“Remember Where You Come From”

On Wednesday, I walk into his office and see his socks through the gaping holes on the soles of his shoes, which are propped up on his finely etched solid oak desk. Behind Randy Weiss stands a two-foot bronze bust of an individual to whom he bears a striking resemblance.

Shelves line the wall behind him; they’re filled with worn books that only a scholar would have. Animal trophies representing years of hunting hang proudly on those walls. I saw outside his office a jet-black 2005 Chevrolet Corvette parked safely at one end of the parking lot. Weiss describes his auto treasure as “the greatest American sports car. ”

Two days later, the deep vibrating rumble of a 444 horsepower 302-cubic-inch engine pulls into the parking lot. Weiss, with his predominantly gray hair and nicely trimmed IMG_0606beard, steps out of his 2012 Laguna Seca Limited Edition Boss 302 Ford Mustang wearing a flannel button-up shirt and dirty jeans. He enters the building, heading for his office sanctuary. I join him there and find him leaning confidently with his feet on that regal desk. This time, he’s wearing different shoes that don’t have holes in the soles.

“Decided to wear a better pair of shoes today huh? ” I ask with a chuckle. He smiles and says, “These shoes have a hole in the top. My other shoes have a hole in the bottom. ” He points to his car. “I’ve got a sport coat, a pair of clean jeans, another shirt, and my shoes with the hole in the bottom in case I get the call to go see the congressman. ” He has meeting later in the day with Joe Barton, a representative from Texas. Weiss maintains a steady barometer of what he deems important in life.

Weiss was the nachas (pride and joy) Randy Weiss Bar Mitzvahof his observant Jewish parents. They used to always say, “Remember where you come from” because that was what Jews said, Weiss reminds me. He was a model Jew growing up in his synagogue at Temple Beth-El in Gary, Ind. Like many Jews in the United States, his family immigrated to the United States in response to rising anti-Semitism and persecution of Jews in Europe. His hard-working parents were devoted to their faith and made sure Weiss was bar mitzvah’d and faithful at synagogue. That didn’t stop him from getting mixed up with the experimentations of the 1960s. He was a rock-and-roll musician and did what was normal. Weiss was a true hippie; complete with long hair, scraggly facial hair, and a satchel filled with drugs hanging from the neck of his 1963 Gibson six string guitar.

60's 1long hair sketchWeiss takes this opportunity to reminisce about those fabled 1960s. He remembers his best friend. He warns me never to see the Oscar-nominated 1969 movie “Easy Rider.” Weiss says, “Bernie Konrady and I were so connected to that film that the summer after I graduated high school, we left town in my car and followed the ‘Easy Rider’ trail.” He points out the car was a 1970 Boss 302 Mustang. “We went where they went, and we had several of their experiences. ” Weiss says he was determined to become a famous rock-and-roll musician.

Mom on VW BugEverything changed in 1973. His Catholic girlfriend and he decided they would elope while traveling the country to promote his 45-rpm single, “My Lady’s Lover’s Shoes.” Adrienne Pullo Weiss was the young Catholic girl whom the single was written about. They took $600, the amount he had left from his last drug deal, and loaded up his Volkswagen Beetle in northern Indiana. It was on this  VW Bug & Dadensuing journey, some 2,000 miles down the road, he encounters Jesus Christ. He was reading a book titled, “The Late Great Planet Earth.” At the end of the book, the Holy Spirit worked through the words on the page to help this young hippie realize he was lost and in need of a Savior. “I was completely and totally desperate in that moment that I was convicted of my sins, ” he says. “Prior to that, my sins did not trouble me at all. When I became aware of my sins through the conviction of the Holy Spirit, salvation was the only thing that mattered. ” Immediately, his life is new. The Adrienne & Randy Weiss wedding 1973years of drug using, drug pushing, sexual promiscuity and alcohol use are history. In a supernatural instant, he is a new creature. He is called to serve Christ at that point, and everything in his life aligned with that focus from that moment forward. Adrienne Weiss thought “he was just a fanatic and this too would pass. ”

People often say, “If I had my life to live over again, I wouldn’t change a thing. ” That’s the case with much of Weiss’s life, he says. “I took a few risks that turned out really, really, really bad, but there is no place for regret. The worst things in my life have been the best things in my life. ” He points out one exception. In his new zeal and excitement following his encounter with Christ, he made one of his only regrets in life. Upon returning home from this trip and breaking the news to his parents, he wishes he answered one question differently. His father, also his greatest hero in life and who is now memorialized by the bronze bust on the credenza behind him, asked, “Don’t you care what your father thinks? ” Dad and Zadie old picWeiss responds, “My father is in heaven. ” That answer conveys to Weiss’ father he was replaced. He pauses and then says, “Sometimes, the ‘Christianese’ things we say just aren’t that helpful. ” Weiss eventually took on the family grocery store business. This provided one of the only portals of relationship with his family. His next 30 years were plagued with hurt and rejection. The cars Weiss drives remind him of good memories of the past. The mounted trophies adorning the office walls tell the tales of hunting escapades with his late father.

Four decades pass. Though not the opryrock-and-roll platform, Weiss performed on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry during the “Grand Ole Gospel Time” show nine times. The late Johnny Cash Johnnycashrecorded Weiss’ song “Jesus Is Lord.” Four graduate degrees and three undergraduate degrees hang on the wall in his Dallas home office including a Master of Jewish Studies from Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies in Chicago. Weiss certainly remembers where he came from. He seeks to help other believers know where they come from. Weiss still runs Five Star, 5 Star Willis Woodythe family grocery store. He also hosts “CrossTalk International,” an international television program blanketing the globe of more than 250 million homes. Ted Sauceman, board member of “CrossTalk International” and friend of Weiss says, “CrossTalk is an attempt to make the Christian community aware of its Jewish heritage and to understand the origins of Christianity in Judaism. ” Weiss’ four sons each experienced their Jewish rite of passage into adulthood through a bar mitzvah. Each son was wed under the traditional Jewish hoopa with Rabbi Stanley Halpern from Miller, Ind. traveling down to Dallas to participate in the festivities.

Randy and Adrienne WeissDecades later, Adrienne Weiss says Weiss is a “good husband, good father, kind, giving and an honorable man. ” Outside of that life-changing experience in 1973, Weiss’ greatest accomplishments are the two decisions made on that trip. “We’ve been married for over 40 years, and in the 40 years that we’ve only been apart the six times that my wife went to have her baby; we have never spent the night apart, ” Weiss says. “I have no other accomplishment that really means much to me. ”

Becoming a believer caused some of the greatest struggles of Weiss’ life. He lost his income, his friends, and was completely separated from his family. For those who have uncertainty in life, Weiss says, “It’s going to work out. You’re going to be OK, and trust God. He’s got a really great plan. ”

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