Refuge-Ministries is a “Place of Refuge”. Refuge is built around the idea of being a church of God ’s unconditional love, where lives are transformed and reconditioned for partnership with God in accomplishing His will in the world. The word church, or ecclesia in the original text, means those who are called out. The church is not a place; it is a people who have been called by God for a task.
The Biblical metaphor for a church of refuge is found in the story told in I Samuel 22:1,2. Soon to be King David was hiding from King Saul in the Cave of Adullum . Saul had heard that David had been anointed by God to be the next king, so feeling threatened; he was pursuing David in order to kill him. As David hid from Saul, 400 men came to join him. The men who joined him were family members, friends and former soldiers of Saul’s.
The Bible says that these men were in distress, in debt and discontented. They were running from something and trying to find purpose, hope and a reason to live. David welcomed them, loved them and trained them. These same men who joined David, later became known as David’s Mighty Men, the greatest fighting force has ever known. This story can also be seen as a metaphor for what the church of Jesus Christ is called to look like in our day. The church can be a place where the broken, hurting and hopeless can find a reason to live.
When you read this story, you’ll notice that first, David provided a REFUGE. He welcomed all of these men. This reminds us of Jesus who rather than spending time with the religious folks of his day, spent time with tax collectors, prostitutes and those who were never welcomed by the church. A church of refuge needs to be a place where God’s unconditional love is taught and modeled by all who attend. Everyone is welcome in a place of refuge, even if they are the ones the church has traditionally shunned.
Second, David inspired RENEWAL. Psalm 57 is the only scripture that we know for certain was written by David during his time in the cave of Adullum . In this passage we can see that David inspired transformation in his men by reminding them that God loved them unconditionally, His purposes included them, that His kingdom (God’s reign) will come on earth, that worship is essential and that there will be a time to leave the cave in order to proclaim His reign among the nations.
A church of Refuge where transformation is expected, welcomes anyone, but it isn’t apologetic about holding one other spiritually accountable. Sin (which means to miss the mark) separates man from God. Any spiritual journey that does not address sin’s destructive power will not result in transformation. If we are real followers of King Jesus, we are not to leave the “Cave” the same way we came in. We come into the presence of His unconditional love not simply to bask but to be changed. Those men didn’t spend time decorating the cave…it was only a place where their lives were to be changed. Our buildings are simply the “Caves” where we gather to be changed for God’s glory.
Thirdly, David RELEASEd these men to boldly proclaim a new kingdom. The church of today needs to demonstrate that there is a new King in town! His name is Jesus. By following Jesus, by acting like him and by allowing our lives to be shaped by His Holy Spirit who lives within us, we can partner with God to accomplish His will in the world. When God does what He does, He does it through people. The people that He uses to help establish His reign are those who have found Him to be loving and trustworthy and whose lives His Spirit has transformed.
The model that we use to remind us of these three elements of Refuge Theology is to keep us on track and constantly aware of why we exist.
The church may meet in a cathedral or a storefront, but wherever it meets, it is simply a Cave where broken lives are to be transformed in order to partner with God.