地 勾 褐  約 冀 い み
CHINESE GOSPELBROADCASTING CENTER
109 Lafayette St. #801 New York, NY 10013, USA
Tel:(212)925-6229/Fax:(212)925-2690
email:info@cgbc.org / http://www.cgbc.org
 
GARMENT FACTORY ESL OUTREACH

 

How it Began
Chinese Gospel Broadcasting Center (CGBC) has been involved in reaching the garment factory workers in Manhattan since the mid-1980s. We supply Church field workers and missionaries going into the factory with gospel programs. These programs can be loaned to the workers for them to listen to with their own tape player while they are working, or for broadcast through the factory PA system if the factory boss is a Christian and willing to cooperate. We have witnessed the blessing of a factory broadcast; after 4 years of daily broadcast, one factory on Elizabeth Street established a Christian fellowship on its premise. (This testimony has been documented on video.)

Towards the second half of the 90ˇs, many factories in Chinatown had to close down due to orders being sent to Mexico and China where the cost of labor was cheaper. Many smaller factories mushroomed in Brooklyn because of less expensive rent and labor. The Lord opened a door for CGBC in one of the Brooklyn factories. A Christian working in this factory on 65th Street, 7th Avenue asked us to visit their factory with some tapes we produced. We made several visits before we suggested running an English class inside the factory. We were sensitive to the factory schedule, meeting with the factory employees during lunch hour and working around their deadlines. We did not expect them stop working, but we sat by them on a one-to-one basis; conversation can go on while the workers continue with their hands. The boss agreed to let the factory workers participate only if no trouble was created and everybody was happy with our presence. This new project started with fervent prayers. We began after Chinese New Year 1999 when Christine Radcliff, a missionary candidate, became our student intern for the year. Together with our staff worker Susan Lu, Christine and Susan became a team visiting the factory every Saturday afternoon for two hours lesson.

Our Goals
1. Share the love of God by the personal testimony and lifestyle of the team.
2. Teach English, but nothing too ¨academic〃, through taped materials provided by CGBC. The song tape is full of short choruses from simple gospel hymnals.
3. Build relationships wit
h the view to share the gospel by inviting them to fellowship, cell group meetings or evangelistic meetings when the time is ripe.
4. A time to have fun!

Sharing the Gospel
From meeting with a student and sharing the Gospel on a one-to-one basis to having a guest come and share testimony after a lesson, the Gospel is shared with all the factory workers. Our last group was very open to learning about Jesus. Two of them received Christ as their savior, and five were interested in having a copy of the Bible.

Teaching English
As you can imagine, teaching in a factory can be a challenge. There is the noise of the sewing machines, people yelling for different things, and piles of half-sewn garments everywhere. We have concluded that in a factory situation, where there is much distraction and different level students, the best way to teach and minister to the students is through songs. The workers absolutely adore learning English praise songs whether they want to know about God or not.

The following is what we have come up for a general format for a lesson in a factory group:
1. Teach a simple praise song.
2. Go through key words in the song and teach pronunciation and definitions.
3. Have a time for conversation with a question period using the key words learned in the songs.
4. If necessary, supplement the lesson with mini lessons like alphabet pronunciation or simple grammar.
5. Have a time to meet with students individually or in small groups to talk, ask questions, or go over the lessons again.

Building Relationships
It is important for each person to know that they are individually cared for. We have found that the factory people desire any attention that we can give them. Therefore, we need to be very careful and give as equally as possible. When it is hard to meet with all the students on a one-on-one basis, we strive to ask everyone a few questions. It is also important to see if anybody wants to know more about Jesus.

Having Fun
Classes are fun for the factory workers. They especially enjoy the songs, which keep the mood of the classes very light. They also enjoy our friendship so much so that they have invited us to one of their wedding banquets and to special lunches outside the factory. We have also opened ourselves to the workers beyond the classes. Susan opened her house for BBQ and that was the only time we could have more dialogs about salvation and the Bible message. The workers enjoy house parties and small group activities in places other than the church building. Many of them are reluctant to enter the church hall for different reasons. After all, so many have never been exposed to Christian friendship and some have never even heard of the name of Jesus.

Testimony from the teacher Christine Radcliff
I have really enjoyed teaching these factory people and feel overwhelmed by their excitement to welcome me a total stranger or a ¨foreigner〃 in their eyes. They laughed so much and we really had a good time together. Initially they were quite on guard, questioning our ulterior motives. Since it was so hard for me to remember their Chinese names, I tried to break the ice by giving them Christian names. They had to learn how to pronounce their names first. It was great fun. They treated me as their friend. When I finished the first session and took my summer break, I was invited to one of their wedding banquet as a special guest. What a treat for me to try all the delicacies and I love Chinese food. A very special moment for me happened during the fall session.

I met with one of the girls and went over the first story from our booklet The Good Father. It was the parable of the prodigal son. She read it and I explained it in very simple English, pointing to the key words. Then I asked her questions relating to the story like, ¨Was the father in this story a good father?〃 and ¨Do you know why God told us this story?〃 I explained that God is the father and we are the prodigal sons. The girl then got such a clear picture of God and exclaimed, ¨God is so good!〃 Then we talked even more about the Gospel.

Testimony from CGBC Staff (additional information in Chinese)
I had been working in the garment factory for over 20 years before I was called to serve the Lord in CGBC 6 years ago. I came to know Christ through a co-worker in the factory. The lifestyle and mindset of these workers are not foreign to me. This was an important factor as to why I was immediately accepted in their circle. We can talk in the same vocabulary and I can identify with their pains and stress. I can even work along with them while we are talking. They welcome any extra help like cutting threads to meet a shipment. Generally speaking, working class people have their own sense of worldview and opinion towards Christian values. Many claim to be atheist if they came from mainland China, a majority will claim that they are Buddhist and worship Chinese folk heroes, like Kwan-de and goddesses like Kwung-yin. Some of them have a very low self-image and poor rapport at home. They have to cope with stress and financial burdens, as some of them may have debts and loans due to their way of entrance into America.

In New Yorkˇs Manhattan Chinatown and Brooklyn Chinatown, there are still many factories run by a Chinese boss. There are some in Queens as well. On the whole the work force is made up of females. Most of them have families with small children. Some have to send their children to relatives in China while they work in America. Many will depend on day care by friends or relatives. Many have latch key kids staying at home all by themselves. Their working hours are long. They will work as long as there are clothes to be made since they are paid mostly by pieces. Their life goal is to make money and have a good life. They realize their goal may not be achieved by their generation. Some have high hopes that their children will turn out to be good professional people and can be spared from their own fate. However, many of them have become parents of problem youth. Reaching them with the love of Christ and leading them to know Him is my call.

Project Review

We praise the Lord for the boss who opens the door for us to get into the factory premise. We thank God for the dedication and faith in Christ of the working team. Many ministry partners and local churches have prayed for us and some pray every Saturday for Susan and Christine while they are out on the field witnessing to those in the factory, and also those receiving tracts from us on the streets.

Christine once commented that she admired Susanˇs boldness in facing peopleˇs cold response and opposition to hearing about Jesus. The team has to prepare before each visit and review after each visit by planning and praying. We need to adapt the materials to the needs of those we contact. Their background and education level varies and we have to be sensitive to meet their specific needs.

The background of the team workers and compassion for others play a vital part in the smooth operation of this outreach. The work of the Holy Spirit is so evident because even Buddhist believers begin to join in the singing and learning of the gospel chorus.

We know it is not the one who sows or the one who harvests that can make the seed grow. Only God can do it. However, we still need people to prepare the soil for the sowing and harvesting. We see that if we could reach the factories, we could reach a major portion of the immigrant Chinese in New York City. If we can lead the mothers to Christ, the next generation will be blessed. God plays no favoritism and He loves the blue-collar working class as much as the elite and professionals. We continue to trust that many brothers and sisters have the heart for these immigrant families to enter into His Kingdom.

Maybe some young person or early retiree will be called to minister to these people by coming to New York. We will be willing to be a facilitator. We are asking the Lord to send more teachers, especially American born young people or non-Chinese speaking Christians of any ethnic background to be our team partners. They can come as volunteers or as missionary interns like Christine Radcliff. For more information please e-mail info@cgbc.org. As we do not charge the people for all the materials we provide, and all CGBC workers are missionaries living by faith, any donation or even mission support is important to sustain this outreach program as well as for the development of more new materials in the future. Above all we treasure more prayer partners to come forth and look forward to seeing what God will do in calling His church to join forces, especially in providing a spiritual home for those who want to give their lives to Jesus.

Submitted by Eileen Liu of CGBC February 1, 2000.