Twenty years after his unexpected death, it remains a mystery as to how Rich’s down-to-earth songwriting would have fared inside modern worship’s trends. Regardless, the inspiration of his lyrics and his life continue to surge through the lives and work of many voices who are influencing spiritual music today, recognized by an ongoing tribute to Rich within the pages of this publication this month.
After his death, Rich’s younger brother, David Mullins, a pastor, became a natural spokesperson for the family and a minister of Rich’s legacy—attending memorials, hitting the road with Rich’s infamous Ragamuffin Band, and accepting a plethora of awards that had alluded Rich during his lifetime, but posthumously, were being administered in abundance. And perhaps, more than anybody on earth, Rich’s death profoundly impact David’s life. We could think of no more poignant person to help steer our cover conversation in commemorating the indelible influence Rich’s has had on ours than his brother. So, with this, we remember Rich.
CCM Magazine: It has been twenty years since your brother, Rich, made the passage to the other side. Does it feel like two decades since you lost him?
David Mullins: It’s like it’s been forever, and then, in other ways I don’t think there’s been a day that I haven’t thought about it. That event [Rich’s death] probably has had, in practical ways, the biggest impact on me of any event in my life. I think that event changed the message of my life and ministry.
CCM: How has it changed the trajectory of your ministry and message?
DM: In the afterword for An Arrow Pointing To Heaven (B&H Books) I talk about how I used to believe that God works through all things to bring good, but I don’t believe it anymore. It’s not that I don’t believe it because it’s not true, it’s because I’ve come to know it more—in something that was really bad, I’ve been able to watch God work. The trajectory of my ministry and the messages that come out of my life have been about the brokenness of life and the beauty of God, not separated but completely intertwined in an odd way that you can’t define. Scars have become the key thing in my life.
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