My name is Pat Hamilton let me tell you my story…
Growing up as a young boy my family was never very religious. My father wanted us to have a good education so he put me and my brother in a private Catholic school. That was as close to knowing about God as it came. I heard all about the bible and many of the famous characters, but it was more of a history lesson than anything else. I did ponder things about God a lot while I was there, like, where did everything come from? How did I get here? How did all colors and races of people just come from just two people named Adam and Eve? And why in the world would a God so powerful, that created everything, allow His son to be killed by us? I couldn’t understand any of it. And of course, my biggest hang up was that the Catholic leadership (priests and nuns) did not marry or have children. So my impression of a holy person that walked with God was not attainable for me. I left that to them.
As I grew up, I, like a lot of others, had to deal with two parents out of the home working to make ends meet. This left me and brother home alone a lot. At age 12 my parent's divorced, and so my brother and I lived with our mother mostly and visited our father every other weekend. This was very strange at first but it became our normal way of life. Unknowingly this would take a huge toll on my life and attitude towards people and authority figures. As a teenager, I began to rebel and give my mother a very hard time. I became very mean, unruly, and violent at times, and got into trouble often. I was very angry and took out my frustration on my mother and brother. At the time I didn’t know why I was so angry, I just was. My rebellion got to the point where I could not be told anything. I just did what I wanted to do when I wanted to do it. I just came and went as I pleased with no borders. I went out all the time with friends drinking every weekend, trying out drugs, promiscuousness with girls, and just a plain outright self-destructive lifestyle. During these years I participated in at least 3 innocent babies losing their life through the horrific act of abortion. Some I participated in but others I didn’t know about till later on. I didn’t care about anybody or anything but me and what I wanted. Whatever the cost.
Then at age 19, my life took another major turn. Again, I got my then girlfriend pregnant. We decided not to abort the child but keep it and try to raise it ourselves. I also thought at the time that marrying her was the best option. At least the child would have my name and not have to live with questions like, whose son am I or where his father was. Unlike the others that never got that chance, I wanted this one to have a better chance at life than I did. But my human efforts were futile.
If being married and having a kid at 19 wasn’t enough, I got in trouble with the law too. At age 20 I got addicted to pain killers due to a sports injury and falsified a prescription and got arrested. The consequences never even crossed my mind. Possibly going to jail or prison? Losing my family and freedom? That was the most demoralizing experience I ever had in my life. I went to jail for a day and said to myself that I’d never do something so stupid again if I get out of this. Thankfully I just got PTI (pre-trial intervention). Another term for probation for 12 months.
But even that wasn’t enough to keep me straight. I still went out with friends drinking, carrying on, and messing around on my wife, instead of being home and taking care of my family. So just after five years of marriage and many attempts to keep it together, we divorced just like my parents did before me. I could not sacrifice my will enough to be the father and husband I needed to be. My way and my wants outweighed what was most important and that was being a father to my son. My self-destructive lifestyle and other differences ended my marriage and left my 5-year-old son with no father in the home.
So at 23 I’m out on my own again just trying to figure out life and what I was going to do with mine. I became exactly what I never wanted for my son and that was an absentee part-time father. Several months later I met a woman that would eventually become my new wife. But how that came to be is where God stepped in and revealed himself me in a huge way.
She was wonderful and beautiful inside and out. I felt like I could actually be a better person when I was around her. She was 27 and more mature than I was accustomed. I started to settle down and not go out all the time like I was doing before. She even accepted my son and loved him like her own when I had him. She encouraged me to get a full-time job instead of the part-time construction work that was so temporary and unreliable. I even started paying child support to help take care of my son like I should. She worked at Seville Quarter as a bartender. Life was great and so we eventually moved in together. Not long after I asked her to marry me after 2 years of dating. She said yes, and that began “our plans” for our new life. Little did I know that “our plans” were about to change drastically.
This new job I took was for a man and his wife who were apparently Christians. I did not know that at the time but nonetheless, I’d find that out eventually. I worked as a plastic fabricator and shop manager for them for 2 years. In that time something amazing and life changing took place. Apparently, a massive revival had broken out at their church, Brownsville Assembly of God on Father’s Day 1995. I had no idea what a revival was and didn’t care. I was just interested in me, my plans, my life, which consisted of playing sports, working out and living life with my fiancée. That was it. I had no time for church or God or whatever he was smoking. That was my attitude.
This never detoured my boss though. He would ask me all the time to come to church and I would always make excuses why I couldn’t. He even started coming in on Monday mornings and began asking me if I needed prayer for anything. I was like, no, I’m good, but my brother needs prayer. Now he was a mess! Of course being so blind and prideful I had no idea I was the one that was the mess. This went on for months. They went to church every night and most days he didn’t come in till late in the afternoons. I was left to take care of the shop by myself for a long time. Then one day he came to me yet again and asked me to come to church that night. First of all who goes to church at night, and who goes on a Friday nights? Again, I try to bow out as usual, but this time he put a little bait on the hook. He said, “If I let you off the rest of today paid, will you come?” I thought about it for a minute and for some reason said, uhh, ok. What will it hurt, I thought? Get paid to show up for some church service. How hard could that be?
I went home early that day and told my fiancée that I was going to meet my boss at church that night at 7:00 pm. She was flabbergasted, to say the least, but said, ok whatever. That night I went and met him out front like he said, and there were hundreds of people there. I was like, what in the world is this? Who are these people? It’s Friday night! Anyway, he led me in and introduced me to a bunch of people he knew and showed me around the place. He then sat me down on a pew near the front and said, “I’ll be right back.” Ha! I should have known that was the setup. He didn't come back.
A short time later the service began and boy was it loud and furious. I never saw such a thing in my life except maybe at bars or concerts and these people weren’t drunk on beer as far as I could tell. People were dancing and jumping around like a big party but we were in church. I was very uncomfortable, to say the least. After about an hour of that, they had some baptisms up front like I hadn’t seen before either. I’d only seen little kids get splashed a bit at the Catholic Church. But these people were going all in and coming out flopping around like fish out of water. It was getting crazier and crazier. Meanwhile, I’m still looking around for my boss that was supposed to come back, but he was nowhere to be found. Not long after that, a guy named Steve Hill came up to speak. He talked about his personal life at one point and how messed up he was before he gave his life to Jesus. He was addicted to drugs, a drug dealer, an alcoholic, been arrested, went to prison, and almost died of an overdose. You name it he did it. I thought wow, this guy was really messed up, he sure did need God. I was glad I didn’t have his problems.
At the end, he asked for people to come forward if they wanted to get right with God. They had to come to the altar to get saved. Standing in the pew wasn’t good enough. Now mind you, I didn’t come there with any intention on “getting saved”. I just went so I’d get paid for not working and maybe my boss would stop harassing me about coming to church anymore. But God had something else in mind. I resisted it as long as I could. I felt my heart racing 100 mph, my palms started sweating, and then this young girl began singing this angelic song. It was the most beautiful thing I’d ever heard. She kept singing, “Come running, come running, come running to the mercy seat, where Jesus is calling, He will provide the healing.”… I’m hearing voices in my head saying, “you don’t need healing, there’s nothing wrong with you." "Just leave, nobody will notice". But I couldn’t resist it any longer. I had to go down there or I’d explode. The conviction of the Holy Spirit was unbearable.
So off I went with hundreds of others, it was too many to count. But right there I surrendered everything I thought I’d never do, and that was “my will.” For years I thought I had it all figured out on how it was going to go, and how I thought it should be. But right there, with no warning, I made Jesus my savior and "Lord" of my life.
After they prayed with us and handed us this little pamphlet, I turn around to go sit down again and think about what just happened. As I begin to walk back to my seat, guess who decides to show back up again, my boss, with a big grin on his face. He knew something I didn’t, and that was God is the worker of miracles. God had that day in mind from the moment I was in my mother’s womb. From that day on, my life would never be the same again. The once hardened heart that was so out of control as a youth, began to melt away like wax with the most indescribable love and peace I had never felt before in my life. Jesus set me free from all that pain and guilt.
Because of my new faith in God, I realized I had to start making some tough decisions in my life. The first of which was I knew I couldn’t keep living in this current relationship the way I was in. After about 60 days and getting counsel from godly men, I told my fiancée I couldn’t marry her and I moved out of the house. I realized this decision could cost me my relationship with the love of my life forever, but I knew that Jesus had to come first now. I couldn’t put my wants and desires first anymore. We were both devastated, but through it all, God gave me a supernatural peace about it. I just persevered through it and trusted God would work it out somehow.
Because of my bold stance for God, He did something amazing I didn’t see coming. My new found love and passion for Jesus really provoked my fiancée to jealousy and she wanted to know what the big deal was with this Jesus. I couldn’t explain it very well so she began to search Him out herself. So within 30 days of my moving out and staying with a friend, in obedience to His word, God miraculously touched her heart too, and she gave her life to Jesus.
Now we’re both on fire for God and seeking His will for our lives. So for the next six months, we spent apart, God really did a work in our lives. We just spent that time seeking and soaking in His presence at the revival as much as we could. Then on Father’s Day 1996, one year to the day of the outbreak of the “Brownsville Revival”, which is where we both accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, God does it again.
A few months earlier the Lord spoke to me that it was ok to get married now and He would bless us if we did. She, on the other hand, had not heard from God yet. Matter of fact, she said she was not going to marry me unless God told her to “literally.” And she meant it. Little did she know she was about to get that literal word.
So for the first time in a very long time, we decided to go to church together on that Sunday morning on Father’s Day. About 30 minutes into the service she decides to go to the restroom. On her way there she runs into someone in the hallway that she hadn’t seen since High School except for one time they ran into each other at the revival. Neither of them had spoken or seen each other until that morning. He begins to tell her that while he was praying that morning, God had laid her on his heart. Now, he did not know me or our situation or that she was even seeing anyone. He only knew her from the past. He says to her, “God wants you to stop tarrying around and marry the one I have before you.” To say the least, she was blown away by this. God actually gave her the literal word she asked for.
Wow, God really cares about us and has a plan for our lives together. How often do we just jump into situations and relationships, and never even ask God what He thinks or wants for us? I’m so grateful we listened for His voice before we did anything. It so much sweeter when you know you’re in the will of God.
Two weeks later, we have a small ceremony with family and a few friends and we get married as God told us to do, and we’ve never looked back! We’ve been living for God ever since, and still to this day all these years later, I’m in awe of how God orchestrated our lives, even through all the mistakes we made on the way.
I thank God every day for His mercy and kindness that led me to repentance that day. God has shown me that even though we may not have had the best upbringing or been dealt the best hand in life, like so many others out there, God wants them to know the same love and compassion for them that He revealed to me. And He wants to use me to tell them about it.
Ever since I gave my life to the Lord I’ve been growing and learning more and more about Him and have never had such peace in my life. Jesus said, "In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33. So with that, I have also made many mistakes and had much trouble come my way, and have been tripped up by sin and the cares of this world at times. But the difference now is I can't stay there. Because of His mercy and goodness and conviction of His Spirit, He always shows me where I've messed up and draws me to repentance. That's how much He loves us and wants us to be close to Him. He won't allow sin and the enemy to take us down without help from the Holy Spirit. How awesome is that? It's not about how perfect we are or not or how good we can be. As if we could. It's about how Perfect He is and how Good He is. And that His Grace is sufficient for me and for you!
What's also cool, is He's allowed me to be a part of His awesome plan for this city, nation and the world to help lead others to Himself. But more than anything, He’s become my Father and has taught me how to be a good father to my 3 children and to his children. He did that by putting an awesome man of God in my life that has become my “spiritual father” in the Lord. He’s taught me a lot about how to love, to laugh, to cry, to laugh some more, and how to be vulnerable and transparent. He’s been there for me and with me on this entire journey in God. Without him, I would not be where I am today. I know it was him that helped pray me into the Kingdom. For that, I am eternally grateful.
My prayer would be that you would understand that God loves you so much, and has an awesome plan for you too. You can try and run from His will, but you can’t escape His love. He’s always there waiting for you; waiting for the day that we surrender our wills for His will for our life. He just wants to be the loving Father you may never have had. I’m so glad I did!