GraceConnect eNews, No. 118, Week of September 21, 2015


The eNewsletter for the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches

International House

Kevin and Siew-Choo Ong wanted to find a way to impact international students to the U.S. in a positive way. Former international students themselves, they understood the many challenges facing young people who choose to brave a new country, language, and culture while pursuing a higher education. After moving from Singapore to complete their post-graduate work at Grace Theological Seminary in Winona Lake, Ind., the couple moved to San Francisco, Calif. in 2003. The two were already adept at intercultural integration, so it didn’t take long for them to make new friends.

But they also had an idea.

In November 2006, after 10 months of renovation, they opened International House, a four-story, nine-bedroom Victorian-style home that offers affordable housing for students. Since then, men and women from more than 45 countries have passed through its doors.

Conveniently located between the University of San Francisco and University of California, San Francisco, this multi-cultural housing option offers much more than a typical college dormitory. The
iHouse, as the Ongs dubbed it, offers international students a chance to immerse themselves in the many cultures of those who live there, and experience the love of Christ in the process.

“When people from diverse nationalities and academic disciplines live together, they learn collaboration, diplomacy, and leadership skills,” says Kevin. “The San Francisco International House is a home away from home, where life-long friendships begin.”

The house was originally opened under the sponsorship of Grace Brethren North American Missions. Today, the Ongs, partner with 
Grace Community Church, a Grace Brethren congregation in Auburn, Calif. (Phil Sparling, senior pastor), and the Nor-Cal District of Grace Brethren Churches. IHouse is operated as a nonprofit organization, and offered as a living option to anyone regardless of religious views. However, they aren’t quiet about their Christian faith.

Students at iHouse forge friendships during shared meals, including English conversation groups, culture appreciation nights, outings throughout San Francisco and Northern California, and home stays with American families from the Auburn Grace Community Church during Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. All the while, the Ongs use the trust built during these day-to-day opportunities to share the gospel in an informal setting as residents interact with them on a daily basis.

And it’s working. Their newsletter is filled with stories of how God is working in the lives of the students who stay at the iHouse.

“The best benefit is the family-like atmosphere for building friendships,” Kevin says. “We pray that the love of God will continue to abound in our lives as we interact daily with the residents.”

Join the Ongs in praying for the iHouse residents by signing up for their newsletter or finding out more on 
their website. Send the Ongs a note of encouragement at

[Your Turn]


Jayson Georges of recently put out two  articles about phrases and actions that certain cultures interpret in ways we wouldn't expect. Check out 5 Rude Things Honor-Shame Cultures Say and 5 Shameful Things Westerners Say for an eye-opening look into culture differences and how to bridge the gap.


The Charis Day of Prayer and Fasting will be held October 14, 2015 in preparation for 2015 International Charis Leadership Encounter, to be held November 2-6 in Bangkok, ThailandBe watching the Grace Connect page for updates on how you can be praying for the event, and visit this page for more information and to sign up for the Charis Prayer Chain


Encompass World Partners recently introduced their new Mobilization Services Network. Watch the video below.

[Layman's Corner:]

Grace Church Bath Campus Pastor of Mobilization Joe Caruso (Jeff Bogue, pastor) recently posted an article entitled,  "5 Signs You Might Be a Bad Friend and What to Do About It." 

"Maybe with God’s help, we can do this," he writes. "Maybe if we can identify these mistakes in our own lives, we can all be better friends. Together." 
Click here to read the post. 

Events in the FGBC

September 25-26, 2015  Revive '15 Fellowship Forum, Indianapolis, Ind.  (WGUSA)
October 5-7, 2015 – Central Focus Retreat (FGBC)
October 19-21, 2015  East Focus Retreat (FGBC)
October 30-31, 2015  WLS: Principles of Effective Bible Study, Columbus, Ohio  (WGUSA)
November 2-6, 2015 – Charis International Leadership Encounter, Bangkok, Thailand (EWP)
November 13-14, 2015  WLS: Women & Scripture, Elizabethtown, Pa.  (WGUSA)
January 15-16, 2016 – WLS: Women & Scripture, Ocala, Fla.  (WGUSA)
January 22-24, 2016  Kalahari Retreat, Sandusky, Ohio (FGBC)
January 25-27, 2016  Southwest Focus Retreat (FGBC)
January 27-19, 2016  Fellowship Council (FGBC)
March 14-16, 2016  South Focus Retreat (FGBC) 
June 19-25, 2016  The Great Canadian Adventure, Toronto, Canada (GBC)
July 22-25, 2016  Vision Toronto (FGBC) 
July 26-31, 2016  Momentum Youth Conference (CEN)

CEN – CE National
EWP – Encompass World Partners
FGBC – Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches
GBC – Grace Brethren Canada
WGUSA – Women of Grace USA

Send events for the calendar to
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