"It was in 2013 at the first conference for the NYC Clergy Roundtable that faith leaders sat in shock, anger, dismay, and disbelief. After an intense 2-hour presentation about the epidemic of human trafficking, many questioned how this could be happening right in their hometown of New York City."
Rev. Que English launched into action, founding Not On My Watch, Inc as a call to reimagine the role of clergy and faith in the world. "It's time now, with 2,200 lost to human trafficking last year in New York City, we need to stand at the forefront as faith leaders."
Not on my Watch, Inc. combats human trafficking and domestic violence through education and training, community and policy advocacy, and mentoring, resources, and referrals for victims and survivors. The organization has already trained over 200 houses of worship in advocacy.
"At first, I thought I was simply interested in the topic because of the impact it was having on our communities. I thought if this is happening to the multitude of children throughout our city, surely the heart of God would compel His people to act.
"But it went beyond that. My interest really did start from my childhood where one of the most damaging slogans among our community was commonplace: 'What goes on in the house stays in the house.' There was much that went on in our house that went unaccounted, unconfronted and misdiagnosed. There was no counseling for the ills we faced as children. I don't believe we need to live by that slogan and I work daily to make sure that these victims feel empowered to come outside of the house to share their stories, to seek counsel and much needed help."
Rev. English believes that faith leaders must see houses of worship in new ways. "I believe we serve a God who calls us to justice as declared in Micah 6:8.
What's next? A sustainable and permanent housing model that provides safety, healing, and economic opportunity to victims and survivors, so they not only survive, but thrive. Tackling an issue as large as human trafficking is daunting, but "my comfort lies in knowing there are others in line waiting for the torch to be passed. May I continue to see them. My heart rests knowing that the fight will continue until justice has cried her last tear," says Rev. English.
We were blessed to have spent the past year learning with Rev. English as she took part in our Start program that supports faith leaders as they bring an idea to fruition using entrepreneurial and design tools. "Glean Network taught me that you can't 'run' with an idea if there is not clarity of vision. I am so proud of what I developed."