Voice of the Martyrs is a ministry that supports persecuted Christians around the world. Recently, I opened a letter from them and was shocked to read that 65 year old Tom White, who had led the ministry for the past 20 years, had committed suicide. V.O.M. said that it was discovered that charges were pending against White, a married father and grandfather, by a 10 year old girl of molestation.
It was hard for me to believe that White, who had spent 17 months in a Cuban prison and would have certainly learned about toughness and endurance in harsh conditions, would have taken a permanent, fatal exit.
But then I thought about my own battles with lust and how Satan operates, and got mad. I hate his works.
I don’t know anything of White’s circumstances, but usually it starts when a man is lured into something “innocent,” like “just a little porn.” “One little look won’t hurt,” we’re told; and then we start taking longer looks and adding masturbation to the mix.
Some men don’t go further than this, but many (including me) break through barriers they never thought they would have before. For me it was sex with prostitutes and adultery. Some men cross gender lines or get into child porn.
Then, once they’ve made a train wreck of their lives, the enemy comes in and starts pounding them with lies:
“There’s no hope for you.”
“You’ll never break free from sexual sin.”
“Your marriage won’t survive once she knows.”
“What kind of Christian are you? Look at you! You can’t even stop looking at a few dirty pictures.”
“Once everyone knows what you’ve done it’ll be all over. Marriage, church and job will be history. Everyone will know you’re a freak; a pervert.”
“God won’t forgive you for this. You’ve gone too far.”
If a man bites hard on all of this and doesn’t open up to someone for help, the enemy presses in harder. If he can’t push the man off the deep end with despair, he’ll try to drive his victim to deeper bondage.
I can’t help wondering what would have happened if Tom White would have opened up to just one man he could trust. The enemy must have pounded White with everything he had to keep this from happening.
Another side of the coin is that the church can have a reputation for eating its own. The statistics show that a large swathe of pastors are struggling with porn, yet how many ministry leaders try to do it on their own because they’re terrified that the church will get out the pitchforks and hang them? This doesn’t mean that we should tolerate willful, unrepentant, ongoing sin, but that we should realize that our pastors have the same flesh and weakness that the rest of us do, and may sometimes need help from the people they’ve ministered to.
I for one would love to hear a sermon from a man who isn’t afraid to step out from behind the covering of a sermon and be real. Such a man can offer real answers that will go beyond telling us “don’t do bad things;” I can relate and get behind a man like this.
Had Tom White chosen to press through his circumstances, it might have ended badly for him… from a human perspective. If convicted, he might have done prison time; but that doesn’t mean God would have been done with him, just as the Lord didn’t cast Peter aside after he denied Christ three times. Paul, after all, wrote much of the New Testament from prison. God can use anyone anywhere, even in the toughest circumstances. I know because he’s ministered through me after I made a mess out of my life.
And he can do the same with you.
Mike Genung struggled with sexual addiction for 20 years before God set him free in 1999. He is the founder of Blazing Grace, and the author of The Road to Grace; Finding True Freedom from the Bondage of Sexual Addiction, available at www.roadtograce.net.