Getting ready

The gap


Many major universities are recommending that after high school, students take a “gap year” to pursue greater life experience and leadership training. According to Good Morning America, “Higher education experts say that giving students an opportunity to explore the real world helps them mature. And early research reveals that once they restart their academic studies, they actually perform better than those who go straight from high school to college.” We believe that students who choose to take a “gap year” at RDS will gain crucial life experience and become more focused in their vocational pursuit.

What is RDS?

The Refuge Discipleship School is a unique gap year program designed for college-age students seeking to discover God’s individual plan and purpose for their life. Our heart is for students to experience life-changing growth through intense discipleship, academics, and ministry training. At the Refuge Discipleship School, we believe that students can be equipped with vital life skills by taking a gap year, and committing one year of their life to maturing spiritually, relationally, and emotionally.


The Refuge Discipleship School is a three-year program that is broken up into three nine-month periods: First Year Discipleship, Second Year Leadership Training, and Third Year Internship. RDS is dedicated to identifying and training next generation leaders; whether students feel called to venture out into full time ministry or to enter the business world. The Refuge Discipleship School aims to instill biblical principles, theological education, Christian character, and leadership training; which will equip them to effectively demonstrate the power and the love of Christ to everyone they encounter.

Abe and Kourtney Ortega

Abe Ortega grew up in Inglewood, California and moved to Birmingham, Alabama when he was 18 years old to attend Birmingham Metro Master’s Commission (BMMC). He worked with BMMC for 10 years and was the Assistant Director to Pastor Mark Sims. Abe has a deep love for the arts and an appreciation for all things creative. He is also gifted in pulling out the creativity in those around him. His passion is discipleship and he believes that while all believers are called to be fishers of men, some are called to “clean the fish.” Abe’s heart is to “help clean fish” by preparing disciples to go into all the world, being the salt and carrying His light. Abe received his bachelors degree in Christian Leadership from Ecclesia College. For fun, he enjoys being with people, growing relationships, and going to the movies!

Cole Stewart

Ianya McIntosh