Rick Stanley on Elvis and his new crusade

Rick Stanley doesn't mind in the least when people refer to him as Elvis Presley's stepbrother. His mission in life - bringing people, especially the young, to Christ - is bigger than his ego, he says.

"I'm thankful," Stanley said. "I'm 53, and I've been Elvis Presley's stepbrother for 46 years. For what I do as a minister, it opens a lot of doors."

Speaking at Chef Audrey's Bistro in Centerville on Wednesday, Stanley recounted how his mother met Elvis' widowed father, Vernon, when the rock 'n' roll star was in the Army, stationed in Germany. Stanley, then six years old, and his two brothers had been in foster care because his real father was an alcoholic, and was abusive when he drank.

Then one day Stanley's mother drove up with a man in her car who wasn't his father." She said, 'Boys, I divorced your father and married this man, Vernon Presley,'" Stanley recalled.

Not long after that the 25-year-old Elvis was released from the Army. That's when Stanley moved into Graceland, where the wildly popular singer had ordered his famed entourage, dubbed "the Memphis Mafia," to purchase an obscene amount of toys for young Stanley and his brothers.

Elvis welcomed them as if they were part his natural family, Stanley remembered."He said, 'I've always wanted a little brother, now I've got three,'" Stanley said. "He was the kindest man I've ever known."

Stanley was in the Warner Robins area promoting the upcoming Mid-State Go Tell Crusade at McConnell-Talbert Stadium this spring, from April 29 to May 2. He is a part of the crusade, along with evangelist Rick Gage, who is known as a Billy Graham for small towns.

Stanley puts his colleague every bit in the league with the legendary Rev. Billy Graham."I've been in Billy Graham crusades and I love that man to death," Stanley said.

"But there's just something about Rick Gage. He could sneeze and 50 people would come to the Lord."Audrey George, owner of Chef Audrey's Bistro, organized a group to bring Gage to Warner Robins after she attended his crusade in Dublin. The crusade is interracial and interdenominational, and involves many local churches.

George is hoping to get many more congregations involved, which is why she held a luncheon Wednesday for religious leaders to hear Stanley speak. George recalled bowing her head for the invitation prayer at the Dublin crusade, at the high school football field, then hearing a stampede of feet heading toward the outdoor altar. She had to take a peek.

"Caught In A Trap Elvis Presley's Tragic Lifelong Search For Love":

Rick Stanley's book about his life growing up around Elvis. It was published by Word Publishing in1992 (ISBN: 0849909791)

"Other than seeing it on a Billy Graham crusade on TV, I've never seen that many people coming to the Lord," she said. "They were running to the Lord. It was overwhelming. It was awesome.

"Stanley's role in the crusade is to speak at schools, telling the story of his own teenage drug abuse and alcoholism, along with what he witnessed of Elvis' struggles with addiction. It was after Elvis died that Stanley really started rethinking his own life, he says.

A few weeks after the star's death, Stanley went to visit his future wife, Robyn, a devout Christian. She wasn't at home at the time, but her mother mentioned to Stanley that Robyn prayed for him every day before she went to work.

He talks about that moment of revelation whenever he speaks to a group. Stanley went on to become a Baptist minister and has been preaching for 30 years. He and Robyn have been married for 29 years. He recalled getting a phone call from Robyn one night before Elvis died.

"She said, 'I had a dream that you died,' and she was crying," Stanley said. He told Elvis about the call.

"He said, 'Those are the people that care.' Eight hours later he died. Those are the last words he ever said to me."

Source: Charmaine Voisine, 28 Jan 2007

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