Mullins lived for some time in Wichita, where my family lives, and attended Central Christian Church (which belongs to the group of churches I grew up in).
YouTube – Homeless Man: Rich Mullins Part 1 (7:42)
YouTube – Homeless Man: Rich Mullins Part 2(5:56)
YouTube – Homeless Man: Rich Mullins Part 3a (6:35)
YouTube – Homeless Man: Part 3b (4:49)
YouTube – Homeless Man: Rich Mullins Part 4(7:11)
YouTube – Homeless Man: Rich Mullins Part 5 (8:42)
Rich’s biography: Rich Mullins: An Arrow Pointing to Heaven
Mullins was seen as an enigma to the Christian music industry. Often barefoot, unshaven, and badly in need of a haircut, Mullins did not look like the average American gospel music writer. He was very much at home among the ungodly, and unafraid to name his own sin and inadequacies in public, often baffling the American Christian culture that he seemed oddly a part of. His lifestyle was unquestionably marked by devotion and discipline, yet his simultaneous refusal to buy-in to contemporary Christian niceties made him a bit of an uncomfortable presence in a music culture marked by artificiality. Although he achieved a good amount of success on Christian radio, he never received a Dove Award until after his death.
Unlike most artists in Contemporary Christian music, Mullins did not consider his music his primary ministry, but rather a means to pay his bills. Instead, his ministry was the way he treated his neighbors, family and enemies. Taking a vow of poverty, he accepted a small church salary and spent the last years of his life on a Navajo reservation teaching music to children. . . .
In 1988 Mullins moved to Wichita, Kansas to be part of Rev. Maurice Howard’s congregation at Central Christian Church. Mullins developed a love for Kansas that was later demonstrated in the song “Calling Out Your Name” (which mentions, for example “The Keeper of the Plains,” a sculpture in Wichita). . . .
In 1991 Mullins enrolled at Friends University. He would later draw inspiration from a lecture at Friends by author Brennan Manning. This is also where he met Jim Smith (his posthumous biographer), and Mitch McVicker. . . .
Mullins graduated with a B.A. in Music Education from Friends University on May 14, 1995 . After graduation, he and Mitch McVicker moved to a reservation in Tse Bonito, New Mexico near the capitol of the Navajo Nation in Window Rock, Arizona to teach music to children. They lived in a hogan at the reservation until his death.
In 1997 Mullins teamed up with Beaker and Mitch McVicker to write a musical based on the life of St. Francis of Assisi, entitled The Canticle of the Plains. Mullins had great respect for St. Francis, and even formed “the Kid Brothers of St. Frank” in the late 1980s with several friends, each taking a vow of poverty. Mullins was never really aware of how well his records sold, because the profits from his tours and the sale of each album went to his church, which divided it up, paid Mullins a small salary, and gave the rest to charity. Mullins was also a major supporter of Compassion International and Compassion USA.
Mullins was killed in a car accident on September 19, 1997. He and his friend Mitch McVicker were travelling on I-39 north of Bloomington, Illinois to a benefit concert in Wichita, Kansas when his Jeep flipped over. Neither man wore a seat belt. Both were thrown from the vehicle. A passing tractor-trailer swerving to avoid the Jeep killed Mullins. McVicker was badly injured but survived.