There’s still a lot of fight, in John Westley White
Written by Administrator
Tuesday, 22 November 2011 19:18
There are days in our lives, maybe today for some; where the car is stuck in two-hour- 0 MPH – construction- big trucks all around traffic – when a vapor of steam suddenly oozes out, tripping an engine light to snap on. Then there are days (or probably not) when the mailman brings a letter, whose contents say that it’s all been a big mistake and that the $10,000 refund cheque is enclosed…. But what about a day when my good friend Ben Robinson calls, and just says, as plain as day:"Hey, do you want to head over with me to meet John Wesley White and maybe write about it?" What did I say – or more importantly; what did I think…. I thought of decades gone by, and crusades, and Billy Graham, and lots of people; Dr. White’s clear raspy voice, and, my mum.
We knocked on the door, waited a minute, heard a small shuffle; and there he was. A face I had seen many times before; answering the door, with his gentle wife Kathleen (complete with her good and proper Irish accent).
From there, Dr. White – "Dr." – as in the PHD, Oxford, tons of intelligence type – graciously allowed me to call him John, welcomed us in, and had us sit down. As those who know Dr. White suffered with a major stroke in 1996 in Tennessee; however, what first struck me that day, was God’s magnificent presence in this man’s life. As we sat there, and Kathleen cheerfully wove one homespun anecdote after another about their long and full lives together (complete with Chang the family mop – dog, curled up oblivious to us in a basket by the window); I admit to having felt nervous about how to communicate with Dr. White, as his speech is restricted. I needn’t have bothered.
Within a few minutes of sitting down, I had asked if he would sign a copy of his latest book –Suddenly Silenced – to which he left the room, only to appear a moment later, sit down, and write: "To Ian, from John and Kathleen," with his left hand. The time and attention taken to write this short note endeared me to the man, much more that can be expressed. And then something both unusual and amazing happened.
When I finally got around to asking this real Christian a question: "What is one day in your life that you would like to live over again?" – he took the book out of my hand, thumbed it over for a couple of minutes; and then, pointed to a section on a page and asked me to read it. The answer: The day he met Billy Graham. He gave his answers from then on, by pointing to them in his book. Incomparable. God’s grace, Incomparable. From there, we talked a few minutes, and as Kathleen told me happily of their marriage day and other innocent stories; it struck me sad how things have changed in our world. Marriage treated by many as a joke, disregard of God, materialism,… not to mention the hundreds of other isms and etc’s. And yet here was this couple, sitting close together on the family couch, content; with a clear and time-tested marriage bond.
As the afternoon passed slowly and calmly, I felt blessed to be sitting with these two dear people. From John, I got warmth, energy, humility, a sincere interest in Ben and I, and a delight in what was transpiring; not to mention a unique and disarming laugh sprinkled generously throughout our talk. From Kathleen, among many other things, I got a beautiful answer to one of my questions: "Name one person who you would really like to have a conversation with?" to which she responded immediately: "One person? – my father. He was a godly man. I never saw him get angry. He hated sin; but, loved the sinner." It hardly came as a surprise to me when a week later, while reading his book, I came across this statement from John: "During our third week in Belfast in 1952, I met the most beautiful woman in the world. I fell in love."
As the hours passed, and the questions, answers, comments, responses and the like did the same; I was for the second time taken aback by a sudden moment. In a lull in the conversation, Dr. White suddenly – and spirit filled – said words to the effect of: "After the stroke, I could only say one word: ‘Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!’" I was sitting about three feet from and directly in front of him when he said this; and the intensity and sincerity of the words, were supercharged hot, and unmistakably clear! The man who had been to and preached on seven continents and 100 countries; and had spoken to many thousands of people – one million on one day alone! – had just moved me deeply, with the simple statement; that the only word he could say after the stroke, was – "Jesus!
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The Annual Church & Charity Law Seminar ("Seminar") is in its eighteenth year and is hosted by Carters Professional Corporation ("Carters"), a law firm with experience in advising churches, charities, and not-for-profit organizations both nationally and internationally. This year’s Seminar will be held on Thursday, November 10, 2011. The Seminar normally sells out by the end of October, with an excess of 800 people in attendance. Readmore
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