During the late 1980s, Mullins desired change and formulated a plan to leave Tennessee. He took steps to become a music teacher on an Indian reservation he had visited before.
He was asked if he made the move because God had called him to proselytize and convert the Native Americans. To this Mullins responded, “No. I think I just got tired of a White, Evangelical, middle class perspective on God, and I thought I would have more luck finding Christ among the Pagan Navajos. I’m teaching music.”
“If we could lay down our stuff and let God love us, I think we’d pretty nearly be in Heaven.”
His philosophy can be understood by a quote he gave at a concert shortly before his death. He said,
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.
On September 19, 1997, Mullins and his friend Mitch McVicker were traveling to a benefit concert at Wichita State University in Kansas, when they lost control of the Jeep. They were not wearing seat belts and were both ejected from the vehicle. Rich Mullins died at the scene.
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