- (Photo: WWIC via The Christian Post)
Three years after stepping down as senior pastor of Without Walls International Church, Randy White returned last week to help restore and rebuild the Tampa, Fla., church.
"We've gone through trials and tests and storms ... and we can dwell on that if we'd like. But not this preacher!" he told the congregation on Sunday. "Forget the past. I forget everything we've been going through. I stand flat-footed in this pulpit and say there's a brighter day coming!"
For the last three years, Without Walls has been led by White's ex-wife, Paula White. The two had founded the church together in 1991 and grew it to be one of the largest churches in the country. But reports of trouble began surfacing in 2007. The couple divorced that year and Randy White took the lead at the church as Paula White pursued her own ministry works.
Amid mounting debt and a shrinking congregation, Randy White gave the leadership to his ex-wife in 2009. He cited health concerns for his resignation.
He's now back.
He returned to the pulpit last Wednesday and preached at Without Walls' two services on Sunday.
"I know this church has been through a lot," he said as he preached from Nehemiah. "I began to scratch my head and ask 'Lord, why is that?' Because the devil wants to destroy this ministry.
"But we have to understand that no weapon formed against us ... shall prosper."
During his sermon, he rejected reports that he and his ex-wife were fighting all the time. "That is not the case whatsoever," he stated emphatically.
"In fact, we get along great."
"Life happens," he continued. "The devil gets behind stuff. But the devil is a liar."
He assured the congregation that Paula White "cares very much for this church" but that "she's been so busy in Orlando."
White was named senior pastor of New Destiny Christian Center near Orlando late last year after the sudden death of its founding pastor, Zachery Tims. White has been leading the megachurch since January while still serving as senior pastor at Without Walls.
Currently, Paula's White name is no longer listed on the staff directory of Without Walls. Randy White, however, is listed as a pastor. WWIC did not immediately respond to a request seeking clarification on Randy White's new role.
Both preachers subscribe to the controversial teaching known as the "prosperity gospel."
"I told her (Paula) I'm gonna get in here and help," he explained on Sunday. "We're gonna build this church and we're gonna see what the Lord is going to do."
"It could be that we get property on the West Coast, the East Coast, through all of central Florida," he said. "And we can have a big church meeting in Lakeland."
Late last year, reports indicated that Without Walls' sister church in Lakeland was abandoned. Electricity was cut off due to missing payments and a worship service has reportedly not been held at the property for months.
Randy White announced Sunday that their debt has been reduced from millions of dollars to now $300,000 (excluding the mortgage) and that he plans to "retire all debt" by the 15th of July with the help of the congregation.
He also reported that they sold a "large piece of property that's going to allow the church to build a new sanctuary."
"Can you imagine walking into that lobby and the first thing you see is escalators taking you up to a brand new sanctuary, with no poles and making all this (current sanctuary) education facilities?" he described.
Future plans also include a commercial kitchen to serve the poor and the housing of various programs such as an AA support group.
"This will be a lighthouse to the community," he stated. "Mark this: there will be a day when every seat is filled, every bill is paid and this church will be known for restoration and evangelism. This church will be known that if they're broke they can come here and feel comfortable. We will reach the lost."
Though the church is facing some tough times, White reminded the congregation how they started and how much they've overcome.
"Look around. Look what God has done," he said as he urged the congregation to support the ministry financially.
Without Walls will be celebrating 21 years of ministry on July 15. White said he plans to share his "whole testimony" and "all the hell" he's been through over the last five years. But it won't be a "woe is me" talk, he clarified. It will be about God's mercy and grace.
"I want you to know we're back. We're back!"
White has an upcoming book titled Only God Knows Why.