Tyler can relate to the struggles of poverty and the effects of drug abuse all too well. He grew up in a home with a drug addicted mom. He saw firsthand the havoc drugs bring to the life of a child. His dad died when Tyler was 13 years old. After 7 months of living in neglect with his mom, Tyler was removed from the home, and custody was given to his Aunt Mylinda. Unfortunately, his uncle was also a drug addict, and Tyler found himself with the same struggles he had faced with his mom.
Although his aunt cared for him, his uncle took him out of state to purchase drugs; at one point he actually left him alone overnight in a Greyhound bus station. Searching for an escape from the loneliness, at 14 years old Tyler began riding a bus to church on Sundays. It was there he met Jesus.
Reading became his way to escape. Tyler rode his bike to the library every Saturday; he would stay from the time it opened until closing; he would read for hours. He vividly remembers how nobody came looking for him or wondered where he was during his time at the library. Tyler read everything he could get his hands on, and developed a love for learning. He also took comfort in food, and reached 526 lbs by the age of 19.
His teachers and his aunt recognized his potential and encouraged him to go to college. After attending Greenville Tech, Tyler transferred to Southern Wesleyan University where he majored in Human Services, and graduated in 2017. As a student at SWU, Tyler developed a strong support system of loving friends. A group of faculty members joined together and gave him a car. Because Tyler was in six car accidents as a child, as a result of his mom’s DUI, he had a fear of learning to drive. His friends, Justyn and Amanda Martin decided to teach Tyler how to drive. Two months ago he got his driver’s license! Among his many accomplishments, Tyler has also lost 215 lbs, and is continuing his journey to health.
Every day Tyler shows up to The Dream Center with a positive attitude that exudes joy. His compassion and empathy for the people we serve is felt by everyone around him. Although his aunt passed away this past summer, and his uncle is incarcerated, Tyler has a huge family of God with many people who love and support him.
Tyler is an Americorps member serving full-time at The Dream Center and teaches classes at The Dream Center. He assists clients who need help in the areas of employment, finances, and housing. After completing his time serving with Americorps, he will fulfill his dream of entering the Peace Corps in August and will be moving to Ukraine.
When asked how he survived a childhood of such loneliness, neglect and despair, Tyler smiles: “Only God.”
Jesus is using Tyler’s story to reach many people who are far from God, and will continue to redeem his painful past to advance the Gospel to the nations. His story is also a reminder that no person is outside the reach of Jesus Christ.