REFUGE was born on March 1, 2009 when Kenny and Jamie Kelly responded to the calling that God had placed on them to plant a church. That first night, six followers of Jesus surrendered themselves to go wherever and do whatever God wanted. Without knowing how, when, and where, the “what” was completely clear: make disciples.

Shortly after, a core group of people began meeting on Monday nights to study the Scriptures. After several weeks of rapid growth, REFUGE quickly moved to a Sunday morning gathering in the home of Johnny and Valerie Rumbough. However, only twelve people showed up to worship Jesus that Sunday morning, April 5, 2009. Twelve. This was a MAJOR drop in attendance and certainly not what we anticipated.

However, what may have been a great cause for discouragement actually helped clarify the REFUGE vision. We would be a church solely focused on the Great Commission of reaching those who are far from God, not merely convening a group of area Christians. We would be a church that focused outward first, not last.

With as much faith as could be mustered up amongst the few folks at the Rumbough’s house that Sunday morning, we believed that God was going to do something big, in and through us. With a heart for the poor and over a hundred salvations and baptisms later, REFUGE now meets at the Double Tree Hotel on Bush River Rd in Columbia. Only God could have done a work like that, and the leadership is confident that only God will continue it.