*The following accounts were shared through a secondhand source. Therefore, parts of the following stories have been edited and/or paraphrased out of respect and protection for the individuals they are about. Last names have also been withheld. Thank you for your understanding.
“We haven’t heard from Paige in weeks…we honestly don’t know if she’s dead or alive,” a statement Paige’s troubled loved ones shared with Restored Church Pastor Tim Walker.
Paige grew up within a family rooted in the truth of Jesus Christ.
“She grew up in church, having many of the same stories that many of us that grew up in church did. But Paige’s story took a much different turn in high school,” shared Walker.
During her high school years, Paige was introduced to heroin. She quickly developed an addiction to the substance, which followed her into her early 20’s.
“Back in 2015, Paige’s parents showed up here at Restored, just deeply hurting and deeply broken. As we got to know them, and the story of their family, we found out that their daughter – Paige – had been trapped in addiction for a very long time. They were so broken and so desperate to see Jesus step in and save their daughter,” explained Walker.
Pastor Walker and the Restored Church community joined Paige’s family in prayer and petition for Paige’s life and salvation.
Walker led a community group at the family’s house for years, hoping in Jesus and the transformation God could do within Paige’s heart.
“Paige’s 92-year-old grandma was a part of that community group [and] her parents. [It was] just a group of people [that], as a spiritual family, rallied around them, just seeking God together for days, weeks, months, and even years, pleading with God to save her.”
In 2017, God answered those prayers. Paige entered rehab, got sober, and gave her life to Jesus.
“Just a few months later, her parents were actually able to baptize her, with her 93-year-old grandma sitting in the front row [and] being one of the first to stand up and celebrate the way that God answered prayer,” shared Walker.
Paige’s story doesn’t stop there. After giving her life to Jesus, Paige was given the opportunity to go back to college and study to become a certified recovery specialist.
“So, vocationally she’s been able to step into the lives of those who are where she was, which is just so incredible! All along the way, God has used her and her story to introduce many people to the hope that Jesus has given to her,” said Walker.
Of those people Paige’s story has impacted is a young man named Tyler.
“Shortly after COVID started in March 2020, she [Paige] met a guy named Tyler. Tyler was coming out of addiction, just getting clean and sober.”
After getting to know Tyler, Paige shared her story with him and helped him get connected with Restored Church. A few months later, Tyler gave his life to Jesus.
“It’s been awesome to see that. You know, it started with prayers that we prayed with Paige’s grandma and her parents for years – God answered those prayers. God saves Paige [and] He’s now using her to rescue others,” said Walker.
“So, Tyler got involved in our church – probably one of the most difficult seasons to get involved in a church – but Tyler just found rich community in that, as people would walk alongside of him.”
Within that rich community was Paige, who Tyler eventually grew to love more than a friend.
“Paige and Tyler started dating, they got engaged, and just last week my wife and I were able to play a small part in their wedding,” shared Walker.
“It was such a huge, incredible moment to be able to celebrate. Like, the only reason why Paige and Tyler are alive, the only reason why Paige and Tyler hope and [have] freedom from addiction, the only reason why Paige and Tyler have been brought together is because of Jesus. To be able to celebrate that and just keep pointing to the transformative work of the Holy Spirit is really cool.”
Kevin and Desiree
Dissimilar to Paige and Tyler’s stories, Kevin and Desiree did not have anyone lead them to Restored Church.
“They walked into our church, just two weeks clean and sober. They came here for the very first time and were really transparent about the fact – ‘Like, hey we’ve had some really hard times, we’re really trying to get clean and sober, and we want sobriety to stick this time,” shared Walker.
Kevin and Desiree came back to Restored the next Sunday, then the next, and the next. Eventually, they joined a community group, attended the church’s “Growth Track” program, and little by little became more and more involved at the church.
Desiree was already a believer in Jesus, but knew she needed to rekindle her relationship with the Lord. Kevin respected Desiree’s beliefs, but did not identify as a Christ-follower.
One day, Kevin went to lunch with the church’s discipleship pastor and, much to Desiree’s surprise, gave his life to Jesus.
“When he got home, he said, ‘Babe, I have something exciting to tell you.’ Honestly, I only expected him to tell me that he had a really good time and, once again, much to my surprise he started explaining to me how he had an amazing talk with one of the pastors, how he enjoyed reading things from the Bible, and then he told me that he had made the decision to give his life to Jesus and become a follower of Jesus,” shared Desiree in an email to Pastor Walker.
She continued: “I never in a million years dreamed that the man who told me, ‘I respect your beliefs, but that’s just not for me,’ would ever come home one day and tell me that he had accepted Jesus in his heart and become a follower of Jesus.”
In August, Kevin and Desiree got married; two weeks ago, they became members at Restored Church; and in just a few weeks, Kevin will start a discipleship training program called the Timothy Initiative.
“What the Timothy initiative does is it focuses on discipleship for the fourth generation, not just making disciples but multiplying them. So, I’m excited because one of those 45 people in that training center is Kevin. Kevin wants to learn how to share his story [and] how to share God’s story,” explained Walker.
“Stories like these are the very fabric of our community,” continued Walker.
“They’re not sparse or a select minority in our church, they’re actually the majority. I love that stories like that – of Jesus rescuing people from addiction – prove in tangible ways [that] Jesus is alive and active in our lives, in our church, and in our city.”
Restored Church is located in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania, and has been reaching that community since 2013.
“The reality is, what God’s doing here says very little about us, and it says a whole lot about the faithfulness of our God. It’s not about our leadership, our strategy, our approach, or our ministry. We simply have been invited in to play a small part in something much larger that God is doing, and we are passionately and joyfully pursuing that with every ounce of our being.”
Listen to the podcast interview.
The “50 Stories of Transformation” series, told in honor of the Baptist Resource Network’s 50th anniversary, highlights the many ways God has moved throughout Pennsylvania, South Jersey and beyond. Your generous support of the Cooperative Program makes this ministry possible and fuels evangelism and outreach in our local churches and all over the world! Thank you!