Honoring God through fellowship, discipleship & evangelism

Our story

The name

The Church, when originally founded in 2003, was named the Dayton African Church. Since 2004, the Church has been renamed the Dayton Compassion Free Methodist Church.

Why in Dayton

In the past 17 years, there has been a large influx of refugees from Central African countries such as, Rwanda, Burundi, and Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire) due to the civil wars that have ravaged the region. The conflicts have taken many lives and forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee their former countries. It is estimated that there are over four thousand Rwandan, Burundian and Congolese refugees in USA and over three hundred live in Dayton alone. It is obvious that refugees have many needs; one of those needs is spiritual. Pastor John describes that when he saw those people, it was like when Jesus saw the multitude and felt compassion. Pastor John returned home where he lived in Kentucky and prayed. He felt God calling him to go and share the good news of Salvation with his countrymen in their own language.

Humble Beginning

The work of understanding the people of Dayton

In June 26, 2001, Pastor John W. Gakwaya and his family moved to Dayton, Ohio with the intention of planting a church. Upon arrival he spent the first six months exploring the area and gaining understanding  of the characteristics of the community. During this period, much time was spent praying, making connections through community people and building friendship with people. God guided him to plant God’s church in the best possible location. He visited homes and went door to door, talking to people and praying with them.

The next step was to write letters to those he visited. Of course the Dayton Compassion church did not have its own building, and still does not. But Pastor John Gakwaya was not discouraged. Finally, he used the Free Methodist building in Huber Heights. Pastor Randy was so kind to him and allowed Pastor John to use their facility building.  When people who responded to Pastor John’s invitation came to the first meeting, he just discussed with them how they could start a church.

In 2002, Pastor John met with people six times. The first meeting took place in January. Pastor John and the people who came made a schedule of how they will be meeting according to their availability. They met again in March, May, August, October and December of 2002. People who came in those meetings were Catholics and Seventh Day Adventists.

The official beginning

The Church was officially planted in February 2, 2003, a date that will not be forgotten. On that first Sunday, the Church opened its doors for anybody who wanted to come to join the Dayton Compassion International Free Methodist Church. Those who attended the church were twelve people. We were meeting at 3: 00 p.m. until March 2011 when we change the time of our meeting to 2:00 p.m.

In May 2005, Pastor John started to invite other people from different States so that the church could be known by other people from different States. Not only that, we also wanted to have a big revival of all people from different locations, states and elsewhere.  The first time we had that revival meeting, 85 people came! This was a big accomplishment. The Dayton Compassion Church decided to continue having this kind of revival meeting every year. We decided to hold it on Memorial Day weekend.

In 2007 and 2008, the church’s growth continued up to this time. We have now a few people who come from this country who have become members of our church.  This has given us the opportunity to use two languages: English and Kinyarwanda.  Most of the people we have from Africa, speak more than four languages!