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Growing Hotter!

Author: Pastor Mitch Williams
May 14, 2020

Could it be that the architect of rock ‘n roll, the originator himself, the one who inspired Elvis Presley, the Beatles, and Elton John, also considered himself a Seventh-day Adventist? Born to a devout Seventh-Day Adventist family, Richard Penniman began singing and playing piano in the church. But he traded in his gospel music for a new form of music. By 1955, he became the famous Little Richard, releasing hit after hit, with frenetic, shrieking vocals, suggestive lyrics, and boogie-woogie-style piano at fast tempo. He also did live concerts with a flamboyant stage persona and extravagant costumes.

Then, in 1957, while touring in Australia, his flight experienced mechanical trouble and the engine caught on fire. Little Richard struck a deal with the Lord. If the plane landed safely he would abandon the “devil’s music” and work for the Lord. Landing safely, he kept his promise and enrolled at Oakwood Adventist College. He had his heart set on ministry.

Later that same year, Little Richard visited San Diego Adventist Elementary. He spoke at chapel, then preached Sabbath morning, and performed a gospel concert in the afternoon. There he underscored that rock ‘n roll was from the devil and that the kids should destroy their records and not listen to them.

But a few years later, he began to waiver in his walk with the Lord. In the 1960s, the Associate Press wrote about Little Richard saying: “In his personal life, he wavered between raunch and religion, alternately embracing the Good Book and outrageous behavior and looks—mascara-lined eyes, pencil-thin mustache and glittery suits.” Though initially in the 1950s he would not drink, he would later suffer from addictions to alcohol and drugs. His marriage ended in the early 1960s and he struggled with homosexuality.

Little Richard was a conflicted man, yet God was not finished with him yet. As he grew older, he would eventually renounce his drugs problems and gay lifestyle. He began to faithfully attend the Adventist church in Los Angeles and considered himself a member. Toward the end of his life, even in secular concerts he would lapse into preaching. “I know this is not Church, but get close to the Lord. The world is getting close to the end. Get close to the Lord,” he said in 2012. In 2013 he said from the stage, “God talked to me the other night. He said He’s getting ready to come. The world’s getting ready to end and He’s coming, wrapped in flames of fire with a rainbow around His throne.” His apocalyptic statements generated both snickers and cheers, to which Little Richard responded, “When I talk to you about [Jesus], I’m not playing. I’m almost 81 years old. Without God, I wouldn’t be here.”

In 2017 he gave a lengthy televised interview to 3ABN and later shared his testimony at a 3ABN camp meeting. Click here to view: 3ABN Interview With Little Richard

Little Richard died earlier this week, but his passion for Jesus lives on. May our passion and love for Jesus grow hotter, not colder, as the end draws near!

I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. Revelation 3:20