Photos by Ralph Freso / Slideshow
Here's the Chapel livestream.
There’s a lot of emotion in the story of Korn guitarist Brian “Head” Welch, a story he was ready to share again Monday morning at Grand Canyon University.
Then he heard Trina Beecher of the Worship team sing these words of “Graves into Gardens,” and he felt something stir inside him:
I searched the world, but it couldn’t fill me.
Man’s empty praise,
Treasures that fade are never enough.
Then You came along
And pulled me back together.
And every desire is now satisfied
Here in Your love.
He already was loving the music. Now he was moved by the message.
“It was unbelievable, to be honest,” he said afterward when asked about the all-student group’s performance preceding his talk. “I was listening, going, ‘Oh my God, these voices.’ That second song got to me because it was speaking my story.”
When it was Welch’s turn to address the crowd of students who again packed GCU Arena, he didn’t disappoint despite his concerns. He hadn’t delivered a talk like this in a while. He had come off a tour with Korn just one day earlier. He apologized for the way his ADHD makes it difficult for him to focus.
|Next Chapel speaker (11 a.m. Monday, Sept. 26)|
|Chris Brown, North Coast Church, Vista, California|
The attention and applause of his listeners made it clear how they felt about any of that.
“They were really receptive,” he said later. “Sometimes when I speak, it’s kind of flat, but they were really alert. It went really well.”
The story of Welch’s transformation is 17 years in the making. How he had wrecked his life with alcohol and drugs. How no amount of money or fame could make him happy. How he thought he’d be better off – and his beloved daughter would be better off – if he were dead.
Then the story changed when he felt God’s healing power. He walked away from another multimillion-dollar paycheck for a single tour and left Korn, returning seven years later with his newfound faith. He has since devoted himself to living and preaching the Gospel, explained in “Loud Krazy Love.”
Welch released his first Christian album in 2008 and is dedicated to Death2Life’s suicide-prevention mission.
He emphasized self-healing again and again Monday along with his warnings about the emptiness of a hedonistic lifestyle. He urged students to read the Bible and make sure God is in the middle of everything they do.
“I love how God shares the reality of life in it,” Welch said. “He doesn’t say it’s going to be perfect. He says He’ll be with you.”
He also put it this way, earning more applause:
“I just found out that God wants you to be real and not to be some fake, hypocrite Christian that just is trying to say the right words to Him. He wants you to pour your heart out. Yeah, it’s for real.”
Welch kept it real throughout his talk.
He talked openly about deciding at age 8 that he didn’t like himself.
About being bullied in middle school.
About how his dreadlocks and tattoos – his need to be different – are partly the result of the insecurity and self-hatred created by those emotional scars.
About starting to drink in high school and later taking up hard drugs, to the point of having packages of the poison shipped to him wherever he was in the world.
About never being satisfied by Korn’s wild success and becoming suicidal on several occasions.
About the unlikely way he started going to church when his life became so dark.
And about being high even when he attended those services.
But then he would go home and read the Bible and pour out his heart to Jesus. One day, his search for true satisfaction finally ended in a true God moment.
“All of a sudden, I felt a peace come around me and a presence that I never knew, and I felt a love that I had never felt in my life. And it was so real,” he said. “It was like God had to place His love inside of me to let me know how much He loves me so, in turn, I could learn to love myself and be the father I wanted to be and love my child correctly.”
He identifies with the apostle Paul, who went from persecuting Christians to teaching them God’s ways.
“If any of you are struggling with guilt for things you’ve done or anything in your past, I want you to remember that God used this guy Paul to write … a lot of the New Testament,” Welch said. “… You have no room for guilt in your life. Just put it in the past and move on.”
When Welch mimicked Paul and let God into his life, it changed everything.
“My life was resurrected,” he said. “I found peace. I found contentment.”
But that didn’t mean God made it easy.
“God is not a wimp. He wants you to face your fears,” he said. “Why? To be mean? Nope. So that you can overcome them.”
Welch acknowledged that some people can’t understand why he went back to Korn and the lifestyle they believe it represents. But he views it as his way of proclaiming the Word of God.
“I don’t have the normal calling from God. I know that,” he said. “A lot of Christians are like, ‘How can you be in that band?’ ... To me, it makes a lot of sense. A lot of people are like I was – hurting – and my life is a story to them. It’s a testimony to them. And I share it all the time. It’s the foundation of everything I am, man.”
Welch closed with an emotional plea for the world to come together in Jesus:
“Everything that is corrupt and messed up and broken, it’s put back in its proper form in Christ. And when we step into Him, everything starts to make sense.”
But for Welch, making sense of the Chapel emotions started with the music – of course. Music is such a part of his life, just as his faith is now.
He looked around at the pristine atmosphere of the Arena as he spoke and compared it to what he sees – and smells – in a Korn concert. Quite a difference.
“It feels so much cleaner here with the worship and, like, oh my God. … Just to see the worship and the beautiful music,” he said.
Especially that second song.
Contact Rick Vacek at (602) 639-8203 or [email protected].