Passage from India (and the West Indies, Too)

By Steve M. Schlissel
February 01, 1998

Okay, so Columbus was slightly off. We can fix that by calling the area where he landed the West Indies. But East or West, Indians are now coming to New York City, and thanks to you, we are here to greet them in the Name of Christ, Lord of all nations.

Natives of India settle, for the most part, in Queens, geographically the largest of New York City's five boroughs. Queens lays claim, hands down, to the most diverse zip code in the nation: people born in 120 different nations live in Elmhurst. In adjacent Flushing, virtually all the signs on Northern Boulevard are in "tongues."

Urban Nations has just completed arrangements for the part-time rental of a Chinese Christian center in the heart of this incredibly diverse neighborhood. Staff member Elena Pertgen will be moving out of the basement of the Queens Christian Reformed Church, which graciously housed the ministry for several years. Relocating from the residential to the commercial area will mean a vast new opportunity to reach immigrants with the Gospel. We will be, to use the New York expression, in their faces. The accompanying photo shows the faces of several of Elena's students, along with a couple of their relatives, gathered for "tea."Seven of the women are from India, two from Central America.

Also moving out of a basement—praise the Lord!—is the Rev. Ken Brown, Urban Nations' Ambassador to the West Indian community. In answer to your prayers, and in faith tinged with trepidation, we have rented a storefront on Nostrand Avenue, an important strip in what some call Brooklyn's "inner city."Lord willing, by the time you read this, Hope Caribbean Reformed Church will have begun worshiping the Lord and preaching the Reformed Faith in an area which, up until now, has been characterized by unbelief and/or theological chaos. We are desperately anxious to bring the truth to many of Brooklyn's 700,000 West Indians. (Ken and his wife, Veronica, are from Jamaica. The largest city in Jamaica [Kingston], has a population of 100,000. New York City is home to 400,000 Jamaicans.)

As we move up and out with these branches of Urban Nations, we beseech you to hold us before God's gracious throne, asking that he would empower and bless us in his service, and that he would make the truth which alone sets free, efficacious in the hearts of many who hear. The passage to New York City made by people from India, the West Indies, from all nations, is not a proper end, in our eyes. It's passage into his Kingdom that we long to see the immigrants make. In him there is no East or West.

2662 East 24th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11235
: [email protected]

Topics: Charity, Christian Reconstruction

Steve M. Schlissel

Steve Schlissel has served as pastor of Messiah's Congregation in Brooklyn, New York, since 1979. Born and raised in New York City, Schlissel became a Christian by reading the Bible. He and Jeanne homeschooled their five children  and also helped raise several foster children (mostly Vietnamese). In 2003, they adopted Anna (who was born in Hong Kong in 1988, but is now a U.S. citizen). They have eight foster grandchildren and fourteen "natural" grandchildren.

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