Community vows to save Suffolk church, continue legacy of “Hope Dealer” killed in car accident

Posted at 12:00 AM, Nov 23, 2016

SUFFOLK, Va. - Tucked away on Sleepy Hole Road, sits the Little Zion Baptist Church, where it has been since 1888.

From a glance you can tell that, structurally, the church is in need of repairs.

Pastor Keith Mayfield Senior says that's something they have known for years.

"If there's a choice of what we do for the building and what we do for the people, we go with what we do for the people," he said.

However the building's purpose is much bigger, starting with a man whose dream to save the church became a reality.

"Troy was one of those people that God used, and I am able to see it as clear as day," said Pastor Mayfield.

Troy Massey, nicknamed the "Hope Dealer," met Pastor Mayfield seven years ago when he was trying to open a recovery house ministry for those battling alcoholism and drug abuse.

For some inexplicable reason, Troy's meeting with Pastor Mayfield pushed his dream to the side, and Little Zion to the front.

It was not only inside the church, to keep it standing, but outside its walls, through Pastor Mayfield's constant battle with sickle cell anemia.

"He was a real part of my life," says Pastor Mayfield. "It wasn't limited to what you had or didn't have, it wasn't limited to the color of your skin, it was just Troy loving and giving and that was what he did, that's how he lived, that's who he was."

It was a way of living that all came together within a fateful 24 hours in August of this year.

Troy brought a contractor to Little Zion to install a new door, which was part of his vision of saving the church.

After leaving that day, Troy went to visit a man he was helping along the path to recovery. At 2:30 a.m., he started a Facebook page "Help SAVE Little Zion Baptist Church," a way to make the church's dire financial need public.

A few hours later he went to work and sent a text message to Pastor Mayfield that he would be over to install the door.

"That was the last text I got from him," he said. "I'm on my way, I'll meet you at the church at 4:30, and he did not arrive."

Tune in to News 3 at 11 Wednesday night to see how the "Hope Dealer's" tragic death has turned to a community's motivation to rebuild Little Zion Baptist Church.