FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–When Rick Stanley talks about the day he was accepted into a royal family and saw his life radically changed, he’s not just talking about spiritual matters.
Long before he became a child of the King, Stanley was the stepbrother of the man known as the “King of Rock and Roll.” When he was 6, his mother married Elvis Presley’s father and Stanley left an abusive past for the lap of luxury at Graceland.
Stanley, a 1986 graduate of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, returned to his alma mater to share his testimony, unique because of his relationship to Presley, yet familiar to others who have experienced the transforming power of Jesus Christ.
People do not need to clean their lives up to come to Christ; when they come to Christ, he will make them a new creation, Stanley, now an evangelist, said during his first of two chapel messages at the school Oct. 12 and 13.
“When you come to know Jesus Christ you are not only radically reoriented, you get a second chance at childhood,” he continued, drawing from 2 Corinthians 5:17.
“You are able to look at life completely different, and you can go back to the innocence and have a joy,” he said.
Stanley became a Christian in October 1977, about two months after his famous stepbrother died. After growing up at Graceland, Stanley became part of the security force that protected Presley.
Although he saw and participated in the drug abuse and other aspects of life with a rock and roll star, when he became a Christian, he said, Christ changed him completely.
“I am not a recovering or former anything; I am a new creation in Christ Jesus,” Stanley said.
Before becoming a Christian, Stanley said, he had “the theology without the testimony.”
“I didn’t know God loved me,” he said. “My impression of Christianity, I had always believed it, but I thought you had to stop something then come to know Christ. It doesn’t work that way.
“We need a reformation in salvation theology because we got an awful lot of people out there in the world today … they want to come to know Christ, but we look at them and say, ‘You need to stop that stuff and come to know Christ,'” he continued.
“No, you come to know Christ and then you stop that stuff.”
While a teenager, Stanley began a friendship with a Christian girl named Robyn. The two often went to church together and stayed in touch as Stanley was out on the road with the Presley entourage.
“Every time I would talk to her she would end the call the same way, ‘Rick, I am praying for you,'” Stanley said. “It was like dial-a-prayer or something.”
On the day before Presley died, Stanley told Presley what Robyn was telling him about Jesus and how she was praying for him.
“Elvis Presley, at 42 years old, looked at me and said, ‘Ricky, she’s telling you the truth.’ Then he said, ‘People who talk to you about Jesus really care.’ I talked with Elvis for a while … then left to run an errand,” Stanley said.
When he got back home to Graceland, 9-year-old Lisa Marie, Presley’s daughter, greeted Stanley with the news that her father was dead.
Robyn came to the funeral and talked to Stanley more about the Lord. He said he told her he didn’t want to hear about Christianity, because he was angry with God about the death of Presley.
Stanley said Robyn “didn’t even bat an eye and said, ‘He can handle it.'”
A short time later, Stanley became a Christian. Now, he and Robyn are married and have two children.
After becoming a Christian, Stanley heard about Southern Baptists and “wanted to be part of this crowd.”
“I started reading what you guys believe and I said these people emphasize the Word of God and global evangelism,” Stanley said. “But listen to me, folks, we’ve got to stop the politics and the pettiness and get back to seeing people come to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.”