Keith Green (1953-1982) and his wife Melody were products of the Jesus People movement as the Holy Spirit swept through the Hippie generation during the late 60s and early 70s.
Keith and his wife, both Jews, were radically transformed by the Gospel of Christ in 1975, 18 months after their marriage on Christmas Day in 1973. Keith was one of the most radical Christians I knew at the time — he and his wife were totally sold out to the Kingdom of God.
After their conversion, they attended Vineyard Christian Fellowship in the Los Angeles area where they received much of their early discipleship.
In 1977, while living in a small house in the San Fernando Valley, a Los Angeles suburb, they begin actively sharing their faith door-to-door and in local parks and restaurants.
They held Bible studies and invited strangers to their home for potlucks. As people were saved, the Greens invited the new disciples to live with them in their home.
As the group — made up largely of college age students including drug addicts, homeless people, bikers, prostitutes and single mothers — grew, they bought the house next door and ended up renting five more homes in the neighbourhood, to house the 70 people who were part of their Christian commune.
Out of this, they started Last Days Ministries (LDM).
During this period, both Keith and Melody worked as songwriters for CBS Records and used that money to fund this ministry.
Keith’s music ministry
The move into music ministry was a natural for Keith.
He was playing the guitar at five and piano at seven. He was featured in a several local musical events in Los Angeles which were widely reported by the media. In 1965, at age 11, Keith signed a recording contract with Decca Records and released an album.
Decca was promoting him as the next teen talent and had Keith featured on several TV programs such as the Jack Benny Show and The Steve Allen Show.
But the emergence of teen idol Donny Osmond quickly overshadowed Keith and he slid off the national scene. Disillusioned by this failure, Keith headed off on his own into a life of drugs, free love and eastern mysticism – popular at the time. He even ran away from home a couple of times.
Oddly, his parents initially kept Keith’s Jewish ancestry secret. Unaware of his background, he became involved in Christian Science and even read the New Testament. But he was totally turned off Christianity after a bad drug trip, which caused him to abandon drugs as well.
After their conversion, Keith and Melody became involved in music ministry, singing and writing a number of Christian songs. Through his concerts and music, Keith called for a radical conversion to Christ. The above song Asleep in the Night, was co-written by Keith and Melody.
In 1976, Sparrow Records, a contemporary Christian recording company, signed Keith to their label. Two years later, Keith gained his release from Sparrow and produced and sold his own records.
With his music popularity growing, in 1978, Keith and Melody started publishing a newsletter through LDM. Similar to their ministry, the magazine called for a serious commitment to Christ and featured articles by revivalist such as Leonard Ravenhill and David Wilkerson.
The move to Texas
In 1979, Last Day Ministries moved its headquarters to a 14o acre property in East Texas, outside Lindale, where they had room to handle their rapidly growing music and publishing ministry.
With contacts received through concerts, readership of the magazine rapidly grew. The format changed from a newsletter to a colourful magazine. By the mid-80s nearly 500,000 people were receiving the publication.
They published and distributed over 89 million tracts translated into 50 languages. Prominent ministries such as Focus on the Family and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association used LDM materials.
In 1980, LDM decided to provide their records and literature on a donation basis. At the same time, Keith joined with Second Chapter of Acts in not charging fees for performances, using free-will offerings instead. The move proved quite controversial as a number of Christian organizations and groups spoke out against these practices.
The ministry was blessed and expansion of the property was necessary. They added a worship centre as well as printing equipment and facilities, as LDM took over printing its magazine, tracts and teaching materials.
On July 28, 1982, Keith along with two of his children took a visiting family and their children up for a ride in a plane leased by LDM. The plane crashed on take off, killing all on board including the pilot. The National Transportation Safety Board ruled the inexperienced pilot had overloaded the plain and not properly balanced the weight making the plane un-maneuverable in flight.
Keith was just 29 when he died.
After Keith’s death, Melody who was pregnant with their fourth child took over LDM. It functioned for a number of years in its Texas location. In 1996, the Holy Spirit began to guide Melody and her team down a different path. LDM wound down its ministry and sold their property to Teen Mania, another youth ministry. Last Days Ministries has since transitioned completely into an online ministry.
In 2001, Keith was inducted into the Gospel Music’s Hall of Fame.