Yard sale to benefit local pastor who needs kidney transplant

Members of Calvary Community Church in Conyers are having a yard sale yard sale Saturday at the Porterdale Hotel beginning at 7 a.m., to benefit the church pastor, Tim Walden, who is in need of a kidney transplant. He is shown here with wife Angie Walden.

Members of Calvary Community Church in Conyers are having a yard sale yard sale Saturday at the Porterdale Hotel beginning at 7 a.m., to benefit the church pastor, Tim Walden, who is in need of a kidney transplant. He is shown here with wife Angie Walden.

Pastor Tim Walden is a man who knows about miracles. Since the age of 15, he's preached about them. In his 30s, he had one of his own when after a decade of blindness, he got his sight back and baffled his doctors. Today he is praying for another one.

At 46 years old, this Covington native and founding pastor of Calvary Community Church in Conyers is in need of a kidney transplant. When he was just a little boy, Walden was diagnosed with diabetes and has taken insulin all his life. He is now on an insulin pump, but recent tests have shown his kidneys are functioning at only 16 percent and he is in need of a transplant.

Before he can have the surgery, he must have a minimum fund of $2,500 set aside for anti-rejection drugs -- a cost not funded by insurance. If he gets the call telling him a donor kidney is available, he will not be able to have the surgery unless he has the cost of the rejection drugs covered.

"He is such a remarkable man and such a giving person," says Debbie Adams, whose family is one of the founding families of the church. "He's always looking for someone for him to help. We've got a food bank at our church and if somebody needs something, it doesn't matter if it's day or night, he's there."

As a way of giving back to their pastor, the congregation of Calvary Community Church is holding a yard sale Saturday at the Porterdale Hotel beginning at 7 a.m., with all the proceeds going to a fund set up for Walden's medical needs

The ladies of the church will also have a bake sale that day with those proceeds going toward the medical fund, as well. There will also be a drawing for a 32-inch flat screen television. If weather permits, there will also be live music for the event.

Adams, who is the church treasurer, said an account is being established at the Bank of North Georgia in Covington for Walden's medical fund and if the church raises more than the $2,500 minimum required for the anti-rejection drugs, the additional money will be used for the medical costs associated with his surgery.

"We're hoping and praying we can (raise that much) and take as much stress off him as possible," Adams said. "We just want to give back to him."

A beloved pastor who has led the church for 12 years, Walden heads into this whole process with a list of 40 friends and family members who have already asked to be tested to see if they are a match for his transplant. As soon as the anti-rejection drug fund is ready, Walden can move forward with the next phase and be matched with a donor.

Walden, who also serves as clergy for Newton General Hospital, grew up in Covington the son of Larry Walden and Ann Dodd. He began preaching at the age of 15 in his home church, Grace Baptist in Covington.

Prior to founding Calvary Community Church, Walden was the pastor of churches in Moultrie and Madison. He and his wife Angie, a pre-K paraprofessional at Fairview Elementary School in Newton County, are the parents of two grown children. Son Timothy Walden is a Newton County Sheriff's deputy and daughter Jessica Bowles is a nurse in a local doctor's office. Her husband, Chris Bowles is also a Newton County Sheriff's deputy.

Around the age of 29, Walden said diabetes claimed his eyesight. For 10 years, he endured one surgery after another, had to walk tapping a cane and used a special audio program on his computer for reading and writing.

Adams tells how Walden told his congregation that after one particularly troublesome night of prayer concerning his disability, he got out of bed and "basically said, 'OK, Lord. I've been faithful. I want results.'"

Walden finally went back to bed. A short while later, he opened his eyes. He saw the ceiling fan going around and around. He woke his wife and told her the news, but he said she thought he was joking.

The next day she knew it was no joke. She insisted they take a ride. When they stopped at a red light, she asked her husband if he could see the red light. He said he could see that traffic light and the next two traffic lights on down the road.

Doctors were amazed and told Walden his eyes were still damaged and they could not understand how he could possibly see. Doctors were baffled and said there was no way to explain how he was able to see anything.

Walden and his family and friends still celebrate that miracle in his life and they are hoping for another one with his kidney transplant.

"I don't have a big church -- maybe 100, but they have been a godsend," Walden said. "They are real special people. ... They've been there for us and they have our back. With the economy the way it is, they've stepped up.

"We've also had people help us that we didn't even know. A man in Oxford had heard my story and sent us a check. ... I've had people call and say, 'I don't have any money, but can I cook you supper or take you to the doctor?'

"It's been overwhelming. It's amazing the goodness that's come out of people. We've had people say they didn't know us but wanted to be tested (to see if they could be a donor). We're blessed by people just showing their concern."

The church welcomes additional donations for its yard sale and donors are invited to bring their items to the Porterdale Hotel Saturday morning. Financial donations may also be made by sending a check for Walden's medical fund to Calvary Community Church, 120 Crowell Road, Conyers, GA 30094.

Once the fund is set and a donor is found, Walden said the transplant process can move forward.

"I hope it can be done by the first of the year," he said. "That's my goal, but I don't know. I always try to stay upbeat."

Beth Sexton is a freelance writer based in Loganville. If you have a story idea, contact Karen Rohr, features editor, at karen.rohr@rockdalecitizen.com.