Korn Meets Christ: The Conversion of Brian Welch
By Jennifer E. Jones
The busy bees of the media are a’buzzing with news of Brian “Head” Welch of Korn. The hard rock guitarist found, as Southern Gospel folks would say, “that ol’ time religion”.
In a press release on their Web site, Korn announced they “parted ways with [Welch], who has chosen the Lord Jesus Christ as his savior, and will be dedicating his musical pursuits to that end.” It stunned the music world, leaving many scratching their heads and some dedicated fans saying, "It must be some practical joke."
It wasn't. The following Sunday, Welch spoke at Valley Bible Fellowship in Bakersfield, California, to a cheering audience of 10,000. In his first public address, he said, “I'm the happiest man in the world right now.”
Welch testified about how his life was on the brink of destruction when a friend gave him a Bible. "It's not about religion," he said, according to MTV News. "It's not about this church; it's not about me. It's about the Book of Life, and everybody needs to be taught this. It's crazy. It's gonna do stuff like this -- like change a guy in a rock band."
A week later, Welch left skeptics with little doubt when he flew to Israel to be baptized in the Jordan River.
If this hasn’t shocked you yet, then you probably don’t know what kind of music Korn makes. Since 1994, Korn has been a driving force in the rap-metal genre as they fused hip-hop beats with heavy guitar riffs. Their lyrics, mostly based off of the tramatic childhood experiences of frontman Jonathon Davis, are dark, sexually explicit, and disturbing. Condemned by the Chicago Tribune as being “perverts, psychopaths, and paranoiacs”, Korn was a staple on MTV in the late 90s for teens who didn’t like pop music. With songs like “Freak on a Leash” and “Make Me Bad”, anyone from this band would be the last person you’d expect to go to church, let alone profess Jesus Christ from the pulpit.
God works in mysterious ways, doesn’t He?
Christians should be the people least surprised by this conversion. We know that in Luke 5:31-32 Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (NIV). If our Lord walked the earth today, we’d more likely find Him at a thrash metal rock concert looking for the wounded rather than sitting in a pew on Sunday morning amongst the righteous. God went to that rock concert and apparently found a hurting soul on stage.
You may be asking, is this for real? It is an important question. We can all name musicians who professed Christ, renounced their ways, and wound up making the same morally sketchy music they made before. After all, secular hip-hop artists are legendary for thanking God in acceptance speeches for songs that are violently graphic and demeaning to women.
However, there are exceptions of note. Rapper Mase was a protege of hip-hop mogul Sean ‘P. Diddy’ Combs. As a star act on the Bad Boy label, he was in the thick of the hip-hop lifestyle with a brand new, highly anticipated album set to be release. However, after God gave him a vision of leading people into hell, Mase abruptly retired and disappeared for five years. In that time, he pursued the call to be a minister and wrote a book called Revelations: There's A Light after the Lime. In 2004, he re-emerged on the rap scene but with a clean album and positive lyrics.
It can be done, and Welch’s testimony may be one that sticks. Hard rock music does not always lend itself to a lot of riding the theological fence. Complete “about-face” decisions like Welch’s are rare. The only one of recent note is Josh Brown, formerly of Full Devil Jacket. After hitting rock bottom, Brown found Christ and now fronts the Christian rock band Day of Fire. I met him last year. He has an amazing heart underneath his tattoo-covered skin. Just spending time with him was a lesson in not judging a book by its cover.
So, the question shifts from “Is it for real?” to “How can we tell?” It's difficult to judge, and according to Matthew 7:1, it may not be our place to. We wouldn’t have picked half the people God made heroes in the Bible. The Lord explains His rationale perfectly in I Samuel 16:7: “Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart” (KJV).
In the meantime, we can take Welch at his word. He left the fortune and the pain to take up his cross. In spite of the cynics, the self-righteous and the non-believers, it's good to see another talented musician come over to the ‘bright’ side. God bless you, Brian. Welcome to the family.
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