In 1989, when Grace Mo moved back to New York after a four-year work assignment in Beijing, China, she had a definite calling from God to “speak up for those who could not speak for themselves.” She didn’t know how this would develop but rested in God’s plan and His timing. She volunteered for a ministry making Gospel recordings to be played for Chinese immigrants. Through this ministry, she met a garment factory owner in Manhattan who invited her to do outreach ministry in his factory. She knew that the garment factory workers were to be the target group for the calling God had given her. The work began in one factory and eventually expanded to ten different garment factories. In 1994, Rebecca Lee, from Maryland, joined Grace to share the Gospel in these factories.
Rebecca and Grace broadcasted the Bible studies on a loudspeaker so workers at their machines were still able to hear (immigrant workers were paid by their output). After each meeting, Rebecca and Grace introduced themselves, learned about their families and asked if they could help with anything. Common requests were to help translate a letter or form to English.
Rebecca and Grace built relationships and shared their faith with the women. These relationships deepened and the conversations resulted in many of the women putting their faith in Christ. They rented space in Manhattan for more than a year in order to build up these new believers. In 1999, Rebecca and Grace began working with the Evangelical Free Church of America’s (EFCA) Eastern District and the Association of North American Chinese EFC (ANACEFC) to find space for a church plant in Brooklyn. First Evangelical Free Church (FEFC) provided the space, and the church plant, New York Chinese EFC, started with these new women believers. Gradually, their husbands started attending and the church grew.
In 2004, the economy started changing and some of the garment factories closed because it was more profitable to do garment work in China and ship to the US. Many immigrants lost their jobs as a result. At the same time, the Eastern District had a vision to transform a building they had bought for a community center. Manny, an immigrant from Sicily, Italy, had owned this three-story building for 60 years and sold the building for less than market value to the Eastern District. Manny had become a Christian through a church outreach to the immigrant community and was overjoyed that his building was being used for ministry. Rev. Roy Larsen, Associate Superintendent of Urban Intercultural Ministries for the Eastern District, said, “We were able to purchase the building with Christian Investors Financial’s (CIF) help. Grace and Rebecca started using the first floor for ministry. Later, the entire building (four floors) was renovated and ministry expanded to using the whole building.” In 2005, the ministry was incorporated in the state of New York under the name, Dorcas Ministries.
The additional space has greatly increased Rebecca’s and Grace’s ministry. Today, some of their specific ministries include:
- Seven English Speaking Language (ESL) classes with approximately 200 students each week.
- Computer classes on the second floor for people to come and learn basic computer skills.
- Walk-in center where hundreds of people visit each year for assistance with various needs such as making a phone call, translating or writing a letter, learning how taxes work, filling out forms and more.
- Music ministry where volunteers teach musical instruments to children. This ministry has transformed into a youth group.
- Summer ministry to over 100 children. Their parents work full time and need a program longer than a one-week VBS (Vacation Bible Study). Dorcas coordinated a summer ministry with FEFC called Summer Splash. It is run throughout the summer by volunteer churches, each church staying a week in the upper floor apartments (and spilling over into other areas) of the Dorcas Ministries building. The coordinators of the program are local, and some of the kids who had been served in the past are now leaders.
- Community outreach events, such as those at Christmas, where 300-400 hundred people from the community attend.
Many have come to Christ as a result of Dorcas Ministries. God used the faithfulness of Grace and her husband Wilson, Rebecca, Manny, the Eastern District, ANACEFC and others to make a difference in the Brooklyn Chinese community of over 300,000 immigrants, and the Gospel continues to be shared today.
CIF is thankful for our partnership with Dorcas Ministries! They were able to quickly pay off their loan and have now become investors with CIF to help support loans for other churches and ministries.