Bryan Page’s battle with addiction took him down a well-worn path: when opioids got too expensive, he switched to heroin, and when heroin brought him to his knees, he called his mother.
Carol Page had served up what Bryan calls “tough love”. She’d kicked her son out of the house and set boundaries visible even through the fog of substance abuse, thereby missing the moment toward the end of 2003 when Bryan, aged 22, got a hold of his friends and said, “Let’s go pile up” with every imaginable substance intending to never wake up again.
But wake up Bryan did and, as the dark of another night settled over his end-of-life plans, he saw himself turning “thirty, forty, fifty, and still doing the same thing.” He dropped a dime into a payphone in front of the last liquor store he ever kept in business. When his mother answered, he said, “I’m done. I’ll do whatever it takes. I do not ant to live like this anymore.”
What followed was a journey filled with singularities. Bryan did not go through twelve steps recovery groups. He spent fifteen months in a faith-based program called Teen Challenge, emerging out of a house he shared with men of all ages so profoundly altered that he joined the effort to start another Teen Challenge in another location. “It’s a program rooted in biblical principles,” says Bryan, “Humility, integrity, honesty, transparency, gentleness, faithfulness.”
As Teen Challenge took him on drug awareness campaigns all over New England, Bryan came to a realization: “I had a heart for people, I loved people, I wanted to work with and for people,” the more “banged up”, he says, the better. The path to becoming a pastor opened up after Bryan met his wife Danielle and moved from Massachusetts to Maine. While working construction around Kennebunk, Bryan met a wealthy man with an embarrassment of properties in the area. The man, says Bryan, “took an interest in me,” eventually offering to finance both an undergraduate and graduate degree in theology so that Bryan could embark on his dream of “church planting.”
By then, Bryan had plenty of experience as a pastor. He and his wife had connected to the Kennebunk community. They’d hosted meals and had been hosted in turn. Says Bryan, “Soon enough we had thirty something people” who met publicly on Sundays in “a wicked basic set up,” consisting of some chairs, a mike stand, and a coffee station. “We didn’t want it to be pews and hymnals and a big cross hanging at the front,” he says, to avoid scaring people “scarred by the whole church thing.”
Bryan’s Seven Mile Road church now ministers to over one hundred people in and around Kennebunk. It meets on Sundays in a building placed at the service of the community by a local contractor. Bryan himself can be found in the back helping people in need.
“There is a substance abuse issue in the Kennebunks,” he says, “People come in busted up. Or they reach out and say, hey, I’ve got a loved one, can you help me out.” In a rare moment of spare time, he reads C.S. Lewis.