On the second story of a lakeside East Texas home some of the best known contemporary worship songs have been written. For almost two decades Paul Baloche has called East Texas home.
"And there was a door open in East Texas to work Kelly Willard who had just moved here a Christian artist. There were other Christian artists in the area. And come alongside WYAM and work with WYAM. Melody Green, back in the day- "Last Days Ministries." So man we came down. Loaded up all our belongings in our Ford Escort and drove down here to East Texas and never looked back," says Paul Baloche.
Long before he came to East Texas music was a big part of Paul's life. Growing up in New Jersey, just north of the Pennsylvania line he's quick to point out, was a family who took their music seriously.
"I had a lot of older brothers and they had that sort of classic rock of the early 60's, late 70's," remembers Paul, "so our house was always loud. We had a next door neighbor that had a band and they were always practicing in the basement all the time. Before you know I was in high school and practicing down in our basement every night of the week. Just shaking the neighborhood. And you know that was the thing to do back then."
While secular music was his passion... Paul says he began to feel that there should be something more to his music and his life.
"So I was in a really good band playing down ont he Jersey Shore. You know, trying to follow in the steps of Bruce Springstein. You know...our states...the musical guy who made it. You I was pretty disillusioned. I had been raised in a faith and just found myself saying this isn't what it is all about. It wasn't long after that I met what I would call some true believers. They kind of shared their testimony and shared the whole idea of having a relationship with God. That was just a foreign concept to me. And I was like, wow that would be so cool. And for me it was like going from black and white to color. My eyes were open," says Paul.
Today Paul plays concerts all across the world. Some of his songs like "Above All" and "Open the Eyes of My Heart" have been recorded by dozens of artists and are played in worship services across the country every week. While most people know Paul by his songs, it is work in training worship leaders that has been his passion. Something he has practiced since arriving in East Texas and becoming a worship pastor Christian Community Fellowship near Lindale.
"18 years later I am still at that same church where I've grown up and made a lot of mistakes and learned a lot of things and its like a spiritual laboratory you know," says Paul. "But in the early days there was just a lot of grace on me not to have it all together. But as a result of that when Last Days Ministries or WYAM would...started hosting these worship schools. Kind of a one month worship school. And they invited me to teach guitar or maybe put a band together when an artist would come in, a special artist. So I was kind of the music guy...all the things I did through high school...sort of...I knew how to do that. Then little by little... there was a worship school in Singapore and I got asked to go there for two weeks. Then there was one in South Africa, a WYAM school there and before you know it you get this reputation of being the guy that can come in and teach some musical foundations but yet connected with the heart of worship."
Today Paul says his prayer focuses on keeping his life in balance. 150 days a year on the road can takes its toll... He has just released a new album this fall. Requests to perform or to teach come in almost everyday. He says his prayer is to hold on to the kind of faith he had the day he followed God's call to pick up everything and move to East Texas.
"So I would say even to this day I would say still the thing that keeps me dependent on the Lord. I say Lord...just like the song says, take the wheel. That is such a great prayer, wow Lord, take the wheel because this train is going down the tracks so fast I don't want the wheels to fall off."
"My prayer... That I would have the grace to stay faithful. Stay faithful to the Lord, to my family, to the call until God says change of plans. That he would just give us the grace and strength to fulfill this season of my life and to also have an ear open to...if God says okay I don't want you to do this anymore I want it to look like this now. That I would be willing to say okay. And not to be caught up in the momentum of ministry and say this is it, not matter what, this is what I'm doing forever. And its like maybe, but if God said, you know I want it to look like this now...I want to try and live my life with my hands open. And let God put in there what he wants and take out what he wants. And I know that is not our tendency. Our tendency is to like hold on tight. I'm just trying to keep me hands like this (open) for tomorrow and say Lord give me a willing heart, give me a willing heart that says yes Lord your will be done.