We Lost Rich Mullins 20 Years Ago
Rich Mullins died on September 19, 1997.
It has now been 20 years and I still miss his influence in the church and our music. His song lyrics had a wonderful impact during my teen years as I was learning to understand my calling to ministry. He wrote the way he lived… with raw simplicity.
At the 1998 Dove Awards, Amy Grant led a tribute to his life and ministry. She opened her remarks by saying, “Rich Mullins was the uneasy conscience of Christian music.” He longed for believers to worship deeply, forgive freely, give sacrificially, and leave consumeristic Christianity behind. It was the way he lived and taught others to live.
The philosophy of his life can be summarized in this statement made at a concert shortly before his death.
“Jesus said whatever you do to the least of these my brothers you’ve done it to me. And this is what I’ve come to think. That if I want to identify fully with Jesus Christ, who I claim to be my Savior and Lord, the best way that I can do that is to identify with the poor. This I know will go against the teachings of all the popular evangelical preachers. But they’re just wrong. They’re not bad, they’re just wrong. Christianity is not about building an absolutely secure little niche in the world where you can live with your perfect little wife and your perfect little children in a beautiful little house where you have no gays or minority groups anywhere near you. Christianity is about learning to love like Jesus loved and Jesus loved the poor and Jesus loved the broken-hearted.”*
His song “Creed” is perhaps one of the most recognizable that he wrote. The video below is from his 1997 appearance at Wheaton College. It is a great example of both his personality that had no pretention and his wonderful skill as a musician. Every time I hear a hammered dulcimer, I only think about this song and the man who believed in its lyrics… deeply believed in them.
Mullins wrote song lyrics as words offered as a sacrifice from a broken man to our redeeming God.
I miss him. But I look forward to meeting him one day.
* Photo image of Rich Mullins from http://kidbrothers.org
* This quote comes at 7:41 of the video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQnFU5JvuWY