Florida church plant becomes a refuge for fostering and adoptive families

If Josh and Beth Glymph have learned anything over the last four years, it’s this: God is the ultimate connector of the dots. That’s the only explanation they can give for a journey filled with seemingly unrelated, random events that eventually all combined to form one of the most unique new churches Jacksonville, Florida, has ever seen.

The first dot on the Glymph’s journey was Fruit Cove Baptist Church, where Josh served for ten years.

“We loved it and were content to stay there,” Josh says. “But about year seven or eight, the Lord began to do something in our hearts. We started seeing that maybe planting a church was in our future.”

Almost four years ago, the Glymphs and the leadership at Fruit Cove began to search for Jacksonville neighborhoods with little or no gospel witness. And that search led them to the second dot on the Glymph’s timeline, a community called Ortega.

“It was a place that was very unreached,” Josh says. “We saw the need, and everybody at Fruit Cove got really excited about what the Lord might be ready to do there.”

In January 2020, that excitement led to a decision: the Glymphs would plant Refuge Church in Ortega, and Fruit Cove would be their Sending Church.

The next seemingly unrelated dot on the Glymph’s timeline was multi-colored and eclectic-looking. At the same time God led Josh and Beth to plant Refuge Church, He also led them to grow their family.

“If you look at a picture of us now, you see brown hair, blonde hair, dark skin,” Josh says. “We have two biological children, and now we have three adopted children, and our two youngest came out of foster care.”

When Refuge Church launched in the spring of 2020, God began to connect all those dots. In Ortega, just like in almost every other community in North America, there are families involved in foster care and adoption. And when word got out that a someone-like-us kind of family was starting a church in their neighborhood, those moms and dads were the first to show up.

“We didn’t set out to plant a church for foster and adoptive families—it just happened,” Beth says. “Not too long ago, I was talking with a mom who was fostering who’d been kicked out of other churches because their child had behavior issues. And that’s understandable. But she felt very alone in her journey. And she told me, ‘I don’t feel alone when I walk into Refuge.’”

Refuge Church started a ministry where they provide diapers and car seats and training and support for fostering and adoptive families, and now the church has grown to more than 200 people. They’re baptizing people of all ages, and they’re about to launch a second church in another unchurched community.

And, hindsight being 20/20, Josh and Beth can now look back and see how all the dots connect.

“The great thing is seeing the Lord work and do things that you never even dreamed possible,” says Beth. “It’s hard in ministry when you don’t see the end. But now, being able to see that the Lord was working all along is the biggest win of all.”

Josh and Beth Glymph are some of the many church planting missionaries supported by generous gifts to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering. To learn more about their story and to discover how you and your church can support church planting and compassion ministry all across North America, visit FueledByAnnie.com.

Published March 28, 2024

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