23 Apr 2012

Tom White: (1947-2012)

20 April 2012
Voice of the Martyrs statement concerning the death of Tom White:

The events of the last week are tragic. On Wednesday we learned that Tom White, VOM USA's executive director, had died.

Allegations were made to authorities this week that Tom had inappropriate contact with a young girl. Rather than face those allegations, and all of the resulting fallout for his family and this ministry and himself, Tom appears to have chosen to take his own life.

None of those in leadership at VOM USA, or at VOM Australia where Tom served as a board member, including our Board of Directors, were aware of these allegations at the time of Tom's death.

There is no doubt that Tom cared about his wife, his children and his grandchildren. And there's no doubt that he cared about VOM.

We are deeply saddened by these events. Our hearts are broken.

However, the work that God has called VOM to do is bigger than any one of us. There are persecuted Christians who need our help. The legal process will go forward, and we will continue serving with our persecuted brothers and sisters.

We appreciate the many who are praying for our work, and we encourage you to join us in praying for Tom's family during this difficult time.

A letter from VOM USA's president will be posted on their website, www.persecution.com next week.

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Walter Thomas White
Born: 29 October 1947, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Died: 17 April 2012, in Bartlesville, Oklahoma

Tom White worked with Voice of the Martyrs for more than 30 years. He served as VOM USA's executive director for more than 20 years, during which time the ministry saw incredible growth in its outreach to the worldwide persecuted church. Under Tom's direction, the ministry relocated its headquarters to Bartlesville, Oklahoma, in 1991.

Tom married Maria 'Ofelia' White of San Jose, Costa Rica, on 8 December 1973, and the couple had two children, Dorothy and Danny.

While teaching English in the Cayman Islands in the late 1970s, Tom made repeated flights over Cuba, dropping hundreds of thousands of Gospel booklets provided by Voice of the Martyrs (then called Jesus to the Communist World). The Gospel drops were a response to Fidel Castro's ordered destruction of 100,000 Bibles, which were ground up in sugar mills. In May 1979, Tom's private plane crashed on a Cuban highway. He was arrested and sentenced to 24 years in prison for his evangelistic work.

During his imprisonment at Combinadodel Este Prison, Tom was able to fellowship with imprisoned leaders of the persecuted church. After many prayers and letters of appeal from US legislators, Mother Teresa and Christians around the world, Tom was released to be reunited with his family on 27 October 1980.

Tom told the story of his work and imprisonment in the book God's Missiles over Cuba. Tom also wrote other books, numerous articles and a monthly column in VOM USA's newsletter, which is distributed to more than 500,000 homes in the United States. In addition, he contributed to the million-selling book Jesus Freaks, written by VOM USA and the Christian music group DC Talk.

Tom travelled to more than 100 countries, including many dangerous areas, in order to meet with and deliver aid to persecuted Christians and to document their testimonies for Christians in the West. He was in high demand as a speaker, sharing stories of the many persecuted Christians he met and worked with in his travels. Just weeks before his death, Tom travelled to China, where he met secretly with underground Bible school students.

Tom received many honours over the years for his heart and diligence in presenting the needs of the persecuted church. In May 2001, Oklahoma Wesleyan University awarded Tom an honorary doctorate of ministry for his work on behalf of persecuted Christians worldwide. This award recognised his lifelong contribution - through books, videos and articles - to the body of knowledge about the modern-day persecution of Christians as well as his call to appropriate Christian study and response.

Tom will be remembered for his ministry service and as a lover of people, adventure, literature, poetry and life. His enthusiasm for life will be missed by all who knew him.

Additional information will be made available at the appropriate time. We deeply appreciate your prayers for Tom's family and for VOM during this time.

Posted: April 18, 2012

Updated: April 20, 2012

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