Tribute to former The Voice of the Martyr’s Executive Director Tom White
By David Witt
This past week a great man of God passed away. His death and life are a combination of inspiration and tragedy. Tom White was the Executive Director of The Voice of the Martyr’s. Last week VOM announced that Tom had come under investigation for “inappropriate contact with a young girl. Rather than face those allegations, and all of the resulting fallout for his family, the ministry and himself,” Tom chose to take his own life. I believe this ending blow takes the breath out of most people and especially those who knew him.
I first met Tom in 1996. He invited me to his home for dinner with his lovely wife Ofelia. Tom was gregarious and loved people of all sorts and backgrounds. His greatest passion was for those who suffered persecution in the name of Christ. He had been well mentored by the founders of VOM, Richard and Sabina Wurmbrand, who advocated for the “underdogs” of this world. He was a man of humility who never wanted to embarrass anyone. I remember being with Tom in a group when someone asked a rather charged question bringing a moment of strong tension. Tom used his authority and with gentleness replied, “Let’s not assume anyone knows the answer to that question,” and continued the conversation with grace.
I was blessed to work ten years under Tom’s leadership. He and I traveled together to visit the persecuted church and Tom sacrificed daily for the suffering Body of Christ. His love for our brothers and sisters in Christ made him fearless. When we were together in Iran, visiting a fundamental mosque with Muslims praying all around us, Tom wanted pictures inside, but I was hesitant. Tom boldly took the camera and discreetly took pictures as we walked around the mosque.
In 2003, CBN Reporter Gary Lane, Tom and I visited Iraq the week Saddam Hussein was captured. On his way to Mosul, Tom’s taxi abruptly stopped on the freeway to avoid a fire-fight between Islamic Insurgents and American troops. There was no place to move or escape on this packed highway. For fifteen minutes, Tom calmly sat taking pictures out his front window of the battle. This man of God, regularly risked life and limb because he loved the little evangelists and Christians of the world who were a minority, vulnerable and persecuted.
Tom could be quick to laugh and he loved talking about theology. I owe Tom and his wife Ofelia a debt of love. At times, Tom mentored me, encouraged me, and was willing to spend time together. He freely welcomed others to be a part of his life. I am one of many witnesses that Tom White loved God and desired to live a Godly life. Tom leaves a legacy of love to family, friends and thousands of persecuted Christians around the world.
The details of the inner turmoil in the latter days of Tom’s life will never be fully understood. But let us keep in mind that no Christian is beyond moral failure and it is only by the grace of God that we avoid such pitfalls. The Holy Spirit worked a lifetime of righteous service through Tom. Let us also be reminded that salvation is a gift of God through faith in Jesus Christ and not upon our personal righteousness. Therefore, the Word of God gives us confidence and expectation of seeing Tom again in Heaven. Please join us in praying for his wife Ofelia and his children and grandchildren, the VOM President Jim Dau and the Board of Directors. This event certainly makes us sober-minded. I am grateful for the spiritual covering of the Spirit of Martyrdom Board of Directors, our home church Senior Pastor Robb Williams, and other spiritual leaders that offer Godly wisdom, accountability and guidance. The greatest gift I can ask of all of you as partners in ministry, are your prayers for myself, the staff and the Board of Directors to stay close to Jesus in mind, body, soul and strength as we serve the living martyrs of Christ around the world.