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Grateful for Refuge

Last night we hosted the Refuge Center for Counseling “Hope Grows” event. It was a powerful night filled with God’s presence, authenticity and healing. Listening to the stories of life transformation moved me to tears. I’m so grateful for the work of the Refuge Center and for other Christian counselors who make such a difference in the lives of so many for Christ.

Refuge was started by Amy Alexander and Jennifer Thames-Hamilton when they were just 25 years old. God prompted their hearts to step into the mental health space and provide counseling services for many. What I love about Refuge is the heart for the under-resourced. They operate on a “sliding scale” - meaning you pay as much as you can. If you are wealthy and can pay full price, but if you are going through hard times and don’t have the means then you can pay way less. This has allowed so many people to have access to counseling regardless of life’s circumstances.

Now, fast forward many years. Amy and Jennifer have continued to be faithful to the call and the mission of Refuge. Last year, Refuge had over 38,000 counseling appointments. Wow! That is incredible. Think about all the people they are helping - grief counseling, marriage, parents, children, teens, addictions, anxiety, depression and just about every crisis imaginable. There are now over 70+ therapists that are serving the families of our community. Praise God!

Obviously, with a sliding scale, this means that funds need to be raised to help offset the costs. Last night went a long way to help accomplish this. There was a goal to raise $400,000, and by God’s grace, we way exceeded that goal. This means help for so many more people. In addition, Refuge is set to open a brand new facility in November of 2024. Praise God!

As I listened to the stories last night, I was moved by what God is doing in the lives of so many. Mental health is a struggle today. There is more anxiety in our culture than ever before. There are more addictions and temptations. To see God’s healing work up close is such a privilege. As a pastor, I see Jesus transforming lives all the time. It energizes me and fires me up! I love seeing people take their next steps of faith and watching God transform lives for His glory! Yet, I also know that people need counseling. There is power in sharing our story and having someone listen, give spiritual guidance and provide accountability. 

From a couple going through the grief of losing a child to Lauren Daigle, a well-known Christian artist, (You can see these stories on the Refuge website or on Facebook) and to everyone in between we are all fighting some kind of battle. Please don’t fight alone. First, commit your life to Jesus. This is where healing and hope starts. Next, get involved in a church. Find community. We need others around us. When we walk alone, we are vulnerable to the enemy. Then, dive into God’s Word. Read a chapter each day, pray and reflect on what God says about you and what He is calling you to do as His son or daughter. Finally, get help. When you are struggling, go to counseling. Talk with someone who is a trained professional when you are facing a mental or emotional battle. What a difference this will make as you grow to become whole, healthy and fulfilled.

I’m thankful for the Refuge Center, for Kathy Koon (our Staff Counselor at Rolling Hills) and for all those who work and serve in the mental health space. God is using these amazing followers of Jesus to help others in their own journeys. We need the Lord and we need others who will walk alongside us. I’m so thankful for God giving Amy and Jennifer this vision for Refuge all those years ago, and that they have stayed faithful to the call. May we all stay faithful. May we grow to become the best version of ourselves and then share God’s love with others. Hope grows in us and then through us for the glory of our great God.

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