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.
* * * * *
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,
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
"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
"I hope I would leave a legacy of joy -a legacy of real
compassion," -Rich Mullins.