Ragamuffin: The True Story of Rich Mullins is making a strong debut at nationwide screenings. Attracting more than 1,200 viewers, the sold-out world premiere of the movie was held on Jan. 9 in Wichita, Kansas.

“The response has been overwhelmingly positive,” said actor, director and producer David Leo Schultz. “God is using this film to touch lives, which is what we wanted to do in the first place.”

Mullins’ powerful story echoes the gospel really well, he said, in terms of faith, God loving us and redeeming us from our brokenness. These are the driving themes that are addressed in the movie, which is being hosted largely by churches.

“I wanted to make a movie about Rich, because he did impact my life. He was my hero since I was 13, at different times in my life, for different reasons. He had a relentless pursuit of Christ and he was honest about his brokenness,” Schultz said.

The movie stars Michael Koch as Rich Mullins. Produced by Color Green Films with producers David Leo Schultz and David Mullins (Rich’s younger brother), the 2-hour-and 17-minute film features several members of the Mullins’ family. It also showcases the talents of Schultz (as Sam); Wolfgang Bodison (Bryan); James Kyson (Matt); Mel Fair (John Mullins); Carson Aune (Justin); Elizabeth Ann Roberts (Jess) and Michelle Keller (Neva Mullins).

After nearly four years in the making, the film’s title, Ragamuffin, comes from A Ragamuffin Band, a band name that was inspired by Brennan Manning’s book, The Ragamuffin Gospel.

As an Indiana native, and hailed by many as one of Contemporary Christian Music’s most gifted artists, Mullins is best known for songs including “Awesome God,” “Sing Your Praise to the Lord,” “Elijah,” “Hold Me Jesus,” “Screen Door,” “Creed,” and “If I Stand.” Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith, Third Day and other artists have also performed and recorded his songs.

Mullins tragically lost his life in an automobile accident in 1997. He was nominated for 12 Dove Awards from the Gospel Music Association before he was posthumously named as “Artist of the Year” in 1998. He received two more GMA honors in 1999.

“I think for your readers, who might be coming to see a feel-good story about the guy who wrote Awesome God, they might be a little distressed. This is a story about a man, who was pretty wounded and God used pretty mightily,” said longtime friend, Kathy Sprinkle, who met Mullins in 1975 at Cincinnati Christian University (CCU).

“It’s a story about redemption. Hard things can happen to us in our lives, but if we’re willing to face them down, understand, or to seek help from other people, God can redeem those things,” Sprinkle said. 

Stops are scheduled in numerous cities, many of them where Mullins had strong ties, including Wichita, Cincinnati, Nashville and Richmond, Ind. One example is at CCU in Cincinnati, who held a screening on Wednesday, Jan. 22. Mullins attended college there from 1974-1978. The school also has a music scholarship in his name. More than 70 screenings are planned, with additional dates to be announced.

“Rich cultivated key friendships and relationships at CCU that influenced the rest of his life. Thus, we are also proud to screen the movie here on campus. Rich’s story is a powerful narrative of redemption and the producers did not refrain from displaying the difficult times in his life. Even though the movie honestly portrays these dark scenes from his life, the film reflects the gospel and is definitely worth sharing,” said Steve Carr, director of marketing, Cincinnati Christian University.

*Published 1/27/2014