MariannaJuhasz and her sons, Patrik and Tamas, say they came to Canada four years ago from Hungary to escape domestic violence. They applied for refugee status, saying Tamas was beaten by his father.
But they lost their appeal in court and were ordered to ordered to leave in November. Tamas, now 12, told a therapist he would commit suicide if he had to go back.
"This is like a million times better than back there," Tamas said. "Back there, everything is bad, no money for food ..."
The Juhaszes went into hiding and were granted sanctuary at the Walnut Grove Lutheran Church on Nov. 30.
Under the Immigration Act, the Langley Church is breaking the law.
Granting sanctuary is a tradition that dates back to the Middle Ages when people were granted a safe haven and the protection of places of worship, but it's a manoeuvre authorities have been reluctant to challenge.
The church said the Juhaszes are welcome to stay as long as they like.
Pastor Karl Keller said the family asked many churches in Abbotsford, but were denied.
"I'm a simple guy," he said. "I like to think we deal in compassion and with a heart."
The church also granted sanctuary last year to Jose Figueroa, a Langley man who was was ordered to be deported to El Salvador. Figueroa sought sanctuary to being separated from his wife and three Canadian children.