Ah Kei telephoned me urgently one night begging me to look for Tony who was in desparate trouble. It was around Chinese New Year and the coldest time of year so I buttoned up tightly in order to pay a nocturnal visit to Diamond Village, the headquarters of his territory.
He was sitting in a tea house with his coat collar turned up against the cold and he was shivering. Flanking him were two henchmen, obviously addicts too judging from their gaunt bodies. But as I looked at Tony's face it was not its drug-induced degeneration which shocked me but another expression altogether.
He was going to die. He was resigned to it.
I did not know then how he intended it to occur, but it was appalling to realize that he had it planned. He began to tell me what was going on and as I listened I looked around at the congealed spittons in the tea house. The scene was a reflection of the sordid kingdom he was preparing to relinquish.
He told a story of wars and unfinished gang business. He told a tale of coming out of jail to discover that the rival group had attempted to take over his territory. They had stolen his possessions and knowing his passion for music had taken his guitar, broken it in two and left it in the mud. It was an act which demanded retaliation and Tony knew the dreary course of events to come.
He was really weary of fighting but had no option but to plan a revenge attack. However, some vague memory of something sweeter nagged at him until he decided to appease the memory by selling his ten by six foot hut and donating the proceeds to Society of Stephen.
He was not surprised to see me in his village for he had sent for me in order to make this grand gesture. However, before I arrived the other gang had burned down his house after dragging his clothes through the dust one by one. He showed me the site and I saw the guitar strings splayed rudely over the ground.
"Miss Poon, I want to give the Church the deeds to this piece of ground," he offered.
"We don't want your land, Tony, we want your life," I replied.
"I will arrange for you to collect the documents so that you can use the land for a church," he continued.
"We don't want to build a church building, Tony, we'd like to help you build your life."
We walked down the dark path winding through the village shacks and I saw how the inhabitants watched him. He was the king of the village who had been feared and respected. They all knew of the attack and were waiting to see him take revenge. It was expected of him. He could never walk the streets again as their leader unless there were a reciprocal fight. So he had decided to kill or be killed. Either way he would end up dying and it mattered little to his tired self.
He was still muttering about the land papers when I said, "God has chosen you, Tony. Come with us." He refused so I repeated it, "He has chosen to save you. He wants you. Come with us."
I hailed a taxi and was only half in it saying, "God wants your life tonight, Tony. Come with us," when he climbed in beside me and sat down. He did not understand what he was doing but it was the last time he saw his village for several years. He never said goodbye to his gang brothers. He never went back to fetch a thing.
Up in my Lung Kong Road flat the boys were awake and ready to welcome Tony. They asked him if he too wanted to receive Jesus. He was afraid of God but kept remembering, "God has chosen you, God has chosen you," and nodded as they told him how he could be forgiven and receive a new life. Later he wrote a testimony.
They prayed for me and I accepted Jesus as my Lord and I received the baptism of the Spirit. At first I felt very cold but when I was filled with the Spirit a surprising thing happened -- I felt my heart burning within me and my whole body grew warm and I wept. I had not cried since I was a child. I sat shamelessly weeping in front of everyone and I knew that I had truly been "born again".
They took me to Stephen's Third House to come off drugs. The pain had always been greater than I could bear. The first time I went to prison I had to come off "cold turkey" and it was so terrible that I broke out of prison into barbed wire and bear the scars to this day. From that day on I always had heroin hidden on my person so that I was never caught without it. But this time it was different. My brothers in Jesus prayed for me and I also prayed in tongues and the pain disappeared. Two months later I went to live with Mr. and Mrs. Willans who run the houses. My own parents cannot be traced but Mr. and Mrs. Willans are now my parents.
I have witnessed God moving in many areas of my life since that time. I not only went with my new mother and father to China, but in 1976 I visited America and England with them and joined them in speaking in a number of churches and on radio and television. What an amazing thing for me, a former Red Pole fighter in the 14K Triad Society, an ex-convict and heroin addict, to be given a special waiver to visit the United States of America. And the Home Secretary, himself, cleared my travel to England when everyone said it was impossible.
I have since been trained in a first class hairdressing school to be a hair stylist. I work in a leading salon in Hong Kong and live with my parents in a nice apartment. It is truly astonishing and shows that my Lord Jesus is very powerful. But the greatest thing He has done for me is to change my heart and now I no longer follow sin because I follow Him.
Chasing the Dragon, by Jackie Pullinger
One of many true stories from this book...