Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Rich Mullins, Oct 21, 1955 - Sept 19, 1997

Today, September 19th, 2007, it's been ten years since the passing of Rich Mullins, who died at the age of 41 due to a car accident. He and his friend Mitch McVicker were on their way to a benefit concert in Kansas when his Jeep flipped over. Both men were thrown from the vehicle. A passing tractor-trailer swerved to miss the Jeep and ended up hitting Rich. Just two or three days prior to this, they were in my town, Waterloo, Iowa, and I sincerely regret not having gone to see them.

There are so many ways in which my life has been impacted and inspired by Rich. It's mostly been through his music, but also through the things he's said and done. Many people, if they haven't heard his name, at least know him through his writing and performance of one of the most popular songs in the modern church, "Awesome God." Another popular song of his is "Sometimes By Step."

When I first began hanging around Christian friends in 1992, they gave me four cassette tapes. A David Meece tape, a Petra tape, a tape from a local artist named Steve Shapiro and Rich Mullins' tape, "Winds of Heaven, Stuff of Earth." I became a Rich Mullins fan right off the bat, and these days I have almost all of his music scattered around my house. I've sung at least 3 or 4 of his songs in church over the years. "Creed" is probably my favorite one to sing, and I love listening to the accompaniment track all by itself because it's such beautiful music. His expert playing of the hammered dulcimer added a lot of beauty to many of his songs, and to the songs of others as well. Off the top of my head I think of "Praise Song" by Third Day. A beautiful, beautiful song.

I have some favorite quotes of Rich that I'll share in another post, but I just want to say that Rich came across as one of the most authentic people I've ever seen. He seemed very open and honest about who he was, struggles and all. And he cared genuinely about others, in word and in actions. One of the things that strikes me about him is what he did with all the money he made. He obviously received royalties from his album sales and he made money from concerts. The short version of all this is that from all this money, he took a small salary and the rest was given away to charity.

Rich lived his last couple of years living in a hogan (example of a hogan on the left) at an Indian reservation in New Mexico, teaching music to children.

Rich's legacy lives on, and I'll post his own humble words about leaving a legacy in my next post.

(Photos from Wikipedia)

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