Holiday Helpers: Join us in making the holidays bright for local kids!

Community vows to save Suffolk church and continue legacy of “Hope Dealer” killed in crash

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 Sr. 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, its 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," says Pastor Mayfield.

pastor-troy

Pastor Keith Mayfield Sr. and Troy Massey

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.

Troy was an alcoholic for years but, after recovering himself, made it a mission to help others. He worked as a pastor in a recovery house in Portsmouth, and ran a group "Celebrate Recovery" in Chesapeake.

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 in 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 says. "I'm on my way, I'll meet you at the church at 4:30, and he did not arrive."

Police say Troy was hit by another car on the James River Bridge. It caused his car to become fully engulfed in flames.

The 59-year-old died on impact before the fire could get to him.

"It was a gut punch, it was a gut punch," says Pastor Mayfield. "My exact words were, Lord, what are you trying to tell me?"

Massey was one of more than 600 people killed so far in 2016 in traffic crashes in Virginia, according to state police. Since November 12th, police say at least 13 people have died, before the most heavily-traveled holiday, Thanksgiving.

"Not having him to talk to has been the hardest," says Tiffany Timms Massey, Troy's daughter. "That wasn't his normal route. It was hard to understand, but now that I step back and look at it, it's all come together, it's like a plan in the making."

Before her father's death, Tiffany had never met Pastor Mayfield, nor did she know the scope of just how many people her father had helped.

"It's like, I still have pieces of him coming in," she says.

With the help of many who Troy helped in recovery, Pastor Mayfield, and the greater community, Tiffany says they are doing what Troy would have done had he not taken the James River Bridge that August day.

They're saving the church, so they can save others, like the "Hope Dealer" saved them.

"He had a huge heart, he could talk to you about anything, he didn't judge you, he would just listen and be there for you, he was pretty amazing," she says. "If he set his mind to it, it was getting done, that's why it was really important to me."

To contribute to the fundraiser of rebuilding the Little Zion Baptist Church, head over to their website.