THE CONCEPTION, THE LABOR PAINS, THE BIRTH OF A MINISTRY
In the city of Lake Charles, LA., near the Chennault Air Base, stands the magnificent miracle of Refuge Temple Ministries, Inc. Its inception began nearly 40 years ago in 1974, Chief Apostle Wendell Archie and his wife, First Lady Sandra Archie moved to Lake Charles, LA from Houston, TX. to start a ministry. Apostle Archie was affiliated with an established denominational church. At this time, God spoke to Apostle and required him to forsake all and follow Him. He immediately began to prepare for his departure. TRW Mission Manufactures employed Bishop as a highly paid machinist. At the time of his departure from Houston, he and his wife were preparing to buy a home and had just purchased a new car. The early church consisted of about twenty members. With so few members and no additional means of support, the road ahead would be long and tedious for Apostle and his family. Because such a sacrifice was unheard of, many of his friends and family members ridiculed him and feared that he would not succeed. However, believing that God had sent him, he was not deterred or discouraged by the many hardships he faced.
The first church began at 2301 E. Mill Street in Lake Charles, La. The building was old and in dire need of refurbishing. The late Bro. Nathan Davis and his wife Clara befriended the new minister and assisted in the establishment of the church. In the developmental stages, the church was taught the foundations of salvation according to the Bible. The church moved to a new location on Avenue D at Chennault Air Base. This building too needed some work. Through prayer and hard work the building was converted into a church from an Army airbase theater. The members began to labor, and the first radio broadcast ensued. Sunday school attendance (which had initially begun at the Mill Street location) increased. God added professional musicians singers, ushers, choir directors, and teachers to the ministry. Marriages took place, children were born, and the laborious efforts of the members began to produce more fruit. Because of the door-to-door, prison and hospital ministries, God added to the church daily.
Shortly thereafter, the church membership out grew the second building. It was time to purchase a new facility. Apostle had never burdened the congregation with fundraisers. For this reason, he did not have a building fund or a substantial bank account for a larger building. The body of Christ resorted once again to prayer and fasting to seek guidance from God and again he provided. With a bank account of only five thousand dollars, Apostle was charged by God to build yet again. With such a small some of money, this reality was more than even the saints of Refuge Temple Ministries could comprehend. A few of the members simply put their hands to the plow and began to labor. With his mind and his heart fixed to do God’s will, Apostle Archie met stiff opposition.
The loan officers at the bank threatened to discontinue their financial support, and some of the church members left the church. There were complaints, and a lot of criticism and dissension among the congregation during this time. As a result, Apostle suffered physical and mental exhaustion. In spite of the hardship, the gates of hell did not prevail.
In 1991, Apostle Archie was sponsored and ordained to the office of Bishop, by the late Bishop Tony R. Ratcliff of Erie, Pennsylvania. Shortly there after, Refuge Temple Ministries began its expansion throughout Louisiana, Texas and Indianapolis, IN. Pastors from other states began to summon Apostle to minister at revivals in their respective churches. During this time, Apostle was named by, Gumbeaux Magazine, as one of the most influential African Americans in Southwestern Louisiana.
In 1996, Refuge Temple Ministries at Welch merged with the Lake Charles ministry. Bishop Leonard Wilson was appointed to lead the congregation as senior pastor. As the ministry continued to grow, God reminded Apostle continuously that he would need to return to Houston and become senior pastor of the Houston church. As a result, the Gospel would spread throughout the world. With Bishop Wilson leading the Lake Charles church, Apostle was able to relocate to Houston, where he continues to follow the vision that God has given him.
In 2007, a new facility that seats over fifteen hundred was built to house the Houston congregation. As of today, Refuge Temple Ministries has new facilities in Lafayette, LA., Beaumont, TX., Dallas, TX., and an upcoming outreach ministry in Monroe, LA. Apostle Archie can be seen on The Word Network, where he ministers the uncompromised Gospel. Show times are Tuesdays at 2:30 p.m and Fridays at 12:30 a.m (CST). You may also join us on Sunday mornings on the internet, via our live webcast at www.refugetemple.net.
Refuge Temple is a blessed church and will continue its quest to reap the harvest.