JesusFest '98 Helps Carry On Work of Rich Mullins

Day in the sun ends with concert fund-raiser for foundation formed to continue recording artist's work with Native American youth.

Laura Addison

August 31, 1998

Cessna Stadium on the Wichita State University campus was a busy place Sunday.

Jesus Fest '98, an annual event sponsored by Central Christian Church, ran all day and into the night, ending with a concert that attracted nearly 6,000 people. The concert raised money for a foundation that will continue the work of Rich Mullins, a Christian singer and songwriter who died a year ago.

Sunday's activities began with a morning church service on the stadium field, before it got hot. Then came the all-church picnic with food vendors and carnival rides.

By 5 o'clock, hundreds of folks &$45 some notably sunburned, but otherwise looking none the worse for the heat - were already in their seats for the 6 p.m. show. Some carried in lawn chairs and blankets, pushed strollers and carried kids and coolers. Others took their families into the bleachers, looking for shade.

They came to hear headliner Gary Chapman, singer and writer of contemporary Christian songs, and other bands and speakers. But they were also pleased to be contributing to The Legacy of a Kid Brother of St. Frank, a Native American outreach, a foundation recently formed to continue the work Mullins had supported for several years.

Eric Rennie sat among family and friends.

"I don't get to see these guys very much," he said. "We're just out having a good evening."

But he is glad the money is going to a worthy cause, he added.

"From everything I've heard about Rich Mullins, he was a man of integrity," said Rennie. "I'm glad (the money) will go for that and not for some fly-by-night purpose."

Mullins died in an auto accident last September and family members must wait for his estate to be settled before endowing the foundation. Proceeds from the concert, for which the entertainers waived their performance fees, will start the work.

Mullins' brother, David, moved his family to Wichita two months ago - after nine years in ministry in West Virginia - to begin work on the foundation.

"The family wanted to see the ministry continued," David Mullins told the crowd that grew to 5,800. Others had been thinking toward the same goal, said Alyssa Loukota, who will head the foundation with Mullins.

"We both thought, 'It doesn't feel right that just because Rich died, the work should stop,' " said Loukota. She formerly worked with Compassion International, a ministry based in Colorado Springs dedicated to child development in Third-World countries, now extended to children in inner cities, Native American reservations and the rural South.

"Rich was much more willing to go farther in caring for others and trying to live as Christ wanted us to live our lives," Loukota said. Then the music of seven musical acts filled the stadium, often causing hands to clap and toes to tap, and sometimes bringing audience members of all ages to their feet in shared songs of praise.

Copyright 1998 by The Wichita Eagle

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