Today, I was deeply saddened to learn that a man I admired for his passionate involvement in a Christian organization I whole-heartedly support passed away last week. That such a man would pass from this life at the relatively young age of 64 and leave a void in the leadership at the top of this important ministry is reason enough for grief. That he died at his own hand, after having allegedly been involved in the sexual molestation of a 10-year-old girl, is beyond the pale! It is one of those heart-numbing bits of news that come at you from out of the blue that is so shocking in its telling that you are literally floored after hearing the report. I must admit that I wept bitterly several times today, when first hearing the news very early this morning (after a fitful night’s sleep), and later in the day as I thought further of the tragedy of what had transpired. Disbelief, heavy sadness, anger, questioning, and a heart breaking not only for Tom White’s family but also for his staff at Voice of the Martyrs, and, of course, for the little girl who was allegedly molested and her family.
I greatly admired Tom for his adept leadership of this important ministry started by Richard Wurmbrand several decades ago. I have a special place in my heart for Wurmbrand as he was a Romanian Christian who suffered persecution for his faith, having been a prisoner for 17 years in Ceaucescu’s brutal Romanian penal system. I have served in Romania with several Christian organizations over the years and my wonderful son, Christopher, was adopted by my wife and I almost 22 years ago from a city in northwest Romania. Tom himself was held captive in a Cuban jail for nearly a year and a half back in 1979 for distributing the Gospel. He knew first hand the rigors of persecution. His insightful and passionate commentary on behalf of the millions of persecuted Christians around the world given in his column each month on the inside cover of the VOM magazine was inspirational and will be sorely missed. The value and impact of his frequent and oftentimes clandestine trips inside of dangerous countries to minister to the persecuted church cannot be overestimated. The World-wide Church owes him a great debt, and it is his dedicated service to these down-trodden and oft-times forgotten believers that I choose to remember about Tom. I hope that this will be his legacy remembered by others as well.
I do not minimize in the least the depravity of his sin, whatever the details of it are. Whether this had been an ongoing problem or a one-time evil choice I do not know. I will not judge him by a single act of evil, but rather by his years of faithful service. But, I am devastated that he would think that, in spite of the seriousness of the allegations, that he had nowhere to turn and no recourse but to take his own life. In reading once again in recent days C.S. Lewis’ classic “The Problem of Pain“, I am reminded of his comments about good and evil. That there is “simple good” in this world, acts of charity and kindness and such as well as “simple evil”, words and actions (such as he is accused of for example) that are evil in their intent and outcome. Yet God, in His sovereignty, is able to “exploit” these acts of simple evil and turn them into a “complex good”. We may not see it initially, especially when in the pits of despondency, how that God can work all things for good. Romans 8:28 But He can, and furthermore promises, that He will. I think that Tom knew this, but could not see his way to believe and trust it in the midst of the spiritual darkness he found himself in. That is the real tragedy, that he would turn his back on God when he needed Him and His light most in his life. Lord forgive him!
I found myself asking, “God, what in the world is going on here?” This type of behavior (and worse) is becoming more and more the norm, a common occurrence in the world we live in today. It is shocking! The effects are devastating to all involved and impacted by it. The severity of the repercussions are inestimable. So why is it happening more frequently (we read of such stories on an almost daily basis)? Besides being a result of a moral and spiritual decline that has been gaining momentum over the past 20 years in our country (Has America Become A Pornographic Society?: A future blog post on this site), I believe that Satan himself is orchestrating these kinds of “take downs” of high-profile spiritual leaders. There are too many examples to elaborate on here. It is no coincidence, in my opinion, that this would occur now, given the dramatically increased levels of persecution of Christians around the world, especially in Muslim countries. Fine organizations such as VOM, Open Doors, and others are serving a huge need in the body of Christ ministering to these persecuted saints and their families, bringing attention to their plight, something that the mainstream media rarely does. To shame and discredit the Executive Director of this vital ministry for the past 20 years (and by association the organization itself) is a masterful tactic by one whose stated goal in Scripture is to “steal, kill, and destroy” John 10:10 Or, as Martin Luther wrote in his famous hymn A Mighty Fortress Is Our God, “For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe; his craft and power are great, and armed with cruel hate, on earth is not his equal.”
We must all remember that we too have an ancient foe and that he can find the “chink in our armor” just as he did with our brother Tom White. So shore up your armor Saints! Difficult times are here. But, take courage and remember to hold fast to the rest of the words from Luther’s hymn as well:
A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing; our helper he amid the flood of mortal ills prevaling. For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe; his craft and power are great, and armed with cruel hate, on earth is not his equal. Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing, were not the right man on our side, the man of God's own choosing. Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is he; Lord Sabaoth, his name, from age to age the same, and he must win the battle. And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us, we will not fear, for God hath willed his truth to triumph through us. The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him; his rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure; one little word shall fell him.
Please be in prayer for the families affected, the White family, the VOM family, the victim’s family, and the Family of God around the world. Jesus will be victorious. Count on it. And Satan? One little Word shall fell him. From the mouth of He who is Faithful and True! Revelation 19:11