DOBSON — Slavery may have been abolished in the United States before the turn of the 20th century, but that isn’t the case in all places in the world. Volunteers at a shop in Dobson are using the store’s profits to help rescue children from slavery in Ghana.
Hope House Missionary Thrift Store, a Christian ministry of Mustard Seed Global Evangelistic Ministries of Wilkes County, first opened in Elkin on North Bridge Street in 2014. In July of 2017, the store relocated to 312 N. White St., Dobson, closer to where founder Roni Wyatt and husband, evangelist Jim Wyatt, attend church.
Jim Wyatt has been preaching since 1969, and in 1994, he became a full-time evangelist. Part of his work took him to countries around the world, and in 1996 he visited Ghana for the first time and connected with Preacher Lawrence Lamina.
Lamina, who is in the Yadkin Valley visiting this month, works to remove special needs children and orphaned children from the streets of Ghana and place them in orphanages, Roni Wyatt explained.
In 2003, Roni traveled to Ghana on her first mission trip to the region of West Africa.
In 2014, while in Ghana, she got involved with Lamina’s efforts to rescue children from slavery in the rock quarry industry. She said the children have to work for one meal a day. She was able to work out a deal to purchase a child’s freedom for $150 per child.
Children also are used for slave labor in the gold mine, cocoa and fishing industries in that region of West Africa, Wyatt and Lamina said. Many of the children are sold into slavery by parents who cannot afford to provide for them.
Through the Mustard Seed GEM, the first day Lamina and Wyatt were able to save six children, and in the past four years, they have been able to rescue 47 children and two fathers. One quarry alone utilized 300 child laborers, Wyatt said.
Now the organization is at a halt on the rescues due to the need for more space to house the children, since the two orphanages are at capacity, feeding 260 people a day.
Lamina said he started the orphanage ministry, because “being a pastor, I saw the need that the church should fill that gap for special children and ones who have nowhere to go, to give them a chance.”
To help fund the rescue of children, and now to help raise the needed $150,000 to complete the third orphanage facility, Wyatt opened the Hope House Missionary Thrift Store.
The architect for the third orphanage is a man who was a child saved by Lamina and who was able to go to college after living at the orphanages.
The store depends on tax-deductible donations of good-quality items to be sold from the community and Christian volunteers to run the store, Wyatt said. All of the profits from the store, after the utilities and rent are paid, support the rock quarry ministry.
While Hope House typically is not open on Saturdays, this weekend will be an exception as it holds a customer appreciation event from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., including live gospel music, food and drinks.
“We’ve got everything from household items to clothing, to toys and books,” said Wyatt. “We’re the only thrift store in Dobson, and we’re picky about the clothes we hang.”
She said she felt the store, which sells clothes for $3 or less, was something that the Dobson community needed. “We felt the community needed somewhere here to get things for their family without having to drive to Mount Airy or North Wilkesboro,” she said.
Also, for those seeking prayer, she and her volunteer staff provide that for customers as well when asked.
“We want the community to know we are here for them,” Wyatt said.
Each Thursday at Hope House, clothing is 50 cents if it is not priced. Other weekly discounts include 10 percent off every day for college students with an ID, 10 percent off on Wednesdays for seniors, and children get a free toy or stuffed animal and sucker each time they shop.
Wyatt returns to Ghana each year, this year her trip is planned for October, to do women’s conferences, provide a medical clinic for the orphanage and minister in prisons.
On Aug. 11, Mustard Seed GEM will host a silent auction and dinner fundraiser at a location in North Wilkesboro still to be determined. They are seeking donations of high-end items for the auction, Wyatt said.
Also, a Go Fund Me site has been created to provide money toward the $150,000 needed to build the third orphanage and make some repairs and upgrades to the two existing orphanage facilities. Those donations can be made at https://www.gofundme.com/save-the-rock-quarry-children.
For more information on the Rock Quarry Ministry, Mustard Seed GEM or Hope House store, visit mustardseedgem.com or call 336-467-0298 or 336-944-2120.
Wendy Byerly Wood may be reached at 336-258-4035 or on Twitter @wendywoodeditor.