ASSIST News Service

Despite suffering a terrible tragedy when she lost her husband, the wonderful composer-singer, Keith Green, and two young children in a plane crash, Melody Green is continuing to keep Keith’s music and ministry alive and available, while moving forward with her own messages, similar to her shared vision with Keith, but in a new season, with her own unique style of wit and wisdom.

Now back in Hollywood, California, her birthplace, she has the chance, as she says, to “sow as I go,” serving whoever God puts in her path, whether they are wealthy and successful, or homeless and addicted.

Melody Green

“I wasn’t bitter but I was very mad at Keith for taking the kids and I think that was probably a deflected anger at the Lord. I don’t remember consciously being mad at the Lord. It’s just one step at a time. I was glad that I had the Lord because for quite a while, I wanted to die and might have done something about it if I wouldn’t have known Jesus and had supportive friends."

- Melody Green, speaking about the loss of her husband Keith and two children in a 1982 plane crash.

Melody has continued Last Days Ministries (LDM), which she began with Keith. Much of her time is taken up by speaking and writing, but she always looks for chances wherever she is, to bring comfort to the homeless and needy of Tinsel Town, many of whom had moved there to seek fame and fortune.

She certainly understands pain, as she suffered a terrible blow in her own life when tragically, along with eleven others, Keith Green died at the age of 28, on 28th July, 1982, when the Cessna 414 leased by Last Days Ministries crashed after takeoff from the private airstrip located on the LDM property in Lindale, East Texas.

The small two-engine plane was carrying twelve passengers and the pilot, Don Burmeister, for an aerial tour of the LDM in Lindale, Texas, property and the surrounding area. 

Green and two of his children, three-year-old Josiah and two-year-old Bethany, were on board the plane, along with visiting church planters, John and Dede Smalley and their six children. Green's wife Melody was at home with one year old Rebekah and six weeks pregnant with their fourth child, Rachel, born in March 1983.

In late June, I caught up with Melody the night before she appeared at The Upper Room, a Christian Coffee House in Mission Viejo, California, to share about her life and plans for the future, and I began my interview for my Front Page radio show by asking her to recount that terrible experience of losing both her husband and two of her children.

She said that they had two friends from a Vineyard church in California, John and Dede Smalley and their six children, who were visiting their huge 500 acre LDM ranch, and Keith called their pilot, Don Alan Burmeister, who had been a member of the United States Marine Corps and was the pilot, to prepare the small, two engine plane for takeoff.

“Our old farmhouse was across the road from the ranch property, and Keith came to get me and wanted me to go up with them,” she recalled. “I was six weeks pregnant at the time, and I didn’t want to join them, and I also felt uncomfortable taking the kids - Bethany, two and Josiah, three - up in the plane unless we were really going somewhere.”

Her other child, daughter Rebekah, who just turned one, stayed at home with Melody. “Then Josiah and Bethany ran out the door after Keith before I could stop them,” she said.

Did she watch the plane take off? “No, we lived down the hill from the airstrip so I didn’t,” she told me.

Not long afterwards, she received a phone call from the LDM office, saying that the plane had gone down.

“I didn’t know what it meant so I ran out there and discovered for myself, that all had died,” she said.

In a few short minutes, Melody had gone from being the wife of one of the Christian world’s most famous musicians, and the mother of their three young children, to a widow, with one child left and another on the way.

I asked her how she had been able to deal with such a tragedy, and if she was bitter at God for allowing such a thing to occur.

“I wasn’t bitter,” she said, “but I was very mad at Keith for taking the kids and I think that was probably a deflected anger at the Lord. I don’t remember consciously being mad at the Lord. It’s just one step at a time. I was glad that I had the Lord because for quite a while, I wanted to die and might have done something about it if I wouldn’t have known Jesus and had supportive friends.

“It would have been selfish too, with Rebekah grieving in her one-year-old way, and two more of her family gone  - me and her unborn sister - both girls a remaining gift from Keith and God.

“It has taken years to get through it. It’s not light; it’s not a small thing.”

Courageously, Melody was able to participate in the memorial service at the Agape Force property nearby, for all those who died in the crash, and so I asked her how she was able to do so.

“It was because of the sheer grace of God,” said Melody. “I felt like I was supposed to speak and I did. The Lord just really he helped me and has continued to do so for all these years since.

“A day later, there was a private burial service at a small church cemetery near the Last Days Ministries property.

Has she been able to get over what happened?

“You never get over it,” she replied. “I don’t cry every day and I don’t think of it every day like I did during the first two or three years, but progressively, the Lord’s helped me to go on. Sometimes, I can’t help but wonder what it would have been like if Keith was still here, especially when I watch four grandkids and I see so much of Keith in them. I know he’d just have been bananas over them and his own beautiful daughters that never got to know him, yet are so much like him”

Both Melody and Keith Green are Jewish followers of Jesus, and she told me that they had first met at a video tape recording studio where she worked and he arrived to look around it, sporting a huge beard and a long hair ponytail.

“I gave him the tour and that was that. He just kind of chased me down really,” she laughed.

She said that at that time, neither of them were believers in Jesus, the Messiah. 

“We were searching,” she revealed. “Keith had a little cross around his neck - he decided that since most religions thought Jesus was OK in some way, he thought he’d read the Red Letters only to see what Jesus had to say, and I trailed along with him. We did get married and then about a year and a half later we gave our lives to Jesus.

Melody Green with husband Keith.

"We both changed dramatically. It was just insane. It was so exciting and we had been looking and searching through everything for so long and both of us, even before we met, had been through all kinds of spiritual stuff - mostly New Age. Knowing Jesus was like getting shot out of a cannon.”

- Melody Green, speaking about the change Jesus brought into the lives of Keith and herself.

It was at an early Vineyard Bible study led by Kenn Gulliksen in a home they were house-sitting in the Beverly Hills area.

Later on, this became Bob Dylan’s church, but Melody said, “It was pre-Dylan and we just walked in and Keith raised his hand the first night and I raised my hand the next week. We both changed dramatically. It was just insane. It was so exciting and we had been looking and searching through everything for so long and both of us, even before we met, had been through all kinds of spiritual stuff - mostly New Age. Knowing Jesus was like getting shot out of a cannon.”

It wasn’t long before both of them were composing incredible new worship music, and Melody’s most well-known songs were There Is a Redeemer, and Make My Life A Prayer. Keith recorded both of them. Overall they co-wrote about 40 songs.

Hit after hit came from Keith, including You Put This Love In My Heart, Soften Your Heart, Oh Lord, You're Beautiful, Your Love Broke Through, Asleep In The Light, My Eyes Are Dry, So You Wanna Go Back To Egypt, Grace By Which I Stand, Easter Song (written by Annie Herring) and He'll Take Care Of The Rest, to name just a few of them. 

Soon, Keith was performing to huge crowds around the country, with Melody joining him as she operated the sound board until he moved from churches and theaters to arenas when a professional soundman was brought in.

I told Melody that Keith had been described as a prophet by many and I wondered what he thought about that.

“He didn’t like the word prophet and he wouldn’t use it, and he didn’t like it when people used it; he didn’t like that label,” she said. He just wanted to be known as a regular follower of Jesus. “But obviously, looking back, he was very prophetic. Way ahead of his time. There are things I remember he said that have since come to pass. Like the fledgling Christian music industry of that day. He once said, ‘Mark my words. In 25 years Christian music companies will become like every other big music business'. Basically run by the bottom line, is what he meant."

To start with, the couple began their Last Days Ministries, with seven houses in Woodland Hills, California, which they filled up with some 75 people off the streets that were bikers and pregnant girls, as well as kids coming off of drugs. After leading them to Jesus, they began to disciple them.

“But we felt that it was too tempting for them to do that right in the Valley, so we were looking for land outside the temptation zone and found a log ranch house and barn on 120 acres near Lindale, Texas. We moved, and began discipleship schools and also produced huge amounts of free literature,” she said.

Melody recalled it was quite an area where many Christian ministries, leaders, and musicians, were based.

“We had David Wilkerson and his ranch, Leonard Ravenhill, two very large YWAM properties, one becoming Mercy Ships, Dallas Holm and Praise, Barry McGuire, and Agape Force where Winkie Pratney lived half of the year. 2nd Chapter of Acts even bought land adjoining ours. It was an amazing amount of fun and formed lifelong friendships."

But then came the plane crash that changed Melody’s life forever, and for a time she moved to Kansas City, but has now returned to Hollywood, where she was born.

So why have you come back? 

“I feel that the Lord has sent me back and also I just wanted to go home. I’m a California girl, and not a good mid-west girl,” she told me. “I was begging the Lord for years please to help me go back near the inner city where the poor and needy are all around me.

“I looked for about six years, but then, on a trip last year, I found a place to live. I looked all over the Valley, along the coast, but I didn’t expect to move into Hollywood at all. But when I walked into a 550 square foot one room loft. I knew instantly it was the right place, and felt ‘This is it! I’m home!’

“It’s a high crime area around me, close to Hollywood and Vine. The building I am in is safe and I feel very secure there. I’ve never felt uncomfortable around people who didn’t know Jesus. It’s a mixed bag here, the wealthy and limos, the homeless and addicted. I love them all.

“The building I am in is about 85 per cent offices, recording and fashion studios, TV and model agencies, with very few residents. So I’m reaching out and getting to know people and integrating myself. During this past winter, I kept blankets and canned goods in my car that could be opened with a pull tab, plastic knives and forks to give to the hungry and cold that the Lord prompted me help. I would just stop and give a blanket or money or whatever - you know be sensitive to the Lord.

“The Holy Spirit has trained me to notice people and things. So even in my building in the elevator from the fourth floor to the first floor, I get to know people, their names, where they work, what they do, and sometimes we’re trading phone numbers by the time we get to the first floor. I’ve spent some time with a new friends too.”

Melody is also integrating herself with the Hollywood Christian community and attending various Bible studies being held by people like double Oscar winner, Al Kasha, who is also from a Jewish background and has for many years had a Who’s Who of the local Christian community in his home Bible study. She also has friends in entertainment and enjoys passes to films, plays, and musicals.

Now, Melody Green has come full circle with her return to southern California, but as always, she keeps the motto of “No Compromise” – which is the name of her book about her life with Keith - in all that she does. She is also at the early stages of working with a producer on a full-length feature film from her book on their story, No Compromise. The Life of Keith Green.

www.lastdaysministries.org
www.facebook.com/keithgreenmusic
www.facebook.com/melodygreenofficialpage