Booth Brothers’ Buddy Mullins believes God leads his ministries sharing the hope of Jesus Christ
By John Herndon, KentuckySings.com
LAWRENCEBURG, Ky. – Buddy Mullins could only when Michael Booth called to tell him the latest news.
It was early in 2021 when Michael told Buddy that his older brother, Ronnie Booth, was retiring from traveling with The Booth Brothers. “I actually laughed,” Mullins said less than an hour before taking the stage at Sand Spring Baptist Church on May 26. “I thought Michael was teasing. I was like, ‘Really?’ Michael, you know, can be kind of dry with his sense of humor.””
This was one time Michael Booth really was being serious and he was reaching out to Buddy to fill Ronnie’s spot in the trio’s lineup. Buddy didn’t say yes. He didn’t say no. He just turned it over to God and is now convinced that manning that unexpected opening is exactly where he’s supposed to be.
When Ronnie Booth’s retirement was announced in a video announcement on June 4, 2021, Buddy had already come aboard and was introduced as the newest Booth Brother and was a part of the video, believing he was following God’s will. As we talked almost a year later, that guidance might have come into an even sharper focus.
“For the last seven years, I have been doing mission work,” Buddy reflected on his ministry with the Hope for the World organization. “Dad stepped away (from a music evangelism ministry) in 1993 and he began working full time – he and mom – working in the country of Albania with orphans. So for 30 years, they have been working with orphans. I have been over there many times and seven years ago, my wife (Kerri) and I stepped in full time to the work in Albania. So that’s what I’ve been doing.”
Buddy had started touring with his family group, first called The Mullins Family, then Mullins and Company, in the 1970s. Then, for a couple of years in the 90s, he sang with the Gaither Vocal Band. The DNA for strong vocals and the blending were in Buddy’s blood, but he just was not sure that was in God’s plan when Michael Booth asked about becoming a Booth Brother.
“I really didn’t think I could because Hope for the World, we run that organization and we have 12 employees in the country of Albania,” Buddy explains. “We have two offices here in the states (in Atlanta and Nashville). So I told Michael, ‘Michael, I don’t think I can do that.’
“But when I told him that, the Holy Spirit in me said, ‘I didn’t tell you to tell him no’ and I was confused. At the end of that conversation, I told Michael, ‘Michael, God said I can’t tell you ‘no’ but I am not telling you ‘yes.’’ I need to go pray and I ask you to pray. And through the course of conversations over the next two weeks, God made it very clear that He wanted me to do this. And part of that was because Michael felt led to have Hope for the World become part of what The Booth Brothers are involved in. That was not me forcing that on him. That was him bringing it in his heart.
“So it ended up being exactly what Michael needed as far as someone stepping in, but it is exactly what Hope for the World has needed.”
When Buddy had contacted Michael about his latest solo work, Michael immediately began to think how wonderful it would be to have someone of Buddy’s caliber become a Booth Brother. He has not replaced Ronnie – no one could – but has allowed the trio to explore some different ideas and expressions of their music.
But in the end, the message is still the same. It’s still about Jesus being the Son of God and savior of the world. It’s about what Jesus has done in their lives and encouraging His followers in their service.
If anything, Buddy Mullins becoming part of The Booth Brothers has been almost a synopsis of his work in gospel music.
As members of Mullins and Company individually came off the road, Buddy and the newer members of the group morphed into Sunday Drive, a band with a more contemporary sound. Over the years they would be billed with artists such as Steven Curtis Chapman, DC Talk, Clay Crosse and Jaci Velasquez and would tour with Josh McDowell’s youth ministry.
(During his time with Mullins and Company and Sunday Drive, Buddy would sing with and become close to Paul Lancaster, with whom he would reunite in The Booth Brothers for about six months. They still stay in regular contact.)
Buddy’s ministry history seems to be coming together with The Booth Brothers. On the music side, the group has deep roots in Southern Gospel but delivers some songs with a contemporary sound on its latest project, “Take Another Step.” It’s a path that is often taken in 2022.
“It’s a mixture (of contemporary and southern styles),” Buddy says. “Back in the 90s, there was more of a separation then than there is now. Music continues to evolve and kind of mesh together.”
There are differences, obviously. Mullins, his Booth Brother colleague Jim Brady and their wives were recently reminded of that fact when they recently attended a For King and Country concert in Nashville.
“I will tell you there is a difference to the production,” Mullins explains. “What they did, man, it was amazing.”
But at the core, there was no difference.
“The ministry was the same. I mean that,” Mullins continues. “There were moments in that concert when me and Jim just sat there and we were brought to tears by what they were speaking to us about and about their lives and what God has done in their lives and what He can do.”
It’s all about ministry, regardless of music styles. And it’s all about ministry when Mullins shares what Hope for the World is doing in Albania, a work that grips his heart.
“Hope for the World is a 501(c)3. It’s a humanitarian Christian organization working with orphans in Albania,” he says.
During the concert, Buddy takes a few moments to talk about the ministry but there’s no pressure to give. Instead, he invites those in attendance to talk with him personally about Hope for the World at The Booth Brothers’ product table.
In Albania, the Communist regime led by Enver Hoxha declared the country to be an atheistic state. Practicing religion was punishable with time in prison camps or even death. The government was brought down in 1991, opening the door for Hope for the World to work in a country ravaged by poverty and had as much as 80 percent unemployment.
Roger Mullins, Buddy’s father, and Jimmy Franks, the founders of Hope for the World, were able to visit the new country and, Buddy says, asked, “What can Hope for the World do for Albania?
“They said, ‘If you can help us take care of the kids, we have all these orphans and we have no one to take care of them. They were a third world country, even there in Europe. There were over 400 orphans in that orphanage at the time. They had babies tied in cribs. It was cold and they didn’t have any heat in that place. Windows were broken out. You could walk through the nursery area and see kids with one little bitty blanket. You could see their breath.”
Over the years, the mission has worked with other orphanages and is presently working with six such facilities in the country. In addition, Hope for the World has built a teen center.
“At the age of 16, they are made to leave the orphanages and have no place to go,” Buddy explains. “They are back out on the streat creating more orphans, so my dad felt the call to have a teen center.”
The center helps with education and serves as a place to share Christ.
And it’s what Buddy Mullins does best, whether on the stage of of a small-town church, like Sand Spring Baptist, or on a mission field thousands of miles from his American way of life. He simply tries to let God lead.
“You know what God taught me through COVID?” he asks. “He taught me He didn’t need me. He’s welcomed me into this, but He loves those people more than I do. It’s HIS work and He’s allowing me to be a part of it, but it’s His work. I don’t have to worry about it. All I have to do is be obedient. I have to be obedient.
“We are stepping out in obedience.”