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"What Is Your Excuse For Living?

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 "What Is Your Excuse For Living?"

The Story of Ulric Jelinek
by Robert D. Kalis

 A new chapter opened in the life of Ulric Jelinek, research scientist, manufacturer, inventor, while he was on a business trip in a distant city. The telephone rang in Mr. Jelinek's hotel room. It was a Christian friend, who had heard that Mr. Jelinek was in town and desired him to speak to a group of businessmen. "There must be a dozen ministers in this town just waiting for a chance like this," he answered and turned down his friend.

But after hanging up the telephone, an uneasy feeling came over Mr. Jelinek. He became aware that the Lord was asking him a question: "What is your excuse for living? What is your excuse for living? WHAT IS YOUR EXCUSE FOR LIVING? He began to analyze his life thoroughly. Was he living primarily to become a wealthy industrialist? Was his scientific research a quest for fame? Just what was his "excuse for living"?

Then and there, Ulric Jelinek, consecrated this area of his life to the Lord and promised Him that he would speak for Him. He further promised that if his friend should call again and repeat the request, he would accept. Immediately the telephone rang. It was his friend, and the invitation was repeated. Thus the most fruitful and greatest chapter in the Christian life of Ulric Jelinek began.

The first chapter of his religious life had taken place some thirty years before in Elizabeth, New Jersey, when, as a high school student, Ulric was invited to a meeting at the Ebenezer Pentecostal Church. There the minister was preaching on the theme, "All Have Sinned."

"He did not have to tell me that I was a sinner. I knew it instinctively." Ulric later testified. That night he went forward to the altar, repented of his sins, and gave himself to Christ. It was a deep and real conversion which so changed his life that his Roman Catholic parents soon came to know the Lord as their Savior also.

Shortly after Ulrick's conversion, Rudolph Kalis became the pastor of the Ebenezer Church. He took a warm interest in the sincere young Christian. On serveral occasions Mr. Kalis took him along on trips to Illinois, where they visited some of his teacher and minister friends. These ministers took a prayerful interest in the young convert. One of them, Martha Wing Robinson, confided to Mr. Kalis that she felt sure that God had a unique work for Ulric to do for Him in days to come. Her assurance proved to be correct some twenty years later.

On one of these trips, while Mr. Kalis was visiting with the ministers in Zion City, Ulric went to visit a friend in Detroit, Michigan. The friend had  a new car, and Ulric desired to drive it. Back in Illinois as the ministers were visiting suddenly Mrs. Robinson stopped and said, "We must pray for Ulric, He is in danger!" They prayed at once. At that very moment in Detroit, they later learned the new car with Mr. Jelinek at the wheel skidded on trolley tracks, sideswiped a trolley, and narrowly missed a head-on collision!

When Mr. Kalis was led to open the Emmanuel Pentecostal Church in 1936, Mr. Jelinek was with him heart and soul. They had obtained an old bank building in which to worship, and he led the young people in the cleaning and painting of it. When the first meeting was held on March 13, 1936, he quietly took his place in the orchestra and accompanied the congregational singing with his violin.

Mr. Jelinek later moved away and served the Lord in other churches and Christian organizations. He became a member of Jack Wyrtzen's Word of Life Camp. He also was on the Board of Directors of the Missionary College of the Christian and Missionary Alliance at Nyack, New York. But even when he was an internationally famous lecturer on "Science and the Bible", he maintained his warm friendship with his friend, Rudolph Kalis and often before embarking on some challenging adventure, he would share the challenge with his friend and seek his prayer support.

Meanwhile Mr. Jelinek continued his education, earning degrees from Newark College of Engineering and Rutgers University. He was a brilliant scholar and loved to study. Until his last illness, he often sat in on classes at Upsala University, located near the manufacturing corporation which he headed. His was not the pseudo-intellectualism that feeds on doubts, believing less and less and culminating in believing (and knowing) nothing; but his was the true intellectualism that received and held on to the love of the truth. His devotion to the Bible was on of his outstanding characteristics, and for years he made it a practice to read it through annually. After his marriage to Miss Leora Casperson, a fine, active Christian worker, they read the New Testament through over and over throughout the years in a daily worship, which later included their two children, Joy, now a minister's wife in Hingham, Massachusetts, and Richard, a senior at Wheaton College.

After obtaining his engineering degree, Mr. Jelinek became the Chief Metallurgist for Westinghouse Meter Division. Privately Mr. Jelinek worked on and developed the production of synthetic jewels comparable to those used as pivots in fine wrist watches. He also developed the synthetic sapphire phonograph needle. Immediately after World War II, he served the United States Government as Chief of Material Research on one of the first American rocket and guided missile programs.

His first venture into the manufacturing business was not an unqualified success. Years later, and speaking from this experience, Mr. Jelinek warned a young man who sought his advice on going into business, "Be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers!" When the Severna Metals partnership was dissolved and the unequal yoke broken, it was a grief and heartache, but a valuable lesson learned.

When the Severna Manufacturing Corporation was formed in 1955 and later Severna Plastics Inc., both of which Mr. Jelinek headed, Christian principles were adhered to, and both corporations were dedicated to the Lord. This time the business prospered abundantly. When our first rockets went to the moon, precision parts manufactured by Severna Manufacturing Corporation from material produced by Severna Plastics, Inc. were on board. (No wonder he closely followed with the keenest interest the moon shot at Christmas time.) All this, however, was preparation for the greatest work of his life which began in the hotel room scene previously mentioned.



 Ulric Jelinek

Ulric Jelinek

Ulric Jelinek
1908 ~ 1968


 During the rest of his life, Mr. Jelinek spoke to hundreds of thousands of people, many of them highly intellectual and many of them very wealthy. Despite the large crowds he spoke to, Mr. Jelinek never lost his keen interest in the individual and often spent several hours with one inquirer. He spoke at a Presidential Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C. and to a meeting at the National Aeronautics & Space Administration at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. (Only colnels and officers of higher rank attended the service.) At that meeting fifty men gave their hearts to Christ.

He often combined his speaking engagements with business trips. On several occasions his customers were in the audience when he spoke. After one such occasion, when Mr. Jelinek was discussing tolerances on measurements given on a blueprint, his customer suddenly pushed the blueprint away and said, "Ulric, I've heard you speak twice now, tell me, what prayers can I say to get what you have?"

Mr. Jelinek swallowed twice, looked up to the Lord for help, and said to himself, "Here goes, good customer, or not." He then told him what he told so many that came to him for help: "What you need is Christ. You can have Him if you are willing to declare spiritual bankruptcy and admit that you are a sinner without hope." The customer was wiling to do that and immediately advised his secretary that he would be unavailable until further notice. He took Mr. Jelinek into an inner office. There for two hours the two men talked and prayed until the inquirer became a new creation in Christ Jesus.

In Indianapolis, Mr. Jelinek agreed to speak to a gathering at the request of the wife of a customer. When he arrived to keep the appointment, he was astonished to find that he was listed as the main speaker at the feature banquet of a week-long dieticians' convention and that his topic was listed as "Diet in the Space age." He went to the chairman immediately, and after introducing himself asked, "Who gave me this topic?"

"Aren't you going to tell us what the astronauts eat?" asked the chairman. "I do not know anything about the diet of astronauts", responded Mr. Jelinek. "My subject is 'Science and the Bible.'" "You mean religion?" asked the horrified chariman. "Religion" affirmed Mr. Jelinek. "Well you might as well go ahead and give your talk," conceded the chairman.

When the time came for his speech, Mr. Jelinek stood up and breathed a prayer. "All week long," he began, "you have been discussing feeding the house that man lives in. This afternoon I would like to speak to you about feeding the man that lives in that house. 'It is written man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.'" He spoke on the eternal spirit that dwells in the temporary house of clay. He went on to tell them of the One who said, "I am the Bread of Life," whose flesh is real meat and whose blood is real drink. He spoke of the promise of Jesus;"he that eats this bread shall live forever."

At the close of this talk there was a strange hush. The chairman did not know what to do. Many individuals came to Mr. Jelinek to inquire of him personally more about this "Living Bread".

The doors of service opened more and more for Mr. Jelinek. Because he was a scientist and businessman, he was invited to speak where ministers had no entrance. He spoke to nine thousand at a Sunrise Easter Service in Portland, Oregon, and to the Protestant Stockholders of Union Carbide - Carbon Corporation at a Communion Breakfast in New York City. This was the ministry he loved most - speaking to the unsaved, telling them of the Savior.

Ulric's last chapter on earth closed when the Lord called him home on December 27, 1968. Perhaps the most fitting memorial we could raise would be to consecrate to God completely every area of our lives, and as ourselves, as God asked him, "What is your excuse for living?"


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