#iamRefuge: Katie

A decision to be made

Every time my Papa phoned me, he’d ask me, “have you given your heart to Jesus yet, Katie?”. I could only squirm because, although I went to Sunday School every week, I had no idea what he meant by this. 

Despite knowing the stories and songs, it wasn’t until I was 12 years old that I first encountered Jesus and, regretfully, not until I was 18 years old that I responded to the reality of this encounter. I used to think my story was boring, but in hindsight, that’s because I didn’t understand how much I had turned away from God—and, therefore, how incredible it is that He welcomed me back. I had been ‘talking the talk’, but I wasn’t living like someone who had been transformed by the certainty of Jesus’ forgiveness.

And this is when the crux of my Papa’s question comes in: being born of Christian parents didn’t mean that I, by default, was ‘ok’. There was a decision to be made. A change to take place. And my Papa’s question urgently needed an answer. At age 18, I could finally fully (and honestly) answer “yes” to my Papa’s question. 

My life doesn’t always reflect someone who’s chosen to follow Jesus, but I know that because He now resides in my heart and because of His work on the cross—to even make this possible—I have been made ‘ok’.

how did you come to be part of Refuge?

I moved to Glasgow approximately 18 months ago wrestling with questions of ‘what is church?’ and ‘why is church church?’. Having grown up in the same incredible church in Dundee since I was 3, I had never had to go through the process of ‘finding a church’ so I had to consider these questions properly for the first time. Although I don’t yet have a fine-tuned, eloquent answer to these questions, through my church family at Refuge, God has taught me that this loving, authentic, welcoming, generous, bold, Jesus centred, Bible focused, prayerful, outward looking community is exactly ‘church’.

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

There’s so much. When I was speaking to a friend over summer about highlights from my year, after me blabbering about church for a long time they eventually interrupted me saying, “Wow, Katie! You really do love your church.”

It’s open and unashamedly loving. During my time as part of Refuge, I’ve already seen the church cope with many difficult unexpected challenges and, time and time again, I have been blown away by the leadership team’s integrity, wisdom, gentleness and honesty. I also adore the kids at Refuge and how included they are in all aspects of the church family life. I think these things (and more) are great!

How are you involved in life at Refuge?

I sometimes sing with the band and regularly lead the kids programme. It is a genuine joy and privilege to be able to serve the church in these ways with some extremely gifted individuals we have at Refuge. I am also part of the east end community group which has been fundamental to my personal and spiritual growth this past year. This is a place I felt immediately welcomed, valued and listened to. I learnt quickly that this was a safe place to weep and laugh together through all situations, circumstance and changes.

what about Refuge encourages your faith?

As others have already shared in previous blog posts, I love how we start our service each week with an ‘open mic’ for anyone to share what they’ve seen or witnessed God doing that week. I find this a real encouragement and reminder that we worship a living God who is still so actively at work in pursuit. I am also so encouraged by the way the children are free to be children at Refuge and how we, as adults, are also free to just be to be ourselves in whatever shape or form that is each week. By this I am echoing what I’ve already shared in that I feel a genuine freedom to weep, laugh and share in an honest way without prejudice, but with prayerful support and encouragement in whatever I’m facing.

If you could tell anyone Just one thing about Refuge?

When I came to Refuge just over a year ago, I found a genuine, loving, caring, gentle random assortment of people who invited me into their weird and wonderful family. They have supported me through some difficult situations, practically and prayerfully, already this year as well as loved and cheered me on through many exciting times. If you came today, I’d have no doubt you’d experience the same loving invitation as I did.

When Refuge says they’re a family who love God and love others, they’re not lying. This is Refuge’s identity.