When Mary Stephenson’s husband, Eugene, suffered a series of heart attacks in 2013, he couldn’t travel to Southeast Asia on a mission trip he had helped plan.
Stephenson was skeptical of making the journey, but she decided to go in his place.
“I really felt like God was preparing me to go,” said Stephenson, 51.
During the trip, Stephenson worked with Christian pastors who built churches, schools and wells.
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Back home in Raleigh, the Stephensons began selling T-shirts at stores and local events to support ministry work. They were set up at an outlet mall in Mebane when they noticed customers flocking to an ice cream cart.
That gave them an idea: They should open an ice cream shop and use the proceeds to support church planters in Southeast Asia.
Scoops on Main opened in Wake Forest last summer in a small red building on Main Street. Now the shop is moving to Youngsville.
Stephenson said the business couldn’t renew its lease at the current location, and she was unable to secure another space in Wake Forest.
The new location on Main Street in Youngsville will include space for birthday parties and meetings. While some customers have lamented the move, Stephenson said most feedback has been positive.
“There’s only three miles of difference between the two,” she said. “We’ll be able to remain Scoops on Main.”
The shop will continue to support mission work, and also local families in need.
Last fall, Scoops on Main hosted a fundraiser for Sawyer Powell, a local 7-year-old who was diagnosed with a brain tumor when he was 4.
After the tumor was removed and he underwent chemotherapy, Sawyer went into remission. But the cancer returned last September, and the medical bills kept piling up, said Jeb Powell, Sawyer’s father.
The Stephensons called the family and offered to donate 10 percent of their total sales last Oct. 20. The family received about $280, Powell said.
“People think that amount is very little, but you’d be surprised what just $1 will do,” he said.
Since they give away much of the ice cream shop’s proceeds, Stephenson she and her husband share a car, cook meals and rarely go on vacation.
“By the world’s vision, we’re crazy,” she said.
Both are retired – Mary worked for N.C. State’s Office of Contracts & Grants, and Eugene was self-employed and later worked for a mattress company.
The couple attends Richland Creek Community Church in Wake Forest. They met online through Christian Mingle in 2011 and married two years later. They have traveled together to Southeast Asia every year since Mary made the first trip.
She said the trips make her realize the luxuries many people take for granted, from hot showers to owning multiple pairs of shoes.
“We don’t realize how blessed we are,” Stephenson said.
They’re currently planning their next trip.
“As long as God keeps opening doors, we will keep going,” Stephenson said.
Madison Iszler: 919-836-4952; @madisoniszler