#iamRefuge: Jonathan

Life on The Rock

I had wanted to leave my mark by making a name for myself in architecture. However, I had also become completely entangled in a rebellious lifestyle and patterns of self-destructive behaviour. Sure, it was fun—or so it seemed at the time—but as the years wore on, it became increasingly obvious that this life was essentially hollow and meaningless. This was life slipping away in sinking sand.

Late one night, despairing, I prayed: “Father, bring me home,” and God answered that prayer (and is answering that prayer) by leading me back to His Word and to church. There, He led me back to Himself by opening my eyes to the beauty and truth of the gospel that Jesus had died on a cross and had been raised from the dead out of His love for me. I was a returning prodigal—embraced by the Father who showed me that in Jesus, I have been made new; given the mark of a new identity and a new purpose. In Him, life has fullness of meaning and significance—in Him life leads not to death but life to life eternal. On the Solid Rock I now stand.

how did you come to be part of Refuge?

We were looking for somewhere to worship God in spirit and in truth. More particularly, we were looking for a church that was committed to proclaiming the gospel of Jesus through expository Bible teaching, alongside vital, contemporary worship—and Refuge seemed to fit the bill. But really, just as important was the warmth of welcome, and the valuable friendships that ensued thereafter.

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

When you think of church, you might think of something that you go to on a Sunday, or else somewhere that you go to on a Sunday, but church is more than a Sunday service or the building that this takes place in. When I was studying architecture I had always wanted to design a church, but the Bible tells us that the Church is an edifice not of bricks and mortar but of living stones—in other words it is God’s people who are the Church.

Refuge claims to be a family who love God and who love others. In doing so it doesn’t claim to be like a family, but claims to be a family—brothers and sisters in Christ who are adopted into God’s family. And this is what’s so really great about Refuge: being included in that; enjoying one another; spending time together; sharing one another’s joys and burdens; joining together in prayer; listening to God’s Word; and responding in worship. This is real community—real people, with real lives, real concerns and real hopes for the future. It has been a great joy and blessing to be part of the Refuge family.

How are you involved in life at Refuge?

Sundays are special—it’s when we all come together to encounter God by hearing His Word and engaging with Him in prayer and worship. So, just being there on a Sunday, you get the opportunity to be involved with all of that. However, being a fairly new church plant (and being relatively small in terms of numbers) there’s always different things that need done, and there’s jobs for everyone that wants one. (That’s another thing that’s really great about Refuge—we seek to utilise and nurture everyone’s gifts and skills.) For me, this has meant taking on some of the creative projects, participating in the prayer ministry, and preaching on occasion.

More recently, it has been my great privilege and responsibility to shepherd the flock as one of the inaugural elders at Refuge.

what about Refuge encourages your faith?

Refuge has had to come to embody the meaning of its name. As a church, we have been through an extremely testing season—but through all this, what has been so evident is the faithfulness of God and His steadfast love for His people. He has shown Himself to be altogether trustworthy, as we have sought to rebuild from the rubble.

Alongside God’s faithfulness, the integrity of the leadership and the accord of the fellowship of the church have been unwavering.

If you could tell anyone Just one thing about Refuge?

Refuge is not the refuge in and of itself, but instead points us to Jesus who is, ultimately, our only Refuge.