God@Work

in the life of Pierce Reed

"I always believed there was a God. I knew of Jesus, but I didn’t have a real understanding of what Jesus did for me."

Redeemed:

This is a fitting word to describe Pierce Reed ― and not just because it’s tattooed in large capital letters on his right leg! Pierce’s story is an undeniable testimony to the power of Jesus to change lives and to redeem us no matter how dark and hopeless things may seem. Once imprisoned for crimes related to drug addiction, Pierce has now found true freedom in knowing and following Jesus. This is his story.

A Misplaced Identity

Pierce grew up in Shamong in a close-knit family consisting of his identical twin brother, Jacob (Jake), his sister, and parents. Pierce was baptized as a baby in the Roman Catholic Church. He remembers attending church with his family on holidays, but he did not have a personal relationship with Jesus. “I never understood what any of it meant,” he says. “I always believed there was a God. I knew of Jesus, but I didn’t have a real understanding of what Jesus did for me.”

Pierce built most of his life around playing football. He played football at Shawnee High School and went on to play at Widener University. Though he spent years shaping his identity as a football player, it all came crashing down in an instant when Pierce suffered a career-ending injury during the third game of his freshman season.

The Descent into Darkness

“After the injury, my life took a turn for the worse,” Pierce explains. “I became addicted to the pain medication prescribed to me and spent five years hopelessly living a life revolving around getting my next fix. I dropped out of school and came home to work with my brother, eventually getting him hooked on the pills, too.”

Pierce describes this part of his life as a time when he was living in complete selfish darkness, a time when he hurt a lot of people. One night, in a desperate attempt to feed their addiction, Pierce and Jake committed an armed robbery of a pharmacy. This led to another robbery and another. The twin brothers were arrested, charged, and convicted with five first-degree robberies. Pierce was sentenced to a nine-year prison term and Jake was sentenced to a seven-year term.

“I always believed there was a God. I knew of Jesus, but I didn’t have a real understanding of what Jesus did for me.”

A Light in the Dark

Pierce and Jake were serving their sentences together in the county jail when one day they received an unexpected delivery in the mail.

“Jake and I were at rock bottom when we each received a Bible and several devotional books from a long-time friend I hadn’t heard from in years, someone I had pushed away while I was addicted,” he says.

With nowhere else to turn and plenty of time on their hands, the brothers began to read. This is when Pierce and Jake were introduced to the Gospel, and they came to a clear understanding of how much they needed Jesus.

“For the first time, we saw how much we needed a Savior. It changed everything for us.”

Changed Hearts

Soon after receiving the Bibles, Pierce and Jake were sent to separate prisons to serve the remainder of their sentences. For the first time in their life, the twins were unable to see one another. They were separated, and yet they’d never been closer because they weren’t just brothers anymore: they were brothers in Christ.

Pierce and Jake continued to share the life-changing experience of studying God’s Word. They wrote to each other every week, studying the Bible together through the mail.

“Although we were imprisoned, we had never felt such contentment. Over many long, hard years we came to understand our purpose in life is not to dwell on the difficulty of our present circumstances, but to use them to glorify God and to share His love with others.”

Finding Purpose in Prison

During his time away, Pierce spent significant time studying God’s Word. It was a season for his faith to strengthen and grow. It was also a season during which God provided unexpected opportunities to share his faith with fellow inmates. He remembers sharing with one friend in particular, whom he didn’t see for quite some time afterward. When Pierce finally saw his friend again, he was cleaning the prison. The two were separated by a glass window, but Pierce could hear his friend call to him through the glass, “I know Jesus! I’m a Christian now.”

Perhaps one of the most significant opportunities God provided Pierce while in prison was the opportunity to speak to students about the dangers of drug addiction through a program called Project Pride. Pierce’s first speaking engagement was at the same middle school he once attended in Shamong. A group of students gathered in the library to hear him speak, along with their teacher, Tara Orichowskyj.

After hearing Pierce speak, Tara felt compelled to reach out to Pierce’s mother, who was a fellow teacher, to tell her how impactful his speech had been. This led to Tara corresponding with Pierce through the mail and eventually visiting him in prison. During this time, Pierce invited Tara to read the Bible with him. They began a Bible study together via mail, and Tara dedicated her life to following Jesus, too.

Pierce and Tara were married on May 15, 2016, about five months after he was released.

A Life of Serving and Glorifying God

Thanks to the decision Pierce made to follow Christ, he returned from his time away as a changed person. He had the opportunity to personally thank the friend who sent him the Bible because she happened to be standing at the door greeting people when he walked into a local church for the first time since dedicating his life to Jesus.

Pierce understands the importance of having an eternal hope in Jesus now more than ever. His twin brother, Jake, passed away after being diagnosed with cancer toward the end of his prison sentence. Pierce and Jake had an opportunity to see one another before Jake went home to be with the Lord. During this time, Jake encouraged his brother to keep following Jesus fervently.

God blessed Pierce and Tara with a son, Jacob, in October of 2017. The family recently moved into their first home in Tabernacle.

In a world where more and more people are suffering from addiction, Pierce is dedicated to sharing Jesus as the only true and lasting hope for healing. He has had numerous opportunities to disciple men who struggle with addiction. Pierce and Tara have led an Alpha group together, and Pierce is now co-leading a Catalyst 33 group. Pierce and Tara are also very engaged with their miniChurch. Pierce’s strong faith and testimony of redemption have been such an encouragement to his MiniChurch that he was asked to be in the water assisting in the baptism of seven members last year.

Pierce is quick to point out that he is empowered and motivated by the Holy Spirit–not by his own will–to share the hope of Jesus with others. “I have a completely new life thanks to Christ’s sacrifice and God drawing me to Him so many years ago. I hope that people who are suffering in the bondage of addiction can see this change in me and know they can have a new life, too. No one is beyond Christ’s salvation. I’m living proof of that.”

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” ― 2 Corinthians 5:17