I left home and hitchhiked from Atlanta Georgia to Los Angeles, California, travelling across Texas, after my freshman year at Duke University, in 1974. By mutual agreement with my parents, I was to live outside the home that summer, as I was not getting along with my stepmother at that time.
Although I had a good heart and a strong conscience, it would have been very easy for my life to divert in the wrong direction. I had no clear concept that sex should wait for marriage, even though I was raised in the Catholic Church. Somehow, that clear teaching passed me by or simply was not given in the time that I attended Sunday School regularly (until about 7th grade). In fact, the first time I was in an environment where someone was smoking marijuana was on a Catholic Church retreat in 9th grade.
Fortunately, God’s guiding hands, and perhaps my natural mother, who was already in spirit world since she died from breast cancer when I was six years old, protected me.
I remember praying at a church in Los Angeles after I arrived to stay for a few weeks with Ed Pokladnik, a friend of my Dads. It was a Catholic Church with a crown of thorns on Jesus’ head. I ember praying and asking God, ‘Did they have to crucify Jesus like that; is that the way it had to be?’ It just did not seem right.
I always had a strong bent for being different. One day at my high school in Dade City, Florida, I literally walked backwards all day long. A willingness to be different no doubt helped me understand and accept who True Parents (Father and Mother Moon) are, because God’s ways are not the ways of most people in this world.
About three weeks after the crown of thorns prayer mentioned above, as I was hitchhiking up the California coast from Los Angeles to Berkeley California. One crucial point came as two young women and I were discharged by our ride along Highway 1. I decided to hike up the hill into the Redwoods and camp on a mossy bed by myself for three days, rather than catch the next ride with them. I did not consciously know why I did this, but I believe that God was saving me from potential disaster, as I had no clear idea that I should not have sex until marriage, and easily could have gotten sexually involved with someone.
After that experience, I found myself walking along a country road near California route 1, the coastal highway. It was just after I had taken off my hiking boots and walked in a cold stream with a rocky bottom, which made my feet hurt. This young woman in an old van (bring back any memories of the 70’s for the older generation?) slowed and asked if I needed a ride, which I did. To this day, I do not know who she was. She asked me if I knew Jesus. I said, ‘I guess so, I’m Catholic’. She gave me a paperback bible, and a “four spiritual laws” type of tract. She said I should ask Jesus to come into my heart. Just after that, in Santa Barbara, I received a fine for hitchhiking, the first one I received in hitchhiking across the entire nation from east to west.
As I was reading the Bible that she gave me, I remember reading James 2:17, one of my favorite verses, “So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead”. I also read the tract and said the prayer at the end, asking forgiveness for my sins and asking Jesus to come into my heart. I believe that this was a step, or condition, that allowed me to meet Father and Mother Moon and the Unification Church. Remember, Jesus tells us in Matthew, 7:7 “Ask, and it will be given you, seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you”. Even God cannot make someone believe if they do not want to believe.
The external reason I had travelled to California was to check out whether farm laborers in the Salinas valley were being abused, as the New American Movement (communist) group at Duke University had asserted. I finally arrived in Berkeley, and slept in the hills above Berkeley that night. The following day, a young woman approached me and asked me ‘how would you like to have dinner with some neat people?’ That is exactly what I wanted to do. So I left my backpack at their table on campus, and returned in the evening for dinner and the ‘elephant lecture’. (a talk about how we generally only perceive part of the truth, such as a blind man who only touches an elephant’s trunk, and thinks the elephant is like a hose, only). I returned the next day (Tuesday) to hear about the Fall on Man. I thought that the story of how Eve has tempted by the archangel and committed a sexual sin was interesting and it made sense. I was invited to attend a weekend workshop, and I returned Friday evening, after staying at the home of a friend from Duke University. Interestingly, I had contracted poison ivy after hiking in the woods on my way up the coast. And it had spread to my private part! (maybe God was trying to tell me something about the fall of man!) Later, I invited this friend to come to the dinner program at the Hearst street Unification Church center, and she did. But she did not return to study more.
I attended a weekend workshop at the church’s retreat center in Booneville, California. It was a very special, spiritual kind of place. My group leader, Matthew Morrison, at the end of the three day retreat said, if this is true, you need to do something about it. I thought, “that’s right”. I had learned that God had prepared throughout history to send his son the Messiah. Jesus came for this mission, but now the Messiah, the Second Coming of Christ (not Jesus himself) would come in the east. I decided to stay at Booneville for a 21 day workshop. At the end of the 21 days we climbed a hill, and after Noah Ross spoke about Father Moon’s ’life, we prayed. I remember envisioning Jesus wounds, and I asked Jesus if Father Moon had really come to carry on Jesus’ mission. I received an emphatic yes, and I am sure if you ask Jesus the same thing, you will receive the same answer.
I believe that my mother, who died of breast cancer then I was six years old, and also my father, who was almost killed in an industrial electrical accident (he is a power systems engineer) paid a price as I joined with the Unification Movement. It is not necessarily an easy thing to meet with and to align with the New Truth. My great uncle and namesake, Richard Weiss, dedicated his life to helping people to understand that there are repeating historical forces working in the lives of great leaders. He understood that a twisted sense of ego and self is at the core of a world that has seen two devastating world wars and could see another one if we don’t awaken to the reality of the Truth revealed at the Second Coming, which is happening right now.
It was July 20th, 1975, the day I landed “on the Moon”, so to speak, which is six years to the day after Neil Armstrong set foot on the physical Moon. I was Blessed in marriage to my wife of 30 years, Stacey Schmidt Urban on July 1st, 1982 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, along with 2074 other couples, plus 6000 more couples Blessed in Seoul, Korea on October 14, 1982, for a total of 8000 couples. Father moon choose my wife for me on December 31st, 1980, or rather, I should say, I volunteered to be matched with my wife. At the matching ceremony, I had a strong notion to be matched to a black woman, and Father Moon had matched some black couples at a previous matching ceremony in 1979. However, Father Moon never asked for that choice at this matching. So I was sitting there for a day. I was matched to a sister from Puerto Rico, but she said “no”. The matching had started on December 30, and it was now early in the morning on December 31st. One sister stood up, and Father asked what the problem was, as she had a blue button on. She said that she was not able to have children, and asked who would like to be matched with her. I thought “why not” and raised my hand. We proceeded to the discussion area in the balcony of the grand ballroom in the New Yorker Hotel, where the event was held. I felt that the ideal of the Blessing itself, of a God-entered family is precious, and that we would make that ideal work out. It has not been easy, but we are going strong and continue to grow in love after 30 years.
It is very likely that I would have ended up having sex outside of marriage, or getting involved in an un-Godly lifestyle or much worse if I had not met Father Moon. I am very happy to have a Blessed Marriage, a faithful wife, a lovely daughter and a fine son. I have dedicated my life to community service, in the form of educating youth to become leaders who understand the importance of reserving sex for marriage and preparing for successful family formation (www.urbanlifetraining.org). I also specialize in developing practical systems that serve people while supporting our cause. Stacey and I co-own Urban Grocery LLC (www.urbangrocery.com). We provide home grocery delivery and delivery software. The company was inspired by the Happy Mind Shop at Home Service, a company way before its time that was founded in 1987 in Washington, DC by Father Moon to serve people with a home grocery delivery system that had Godly values at its foundation.
As Father Moon celebrates his 92 years of life and his victorious ascension to the spiritual world, I give my most heartfelt thanks to him and to Mother Moon. I want to let him and Mother Moon know that I will proudly continue the tradition with my family that he has taught and modeled for us, that of living for the sake of others and giving his all for the glory of God and the salvation of mankind with a heart of True Love.