Ninety-one years after Martha Ramsey, just 23 years old at the time, left Duluth, Minnesota for Liberia, West Africa, two of her spiritual children have returned to Liberia. Pastor Irvin and Alice Kofa intend to continue Martha’s legacy by caring for and loving the children of Liberia.
Martha served for nearly five decades, returning home to stay in 1973 at the age of 71 only after a serious bout with pneumonia. During her time in Africa, she worked in an orphanage and helped establish several schools, clinics, the first air field in the country’s interior, ten churches and additional mission outposts. Many of her “children” went on to become teachers, medical workers, and pastors.
Irvin and Alice Kofa were two of Martha’s “children.” In 1990, as civil war swept over Liberia, they found themselves fleeing Charles Taylor’s ethnic “cleansing,” intended to eradicate the Krahn people. On one occasion, God protected them when they were caught—along with hundreds of others—in a crossfire between government and rebel troops. Dozens of civilians were killed in the battle, but the Kofa’s were spared. They sensed God had preserved them for a purpose.
After time in a refugee camp in Ghana, they found their way to safety and a comfortable life in Norway in 2004. But reports coming out of Liberia were unsettling. The hardships following the war had left many children without parents and destitute. Then the Ebola outbreak of 2014 killed many in Liberia, leaving even more children as orphans.
With such news, Irvin and Alice Kofa felt God calling them back to their homeland. They considered returning to the Doodwicken Orphanage where they had already served as teachers for seven years. The orphanage had been cut off and inaccessible by vehicles, however, so they opted instead to go to Johnny Cole Town, Bong County, about two and a half hours drive from Monrovia.
This past July the Kofa’s opened the Martha E. Ramsey Memorial Academy, Inc. in Johnny Cole Town where they ministered to around 350 children, mostly abandoned or orphaned, by providing food, shelter, clothing, medical care, and schooling since the nearest public school is over ten miles away.
When they first arrived in Johnny Cole Town, Alice remembered having seen the village in a dream. “I saw this place in my dream,” she said. “The Lord showed it to me.” She remembered seeing a house in her dream, which the community donated for use as a clinic, as well as other details of the village.
The Kofa’s are trusting God for resources to build a church and school under one roof, a boys’ dormitory (a house is currently being used as a temporary girls’ dormitory and office), and a two-bedroom house for their own use. With Johnny Cole Town residents molding blocks and providing the labor, construction costs (including electric and plumbing but not furnishings) are estimated to be under $85,000.
In addition to their FCA connections, the Kofa’s are working with Gethsemane Garden Fellowship International. They are believing the Martha E. Ramsey Memorial Academy, Inc. will minister to hundreds of orphans and abandoned children who lack basic necessities. It’s a dream that has come full circle, 91 years after Martha Ramsey first arrived in Liberia.