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A refuge from the storm

BRIDGE CITY — The Refuge, a non-profit outreach ministry for high school and college students drew its name from Psalm 91:2 — “I will say to the Lord, ‘My refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust!’”

After Hurricane Ike blew through, one community that should know about taking refuge is Bridge City. Though Hurricane Ike came and left a path of destruction, some young people may be facing storms constantly in their lives and need a refuge.

“We have a heart to really give students an alternative to what the world has to offer,” Director Cody Hogden said. “There’s not a lot of places for them to go to and we offer them a place for them.

“Everything we do is about Christ. We want them to grow closer to Christ.”

Hogden and his wife began organizing The Refuge four years ago while he was youth minister at Winfree Baptist Church in Orange. He began working on a place where young people wouldn’t have to go to a bar to hang out together. He stressed The Refuge is no a substitute for the local church, but a threshold to the local church.

“We strongly believe it is imperative that students get plugged into a local body of believers in order to be all God has created them to be. The refuge is committed to discipleship and we know that church involvement is essential for following Christ throughout one’s lifetime,” he said.

The Refuge opened its doors on May 30 and is opened five days a week, being closed on Sundays and Wednesdays for church days. Monday night messages at The Refuge are for high school students. College students meet on Thursday.

The Refuge airs the Sky Angel Network — a 24-hour Christian station — on their televisions, has a smoothie/snack bar and sells T-shirts, Bibles and CDs. Hogden added students minister at The Hospitality Center on Gulfway Drive in Port Arthur once a month. There will be other opportunities for the students to go out and share their faith.

Students said they’re glad The Refuge has become a reality.

Kellen Free is a student at the Lamar Institute of Technology.

“This is a big deal. God put it on Cody’s heart for a long time,” Free said. “It was hard for him to quit being youth minister (at Winfree Baptist Church).

“I’m a people-person. I like to meet new people. This is a place to come after the party and a place to study. I think the word will get out and the place will be packed.”

Free said he also helped build The Refuge.

Hannah Dunahoe is home for the summer and attends Kilgore College and a member of the world famous Rangerette drill team.

“This is really neat, even though I’m not here most of the year,” Dunahoe said. “It’s a good Christian environment for high school and college- aged students to hang out with friends after going to a restaurant or the movies. I’m surprised at how fast it went up.

“I hope to have more local Christian bands here and more of the community here. We have an open environment for everyone to feel welcome and learn about God.”

Daniel Paul, also known as D-Paul, is from Bridge City and attends Texas State University in San Marcos. He thinks The Refuge is a great idea.

“It’s a place to spend time with God. My home church is here. This is a threshold church to get plugged in with God. I’m glad we’re open. It’s been in the making for a while.”

For more information, visit www.bcrefuge.com, or CodyHogden@bcrefuge@yahoo.com

dball@panews.com