Patrick Wilson’s winding road brought him home, physically and spiritually.
Wilson, 55, became pastor of Durham Baptist Church in January 2021, eight miles from Emerson, Missouri, where growing up was rough.
“My father left when I was four. I was a bad high school student in Philadelphia, Mo., just getting grades high enough to let Mom know I was trying,” he said.
Wilson was raised in a now-closed Disciple of Christ Church in Emerson.
“I went forward when I was 12 or 13, but there was no fruit. My grandma was the church matriarch and a pillar. My grandpa influenced me in music. They played blue grass as a family on the radio in Hannibal.”
After graduation, he served four years in the Air Force, then attended Hannibal-LaGrange College (now Hannibal-LaGrange University). Two years into college, Desert Storm began. Wilson told HLG he was reinstated to active duty. After several months in Dayton, Ohio, as a medical tech, he returned to northeast Missouri to chart his life course.
“I lived south of Philadelphia, singing songs outside, but the squirrels and birds didn’t give me a record deal. I decided to go to Nashville in 1995,” he said.
“I did shows at [The Bluebird Cafe, a Nashville music club]. I nearly had opportunities to sign with big record labels. God shut door after door. Looking back, God was preparing me. I had written songs about drinking and not about God. It was a southern rock-country genre.
“I was burned out with music. The music business is very political.”
‘God if you’re real, show me’
Wilson worked construction to support himself and landed with Slayden Door and Hardware in 2000.
“God blessed me in the business. I became vice-president in seven years. I worked for a company contractor I didn’t know who sent me blueprints. He wanted me to supply doors for a church in Lieper’s Fork, Tenn., in 2002. He invited me to church.
“He kept inviting me, but I didn’t go. When I did go, I went to a Disciples of Christ church, but a lot of times I was hung over.”
He noted, “I was living my life far from God — alcohol, pot, the rock and roll life. I thought of how disappointed my grandma would be.” In November 2011, while standing on his porch drunk, he recalled saying, “God if you are real, will you show me?”
God showed Himself.
He recalled, “I was at a job meeting in the church parking lot, leaning against my truck in January 2012. The contractor was late. A small voice told me to come to his church. I went that week. For the first time, I heard preaching. It seemed like the sermon was for me.
A couple months later, he recalled, he was laying on the dining room floor and cried for God.
“I was a sinner and didn’t want to live that way anymore,” he recalled. “Then I had the appetite for the Scriptures. I read all the time.”
“When God called me in the ministry, I was about 45. I picked up my guitar and started playing. I hadn’t written songs or played it in three years. I started playing songs of God’s Word. God gave me a gift of putting multiple Scriptures in a song.
“I have three CDs with Scripture songs I wrote. For a while I played at churches for love offerings and selling CDs. I’d sing and tell the Scripture it was based on. I could not make a living of it. At sometime, I started to preach and realized God wanted me to do that full time.
“I was a vice president of the door and hardware business. God blessed me, but I was not walking with the Lord.”
On June 20, 2015, his birthday, Wilson left the commercial door and hardware business.
“God took a job I really enjoyed and made me miserable,” he said. “I walked out not knowing what to do, but following Christ and living for Him.”
‘My life is a winding road’
His ministry focus changed.
“I’ve shut the music ministry off for now,” he said. “I don’t want that and Durham Baptist to be in competition.”
Wilson finished his degree at Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, Missouri, where he stayed with his dad after Nashville. The two have made amends, and his father is now a Christian too.
At Durham, Wilson helps with worship music, leads a growing monthly men’s ministry and is teaching an evangelism/discipleship class. A church retreat is set for May.
“My life is a winding road, but God has been faithful,” he said. “I want everything to revolve around evangelism and the gospel.”
EDITOR’S NOTE — This article was written by Ben Hawkins, and was originally published by The Pathway, newsjournal of the Missouri Baptist Convention.