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Remembering John Denver

"Remembering John Denver" Continued...

“We meet 8-year-olds now who know this music,” Curry said. “We’ve got the grandparents, the parents who are our age, and now the kids.”

That Denver did not live to see this renewed interest in his music is part of the tragedy of his life. His early death was also tragic because his life still seemed a work in progress. Denver often wrestled with spiritual matters in his music. Indeed, one of his albums was called Spirit. But Denver’s personal beliefs were a confused smorgasbord of New Age philosophies. But as he got older, he began to explore again the Christian faith of his youth, the faith of his mother, Erma, who had been a life-long believer, and his father, also named John, who had been a hard-living Air Force fighter pilot for most of his life but who made a profession of faith in Christ not long before he died.

Les Felker was the pastor of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Aurora, Colo., that Denver’s mother attended in her final years. He told me Denver would often attend church with his mom and that Denver heard the gospel message many times from him and from others who were concerned about his spiritual condition.

Bill Fay, a family friend who had been instrumental in the conversion of Denver’s father, was with Denver a few weeks before his plane crash. After an hour-long conversation about the gospel, Fay remembered asking Denver point-blank if he would like to dedicate his life to Christ. The singer thought about it for a few seconds, Fay recalled, and said, “Not now.” A month later, John Denver was dead.

Because of that response, Felker admitted it was unlikely John Denver was a Christian at the time of his death. But he added, “I know John was searching, and I know he knew the gospel. I still hold out hope that he made a commitment to Christ in those last weeks, and that one day I’ll see him in heaven.”

To which this long-time fan would add, “So do I.”

Warren Cole Smith
Warren Cole Smith

Warren is vice president of mission advancement for The Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview and the host of WORLD Radio’s Listening In. Follow Warren on Twitter @WarrenColeSmith.


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