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Going Where God Calls

Going Where God Calls

Alumni Spotlight: Mike Ullrich ’77, Cord Ministries International
  • August 10, 2021

Mike Ullrich shocked his dad when he informed him of his plans to attend Moody Bible Institute rather than pursue a career in mechanical engineering. But Moody had already been planting seeds in Mike’s heart for a lifelong ministry career through WDLM Moody Radio, which was often playing in their Quad Cities home.

When a traveling evangelist from Moody came to preach at his church, Mike felt God nudging him toward ministry, and then a summer at Word of Life camp confirmed that decision. “I came home from camp, changed my high school curriculum, and applied to MBI,” Mike says. “I never doubted that I would go to Moody. I paid for it myself. My first semester I had to have $600 for room and board, so I saved $1,000 and off I went.”

At Moody, Mike majored in Evangelism under the leadership of Dr. Donald Smith ’57. “My first PCW (practical Christian work) assignment was going to the top floor of the Moody Church to help with a child evangelism program, Dial-a-Story. Kids would call into the number and hear a short Bible story. The students would come on the line afterward to answer their questions about God and the Bible.”

“Moody forced me, in a positive sense, to be able to present the gospel,” Mike said. “I loved it there. In three years, I think I only missed two or three classes. I got formal theology training and a formal Bible understanding that I never had before.”

Mike remembers participating in a special Chicago evangelism outreach led by then-president Dr. George Sweeting ’45. In three years, he planned to reach all of Chicago through door-to-door evangelism. “I was in neighborhoods that people might not feel safe in today,” Mike says. “I got more fearless in evangelism. I gained confidence.” Professors like Dr. Foos, Dr. Smith, and Dr. Lon Wilson ’39 had a lasting impact on him. He also appreciated Dr. Mayer, despite receiving the only D of his Moody career in one of Dr. Mayer’s classes because of trouble memorizing.

After graduating in 1977, Mike was married the next day to his high school sweetheart, Bonita. The couple had their first child in 1978, and Mike accepted a busy pastoral position in rural Mississippi. “I pastored three churches in three counties at one time,” Mike says. “I would preach at all three every Sunday for a number of years.”

Later Mike joined Village Missions, one of the largest rural church missions in the country, and he and his wife served with them for 33 years, ministering in South Carolina, Kansas, South Dakota, and Colorado. During those years he attended 22 Moody Pastor’s Conferences in a row!

Today Mike runs Cord Ministries International, a support organization he founded in 2011 to help support those in full-time ministry both stateside and internationally. “We have an eclectic group of programs, from church planting to educating pastors to orphanages, says Mike, whose ministry serves pastors in a variety of settings. “Some are outside the United States, some are rural church pastors who need more support. We come alongside them as they work with other organizations. We’re making it possible for them to do the work they’re going to do.”

Perhaps that is why Mike views giving to Moody as a way to come alongside future pastors and Christian servants. “I’ve been able to support Moody more in recent times than I have in the past. A rural church pastor’s salary is nothing to get rich on. But I feel more of a call to give recently. I like where the money is going, and I know Moody is careful with what I give them,” Mike says.

“I admire how Moody has stayed the course. So many schools have had to bow to other pressures to survive. Moody has stuck it out. You know that people will come out of it with the education you are sending them for.”