'Christ is the King', Elvis told fan

'Christ is the King', Elvis told fan

Legendary rock and roller Elvis Presley is the subject of a new movie – simply called Elvis – which leaves out a highly significant part of his life.

Gospel singer J D Sumner recalled the time a woman approached the stage in Las Vegas with a crown on a pillow.

Elvis asked her what it was. She answered: “It’s for you; you’re the king.”

But Elvis took her hand, smiled, and said: “No honey, I’m not the king. Christ is the King; I’m just a singer.”

Though a prodigal with plenty of shortcomings for the bulk of his megastar years, he eventually returned to his first love for Jesus.

Though he was known throughout the world as the king of rock, it would seem he was always happier singing of his Lord. The reality is that, despite a string of golden hits in the world of pop, the only Grammy Awards he earned were for his gospel records How Great Thou Art and He Touched Me.

He even insisted on singing Peace in the Valley for his mother on the Ed Sullivan Show (the TV show that famously launched the Beatles in the US) and he hired gospel groups to sing back-up for him while he was in Las Vegas, apparently against the wishes of his manager.

Elvis, whose sudden death in August 1977, aged 42, shocked the world, had a godly upbringing attending an Assemblies of God Pentecostal church in Memphis, Tennessee.

Although fame and fortune turned his head and he ended up living on a dangerous cocktail of drugs, he often hankered after his gospel roots when he used to sneak off to a nearby Black church where the music was more to his taste. It certainly contributed much to his singing style.

A key witness of his faith was his stepbrother, Rick Stanley, who committed his life to Christ shortly after Elvis’s death, clearly influenced by him.

It was 1960 when, along with his brothers David and Billy, Rick (aged around six at the time) moved into the legend’s palatial Graceland home after his mother, Dee, married Presley’s widowed father Vernon.

Although nearly 20 years younger than Elvis, they developed a close relationship and Rick ended up as his brother’s aide on tour while also getting mixed up with the drug scene.

Back in 1958, with the world already at his feet, Elvis confessed to a Memphis pastor: “I’m the most miserable young man you’ve ever seen. I’ve got all the money I’ll ever need to spend. I’ve got millions of fans. I’ve got friends. But I’m doing what you taught me not to do, and I’m not doing the things you taught me to do.”

Much later, his final years in Las Vegas seemed to drain his creativity and zest for life, as depicted in the new movie, starring Tom Hanks as his overbearing, control-freak manager Colonel Tom Parker. Austin Butler plays Elvis.

If you choose to watch this highly-rated film, please remember there is another side to the story. It focuses on how Parker squeezed the life out of Elvis, who somehow felt he was unable to break free and become the man God wanted him to be.

In December 1976, eight months before he died, Elvis rededicated his life to the Lord. Just hours before he died, Elvis was seeking God’s help in prayer, and turned to his young brother, saying: “Rick, we should all begin to live for Christ.”

Rick took his advice and turned to Christ just two months later, speaking at Billy Graham-sponsored events and serving as associate pastor at the First Baptist Church in Eureka, South Carolina.

From New Life Newspaper issue 338


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