#iamRefuge: Jen

I didn't have to hide

I grew up going to Sunday School and I knew a bunch of the stories in the Bible but I didn’t really understand how they were relevant to my life. As I grew through my teens I started to feel that I wasn’t good enough and that God would be angry at me for messing up all the time and I felt it would be better to stay away from God, to try and limit His anger towards me. 

In my late teens my Mum was diagnosed with breast cancer, which she died from a few years later, and I found myself coming back to what I had learned in Sunday School, looking for some sort of answer or comfort. I came to understand that Jesus' death on the cross paid for all of the ways that I messed up and that I didn’t have to hide from God. In Jesus I have found hope for the future, comfort in times of suffering, and strength to face the hard times in life.

What are some of the things you think are really great about Refuge?

For me, the best thing about Refuge is that it feels like family. Comfy family, like the kind where you can be together and not need to talk, or the kind where if someone asks you how you are you have full license to tell them the honest truth. I have always hated small talk, I find it so draining, it’s such a relief to me to be part of a church that isn’t big on small talk, where I can be open and honest, tell it like it is and be accepted no matter what. I love that we walk together through life’s highs and lows, that we celebrate together and we mourn together, and that we try to encourage each other to keep our eyes on God’s truth and to grow in our love for God.

How are you involved in life at Refuge?

My husband and I are part of a community group that meets fortnightly on a Wednesday evening. We basically come together to eat dinner, share our reflections on a set passage of the Bible, and then split into smaller groups to pray together for whatever needs we bring. We love being part of this group and it’s been a huge source of encouragement for us as we’ve walked through some difficult times with my health over the past year.

I also sing in the worship band at least once a month. I’ve always loved singing, there’s rarely a time in the day when I’m not singing—in my head if not out loud—so it’s good to be able to use that in a way that serves the church.

what about Refuge encourages your faith?

Every Sunday the service kicks off with the opportunity for people to share their stories of what God has been doing in their lives over the week. I always find this so encouraging, to hear what people are learning about God and the prayers that He is answering in their lives. It’s a great reminder that God is alive and at work. I also find it’s a great opportunity to reflect on how He’s been at work in my life during the past week, and it always challenges me to think about how much (or how little) I have made God a part of my week.

If you could tell anyone Just one thing about Refuge?

I think the one thing that I would want people to know about Refuge is that they are welcome. You are welcome! No matter where you are from or what your story is you are welcome at Refuge.