Jeff Urich is a 55-year-old man who attends Cedar Creek Baptist Church’s every service without fail. Those who know Urich never question his faith or personal relationship with Christ. He talks to anyone he meets, participates actively in his church, and does his best to have the strongest connection with God possible.
Urich’s personal relationship with Christ has shaped him into the Evangelist Christian he is today. However, before his transition to Evangelist Christianity, Urich was raised in a Catholic home. During that time, his parents taught him what they thought was Christianity according to their Catholic viewpoint.
“I was told I was a Christian,” said Urich. “I believed by what my parents said that I was a Christian. But, as I grew up and read the Bible, I realized that I was not a true born-again believer.”
Before Urich became an Evangelist Christian, he was raised with a completely different mindset regarding his faith. His parents taught him that being a good person and doing good works was the only way to have a relationship with God. He also said that alcohol was a frequent presence in his family’s life and quickly became a problem for him that was difficult to overcome.
“As I was growing up,” Urich said, “my parents told me that if you’re a good person overall, you’re going to be with the Lord when you die. I was my own man. I grew up in a family that drank alcohol, and I remember me starting to drink when I was probably thirteen, fourteen, or fifteen.”
Urich explained that his mother drank wine quite often in his and his brother’s presence, and his parents often had alcohol available at family gatherings, such as holidays, that gave him the opportunity to sample it at such a young age. Alcohol became a larger part of Urich’s life the older he got. With the substance being normalized to him, it slowly became a habit for him to enjoy instead of mere curiosity.
“As I grew,” Urich said, “and grew older, I drank more and more. I even got in trouble with the law buying beer with a fake ID. Buying beer for everybody. Everybody came to Jeff to party. I wanted to fit in.”
Urich was seventeen at the time and said that the police had apprehended him and taken his fingerprints, and his father had to come get him from the jail. He was then put on pretrial intervention, which he identified as a “hand slap,” before he was allowed to go back home. After that incident, Urich’s drinking only worsened as his parents further enabled his growing habit.
“After that point,” Urich said, “my mom and dad said to me, ‘Alright, here’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to buy you beer, but we want you to stay at home and drink it.’ So, it got even worse and worse.”
With his parents buying him alcohol, Urich got into more trouble. He admitted that he was usually at odds with his teachers at school and drank constantly with his friends. Even when he went to college, alcohol prevented him from earning a baseball scholarship.
“I partied, partied, partied,” Urich said. “I went to college, had a possible opportunity to do well in college baseball. I failed out of college, partied too much, baseball went down the tubes. So, alcohol was really a thorn—a problem for me, and I couldn’t tackle it.”
It was when Urich met his wife, Alicia Urich, things for him began to change. Urich met Alicia when she came to interview with him for a position at his workplace, Fuddruckers. At that time, he was twenty-six, and she was nineteen. He was not aware of what she believed or that she was a Christian, he just knew something was different about her. Alicia was then hired at Fuddruckers, and after a couple of months, Urich approached her to ask her out on a date. Alicia explained that it was not too long after that, that they were married.
“We went out and six weeks later,” Alicia said, “he asked me to marry him. We dated a total of eight months when we got married, which was in November of 1994.”
After he and Alicia were married, it soon became clear to Alicia that Urich didn’t have the same relationship with God as she did. Alicia wanted to help her husband in any way she could. Early in their marriage, Alicia questioned Urich on his personal relationship with Christ and did her best to aid him in growing in his faith.
“I would ask Jeff,” Alicia said, “‘Do you believe in God?’ and he’d say ‘Yes.’ And I would say, ‘Do you believe Jesus is God’s son?’ and he’s like ‘Yeah.’ I said, ‘Do you believe Jesus died on the cross for your sins?’, and he’d say, ‘Yes’ to all of that. But there’s a difference in just knowing those things and actually making it personal. It didn’t take long into our marriage for me to go, ‘Oh, yeah, he’s not saved.”
Alicia said it was hard for her to accept that she was married to someone who didn’t have a personal relationship with God like she did. For the first seven years of their marriage, Alicia and Urich made their relationship work, despite their different relationships with God. However, Urich admitted that the breaking point between them was the recurring thorn of alcohol.
“Me and a friend went out,” Urich said, “and I got in trouble with the law. Had to do a sobriety test. The cop gave me a second chance. Alicia had to come and get me to take me home; the cop wouldn’t let me drive. So, Alicia basically told me, ‘This is it. Either you stop, or else.’ That was a start of a transformation in my life.”
Alicia was dutiful in trying to help Urich any way she could, from frequently inviting him to church, to reading the Bible to him every night. Shortly after, Urich finally went with Alicia to visit Cedar Creek Baptist Church, allowing himself to question what he was taught from his past. He practiced what he thought he should do, such as paying tithe and helping members around the church, but still never fully committed to being an Evangelistic Christian.
It was not until Urich spoke with Cedar Creek’s pastor, Robert Fultz, that his life did a complete turnaround. Urich reached out to Robert on November 21, 2001. Urich met with him outside the church parking lot in Fultz’s truck. Fultz then questioned Urich about his personal walk with Jesus. Urich hadn’t known what he had been taught growing up was not the way to have a relationship with God until those views were confronted by Fultz.
“He asked me,” Urich said, “‘Are you saved? Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ?’ and I said, ‘What are you talking about? I don’t know, what are you talking about? I’ve been coming to the church for my wife.’ I didn’t know anything, really. I said I was going to go to heaven, and he said, ‘No, you ain’t.’ So, he went through the plan of salvation, and I accepted the Lord.”
Urich explained that after that day, his life was reformed. He began to actively participate in church, talk to strangers about how to have their own relationship with God, and he no longer wanted to drink alcohol. It was quick for Alicia to notice the change in Urich, too, and she could not have been happier for her husband.
“His language completely changed,” Alicia said. “No drinking, no foul language, faithful to church, not just on Sundays. Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday. We would pray over meals. We would try to have Bible time together when our kids were little. You know, we didn’t do any of that stuff before he got saved.”
After Urich accepted Christ into his life, he became more vocal about talking to people about Jesus. He said that he was never great at communicating, especially in front of people. However, now that Christ was the center of his life, Urich started to share his own experiences with anyone he met to help them grow in their own relationship with Christ. He also started going with Cedar Creek to Honduras, which is when the church takes medical supplies and other aid to the people there, also talking to them about their personal relationship with God.
“After that day,” Urich said, “the Lord is molding me. He is refining me. I’m studying, I’m reading, I’m trying to encourage. I’m sharing the gospel. I even pray every single day, ‘Lord, give me someone to talk to, to encourage.’ I go on mission trips, and I’ve been going for, this will probably be, fifteen years, maybe? If you were to talk to me about salvation, I would’ve never thought I’d be talking to people about Jesus.”
When Urich’s daughter, Madison Urich, was old enough to go with him on mission trips, she was able to witness her father in action when it came to sharing the gospel of Jesus. She said that Urich avidly loves talking to people in the foreign area by being the biggest “people person” when he is there, even though he does not know how to communicate with the people without the translators there with the church. Despite the language barrier, Madison said that her father is always willing to talk to anyone about the Bible and their own relationship with God.
“As soon as they sit down,” Madison said, “he leans forward and, like, scoots his chair up towards them, and gets eye-to-eye with them, and he just starts talking. My favorite thing he does is he asks questions about those people first. Like, you know, ‘Are you in church? Do you have a spouse? Do you have kids?’ He tries to get to know them first, and then he relates how he’s going to evangelize to them with how they tell him about themselves.”
Madison also said that when Urich speaks to these people, he decides to keep record of who he helps find a personal relationship with God. He carries around pocket-sized notebooks while talking to people, taking note of their name so he can continue to pray for them even after he and the church leave Honduras. Madison said that Urich has done this process the last seven to eight times he has been to Honduras and keeps the notepads in his nightstand. He looks back at the people he’s helped in growing their relationship with God, and he uses the notepads to continue to pray for the people he talks to.
“His translators immediately know that when he pulls out that notebook,” Madsion said, “he doesn’t even have to tell them what he wants. The translator just takes it, gives it to the person—if they can write their name down, because some of them can’t—and tells them ‘This is the reason Jeff’s doing it’ and ‘Jeff wants to pray for you.’ He has notebooks upon notebooks, front and back, every inch of the paper filled with names and dates.”
Though Urich loves to take part in traveling to Honduras, he wants to live every day of his life talking about God. He does his best to share how to know Jesus with anyone he comes across, whether that’s in another country or at the grocery store. He wants to reach out to those who don’t know the word Jesus, no matter where they are.
“Everybody needs to hear the truth,” Urich said. “Whether I go to Honduras, whether I go to talk to my neighbor, or wherever I go, the Lord puts people in front of me. My mission field is everywhere I go. So, it’s an everyday thing. It’s a passion. As long as I’ve got two lips, and a voice, and I guess a tongue where I can speak, I’m going to do all I can to talk Jesus.”
Through his active participation in church services, talking to anyone he meets, and spreading the love and way to know Jesus, Urich lives his life to serve God the best way he can. He strives to follow God’s will, if only to show his gratitude to the transformation Jesus did in his life. His conversion through Christ guided him to be the man he is today, and Urich hopes to continue to share that incredible part of his life with everyone he meets for as long as he can.