Transformation: The Story of Bill Drake
What does it take to turn a childhood wrecked with abuse and an adulthood ruined with depression into a song painted with hope? The saving grace of Jesus Christ. This is the story of Bill Drake.
As a child, Bill’s life was littered with brokenness. From an abusive father, to divorced parents, to the death of his mother at 15, Bill was no stranger to pain. He dealt with more brutal life experiences by 18 than many people do in their entire lives. What got him through these trouble times? Music.
“I’ve always had the music,” Bill shared. “I had a very tumultuous past…so, music was the respite, it was the safe place. Where I went when the world was going to hell. My mom taught me (guitar) when I was 5 and I wrote my first song when I was 6, a very simple little 3 chord thing, but it’s something I always had.”
When his whole world was crumbling, music was Bill’s rock. It’s what got him through the pain, but more importantly, it’s what lead him to the strongest Rock of all time, Christ.
Bill told the story of that life changing day when God used a few young adults and a couple of CDs to change the course of his life forever. “I was playing in bars and clubs up in Idaho and these Christian young people and their radical youth pastor were doing bar and night club evangelism. They came and told us about Jesus and I was like, “These stupid idiots, what are you doing?” But, they had something I didn’t have. They had a reason to live. I didn’t have that. In fact, by that time, I was fairly suicidal and so they gave me Keith Green cassettes and albums and said listen to this. So, listening to Keith Green, I heard the Gospel and I heard it presented in a way that was very radical and very compelling and that drew me.”
After a night of questioning the decision he knew would alter his life, Bill realized what he needed to do. “I had a debate with the college pastor and he blew me away. He sent me home and it was like having a gun in one hand and a Bible in another. I knew that somebody was gonna die that day. These guys had said to me, ‘don’t kill yourself, die to yourself.’ I didn’t know what that meant and he explained it to me, ‘You know, you have an old man and a new man. Your old man is full of self-pity and is a self-absorbed narcissist. Your old man is gonna kill you. It’s what’s killing you, it’s what’s making you suicidal. There’s a new man waiting, but that new man is found in Jesus. But if you want that new man, you have to completely submit to Him.’ So, that was it, that was the message that saved my life.”
Once saved, Bill was on fire for God, ready to use his musical gift to shake up the world with the Good News of Jesus Christ. After a series of events that led him into the global mission field, Bill began touring with OM, spreading the Gospel to every corner of the world through the power of song.
What does Bill enjoy most about these tours? What brings him joy after the long days of travel and late nights of clean up? The encouragement and mobilisation that comes from leading these tours. Bill shared, “I love being a platform to let other people have an opportunity they might not otherwise have. I love being able to provide a platform for these Americans (fellow band members), this Swedish dancer, and give them an opportunity to do a mission’s trip, to make a difference. It’s gonna make a difference wherever we go, but it’s also gonna make a difference in their lives. It’s gonna change the way they view reality. And I love being a part of that.’
‘You can find this full story on my website, it’s called The Slab and the Doorstop. It comes basically from God asking me to be a concrete slab, understanding that that’s just a flat piece of concrete on the ground and then raising me up to doorstop status, which is a human piece of wood, kicked under the door, collecting dust while people go by, but understanding that people would never go if you didn’t prop the door open for them and that was literally, that was literally my calling. I am the slab and the doorstop. I just happen to be a contemporary Christian musician.”
From South Africa to Hungary and every other corner of this world, Bill has shined the light of Christ through the power of songs to countless audiences, seeing redemption and restoration heal lives.
What inspires Bill? Where does he draw the lyrics and sounds for his songs? We had the pleasure of learning a little more about the writing and creating process as told by Bill himself.
“I mean the creative process, simply put, is perception, process, and production. Perception, so you perceive something or have perceived something. Process, well that can be a long time or a short period of time. Production, that’s when you actually make the thing. So, this goes for visual art, dance, it goes for all the art forms.’
‘In my case, most of my music comes from either perception of my past and obviously my present, the mission field. Then usually what happens is I end up with a burden from one of those perceptions. It depends on what it is. If it’s just a face melt rock song, then usually I’m pulling from either joy or even, take Hearts on Fire, which is the biggest, baddest song of this concert. It comes from the persecuted church. And if you’re going to write about the persecuted church, it’s not going to be sweet little butterflies and whatever. In this case, it’s driving, fierce, it’s about their heart. And their heart is like, ‘You can kill me, you can rip my tongue out, you can burn me at the stake, but you’re not gonna stop me for Jesus.’ Now that’s aggressive, in a very cool way. So, to translate that into a face melt rock song was just absolute sheer joy…So yeah, perception, process, and production.”
Ranging from driving 80s rock to reflective, soft ballads, Bill truly has a gift of connecting with each and every listener.
With dozens of songs released, anyone who hasn’t heard Bill’s music has plenty of wonderful options to choose from. When asked what song he would recommend someone listen to first, Bill replied, “I think I would have them listen to Stand. (maybe find it somewhere and insert the link here) It’s a power ballad. So, it’s very big and full, but it’s not rocky. It touches on my testimony, but it also touches on the way I process what’s happening in the world today…The verses also touch on kinda where our western culture is going, which is also really big on my heart…So, those are the kinds of things I write, the Stand is a little intense, but the chorus brings such hope and release. Anyway, I love it.”
Bill left us with a little encouragement from 2 Corinthians 5:17-21, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
God calls us to bring the ministry of reconciliation to every corner of the earth. OM is always grateful for workers just like Bill who take that calling as their own personal life mission.
If you’re interested in learning more about Bill Drake’s ministry and how you can get in on the exciting events, reach out to our team.