One time 60s hitmaker NOEL PAUL STOOKEY comes to know Jesus
Noel Paul Stookey found there was more to life that the folk-rock circuit. Hits like "Puff The Magic Dragon" and "Leavin' On A Jet Plane" took Peter, Paul And Mary into the big time throughout the 60s.
"Peter, Paul & Mary's music," says Noel Paul Stookey, the "Paul" of the trio, "always acknowledged the fact that people had hope and were aspiring to be more than they were. The problem was that the music didn't specify any particular ways to accomplish being more. And that's what I missed in my personal life and my performing life until I came to know Jesus in 1968." Noel's searching trek, which led to salvation began in the mid '60s, when he became disenchanted with himself. There was one person on the stage in front of the huge audiences, but there was another Noel inside. "I had built this apparatus that had the face of Noel," he told Christianity Today, "whose arms and legs moved and went through all the right motions. But somewhere inside of me there was a little boy who wanted to be closer to what it was that made him happy. And he wasn't finding it with this image. I had begun to see that there was a difference between what I was singing and what I was living."
His search led him to some interesting people. In 1976, he went to a fellow musician, an acquaintance from the folk-club days in New York; he felt that Bob Dylan was showing in his introspective songs that he might have a better grasp on what life was all about. Bob's advice was simple, yet effective. "He suggested a visit to Michigan," Noel explains, "where I had spent my formative years, and he said I should review the scenes of my youth with the perspective of the present." And second, Bob said read the Bible. Dylan wasn't a Christian at the time, but he did read the Bible as literature, and evidently had found some value in the reading; enough to make such a suggestion to Stookey. Then, in 1968, following a Peter, Paul & Mary concert in Austin, Texas, a young man approached Noel backstage and said that he wanted to talk to him about the Lord. Noel agreed ("I felt the adrenalin surge"), and they went to the singer's motel room. "We got to rapping," Noel recalls. "I had been reading the New Testament and looking for some kind of moral way to live my life - something more fulfilling than what I had. It was terrific what happened that night! I asked Jesus to come into my life, and I cried, and.... oh! We had a fantastic time! It was a very cleansing experience."The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.