have no goodness at all.”

Jackie Pullinger quote

Q. Has this true story given you something to think about?

Either take a short time to discuss this question, or leave it with them.

There is Looking at a contemporary Christian RE worksheet to accompany this lesson plan.
Also see: Looking at a contemporary Christian. RE resources