MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WKRN) – It was an unscripted moment like few others on the presidential campaign trail Monday in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
Ted Cruz paused for a moment and looked into the audience at a community center for a man who changed his family’s life.
“I was told Pastor Gaylon Wiley was here,” he told the crowd. “I haven’t seen Brother Wiley since I was a kid.”
Then as the room with a thousand people fell silent, Cruz said “Brother Wiley led my dad to the Lord.”
Out in the audience that day was Gaylon Wiley, who now lives in nearby Lebanon, Tennessee.
At most gatherings, Cruz tells the story of his wayward father Rafael who had left the family in Canada in the late 1970s.
“When I was three years old, my father left my mom. We were up in Calgary in the oil business and he came down to Houston and he decided he didn’t want to be married anymore or be a father to his three year-old-son,” said Cruz
But this time as the Texas Senator told the story, it was very personal.
In a slightly halting tone and brushing his eyes, Senator Cruz said “Brother Wiley baptized me at eight years old when I was a Christian, so I am really glad to be here in Tennessee.”
The pastor who helped change the Cruz family nearly four decades ago in Houston, Texas, by baptizing not only the youngster, but the parents as well, was later embraced by the Republican candidate outside the Tennessee community center.
“I had the privilege of talking to Rafeal Cruz in the 1970s in a home just like Ted told it today,” Pastor Wiley later told News 2. “And the Holy Spirit touched him so much he fell out of that chair on his knees and prayed the sinner’s prayer and changed his life and flew back to Canada and got his family back together again.”
And for a few minutes on Monday, the man who baptized the Cruz family caught up with that little kid from all those years ago who is now running for president.