RED SPRINGS — Red Springs is the last location for the Rev. Wesley Wallis’ chain of thrift stores that he hopes will pay for the construction of an orphanage, school and church in Kenya.
Wallis will be taking the leap in August to move himself, his wife, Cindy Wallis, and two of his four children, Malachi and Hannah Wallis, nearly 8,000 miles away to Kenya to oversee construction and minister.
“When we land over there, we’re going to have two bags and a carry-on apiece, me, my wife and kids, and that’s it,” he said.
They will return to the states only every 18 months or so to check on the stores.
“This is something ‘til death. ‘Til death do us part,” he said with a laugh. “Overall this is a life commitment for us.”
Wallis opened his sixth Helping the Orphans Thrift Store in Red Springs on April 7, his first in Robeson County.
“We’re excited about it. Everyone has been real wonderful,” Wallis said.
Red Springs Mayor Edward Henderson was at the grand opening ceremony..
“I think it will be a welcome addition to the town of Red Springs,” he said.
Wallis said he chose the location, which is beside Food Lion on East Fourth Avenue, because of the lack of shopping in the town. The other five stores are in Cumberland County.
The 8,450-square-foot store was built at the old CVS pharmacy location. Its color decor is meant to draw in customers and give a consignment feel, Wallis said. The store accepts anything from clothes to furniture to books and movies.
“When I opened the store, I wanted to it be first class,” he said.
Anything that can’t be used at the thrift store is sent to Third World countries, Wallace said. His missions group helps two orphanages a month.
Wallis’ plan to open the stores was born eight years ago while he was on a mission trip. Wallis went to Nakuru, Kenya, which is in East Africa. The town has roughly 20,000 of Kenya’s 3 million orphans, the result of an AIDS epidemic.
“There’s one doctor per million people in Africa so if a person has AIDS they don’t even know they have AIDS, and if they found out they have AIDS they don’t have to money to buy the medicine,” he said.
The sight of suffering children haunted Wallis long after returned from the mission trip in 2010.
“I got there, came back, couldn’t sleep, couldn’t eat,” he said. “I would see them laying in the streets and eating out of trash cans, and it just killed me.”
He began opening up thrift stores, the first on Legion Road in Hope Mills.
His goal is to purchase 100 acres in Kenya and build a church, an orphanage and a school. His plan is to farm 30 acres of the land and build a mission compound.
“If you want to come and help we’re calling it ‘Mission for the Price of a Plane Ticket,’” he said. “This is great for college kids that want to help.”
Wallis has been involved in ministries throughout his life, including being a principal of a Christian school, a divorce recovery counselor and working at a the central prison in Raleigh. Wallis is currently pastor of Walstone Memorial Baptist Church in Fayetteville, where he has been for 12 years.
Wallis said he needs three things from people: for them to donate, shop and volunteer.
“We need volunteers,” he said. “If you only have 30 minutes, just come in for 30 minutes.”
Belinda Gillespie is one of those volunteers, and once worked a similar store in New York.
“I like it pretty good,” said the New Jersey native. ” It can be hectic sometimes, but it gets better.”
Call 910-779-0207 for information on how to volunteer.
Tomeka Sinclair can be reached at 910-309-3469 or [email protected]