The following is what a newly immigrated family experienced when they moved nearby Grace United Methodist Church in Riverside, CA and visited on Sunday:
“I, Mohammad Nekarae (Hamouon) moved here to the United States on June 15th 2015 with my wife and 3 daughters. We arrived in LAX and as all the nearby housing facilities were full, someone suggested we go to Anaheim. We spent 15 days in Anaheim and during our stay there we searched diligently for a place to live. We visited other cities and areas and finally found an apartment in Riverside with a reasonable rent. By that time our situation had become worse as our money was almost gone due to our expenses. We were also facing problems in leasing the apartment as we did not have the necessary requirements.
Fortunately we were lucky enough to live across the street from Grace United Methodist Church and the first Sunday that we moved here we visited that church. The first person I got to know was Pastor Martin Finau and he welcomed all of us to the Church with open arms. Since that day I and my family have been worshiping with them every Sunday morning.
Eventually we got introduced to Pastor Youngstone Jhun and all the other members of the church. They were all absolutely kind-hearted and thoughtful. Upon hearing our story all of them and members of the Box Springs Parish came to our aid and supported my family in every way that they could possibly do without any hesitation.
When we moved here we were not even able to afford our daily necessities but the churches helped us with our payments for the lawyers so we could finally submit files to the immigration office.
Beside all this we were blessed to be baptized by Pastor Finau and Pastor Youngstone on the 25th of October 2015 into a community without the fear of being persecuted. It was an amazing day for all of us which I cannot express in words. Pastor Youngstone took it upon himself to began to teach us the Bible every Tuesday evening and these classes still continue even though Pastor Youngstone is now retired and in poor health. The choir at the church readily accepted two of my daughters into the choir and it such a great blessing to me to see them singing the hymns.
Though immigrating to a country we have never visited before was really hard, the church has made it easier and tolerable by helping us both financially and emotionally. Right now the church is part of our family that we love and appreciate every day. We give thanks to God that He placed us here so we could get to know such wonderful people. I hope and pray for the day in the near future I will be able to return all of their favors and be able to help people just like myself.
I would like to thank all of the people at Grace United Methodist Church and the Box Springs Parish for all the love and kindness they have showed to me and my family as we started on a new road for our future.”