- (Photo: Without Walls via The Christian Post)
- (Photo: Without Walls via The Christian Post)
Without Walls Pastor Randy White revealed on Sunday the "hell" that he's been through over the last five years, including a battle with depression, an addiction to prescription drugs and being the subject of an IRS investigation.
"Five years ago – I know some of you really want to hear it – I started a downward spiral," the Florida pastor told thousands during Without Walls International Church's 21st anniversary service. "I emphatically, unequivocally believe it was a satanic attack, one like I've never witnessed before."
"And I believe it's because the fact that we were doing so well and the enemy wanted to take and silence our voice," he said.
White had been leading Without Walls with his then wife Paula until the power couple announced their divorce in 2007. The Tampa church had grown to be one of the largest churches in the country but the congregation began to dwindle as the Whites faced media scrutiny, debt and personal struggles.
Randy White, who returned to the pulpit at Without Walls last month after having left in 2009, chose to detail some of his struggles to the congregation on Sunday.
He recalled seeing IRS agents in his home five years ago and being accused of failing to file taxes.
"Now I knew that was a lie because I knew that we were being scrutinized every year by the government and I knew that we had to always be squeaky clean," he told attendees. "They said we can't find your tax report."
That was the start of the "downward spiral" in his life, said White.
An investigation was launched and White said it cost him personally $250,000.
The Whites' ministry was among five other ministries under a Senate probe, led by Sen. Charles Grassley, in 2007. The ministries – which included organizations led by Creflo Dollar, Eddie Long, Kenneth Copeland, Benny Hinn and Joyce Meyer – were being questioned for opulent spending and possible abuse of their tax-exempt status.
The probe came to an end last year with cooperation from a couple of the ministries – Hinn and Joyce implemented financial reforms. No penalties were handed out.
"At the end of all that all I got was a little paragraph that said we found no fault, you're completely clear," White recounted. "They didn't say we're sorry."
He claimed on Sunday that his tax file went missing because someone had deleted it. He said an IRS employee erased the file out of anger over his wife disclosing "intimate things" to White during their counseling session.
Following the probe, White said he found few friends to turn to as many left the church and some betrayed him.
"If you've ever been in leadership you know what it is to really believe in people and then they just rip your heart out!" he expressed.
The long-time pastor who's been preaching for 39 years went on to talk about his addiction to prescription drugs – which came after his best friend went to prison for life, one of his children was molested by a church staff member, and he suffered a stroke.
He was given Xanax and a few other drugs by his doctors for his depression.
"In all my life they preached against medicine and I felt bad but I had to take something!" he explained to his congregation. "I was at the end of my rope."
He admitted that he didn't study what the drugs were and said he wasn't aware they could be addictive.
"I can't be addicted! I'm the preacher!"
After a year on the drugs he had to go to rehab.
His daughter's death was "the final nail on the coffin." Kristen Renee was diagnosed with brain cancer when she was 28. She died at age 30 in 2008.
Recounting the day she died, he said, "Doctors said we have to pull the plug. I have to give permission as my daughter's there, as we stop the power. It took so long for her heart to stop beating. When it finally stopped, my daughter Angie yelled out a blood curdling scream I'll never forget: 'Why God!'"
"I asked the same question," White confessed. "I got mad and I shook my fist at God and I said I'll never serve You again. I said this I spit in your face."
The aim of his testimony, he indicated, was to show that God restored him and that God will help restore Without Walls as well.
"With all of that, including attempted suicide, this preacher stands here today and says the God that I serve is a God of restoration!" he exclaimed.
"We gotta get up."
As a symbol of his letting go of the past and of his return, White stood in front of thousands and washed his face with a towel.
"I wash all the junk from my life," he said. "What the enemy meant for tragedy, Randy White, Without Walls is coming back triumphant."
"You're looking at a man that's been through a lot. I only told you a little bit. But I can stand here and say I'm forgiven, it's His grace, ... and mercy. My heart's pure, my hands are clean."
"Devil you are defeated!"
White did not mention his divorce during his testimony.
In telling his story, White said he also wanted the attendees to know that leaders are not perfect.
"It's time we stop looking at people perfect and understand ... had it not been for the grace of God where would I be."
According to White, a part of the Without Walls property is being sold for $4.4 million to a condominium developer, which will help lower the church's debt. He further announced that he would personally be giving $10,000 to the church and urged congregants to help reach the goal of $300,000 to "pay off all accounts payable debt." Responding to the media on why he asks for offerings so frequently, he said simply, "We need it."
For the last three years, Without Walls' lead pastor was Paula White but her name has been removed from the staff directory in recent weeks. Paula White has been preaching at New Destiny Christian Center near Orlando. She was named the new senior pastor there late last year after its founding pastor was found dead in a hotel.
Paula White also gave a revealing account of her trials in recent years, including her divorce from Randy White, during a leadership conference in 2011. She delivered a similar testimony, saying what the devil meant for good, God turned around to work for the good.