MIDLAND, MI — In 2005, when Brian Welch left the Grammy Award-winning band Korn, his band members thought he had lost it.
“They thought I lost my dang mind,” Welch said. “They thought I went nuts.”
The guitarist, who is commonly known by the nickname “Head,” left the band to kick drug addiction and connect with God.
Nine years later, Welch is once again a member of Korn, but he also takes the time to appear on smaller stages to tell people about his journey to spirituality.
On Friday, Oct. 17, Welch took time to explain his story to a group of young people at Midland Nazarene Church, 5700 Jefferson.
“I just want to encourage them to go after their destiny; their God-given destiny, and not waste away like I did for so many years,” Welch said.
Welch told the group of more than 50 teenagers that he would have avoided many hardships in his life had he started his relationship with God years earlier. His marriage may have survived and his daughter would likely have suffered far less trauma, he said.
“I made a lot of mistakes,” Welch said. “I hurt myself and others.”
Welch’s story is one that is filled with methamphetamine abuse and emptiness despite fame, he explained while standing in front of a screen projecting pictures of the 44-year-old musician and author.
But that all changed when Welch started communicating with God he said, calling the relationship he has with Christ the most important part of his life.
“It becomes more real year after year after year,” he said.
As Welch joked and snapped selfies with the young audience following his Friday afternoon talk, Kurt Faust explained why he brought Welch to the area for the second time in two years.
“Any time that we can teach kids about their walk with Jesus Christ, it’s wonderful,” Faust said.
Founder of the nonprofit Step Up Coaching, and the former football coach at Midland Dow, Faust coordinated Welch’s visit as he did when the musician visited the Midland area in 2013.
The two had met years before Welch became a born-again Christian. Faust said when he heard that Welch had started practicing Christianity, he was intrigued and eventually reached out to the guitarist.
“Brian is a great example of someone who basically lives fully for the lord and takes a risk in a culture that isn’t really accepting of that kind of lifestyle,” Faust said.
Following the afternoon appearance at Midland Nazarene Church, Welch appeared at a public event held at Midland Reformed Church.
Faust said there are “a lot of Brian’s” in the Midland community and having Welch visit is a “great way to reach them.”
That sentiment was echoed by Mike Martin, the worship and youth pastor at Midland Nazarene Church. Martin said he had his own struggle with drug addiction in his younger years.
“(Welch is) real and he’s relevant and he doesn’t sugarcoat anything,” Martin said.
Welch didn’t sugarcoat his feelings on what he views as the downside of organized religion.
“The religious side of God has been destructive and I think he’ll use freak-a-zoids like me to show people he loves everybody the same,” Welch said.
Faust said that is an important message, that God isn’t judging based on appearance or the type of music you listen to.
“People have an opinion about Brian when they look at him or they think of his music,” Faust said. “We want to break down that barrier.
“Love has no boundaries.”
Midland residents need to start looking at every person as a “child of God,” Faust said.
For Welch, though, the thoughts of others aren’t important.
“It doesn’t matter if people judge me,” he said. “What it’s all about for me is the relationship with God.”
That relationship, Welch said, led him back to Korn after 8 years away.
“The partying is all gone. Everybody’s got their life cleaned up,” Welch said. “The music’s still crazy. God’s not afraid of that.”
Welch said his role as a musician with Korn and the Christian band Love and Death is his ministry. While sometimes his musical travels lead him to discussing his faith with others, it isn’t always about speaking up.
“You’re not talking it but you’re living it,” Welch said. “You’re loving people.”
Besides touring and recording with his two bands, Welch is working on a new book.
Author of the 2007 memoir “Save Me From Myself,” Welch is working on another book with the working title “With My Eyes Open.” According to Welch, the new work is about “a broken soul being healed.”
Despite his busy schedule, Welch said his favorite part of his life is the time he spends focusing on his faith.
“It’s the most real thing I’ve ever done in my life,” he said.
For more information on Midland Nazarine Church and their youth ministry visit midlandnaz.org.
“Come check us out on Sunday mornings,” Martin said. “Our whole church is about connecting people to people and connecting people to God.”
— Jessica Shepherd is an entertainment reporter with MLive/The Saginaw News. Contact her at 989-996-0687, email her at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter or Facebook. You can also hear her Fridays at 8 a.m. on 102.5 WIOG‘s Nate and Rachel in the Morning.