Grace Family Church (GFC) was organized in 2003 and is located in a suburban neighborhood of Carmichael, California. As Dasha the secretary for GFC explains, “Most members of our congregation are Russian speaking immigrants from former Soviet Union. Nevertheless, we strongly believe that neither cultural differences nor language barriers should prevent us from sharing the Love of God with people around us. We put a lot of effort into becoming more accessible to anyone and everyone who is open to hearing God’s word. Last year we started having services in English. It created a great opportunity for the youth to invite their English speaking friends to the services. For the traditional services in Russian, we always have a direct translation available through headphones.
One example of how accessible GFC is for sharing God’s love is in the testimony of “Sam”, an English speaking gentleman. Dasha shares, “Sam is in his late 60s. He became an orphan early on in his childhood. Unfortunately, his experience in the orphanage was an unpleasant one, to put it mildly. When Sam was in his mid-20s, he was sentenced to 20 years in prison. After he was released on parole, he found the majority of Americans would separate themselves from him. Then, he met a Russian family in his neighborhood who happened to be active members at Grace Family Church. A friendship was built and the family showered Sam with attention and love, and invited him to attend services with them. Reluctantly, Sam started going to church. He enjoyed the atmosphere of the church and even though there was a slight culture barrier, he became a regular church visitor over the course of 5 years. Last year, Sam publicly dedicated his life to Christ; he repented and was baptized. Being American, he is definitely a minority in the Russian church, but that has never been an issue. Sam is now a member at GFC and his transformation in the last few years is a great example of God’s grace. To say that his life changed would be an understatement.”
Grace Family Church lives out their values of building relationships and extending God’s love. They place an emphasis within their ministries on “praising the Lord through strengthening families and their influence in their surrounding communities, workplaces and everyday life. We see that a strong family, that knows and worships the Lord, is the ideal “light and salt” for the people around them, Dasha shares.
But as more and more families started attending, Grace Family Church soon saw the need for more space, along with providing children and youth ministries. As Dasha describes, “A true definition of a church would be “gathering of people” – but having a building helps the church be more effective. What brought us to the point of needing a building to call “our own” was realizing that if we wanted to grow and expand as a church, we needed a space that would allow us to create new ministries.” It was with this heart and goal that they contacted CEIF with hope of obtaining a loan.
“CEIF has always been a huge blessing for our church. They were willing to give GFC a loan, which made it possible for us to purchase the church building. We are very grateful for this organization and sincerely believe that God’s Kingdom is growing as a result of the generosity and sacrificial giving of many Believers”, shares Dasha. She also had a word of appreciation to share with our investors who helped make this building possible, “The greatest investment anyone can make is investing in changing a person’s soul into the image of God. We are extremely grateful that you use your funds to assist churches. Thank you for making it possible for many churches, specifically for our church, using the funds provided by CEIF, to impact many lives for God’s glory.”
Through purchasing their new church building, Grace Family Church was able to meet their goal of creating and further expanding various ministries including schools, youth sports clubs and choir, and seminars specifically geared towards men or women. “We obtained an unrestrained time and opportunity for people to come to church every day where they can grow spiritually and fellowship. Owning the church building allows us to have schools where the Word of God and biblical principles are taught to children as well as adults”, Dasha excitedly shares. “A tremendous growth occurred since the remodel of the church building. Many new people joined GFC and became very active in serving God in various ministries. And it is possible due to the availability of the church facility throughout the entire week. GFC started a new ministry in San Jose spreading the Gospel to Russian-speaking non-believers, inviting them to join small groups. In addition, we had a few outreach programs such as the Family Outing Day, Vacation Bible School and the Harvest Festival. Inviting our surrounding community to these events gave us multiple opportunities to witness to non-believers. We are praying for the opportunity to expand the church facility or to obtain a more accommodating facility for our growing congregation in the near future.”