North Carolina Pastor and His Family to Start an Orphanage in Kenya

The Wallis family, above, including their dog, Liberty, are scheduled to leave for Africa after Thanksgiving to minister to children in Kenya, some of whom are living on the street.
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Because of a trip to East Africa eight years ago and a life of twists and turns, Wesley Wallis believes God has equipped his family to start an orphanage in Kenya.

“God has prepared me,” said the pastor of Walstone Memorial Baptist Church in Fayetteville, N.C. “God has prepared my wife.”

Wallis told the Biblical Recorder his previous roles — as a chaplain for Raleigh Rescue Mission, correctional officer in multiple prisons and pastor in Freewill Baptist and Southern Baptist churches — have helped prepare him for orphan care.

His wife of 21 years feels the same. She grew up in a large family in rural Tennessee.

“They washed clothes by hand,” he said. “They had goats and chickens and a garden.”

It wasn’t until college that Cindy ate food from a can.

In his early 20s, Wallis lived near the North Carolina coast, in what he called the “beach life.” He had a surfing accident while riding hurricane force winds that left him with a deep gash in his leg. An infection led to gangrene, and doctors recommended amputation.

Wallis argued with the nurse, doctor and God. He refused to believe he would lose the leg. He prayed, “Lord, from this point on, with or without a foot, I will go anywhere anytime regardless of pay or danger.”

Shortly after his foot healed, his father told him about a Freewill Baptist church looking for a pastor. Wallis said it was in a fishing community not far from the coast — “in the middle of nowhere.”

Wallis wrote a note with his name and number on a receipt and left it pinned to the church’s door. He preached the following Sunday, and the 16 people in attendance voted him in as pastor at $100 per week.

It wasn’t much money, but Wallis remembered his promise to God and resigned the following week from his prison job. Less than two years later, the church was averaging 160 people weekly in worship attendance.

Wallis eventually landed in Alabama as a divorce recovery counselor and then made his way back to North Carolina as principal of a Christian school.

Later, he and his wife became house parents for Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina. It was his first introduction to Southern Baptists.

Then, when he became an ordained Southern Baptist pastor, he was called to a church near the coast –- Sea Level Missionary Baptist Church in Sealevel. When Hurricane Isabel struck in September 2003, he received a large-scale introduction to Southern Baptists, in the form of Baptists on Mission, also known as N.C. Baptist Men (NCBM).

“I was told, ‘Tomorrow you’re going to have a caravan of yellow hats. Just get out of the way,'” Wallis said.

In November 2003, he represented his church on stage at the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s annual meeting, where an offering was taken to help the church rebuild.

Visit to Kenya

Wallis, 50, has been at Walstone Baptist for 12 years. Eight years ago, Wallis visited an orphanage in Kenya at the invitation of a pastor he had met who was visiting the Fayetteville area.

“I cried and cried, and cried” after watching a video of the 12 orphans they had, Wallis said.

Wallis received permission from Walstone to travel for three weeks. The first week, Wallis said, he felt peace about raising funds for an orphanage. But over the next week, he began to have concerns.

The third week, Wallis said, “I didn’t know what to do. Going over there and starting an orphanage was the last thing on my mind.”

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SOURCE: Baptist Press; Biblical Recorder, Dianna L. Cagle