MORGANTON – He’s got AIDS and he thanks the Lord every day.
For Rev. George William Patton Jr., giving God gratitude for his life is second nature and beginning Monday, he is going to share God’s love with the community at an area revival.
“I’m hoping with this revival — some of these churches will come of the different denominations and it won’t be a Baptist revival, it won’t be a Church of God revival — but these churches will come and it might really be revival as it will be in heaven, where it’s not going to be any denomination. It’s going to be the body of Christ,” Patton said.
Patton has been ministering for 10 years. Over that time, he said God has taken him all over the world.
“God has so blessed me. I’ve gotten to preach in 11 different countries, I’ve lived in Haiti for a year, I established a food ministry in Boone, a recovery ministry here, I’ve been the pastor of three churches, planted three churches, God (has) blessed (me),” he said.
Believing in the blessings has not always been easy.
Patton grew up in Burke County in Dysartsville. He stayed there until his teen years when he ran away to New Hampshire.
“I went up there as a rebellious kid straight from the farm and ended up in drugs and alcohol and homeless. Then my dad came and got me. I went back up there when I was 18 and my mom was with me then,” he said.
When he was 18, Patton went through a series of events that forever shaped his life.
In January of 1989, Patton’s appendix ruptured. He waited to go to the doctor until it was almost too late, and he had to get a blood transfusion.
“I got the blood transfusion in January and in June I got hepatitis and hepatitis B and yellow jaundice but they didn’t check any further,” he said.
Patton said it was a long time until something else went awry.
In 1997, Patton went to a Morganton doctor who suggested an HIV test.
Patton took the HIV test and it came back positive.
“I cried from Grace Hospital all the way home, thinking to myself I was mad at God because now I can’t have a family, I can’t have children. But I didn’t know where I was at on the spectrum,” he said.
Patton headed to a hospital in Winston-Salem where they explained what it meant to have AIDS.
“That’s when I found out I had full-blown AIDS then. I had 125 T cells. When you get to 200 T cells or less then that’s full-blown AIDS. So the average life expectancy is 10 years when you find out you have full blown AIDS, well I’ve lived for 16 years, we’re on 17 now,” he said.
In those 16 years, Patton married and became a Christian.
“In 2000 I met my wife. We had worked together for five years and I hated her and she hated me, but God, we started dating in March, by June we were married,” he said. “I mean it was that quick she was the love of my life.”
While living in Morganton, Patton came to know Christ.
“In February 2002, three men came knocking on my door and I knew it was them Jesus people so I sent my wife to the door to talk to them. They never came in the house but they stuck their head in the door and said we’ll be back to talk to you. I said it wouldn’t do any good, I’m a heathen and it’s going to stay that way, don’t come back. I was watching ‘Survivor.’ Important stuff you know.
Patton said he picked up an heirloom Bible he had in his house.
“I began reading in the Gospels and God just began working on my heart,” he said.
He and his wife went to church that weekend.
“They had tear-off sides on the bulletin and you could check ‘more information about the church,’ ‘how to be saved.’ Well, I checked I wanted a visit from the preacher and I thought, ‘Well he will never come.’ I put it in the offering plate,” Patton said. “Well the next day, on Monday, he calls and he’s like, ‘I’m just a few houses up. Mind if I come visit?’”
So on that Monday in May, 2002, after talking with a pastor, Patton became a Christian.
Soon after, Patton received a message from God to share the gospel. He joined the evangelism group at his church and began doing mission work.
Patton served in Mexico in 2003 with his wife while she underwent treatment for breast cancer.
In July 2007, Patton’s wife, Carolyn passed away from breast cancer.
Patton chooses to still serve the Lord.
“When I am weak, He is strong. The weaker I get, the more He shines through. The weaker I get, the more feeble I get, the more He shines through,” Patton said.
Patton has spent the past week praying and fasting for the revival starting on Monday at Morganton Freedom Church of God. He hopes the revival will be so full more chairs will be needed to accommodate the crowd.
“That’s my hope in having this revival. While I’ve got strength, I would like to preach one more revival, that if this be the last one, I really want to put everything I can into this revival,” he said.