City of Refuge Ministries (CORM) is a faith-based ministry located near Lake Volta, the largest man-made lake in the world. Lake Volta is home to over 20,000 children subjected to slave labor and CORM aims to rescue many of these children as they also work to prevent others from being sold. Their goals are prevention (by educating the local community and offering micro-funding and business training), intervention (by building relationship with community leaders to evoke children's release), and restoration (by providing a loving home, quality education, and Christ-centered counseling to the children rescued).
Interview with Stacy, Co-founder of CORM:
What prompted you to start City of Refuge Ministries and how has that vision grown?
We knew when we got married in 2002 that God was calling us to serve Him in Ghana but we weren’t sure to what capacity. I had known since I was small that God was calling me to Ghana so I was ready to return whenever God said but Johnbull, A Nigerian native, wasn’t willing to move us to Ghana without hearing Papa God say “GO!” We started to build our lives in the Midwest (Sioux Falls, SD) and enjoyed serving locally until 2006. It was then that Johnbull’s father passed away and we knew it was time to go back to Ghana and seek God’s leading. He revealed His heart to us about the issue of child slavery on Lake Volta and once we saw firsthand, we knew that God was leading us to serve His children, those children, by being a conduit of His love and provision.
When we started, we had no idea how big God's vision was for us but now after 10 years of ministry we are humbled by the impact He is making through CORM. We have over 260 students from the surrounding communities enrolled in our Faith Roots Academy and our plans are to begin construction of a Senior High school this year. Through our 7 Continents program which aims to train and empower women, 6 women recently graduated and many of them have started their own seamstress businesses. Last year, through our Impact One program, we granted 16 non-interest micro-loans to families who attended our business workshops and created business plans and budgets. Each of the families who took out a loan were able to pay them back in full and, for many of them, the loan helped expand their businesses or open new startups. It has been amazing to see our communities grow stronger through these programs and many others. By helping these communities grow stronger and more independent, we are helping to prevent child trafficking before it starts. That is a huge win for us.
People often question why someone would go serve in another country when there are many in need here in the States. How would you respond to that?
While we were in the US, we served where God had planted us and lived with open hands ready to give of ourselves and our resources. Then, when He called us to Ghana we were equally obedient to that call. As Christians, being obedient to God’s leading is our number one priority. If God is leading you to serve globally, then the only real question is whether you choose to be obedient to that.
Short Term Missions is a great opportunity to lean into the “GO” of the Great Commission.
Yes, it’s important to serve where we have been planted but when we feel the tug on our hearts to “GO” we need to be obedient to that as well. Many people who attend a short term missions trip return to their homes with a clearer vision of what they are supposed to do long-term.
Can you share some of the positive impact you’ve been able to see in your community as a result of partnering with mission teams?
Every missions team has its own personality. Each has its own culture and ways of doing things. By being able to see things through the eyes of each team, we learn a great deal about the work we are doing here. Mission Teams bring new and needed perspective. I feel like the best teams are the ones who pour into our staff. We spend day after day loving on the communities around us and the children who live on campus but we too need support and encouragement. Whether that is through training or sweet words of encouragement, it makes such an impact on all of us. When we are filled it helps us be better equipped to pour into our kids and the communities.
Do you have any advice for volunteers as they prepare to come and serve?
Read “Helping Without Hurting in Short Term Missions” by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert. Know that the electricity may turn off at any time and the water may stop flowing at any point during the day and we are never certain when they will return. We work on what is known as “African Time” and that means…we run late, most days. We are always ready to learn something new and we love to teach you what we know. Don’t be afraid to jump in and get to know the people and our way of life here.
When teams leave Ghana, what do you hope they take away from the experience?
We are founded on Christian principles and the example of Jesus. Our outreach to children and the community is based on the love and guidance we receive from a personal relationship with God and the moral principles we abide by are based on the biblical mandate to love our neighbor as ourselves and to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.
When teams leave after serving with us, our prayer is that they more fully understand these principles and the heart of our Papa God. We also pray they gain a better understanding of child trafficking, fair trade, and sustainable development and become advocates in these areas.
Let your love be sincere. Romans 12:9
About the founders:
Johnbull and Stacy Omorefe are the founders of City of Refuge Ministries, our partner organization in Ghana. They met while serving with Youth With A Mission in Tema, Ghana and founded CORM in 2006. Johnbull, a Nigerian native, knew firsthand the trials a child faces living on the streets. As a street-child himself, John was unable to attend school because he had to work daily just to have money to eat. Johnbull and Stacy's hearts are for the children that face a similar life, and they long to restore that lost childhood. The Omorefe's live at the CORM Children’s Village in Doryumu with their children, JJ, Caleb, Justice, Rosemary, Paul and Miracle.
We are so excited about the work the Lord is doing in and through this ministry and that a Faith Journeys team is heading there this July. There is still time to join us! Applications due Feb 23. Want to find out what we'll be doing and how you can support? Find out more.