The love of a pastor helped transform country singer Walker Hayes from atheist alcoholic to a follower of Jesus with a life-altering message: “The answer is Christ.”
Hayes, who shot to fame with the 2021 chart-topper ‘Fancy Like’, shares that declaration in every interview – itself a powerful message of change in someone once “unwilling to talk about anything spiritual”.
Now the 43-year-old Alabama-born singer and Grammy winner is as vocal about Jesus as he is with his song lyrics.
Take his recent interview with everythingnash.com as one example: “Honestly, I don’t care about sharing anything else. I don’t think there’s anything else worth sharing than what Jesus has done with me and the redemption I’ve experienced here on earth, and will continue to experience from knowing him. That’s it. That’s why I want to share my story.”
So, what changed? Craig Cooper, the founder of Glad You’re Here Ministries in the US, entered his life.
“I lost a kid. I have nothing going on musically. I’m an alcoholic,” Hayes told Fox News. “So here comes this guy named Craig, who was drawn nearer to me. And it was quite confusing. There were a lot of times when I was like, ‘What’s this dude’s deal? Like, why does he love us so much? Like, why does he keep feeding us food? Why is he giving me a minivan? Why is he encouraging me? Why isn’t he like everybody else?’
“I honestly found out he’s just as broken as me, but he knows Jesus. He needs Jesus. Every morning he wakes up, he needs Jesus, and Jesus is a light through him.”
Hayes is now eight years sober after an addiction so bad he “felt like I was going to die”. While still drinking, the father of six and his wife Laney lost a daughter, Oakleigh Klover, soon after her birth. He then lost a recording contract, and the minivan used to carry the family around was repossessed.
Enter Craig Cooper with that Christ-centred love – and a minivan – that changed everything.
Now the pair have even written a book together – Glad You’re Here: Two Unlikely Friends Breaking Bread and Fences – and Hayes is following in his friend’s selfless footsteps by sharing Christ’s love.
“My only hope is Jesus. And I think he’s everybody’s,” he told everythingnash.com. “And to me, there’s a freeing thought that life is not the end-all-be-all. It’s beautiful, but it’s going to let us down continually until it’s over.
“There are beautiful, beautiful things to behold in it and about it. Life isn’t the answer, but Jesus is.”