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Kohler heads outreach site in Bagley

Randy Kohler is now overseeing an outreach center and shelter in Bagley.

It’s been five years since Frazee native Randy Kohler found his way to The Refuge Christian Outreach Center — first as a volunteer, then as an assistant to Refuge founder Mel Manning, and finally as its executive director — and now he’s taking the expertise he gained on the job to help a similar operation in Bagley find its feet.

Since January, Kohler has been serving as the director of operations for I Care Ministries, which oversees both The Lighthouse Christian Outreach Center and the House of Light, a shelter for women and women with children.

Though Manning has shouldered much of Kohler’s day-to-day administrative duties, Kohler said, “I will still help out with fundraisers and any questions people might have. I will continue to work with Mel to meet the needs of this community.

“It’s only through God’s leading that this came about,” Kohler added. “I was in my comfort zone in Detroit Lakes, with The Refuge and Compassion House and helping in the thrift store.

“After much prayer and conversation, we felt it was time for me to take my five years of experience at The Refuge and apply it to this new Christian outreach center.”

“Being in the middle of three Indian reservations (at Bagley), there is a high demand, a great need for help for women, and women with children.”

The new shelter is tentatively scheduled for a June 21 grand opening, which is the same day set for The Lighthouse’s one-year anniversary celebration.

“We will be having our one-year anniversary and grand opening celebration June 21 at the Bagley Community Park,” Kohler said.

He said he first became involved with I Care Ministries when its founder, Deb Matthews, approached The Refuge about helping her set up a Christian outreach center there.

“I was on their board of directors for the past year,” Kohler said.

It was during this time that they acquired a private residence for use as a women’s shelter, through private donations.

“It’s a two-level home on 12 acres of land,” Kohler said.

This winter, however, the home’s boiler heating system broke down and the water pipes burst, flooding the structure.

“I came up here to help them with repairs,” Kohler said.

While he was there, the board of I Care Ministries approached him about taking over operations there — and after talking it over with The Refuge’s board of directors, he decided to accept the offer.

Though he is currently living in Bagley, Kohler said, he is still a frequent visitor to the Detroit Lakes-Frazee area.

“DL’s home — that’s where all my family and friends are,” he said. “But now I have even more family here —these guys have so wrapped their arms around me and embraced me and supported me… God is moving in such an amazing way here that it’s fun to be a part of – though I’m just one spoke in the wheel.”

Kohler said he’s looking forward to making several trips between Detroit Lakes and Bagley this summer on his new Harley Davidson motorcycle.

“I will be riding and doing ministry and handing out Bibles as I travel,” Kohler said, adding, “This is just another extension of wanting to spread the Good News to others.”

Follow Detroit Lakes Newspapers reporter Vicki Gerdes on Twitter at @VickiLGerdes.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454