A full-length feature film based on the true story of Christian singer Rich Mullins has some ties to Anderson University.
Director David Schultz, lead actor Michael Koch and others involved in "Ragamuffin: The True Story of Rich Mullins" are AU alumni.
AU will host a public screening of the film at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 7, in Reardon Auditorium. Tickets for AU students are $3, and tickets for alumni are $5. Students and alumni may purchase tickets online at AU's website. Tickets for the general public can be purchased online at www.itickets.com for $10.
Mullins was many things, Schultz said in an interview. He was known for being a Christian singer-songwriter who got his start writing for Amy Grant. Mullins began recording his own music, and he grew in popularity.
"He was more than just your average Christian musician," Schultz said. "He didn't have a problem ruffling feathers when he would do concerts. He was loyal to Jesus but not to religion. And as a result he oftentimes would tick people off at concerts. He really spoke the truth. He became known for that."
Mullins grew up in Indiana and attended Cincinnati Christian University in Ohio. His life ended tragically in 1997 in an automobile accident.
"He tried to live out the ways of Jesus in a modern way," Schultz said. "Even though he made tons of money, he gave most of that away, and in the last two years of his life we went to live in obscurity on a Native American reservation."
One of Mullins' singing groups was called "A Ragamuffin Band," named after Brennan Manning's book "The Ragamuffin Gospel."
Schultz said in an earlier interview with Aimee Munn about Manning's book: "What helped me get back up and continue to follow Christ after my screw-ups was the idea that is so clearly found in Manning's book: God loves me for who I am, not for who I'm not, because none of us are what we should be."
As a kid, Schultz was drawn to Mullins' music and the way he talked openly about his flaws, sins and struggles.
"Now it's more popular to do that," Schultz said. "But he was doing that before it was really popular."
Schultz said he and Koch attended AU together. After college they lost touch for about a decade. Schultz called Koch a "fantastic musician," and he knew he wanted to ask Koch to contribute a song to the movie. But then Koch ended up auditioning for the role of Mullins and getting the part.
"He was just the right guy," Schultz said. Even though Koch hadn't done much acting, Schultz said Koch is able to project a real genuine humanity.
Schultz said the 1972 movie "Brother Sun, Sister Moon" about St. Francis of Assissi had a big impact on Mullins' life and faith. It inspired him to take vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, but in a modern way, he said. If you give too much money away, you can't live yourself, he added.
Asked who he thinks is the audience for this film, Schultz said, "I think the biggest draw will be people who knew his music — and also people who weren't just fans of Rich's music, but of his life and what he taught and what he stood for."
He added that it's also for people burned out on religion or the church.
"I think it is a movie really made for outcasts. It very much talks about God and the love of God, very much with an audience in mind of people who don't feel like they fit in."
— Randy Rendfeld is a reporter for The Herald Bulletin. Story republished with permission.
Anderson University is a private Christian university in central Indiana. Anderson University continues to be recognized as one of America's top colleges by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and Forbes. Established in 1917 by the Church of God (Anderson, Ind.), Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, music, nursing, and theology.