Rich Mullins, 41, dies in fatal car accident


Obituary of Rich Mullins

Rich Mullins, a popular Christian musician, died this past Saturday morning in a car accident in Illinois. According to the AP, he was thrown from a sports utility vehicle after the car lost control and flipped over. He was then struck by a tractor-trailer as the trucker swerved to avoid the overturned vehicle. Mullins, 41, and Mitch McVicker, 24, who as of Sunday was in critical condition, were on their way to a benefit concert in his hometown of Wichita Kansas when the accident occurred near Peoria Illinois.
News of Mullins death shocked Christians nationwide when it hit the airwaves. Local radio station KXOJ held an hour and a half tribute to Mullins, playing his albums and discussing his work. They also asked believers to pray for Mitch, whom Mullins was discipling.
Mullins, who was single, will be remembered as much for his outspoken and enigmatic personality as for the powerful songs that he penned. When not performing with his Ragamuffin band, or writing songs with friend Beaker, Mullins was an author and columnist.
Mullins music, however, will be his greatest legacy. His first album (self-titled) was released in 1986, and since then Mullins has been a perennial favorite with fans, and musically active with another seven albums and a recent compilation, "Songs." His songs include "Awesome God," "Sing Your Praise to the Lord," "Step by Step," "Screen Door," "Hold Me Jesus," "Pictures in the Sky," "While the Nations Rage," "Boy Like Me, Man Like You," and over 80 others.
In 1996, Mullins took a sabbatical from touring and was a music teacher at a Navajo Indian reservation in New Mexico for a year. He recently co-wrote a new musical, "Canticle of the Plains," which is about Saint Francis ofAssisi, and is set in the American Old West. The CD for the musical was to be released in the fall. Mullins had also recently signed with Myrrh Records, and was to record another album in October.
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Much could be said of Rich Mullins. Much, undoubtedly will be written in the days ahead, but sometimes the best epitaph is one's actions. For Mullins, this epitaph will be kind. He was a prophetic man who was bold to proclaim and challenge, and yet humble enough to realize his own weaknesses and acknowledge them. His concerts rang with authenticity and depth. A depth of thought, character, and walk.
Mullins music was a rarity. Poet, musician, philosopher, apologist, prophet, and "good Midwestern boy;" Mullins embodied them all. His talent will be greatly missed by all who are interested in Contemporary Christian Music.
He was also active in pro-life causes, missions (especially with Teen Mania), Compassion International (a child sponsorship program), The International Bible Society, and recently, ecumenical dialogue.
It seems to me the words of a prophet are best received when he is dead, and can no longer offend. Take, for instance, the phenomenon surrounding Keith Green's tragic death 15 years ago. Hopefully, Mullins character and message will likewise be heard for decades to come - and it will be; as long as people are in love with Jesus and honest with themselves; as long as men are desirous of truth and not words to tickle their ears.
Mullins often referred to himself as an "equal opportunity offender." Many of the things he said prove it:
"It seems like the church has picked homosexuality out to be the ultimate evil thing, and I m just not always sure that it is." - CCM magazine, June 1997.
"I think that's where the church is doubly damned; when they use Jesus as a vehicle for achieving all of that [worshiping, pleasure, leisure and affluence]. Like, if you give a tithe, He ll make you rich. Why? ... If you give a tithe, you get rid of ten percent of the root of all evil. You should be giving ninety percent, ‘cause God can handle money better than we can."
The secret of rock music: "If you can t be good, be loud."
The current trends in worship: "Shallow, mindless, stupid, and perfectly harmless, at best."
"I don't want to be tolerated. Argue with me, and I will respect you.
"It never fails. God will put people in your path that irritate you, especially if you're prone to be irritated." (The above quotes were taken from an article by Linda Thompson Stonehocker.)
"I did get a letter from one guy who asked me why I have a picture of Mary [on my "Songs" CD] and whether I think Mary should be prayed to. I am going to write back and say my other albums have pictures of me, and I don't think I should be prayed to." - when asked by a Catholic newspaper if he received flack from his "Songs" album, which had many Catholic themes.
"The Jordan is no longer waiting for Rich to cross through ... Our God is still an Awesome God!" The conclusion to the announcement of his death, by Brian Williams, on the Rich Mullins Fan Page.
"I hope I would leave a legacy of joy -a legacy of real compassion," -Rich Mullins.
by Philip Pfanstiel
© 1997 The Philip Pfiles published Sept 24, 1997