Church Featured Missions Accomplishment

A Holy Ghost Inspired Vision

For a long time Reverend Robert. E. Sessoms, Roanoke Salem Pastor, wanted a safe haven where youth from his church and the surrounding community could “gather on weekends and other specified times for entertainment, fun, fellowship, spiritual development and socializing.” Reverend Sessoms felt it was important that youth be able to enjoy themselves under the supervision of Christ minded adults. At one point, he thought about asking the church to build a recreation center. But a Holy Ghost inspired vision gave the pastor a better idea.

Five years ago, the church bought nine acres of land from a local farmer which included a weather beaten, dusty, rodent infested warehouse. Reverend Sessoms, who grew up on a farm, had been inside the warehouse. His examination revealed the warehouse was structurally solid but he had no immediate plans for it. Then one night, Reverend Sessoms woke up with a vision.

A Youth Center That was Truly a Dream Come True

He imagined the run down warehouse remodeled into a state of the art youth center. Using a local contractor, work began transforming the warehouse into a fun house for children and adults. There were no formal blue prints; just rough sketches drawn by Reverend Sessoms. As they always do, many Roanoke Salem church members also worked long hours to help complete the transformation. It took nearly twelve months to finish but in the end, Roanoke Salem had a youth center that was truly a dream come true.

The youth center is 2000 square feet in size. The old wood floors have been sanded, waxed and buffed repeatedly and now shine brightly. There is a full service commercial grill. Classic diner favorites such as- burgers, hotdogs, fries and cheese steaks are expertly prepared by adult volunteers from the church. Food orders are taken and served by Roanoke Salem youth. The youth servers receive coupons to purchase their own meals and they divide tips left by patrons. For the “healthy choice” crowd- fresh, made to order salads are also quickly prepared upon request.

While they eat, patrons can sit in old fashion diner booths and watch one of the two large flat screen televisions mounted from the ceiling. Or they can listen to carefully selected music, mostly Motown favorites, on a jukebox that still looks as new as when it was purchased many years ago.

Can Be Used for Social Gatherings

Then, there’s the video corner, where young kids can view family friendly movie classics and for older kids, there are pool and foosball tables, and table games. The youth center also has a small stage and such events as weddings, birthdays and proms- like Roanoke Salem’s recent Senior Prom Night. There are also plans for a Harvest Festival to offer church families and the community an alternative to Halloween activities.

The youth center is open most Friday and Saturday nights and occasionally Sundays after church. Reverend Sessoms believes parents at Roanoke Salem and other churches will bring their children to the youth center because it’s a place where parents will not to have to be overly concerned about violence or alcohol or illegal drugs being used or sold on the premises.

There’s an old saying: One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. In the case of Roanoke Salem Missionary Baptist Church in Garysburg, North Carolina, a farmer’s old chemicals and fertilizer warehouse became the church’s youth center.



Old chemicals and fertilizer warehouse became the church’s youth center.

603 South Wilmington Street • Raleigh, NC 27601-2338
Phone: 919.821.7466 • Fax: 919.836.0061

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