Elisha saw this and cried out, "My father! My father! The chariots and horsemen of Israel!" And Elisha saw him no more. Then he took hold of his own clothes and tore them apart. He picked up the cloak that had fallen from Elijah and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. Then he took the cloak that had fallen from him and struck the water with it. "Where now is the LORD, the God of Elijah?" he asked. When he struck the water, it divided to the right and to the left, and he crossed over.
~ II Kings 2:12-14
Englewood Christian Church is tucked away in the kudzu laced hills of Tennessee and they are kicking off their revival services with a speaker they booked a year in advance. His name is proudly displayed on the doors of the church: Evangelist David Mullins.
I file in with the rest of the congregation to hear Dave preach. There is no doubt he is Richs brother; same crooked grin, same boyish charm, same gestures and the same endearing unpretentious manner. It is a comparison he has endured for as long as he can remember and one he doesnt mind.
Like any good revival service, it is followed by lots and lots of food.
While we line up and fill our plates, Dave is approached by a lady.
I just want you to know that Im a product of your brothers ministry, she says and a gracious Dave nods and smiles.
Thats great! he exclaims as if hed not heard this story a hundred times before. I remind him later he will hear those words for the rest of his life.
He calls it a tough blessing but a blessing none the less.
I sit with Dave and his bride, Robin (who did the better part of her growing up in Englewood) and their two adorable children.
Jonathan, 7, wants to know if he can go outside and play, and Kacie, 3, is asking mommy for yet another piece of chocolate cake.
In between their sweet, irresistible pleas we chat about Rich, the Dove, fraudulent Internet nieces and favorite mother-in- laws. Afterwards we head toward the home of Daves hosts, where hell be staying in Tennessee for this week of revival. The beyond perfect weather beckons us outside and we search out the most shaded spot on the deck to talk about life without Rich and the call to carry on....
R.M. Tell me about the foundation youre starting in Richs name.
D.M. A lot of different people in different places wanted to do something like this. It was really a kind of neat thing. The family had been thinking about it but we didnt know how to go about it. Word got out to the others who had been thinking about it and it just came together nicely. What we hope to do, theres a guy who has 10 camps down in the South West on the reservations and our primary focus to start with will be working with those camps and doing programming. Ideas that Rich had included bringing in Christian artists from Nashville to teach the kids music and some other arts and then tie in with that the love of Christ and the Gospel.
R.M. So you are moving to Wichita and setting up the headquarters there?
R.M. Whats the official name again?
D.M. The Legacy of Kid Brothers Of St. Frank
R.M. Whats wrong with kid sisters?
D.M. (Laughter) Uh...well....
R.M Nevermind....So, whats your role going to be exactly?
D.M. You know, its an odd thing trying to define my role. I dont know. Right now its me and another lady who are going to be working at it and since theres nothing set up and running and were doing it all from scratch. I think were just going to be feeling our way and figuring out what our strengths and weaknesses are and how to go about accomplishing the goal. Im not big on titles. Im not worried about it. If we can work together and get done what needs to be done, thats whats important.
R.M. So, youre leaving your church in West Virginia. Youve been there how long?
D.M. Nine years. Its odd because when we first started talking about the whole foundation idea I had no interest in it. I wanted to be on the Board of Directors to make sure we stayed as close to things that Rich wouldve done and then we started talking about it fairly soon after the accident.
About the first part of December one morning I woke up and it was like, Man, Im suppose to do more than that. And so I knew Robin would hate it because shes lived in West Virginia longer than anywhere and thats home to her. So, I prayed about it and thought about it and finally talked to her about it and said I dont know why but I feel like this is suppose to happen and I know you are going to hate this and if you say no well drop it right here but I think we need to check into it. If we knock on this door and God opens it then I think we have to go. She said youre right, I hate the idea but I agree we need to check into it.
So, I made a list to God of all the reasons [leaving West Virginia] was an idiotic idea and all the reasons it wont work and told Him if You want it to work this is what has to happen. And amazingly he turned a lot of those road blocks into people and things that encouraged me to go on with it. I thought my mom would really hate the idea. She doesnt want me in his shadow and she doesnt want people to use me to feel like they are still in touch with him. But I talked to her and she was 100% for it. She was totally behind it and I think even relieved by the thought.
R.M. So youre on your way to Kansas and you leave...?
D.M. We leave West Virginia on the 19th (June 98) and well get out to Wichita on the 25th.
R.M. How did the fact that Rich was so much in the public eye affect your grieving? Did it make it easier, harder...?
D.M. I would say in some ways it made it harder simply because in a lot of ways it has continued much longer. Like when my dad died, we were able to go through that process and see all those people at once and everyone had the chance to say what they had to say and with this its just a continuing thing. It kind of holds you at the death instead of being able to celebrate his life. And you know all the memorials and tributes have all been wonderful and our family really appreciates all of it but it just kind of holds his death in front of us. In some ways it has been better because the support has been unbelievable. Robins mom got off the Internet a lot of the letters that people wrote after Rich died and its just been incredible. Ive got 2 boxs full of them. Its been overwhelming so in that respect its been easier and its been a good thing to have that many people praying for us and in some ways its been a little harder because you cant get past it.
R.M. What about the things Rich wrote before he died, like his book of prose? Will they ever be published?
D.M. I dont know. There have been a lot of different ideas and it seems most people have an idea about what should be done with those things and I think as far as Im concerned the best way to deal with those things is to let some time pass and see whats really important and then go from there. Once weve been separated from his death then you can start focusing on his life again and you can say Yeah this is really good apart from his death.
I dont want things to happen because hes dead. I think the things he had to say are profound and life changing because they come from Christ and not because hes dead. Anything he said when he was alive is just important now. For me, Id like to just wait on making any decisions on a lot of those things. I want to be sure we do the right thing instead of jumping in there because the iron is hot and sell whatever we can sell. There is something that just feels really distasteful about that and on the other hand theres the side that goes yeah but there are people who are interested in that and is it right not to let that out? But, I think the people that are really interested now will be five years from now and it will be every bit as good then.
R.M. Was your brother about to convert to Catholicism?
D.M. Thats a topic of great many differing opinions. I cant say for sure. I dont think so. I know that he was very interested in the Catholic church,he was very interested in things that they could say about God that his upbringing and religious background had but he was that way with every group and so I think that he was very interested and he felt they had a better handle on some things than others but I dont see it happening. I know theres a Father in Wichita who said he was coming there and he was taking his vows and definitely doing it and I heard from others who talked to him the day before he died and he said No, Im not going to do it. There are things I cant go along with. And from what I know of my brother even if he wouldve done it he wouldnt have lasted there. Sometimes the organization of the church gets put ahead of the faith of the Church and he really struggled with that.
R.M. I know you sing and play the dulcimer too so...when is your album coming out?
D.M. Uh...I dont think there will be. (Laughter) I dont sing that well and I dont play the dulcimer that well. What I do is just for the fun of it, just to humor myself. In fact, me and couple of guys sang at a coffee house the other night and the absolute worst song we did was Awesome God and I missed the key completely. It was really bad and my wife is sitting there dying laughing.
R.M. What happens 10 years from now when your 7 year old son (who also plays dulcimer) comes up to you and says he wants to be in Christian music?
D.M. Id probably tell him hes crazy. (Laughter....thinking) I guess I would support him in it. Yeah, I would. My whole insight on the Christian music business comes from Rich. I think he was able to touch and change peoples lives in a way that I never could because of what he did. I think if Jonathan were to come to me and say he wanted to do that then I would certainly support it.
The thing that scares me about the Christian music industry is the idea that if you can sing then you can make money and that just kind of bothers me. Not because I dont think you should be able to make money or because if youre rich or wealthy you havent been faithful to God. But for me that would be a difficult thing to keep weighed correctly. It would be easy to let the benefits override the reason. If Jonathan were willing to starve to do it then I would be all for him trying which is what Rich did for years he practically starved in Cincinnati and he lived in slums that mom and dad wouldnt even go in. He even died while he was living in a hogan that didnt even have a solid floor and he slept on a futon. I would be alright with Jonathan doing that but Id also be ready to jerk a knot in his tail if he didnt keep it right."
R.M. Whats your greatest fear?
D.M. Probably success.
R.M. In what way?
D.M. Ive always kind of been that way. Its really a fear of failure but its a fear of success because I kind of go Wow, if you ever really succeed at anything and you do a really good job then people expect you to do that all the time. So my fear has always been doing too good a job that I cant live up to it. I dont want to over do because I dont want to let people down.
R.M. What do you think was the biggest misconception about Rich?
D.M. I think he was pretty straight forward. If you knew him, we were kind of raised like - youre just who you are and everyone has warts. Covering up and hiding them doesnt mean theyre not there. I think now there is probably a tendency by some to make him more than he was. Which is typical anytime someone dies. The real fans knew him. Anybody who would get on stage and say what he said. There was no difference in him off stage and on. There was no great deal of difference in him from the time he was starving in Cincinnati to the time he made it big, or whatever as some people would say, in Nashville.
R.M. Whats the most important thing he ever taught you?
D.M. He showed me a great deal about faith and just trusting in God and not being so concerned with me being in control. I like being sure I have my ducks in a row and I watched him and he never knew where he was going to be tomorrow. Somebody probably did but he had no clue what hotel he was going to be in or he never knew what money he made. He just didnt get real concerned with the things of this earth. I think he taught me a great deal about not judging people because he is absolutely everything by appearance that I would think you stay away from. If he were hitchhiking down the road I wouldnt pick him up. He had the long hair, a scruffy beard, always wore those worn out jeans. Hes everything your mom tells you to stay away from and then you meet him and you go wow. All of his friends fall into the same category pretty much. Their appearance is not what you would call a Christian appearance but they are every bit as much Christian as those of us who wear suits and ties.
R.M. Where do you think you will be in 5 years?
D.M. I anticipate still being in Wichita, but I anticipated retiring in West Virginia too. In my mind it will take a couple of years to get the foundation figured out and pulled together. So I kinda figure Ill still be in Wichita but I can see the possibility of being somewhere completely different. Im not really too concerned either. Ive been thinking a lot about Abraham. I dont think God is leading me out in the wilderness to die. I think He has a plan whether the plan is what I understand it to be at this point or not. He has a plan and if Ill just be faithful Hell see that it comes together.
R.M. How can people pray for you specifically?
D.M. I think wisdom and I think they can pray for me that....well...wisdom mainly because a lot of what were doing I dont know a lot about so Im going to need a lot of Gods wisdom and insight as to how you do what were trying to do and stay true to God. I think theres a balancing act of meeting people where they are at and yet meeting them there with God.
R.M. [I turned my recorder off here. Jonathan bounded onto the deck and we discussed Star Wars and his 'girlfriend'. A dog named Maggie made herself at home under Dave's affectionate hand and somewhere in the midst of it all I turned my recorder back on...I don't remember the question...but here's the answer.]
D.M. Rich had so many ideas for Kid Brothers and he always had a real clear vision of where he was going and what he wanted to try to accomplish in that and his friend, Gary was telling me he was at his house and they were talking about Kid Brothers and where he saw it going and Gary said Rich had a real clear vision up until September of last year and after that Rich had no idea. Gary said thats the only time he saw Rich like that. He had no idea, it was like there was a wall and he couldnt see.
There were so many strengths he had that I dont have, as far as the vision and creativity. He also is someone that couldnt work inside an organization. He could set it up but once it was set up he had to leave and run in his own show in the outskirts. In my mind, I wonder if God didnt create us with some of the same strengths and some of the same similarities that people notice automatically. I wonder if God created us so much alike and yet different in some ways so Rich could start this and I could work with it. Its not unlike God to start a ministry with one man and finish it with another. Look at Moses and Joshua, Elijah and Elisha. You see God starting a work under one man and finishing it under someone else. So when it all kind of hit me that God wanted me to do this I thought of all those things. Who knows but what you come into the world for such a time as this? There are so many things you could throw off as coincidence but I look at it and think theres a line as a Christian you have to say its not coincidence, God is moving. He is working in some really amazing ways."
For more information on The Legacy of a Kid Brother of St. Frank
or to make a contribution contact them at:
The Legacy of a Kid Brother of St. Frank
PO Box 11526
Wichita, KS 67202
316-612-4649 local Wichita
877-612-4649 Toll Free
Please e-mail me, Rhonda Miskowski , with any comments or questions you have!! For more information on Rich visit Calling Out Your Name or mine: Rhonda's Rich Mullins Page. Thanks Danl, RichMailList moderator for getting the word out.
Click here to see the Mullins family on Dove night...and here to join the Ragamuffin Mail List.
Special thanks to Judy (on left) for her invaluable assistance....and to Jonathan for only making me run around the house twice to get my goodbye kiss.
Dave Mullins Interview Part II
Just added (11/98) - includes family photographs and an update on the Legacy