The Voice of the Martyrs Executive Director Tom White has passed away, the organization announced Wednesday, April 18.
White was a central presence in the VOM set-up and served at the ministry for over 20 years. He worked alongside the VOM co-founders, Richard and Sabina Wurmbrand and helped the VOM grow throughout the 20 years he served.
"All of our hearts are heavy at this loss, and most of all heavy for Ophelia, Tom's loyal help-mate through years of ministry... and for his children and grandchildren," ministry leaders are recorded as saying in a statement on the VOM website.
The Wurmbrands founded VOM in 1967 after Richard was imprisoned for 14 years in Romania for expressing his Christian faith. In addition, Sabina was held for three years, and it was only upon their release that they came to the United States.
According to the VOM website, White taught English in the Cayman Islands in the 1970s; in 1979 his private plane crashed in Cuba. He was sentenced to 24 years in a Cuban prison and suffered great brutality at the hands of the police. However, it also provided him the opportunity to meet other leaders of the targeted Christian churches.
He wrote about his experiences in the book God's Missiles Over Cuba: The Tom White Story. White also met the love of his life, Ofelia, whom he called his "quiet little Costa Rican angel" in prison.
White was freed from the Cuban prison after Fidel Castro received international pressure and personal appeals from Mother Theresa and other leaders. Since his experiences, he has held a soft spot for Cuban Christians, who have faced persecution in the country.
"Pray that [Christians] continue to exhibit the same kind of courage in their poverty," he told the Christian Post in 2008. "They knock the walls out of their houses and convert them into little house churches. Pray that they continue to be inspired and have creativity."
The Voice of the Martyrs is a non-profit, interdenominational Christian organization that provides support to those Christians in foreign countries. Its mission is founded on Hebrews 13:3, which states "Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body."