To give a little background, when my family started attending Refuge, we were coming out of a season of loneliness and lack of accountability in our walks. In the year prior, we had lost our home to a fire and our youngest, who was two months old at the time of the fire, continued to cry all day and all night due to reflux. We were physically and emotionally exhausted. Our house church had since dispersed, and we rarely made it to church due to lack of sleep. We desperately needed to do life with people that would help us renew our affections for God.
The focus on community was apparent to me from the first time we visited Refuge. People give freely of themselves to newcomers on Sundays. They forge ahead through the awkward “getting to know you” conversations because they know that is imperative to building up the church body as a whole. We talked to more people that Sunday than we had in all the Sundays we’d made it to church in the past year combined.
These conversations quickly turned into playdates, double dates, and much more than just surface conversation. Relationships grow quickly at Refuge and the Gospel is intertwined in all of them. We share with one another the graces of God that we see in their lives, a process that both encourages them in their walk and renews their affection for God. We share with one another when we feel we have been wronged. This helps us to truly forgive and for all parties involved to examine their hearts and repent of any sin that might be present. We keep each other accountable.
Probably the most life changing aspect of Refuge community for me has been the encouragement to study the Bible for myself and that I am capable of doing it. I grew up in church with both the idea that you should read your Bible daily as an item on your “Good Christian Checklist,” and the idea that you should feel something miraculous or get something every time you read the Word. Both ideas put a lot of pressure on a person and can lead to discouragement. Here at Refuge, I’ve learned that I may have to wrestle with a text for a while to gain any understanding of it but it is worthwhile for me to do this on my own without relying on outside sources. For me it has always been risky to attempt to interpret the text on my own. What if I get it wrong?! The good news is we all do at times! We are all human, and therefore do not know the mind of God. And that is why we take the risk in community. Our brothers and sisters in Christ are faithful at keeping us in check when we are way off the mark, and/or take away from the Gospel.
I am certain that if Mark and I had been attending Refuge when we were in a pattern of recurrently missing church (even due to lack of sleep) we would have gotten a call from someone at Refuge. And it wouldn’t have been a “how dare you miss church” call, it would have been a “what is going on, how can we help?” call.
Now this is my experience at Refuge as someone who was hungry for community. We didn’t sneak out before the last song in effort to avoid those first awkward conversations. I jumped right into a Refuge Community Group even though my husband would not be able to attend with me and our boys. If you are wanting community, don’t be afraid to take risks here. My guess is that you will find refuge.
- Jenne Jenkins