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Mission work has no borders for Victory Family Church in Cranberry

| Saturday, March 23, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review
Slavena Stefanova (left) and Sarah Weaver pause for a photo at Victory Family Church in Cranberry on Tuesday, March 20, 2013. The two have done missionary work and work at the church.
People from the nursing home in Bulgaria where Victory Church missionaries donated more than 100 new bathrobes and other supplies. Slavena Sefanova | For the Tribune-Review
Sarah Weaver of Cranberry works with children at a day school for orphans and high-risk children in Malawi. She was there as part of missions work with Victory Church in Cranberry. Sarah Weaver

Victory Family Church in Cranberry supports missions as nearby as Zelienople and the North Side and as far away as Lusaka, Zambia, and Queensland, Australia.

When it comes to such projects, “A thousand hands doing something small can become significant,” said John Nuzzo, the Beaver County native who founded the church 20 years ago after working as a missionary in Africa.

With about 5,000 members, the nondenominational church supports roughly 30 missions that range from the Light of Life Rescue Mission, a North Side shelter, to the Nation's Hope, an evangelistic outreach in Singapore.

From 2009 to 2011, the church spent $1.5 million on missions. Ten percent of all non-designated giving to the church goes to a fund for those activities.

“Our missions are very big on lifting people out of trouble. Our role is not to be against people. Christians are known too much for what we are against, not what we are for,” Nuzzo said.

One of his favorite organizations the church supports is Glade Run Lutheran Services, an organization that provides behavioral health, education, and social services in Zelienople, Beaver Falls, Butler and Pittsburgh.

“They have children there who are in such dire straits. They are caring for kids who many people would prefer would not exist and making them better,” Nuzzo said.

In the past year, members of the church have traveled on missions to places such as Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic and Bulgaria.

Slavena Stefanova, 25, of Butler led the two-week trip to Bulgaria, which included working at an orphanage and a government-run nursing home, holding conferences at churches and street preaching.

Stefanova's family moved to Butler County from Bulgaria 14 years ago. Victory Church helped them with housing when they arrived. So she had a particular interest in returning to Bulgaria.

“The 47 years of communism there wiped out the idea of God altogether,” she said.

The nursing home at which she worked there was decrepit. Its 100 residents share two bathrooms and two showers.

“We bought all of the residents bathrobes to shorten the time they need to spend in the shower. We talked to them about Jesus and the reason we were doing this,” Stefanova said.

Sarah Weaver, 30, of Cranberry spent two years working as a missionary for Dynamis World Ministries, a worldwide missions organization with headquarters in Lancaster. The church sponsored her work.

She spent time in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia on evangelistic crusades and church-planting.

In many of the towns where she worked, the soccer field was the equivalent of the town square. “We preached in open fields all the time. As a Christian, I think it's good to share,” Weaver said.

Rick Wills is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7944 or at

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