Here’s the latest from the crossroads of faith, media & culture: 09/01/21

God and country. Singer-songwriter Patrick Gibson honors both with the release of The American Prayer.  Our conversation (following the video) took place on August 18 – just as the imminent collapse of Afghanistan was becoming apparent but before the tragic suicide bombing at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul on August 28th.

JWK: What inspired you to write The American Prayer?

Patrick Gibson: I had taken a step back in my musical career back in March of 2020 – just before the pandemic came about. I needed to step away from the music. I was kinda jumping out of the chase because I needed to 1.) dedicate more of my time and myself to God. I (also) needed to dedicate more of my time and self to my family. I felt like I was doing music for selfish reasons. I think when it becomes about that, it’s not really God’s doing anymore. So, I felt like I had to step aside.

JWK: How long have you been recording country music?

PG: On a professional level, we cut our first record back in 2005…Eight of the twelve songs on the first record were songs written and co-written by me, so that was a blessing. Then we put out three or four other records after that…I felt like it got to a point where it was just all for the wrong reasons. When I turned 30 we had our first child – my wife and I – and he totally turned everything around for us. That’s when I committed myself to Christ. I became a Christian and it’s almost like the purpose of why I was doing things just totally changed for me. The music route that I was on, it almost felt like I was spinning my wheels in certain areas. I was doing it for myself more than I was for God and it started to affect my family life.

JWK: So, what led you back into music? I gather you’re doing it with more of a sense of purpose now.

PG: Absolutely. You know, our music has always had purpose – our writing and everything – but…when I stepped aside I was good for it (but) then this pandemic came along and all these issues…with people trying to defund the police and just all the hate that was in the world and all the pressure the world was feeling. Not just America but the globe was going through a process that was not new to man but (was) new to the current times. So, I had been working on this song titled The American Prayer. I wrote some lyrics to fit the times. I went to the studio with Dakota Hurley who produced the song for us…We sat down and listened to it and I said “Okay, alright, so we might just have to release this song. It’s a message that needs to be heard.”

JWK: It certainly seems very timely with all that’s going on right now. This interview will run in a couple of weeks – and who knows what might happen in that time – but what are your thoughts about the news we’re seeing right now?

PG: It turns my stomach – not even from a political side. I don’t get into the political side, like Republican, Democrat, the President made a “bad” decision, made the “right” decision. I don’t get involved in that. I just look at this as (impacting) human beings, people and creation(s) of God. Everything that is happening…turns my stomach because it just reminds us that we should take nothing for granted because anything, at any point in time, can change and that’s what has totally opened me up (by) witnessing all of this. When we hear the situation happening in Afghanistan – which is happening all around the world – you know, we have missionaries that were just going through this type of thing in Myanmar and the Philippines and all these areas. There is so much hate out there, so much selfishness, but this song The American Prayer brings it full circle. What do we need to do? We need to gather in prayer and we need to support those men and women that are selflessly serving – whether it be our local communities with police officers, whether it be our military men and women serving around…the globe. We need to pray for them. We need to support them in prayer because you know and I know that’s the true answer because without prayer, how far are we gonna get, right?

JWK: It seems to me that your song touches on how – particularly with the police but with soldiers too who are asked to make life-and-death decisions in a split second – we all need mercy. I mean we put these people in such harrowing situations where a wrong reaction – or lack of reaction – can get themselves or others killed, then we can be extremely harsh and judgmental toward them should they make a mistake. Obviously, we don’t want to condone police brutality – or to sweep it under the rug – but we are all prone to make mistakes. There’s got to be some kind of balance in how we respond to these cases.

PG: I would agree with that. That’s society these days, right? They can stand behind a camera and judge. They can stand behind their keyboard and go on social media and judge. But, until you are in that person’s shoes, I mean we don’t know what our reaction would be. So, how are we to judge what they do?…This is what the song says: “Lord please forgive me for the sins I may commit.” We just pray that as humans because we’re all sinful.

JWK: It’s not singling the cops and soldiers out as sinners. We all are. We all need God’s mercy – and the mercy of each other.

PG: Absolutely! That’s is absolutely right! Like you said, when you are put into situations such as these police officers are put into daily – because as we run from trouble, they run into trouble – and, you’re right, man, they only have a split second to make a decision. Yes, you’re trained to do that but training is only training until you have to use it – and then what is your decision? We fail to see that that few seconds or few minutes can change everything for a police officer – when they can go twenty years plus and just totally sacrifice and sacrifice and sacrifice and do good – it’s always that little bit of wrong that…takes over in this world and people forget all the more good they’ve done.

JWK: It’s heightened with police and military people as well but we’re finding this sort of harshness throughout society. Maybe somebody posted something they shouldn’t have years ago. It doesn’t matter if they’ve changed since then or if the post could be taken two ways – but people take it the most harsh way possible – it just seems that we’ve become very harsh and judgmental toward one another.

PG: I totally agree. The Bible tells us to love, not to explain what’s right and wrong. (Of course) we are to explain what’s right and wrong. I get it – but we are still to love – maybe not condone – but just love. We don’t know what (people) are going through. Another (thing) that this song really points out is the effect on the family itself. It’s not just those that are wearing the badge but it’s also those…families behind the badge. They take a lot of heat. They take a lot of sacrifice. That’s gotta be a tough life. That’s what this song really wants to bring out – the family side of it – because it’s not just the officer that sacrifices when he walks out the door but it’s also the family makes a sacrifice. So, we need to embrace that in prayer. We need to support them and say “Hey, we got you.”

JWK: What sort of reaction have you received from police officers, soldiers and their families?

PG: It’s truly amazing. We get a lot of messages – whether it be emails (or) social media comments or just people we know. The police wives have really taken hold of this song. The music has made its way into several groups’ chat rooms, blogs for the families or police officers and such. They say “You know what? That is our daily routine. My husband kisses me, kisses the child” and vice versa – because the wife is the police officer. They’re like “Man, this hit home.”

The other day we had a comment that I thought was really neat. I never had one like this. It was a gentleman. I’m going to think maybe he was in his fifties or so. He put a comment out there saying how much respect he has for police officers and how he prays for their families and just for all of those serving because he also mentioned that he was one that spent fourteen years in the jail system, not as an officer but as a prisoner or as a “bad guy.” He said that even when he was riding in the backseat of a car he still respected that police officer.

To me, that was awesome for somebody on that side to step up and say “Hey, I screwed up but I still gotta respect these people because they’re going into harm’s way.” That was very cool.

JWK: So, tell me about this video that is just going up on YouTube as this blog is posted and which we’re basically debuting on Beliefnet today.

PG: This one is very close to me and my family. A few years ago, a young boy by the name of Bailey Trinder was driving home from football practice. He was only seventeen years old…and he wrecked his vehicle. He wrecked his pickup truck. A good friend of our family. We all attend the same church. We saw this go out on a prayer chain that Bailey has been life-flighted to…the major trauma hospital in Orlando. So, my wife and I immediately found a babysitter for our kids and we headed to that emergency room just to be there in prayer and support in whatever way we could. That’s how everything just unfolded.

So, I wrote a song about it. It’s called We’re Gonna Do This. The experience that we received that night in the emergency room really showed the faith of a family. When your faith is put in the fire, what do you do? We experienced that with the Trinder family. We were joined by over 100 people. It was a mix of ministers, pastors…people from his high school, from the football team, coaches. The community just came together. That told me just, okay, we’re gonna do to this – and we’re gonna do this together. So, I took it to pen and paper and I wrote the song called We’re Gonna Do This. The song is not my story…It’s Bailey’s story and his family’s story…I just kinda put it to music and shared out.

JWK: What do you hope people take from the song?

PG: Oh, man – that you know what? There is hope. If you have faith, take hold of that faith. In whatever dark time you’re going through, there is another side to it. You’re gonna come out on the sunny side. You know, it’s not gonna be easy but if you come together, the chorus (of the song says) “with hope, faith, family and strength, we’re gonna do this!” You can do this. No matter what your obstacles are, you can do this (and) as (we) come together, we’re gonna do this.

JWK: Definitely a good message – one which I think would apply to individual situations and to what our country is going through.

PG: Absolutely.

JWK: What’s ahead for you?

PG: October is going to be a big month for us. We got a single that we wrote hoping to inspire people. It’s gonna be called Temporary Mess. October is National Bullying Prevention Month. The song was inspired by my seven-year-old son who was going to school and was, you know, bullied. I was bullied myself growing up. We just felt in our heart that we need to write about this, share a message and encourage people that, you know, this mess we’re in, it’s temporary. It too shall pass. Being Christians we get that our life here is temporary. This mess is temporary. This hurt, this pain, whatever craziness is temporary. One day this too shall pass. That’s what the song talks about. The song encourages people to hang on. Be your best – but be you and know that God created every single one of us differently for a purpose. Everybody does have a purpose.

Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

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