I’ve recommended the Voice of the Martyrs newsletter on this blog before. If you took my suggestion to heart, then you probably also received a letter in the last few days informing you that Tom White, the long-time head of VOM, had committed suicide, presumably because of allegations that he had inappropriate contact with a young girl. Allegations can be true or false, of course, but given his actions…
Tom White accomplished great things in life for the Church. He was the author of the autobiographical book God’s Missiles over Cuba – the summary of the book from Goodreads should give you some idea of the man.
Imprisoned for 17 months, Tom White survived to tell the thrilling story of God’s suffering church behind the Sugar Cane Curtain. In the 1970’s, the threat of missiles from Fidel Castro’s Cuba was one of America’s great fears. Castro’s fear is of another kind of missiles. For seven years, Tom White led a massive gospel invasion of Cuba to bring the peace of God to this downtrodden island in the Caribbean. More than 400,000 pieces of Christian literature–missiles of love–were either dropped from the sky or carried ashore by the sea. On May 27, 1979, his plane crashed on a Cuban highway. Brutal treatment from the secret police, months of solitary confinement, and the twenty-four-year sentence of a kangaroo court form the backdrop of this fascinating story. In this school of suffering, at Combinado del Este Prison, the author met and worshiped with the suffering Cuban church. This is not a story of the triumph of a person over a system. It is a dynamic eyewitness account of God’s conquering love, of God’s faithful protection, and of God’s patient instruction in Castro’s hell.
Some readers will know that I interned one summer at VOM in undergrad. I didn’t interact a lot with Tom – VOM was a decent sized organization then (bigger now), and interns and presidents are at opposite ends of the pecking order! But he did get to know us all a bit, and I remember having dinner at his home one evening. I remember him telling the sweet story of meeting his future wife, in Costa Rica, when he did not speak Spanish well and his wife-to-be did not speak English! I’m not very good at empathy, but I’m especially remembering her now.
Great men are still flawed men.