Flushing, Queens: The contrast is more blatant than it is in Denver and yet it still exists. Just a mile from Citi Field and in the middle of Queens, New York’s Chinatown are markets and eateries that line the streets where it is said that “religious freedom” was birthed. The area in Queens Village is bustling with the overt and the covert missions that include a seemingly dark underbelly of human trafficking and sex slaves mostly of Chinese women of all ages.
Underground Railroad carrying you to Freedom
In the mid-17th century, Dutch administrator Peter Stuyvesant, prohibited the practice of Quakerism and for that matter many types of denominations in New Amsterdam. In Flushing a town meeting was called and a letter was written calling for Flushing Remonstrance; a precursor to the Bill of Rights, issued more than 100 years later. One of the leaders in this resistance movement was John Bowne, who, because his wife was Quaker, defied Stuyvesant’s ban and allowed Quakers to hold Quaker Meetings in his home. Bowne was deported for his actions but in 1657 a Meeting House was built next to the Flushing Armory and that is where the Freedom walk began but it did not end there. Worship meetings are still held at the Meeting House. Churches line Northern Boulevard in this part of Queens. The Flushing Armory is now a youth center; where the Underground Railroad gave freedom to the slaves before and during the Civil War is said to have been one of the final “stations” of the route to freedom.
As history to freedom is evident throughout Flushing, Chinese and Korean, Thai and Taiwanese mingle and compete for market space. Chinatown in Flushing is as much a melting pot of Asian cultures, that go beyond the Chinese. But there is a sad and disturbing undercurrent of slavery and human trafficking on every other block. The Freedom Mile lines are blurred by the guise of massage parlors, reportedly fronts for “forced prostitution.” Locals are aware, police are in force, and occasional raids are made in the neighborhood. Threats to families and kidnapped children are the pawns of crime families that smuggle people from Asian countries; and because of gang and family wars many look the other way.
Evangelical mandate to rescue the prisoners
A group of men who are executives in evangelical media met at the Comfort Inn in Flushing earlier this month to discuss ways that evangelical churches can impact the community in reaching out to the victims of human trafficking. http://www.humantrafficking.org is a good place to start awareness of where and how human trafficking and sex slavery happens in places like in Flushing. The http://HumanTrafficking.org web site is housed in the Center for Gender Equity at the Academy for Educational Development. The Center for Gender Equity (CGE) promotes the rights of girls and women to education, health, a safe environment, economic participation, and leadership. It analyzes gender-related issues and advocates for the mobilization of leaders and institutions in support of gender and equity. CGE projects are located in Asia, Latin America, MENA, and Sub-Saharan Africa. For more information, please visit cge.aed.org. This is a web source that shows where human trafficking starts. In Flushing on this day though it is frustrating for neighbors to know what to do. A man distributing leaflets for a local massage parlor follows another man for nearly two blocks. A cavalcade of police officers and squad cars are lined up in front of a local Starbucks, they call “The Starbuck Shelter.” Across the street throngs of students wait for the Flushing Library to open.
Community and Coffee
One idea is to have church presence in the neighborhood perhaps with a coffeehouse that delivers a message with a mission and helps with cultural initiatives through music, broadcasts, friendship and fellowship. Many other pastors in the area express concern of the growing numbers of smuggled women into the area, and are looking for ways to join forces with Asian, African American and Caucasian Evangelicals who live and work in Flushing. WMCA in New York is considering doing an audio documentary series that features message, mission and music in the community. “We can begin to deal with the issues that are in front of us only through ministry, leadership, and communications,” a local pastor remarks, “but it has to be in the community, for the community and by the community.”
Coffee, Tea and Ministry
Mission Coffee Roasters located in Colorado claims that they can raise funds by selling coffee at wholesale to missionaries where the missionary can gain support for $5.00 a bag of coffee. “We can consult the churches and train people to run a coffeehouse and sell bags, and coffee drinks in conjunction with the ministry.” Mission Coffee Roasters supports farmers with Fair Trade Coffee and Tea and exports roasted coffee domestically and internationally.
On the air
A local radio station wants to bring a New York flavor of Gospel message, mission and music to the five boroughs of New York. “Hometown message that deals with the messaging from local pastors and teachers and address issues that are in their community, supply the mission and issues and highlights how the church impacts it’s community, and then bringing up and developing worship leaders who bring their original music to the forefront is the three-prong way to reach New York City with the life-changing freedom of the gospel,” one Queens pastor told us. “Everything starts here in New York and that includes the Freedom Mile, “it is up to all of us to walk the talk.”
Mission Coffee Roasters is located in Colorado Springs just north of Voyager and Interquest Parkways. Get a free brewed coffee when you buy any other drink by telling the Barista, you heard about them from The Denver Evangelical Examiner. To get involved in the Ministry of Leadership and Communications please e-mail Friendshipfellowship@juno.com.