Hey Fruit Cove! Let me start with saying it has been QUITE A YEAR! January a year ago we were sent by you to start a new gospel work, Refuge Church, in the Ortega area of Jacksonville. We created some BIG plans one of which was to have our first service Easter Sunday. As none of us expected, along came Covid-19, a global pandemic and a societal shutdown.
Well, being a new church we pivoted quickly and started meeting online in April of 2020 and amazing things happened. The first Sunday we did it we had more than 50 people worship with us. It was quite amazing. Many of those first worshippers now call Refuge Church their home! It’s amazing what the Lord can use and how He can use it.
As we shifted our plans in 2020, we planned to open our doors in August to those who already called Refuge home. So we opened the doors early in August just to meet with our people. We were not open to the community at this time. We took those first few weeks to pray and ask the Lord to prepare us and use our church to do 3 things: Save the Lost in this area, Transform the Saved and SEND many to take the gospel where its not. We put a date on our calendar for our fist official Sunday – September 19.
On September 19, we opened our doors and more than 100 people showed up that Sunday. In fact, there were even some Fruit Cove Members that came that Sunday to cheer us on! It was quite an incredible and overwhelming day. We have been meeting every Sunday since September 19 and the Lord has been so good us. We currently have 2 services (9 & 10:30am) and also stream our services online each Sunday. At the second worship gathering (10:30am,) we also offer Children’s ministry all the way up to 6th grade. The Lord is building His church and each Sunday we are adding to our numbers in worship.
This has been quite an encouraging fall for us at Refuge, even in the midst of a very challenging 2020. I am also supremely grateful to have an incredible staff/leadership team that includes: Stephen Handley, Amanda Fleck, Barb Cowan and Alex Thorpe. They jumped in at the beginning and have done and INCREDIBLE job assisting me in leading our church. If you see them or know them, encourage them, because the Lord is using them in some incredible ways! There are obviously many more I could shout out, but I’ll save that list for another day.
I could go on and on, and I will in a later post. I would conclude this brief update by stating thank you! Thank you Fruit Cove for being obedient to the call of God to SEND: to send a pastor and a team to a part of the city where there is a gospel need. I believe you are setting an example for so many churches to follow that will follow. There is a need to plant churches all over the world, and there is cost to churches the are willing to be obedient in this. But the reward will be far greater! In the words of Jim Elliot, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”
I’ll close with 3 quick things:
Grateful for our FCBC Family.