Like most good stories, ours is an unlikely one.
In 1996 Dave and Cindy Frederick left the church. At least they left what most people think of as "the church." For 7 years Dave was the pastor of a large brick and mortar church in downtown Bremerton--complete with pipe organ and bell tower. For the last few years, Dave and Cindy had been forging connections with youth and young adults living on the streets of Bremerton. However, their church was big. Many of the people they met on the streets were intimidated to walk through the doors. With a heart to go to the people who felt farthest away from God, Dave and Cindy left and started to meet for church in their home, a place everyone was welcome. At the same time they started a non-profit organization called The Coffee Oasis to give hope to hurting and homeless youth (see below).
As more people began to attend their house church, it outgrew Dave and Cindy's living room. So they began meeting at the Coffee Oasis cafe on Sundays. And that was the beginning of the Refuge Church!
The Refuge fights to keep home at the heart. Is it easy? No. As we grow it takes time for everyone to enjoy the same belonging and learn to welcome others into that same experience. For us a "refuge" is a place of safety where ALL people can meet God, a God who is inviting them to share His home.
(Note: the picture is of the Frederick's leaving as missionaries to the Philippines in 1984. You should ask them to share their story sometime.)
In the 1990s Dave and Cindy Frederick had their eyes opened to a part of the community that many of us do not see--poverty, drug abuse, neglected children, homelessness and violence. While Dave served as a pastor and police chaplain, he and Cindy opened their home to foster children. They came face-to-face with young people whose lives were spiraling downward toward lifelong incarceration, addiction and sometimes death.
With a newfound heart for youth, Dave and Cindy resigned from the pastorate and in 1996 founded Hope in Christ Ministries, a non-profit corporation, with the goal of "bringing the hope of Christ to the pain on the streets." The following year, the couple purchased The Coffee Oasis, then located on 622 Warren Avenue in Bremerton, to provide a place for serving youth.
Teen Night began at The Coffee Oasis on the first Friday evening of September 1997. That first night, four youth came from "smokers' corner," located across the street from Bremerton High School, to "check it out," and since that first Friday thousands of youth have passed through the doors. What they've found is a place and people that care for them, regardless of their background or present situation.
In the years that followed, The Coffee Oasis expanded to include more resources for street-oriented youth (showers, laundry, clothing and food), youth centers, job training, mentoring, case management, a shelter and more. The Coffee Oasis has grown beyond Bremerton, including locations in Port Orchard, Poulsbo, Kingston, and Tacoma.
Click HERE to learn more about The Coffee Oasis.