ARTESIA, N.M. (BP)–Steve White’s life appeared to be a total success. He achieved notoriety as a college basketball player, opened a thriving dentistry practice and had a beautiful family. But then, his mother’s death and an unlikely encounter with a radio preacher convinced White that his future was hopeless unless he committed his life to Jesus Christ.
White’s spiritual journey began more than two decades ago when his mother died of cancer at the age of 44. Prior to her death, his mother called the then-21-year-old White to her bedside and said, “I just want you to know, Steven, that I have accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, but I’m so scared because I do not know that the Holy Spirit has come upon me.”
White attempted to respond with words of comfort, but he left the room totally confused about what his mother had said.
“I walked out of that room and I thought, ‘What is she talking about? Accepting Christ? The Holy Spirit?’ I mean I had no idea,” White recounted. “As a family we never talked about that kind of stuff, never talked about it, so I didn’t know.”
Within a few days, his mother passed away and White forgot all about Jesus Christ and eternal life, convincing himself that his mother was now simply dirt in the ground.
For 24 years, White persisted in his belief that the physical universe is all that exists and convinced himself that Christians were crazy. Then one day, while looking at a picture of his mother, the Holy Spirit reminded White of his bedside conversation more than two decades earlier.
“I’m just standing there looking at an ordinary picture, but I’m stunned. I thought … ‘Wow, my mom really had that Holy Spirit.’ And I thought, for the first time in 24 years, I thought … ‘My mom’s alive today. And not only is she alive, but she has eternal life.’
“But two words kept going over and over in my mind: Jesus Christ. For the very first time in my life, I realized Jesus Christ is for real. For the first time in my life, I realized that Jesus Christ died for you and me and that Jesus Christ is alive today. And I knew it without a doubt, and I had a sense of peace come over me for just a second. Then that peace turned into total terror: Steve White, you do not know Christ. Steve White, you are going to eternal hell.”
Terrified of dying and going to hell, White tried to remember whether anyone had ever told him the way to heaven. His terror escalated when he realized he knew nothing about heaven or Jesus Christ.
“You see, no one had ever witnessed to me,” White said. “The two churches I had occasionally gone to, the Christian churches I had occasionally gone to, had never once emphasized that you must be born again, that you must call on the name of Jesus to get to heaven. Not one time did I ever see an altar call where … you tell people how to find Christ.”
After a sleepless night, White still felt terrified over the prospect of going to hell. In an attempt to alleviate the conviction, he headed off to Kansas for a deer hunt with his brother.
Today White can barely remember most of the 14-hour trip, but he does remember thinking repeatedly, “Steve White, you’re a great dad. You’re a great husband. You’re an honest person. You don’t drink. You don’t smoke. You’ve got a big heart. But you’re going to hell. Because you don’t know Jesus, you’re going to go to hell.”
Finally, he reached the point where he could not handle the thoughts any more, and at age 45 he cried out to God. “I just remember I said, ‘Oh God … I need you. Please, please God, show me the way.'”
At that very moment White turned on the radio and heard a preacher explaining how to begin a relationship with Jesus.
“I remember the guy just said, ‘It’s free. It cost Jesus Christ His life, but it’s free to you, and all you have to do is believe with all your heart that Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior and receive Him.’ And I knew right then that my life was fixing to change forever because Steve White gave his entire life. I surrendered every part of my body to Jesus Christ in that truck that night,” White said.
“I physically felt the Holy Spirit fill that hole in my heart. My darkness turned into light like you’ve never before seen in your life.”
White does not know who the radio preacher was that night but he insists, “When I get to heaven I’m going to know him by name. I’m going to look that old boy up, and I’m going to give him one big bear hug.”
Since that day in the truck, White says his life has experienced a series of dramatic changes.
Most importantly, White said, he began to act as the spiritual leader in his home. Previously, his wife had led the children spiritually, but having a Christian father pushed the entire family to newfound Christian maturity.
In one conversation, White’s daughter told him, “Daddy, you know I was always 75 percent sure about Jesus Christ, the Bible and church because Mom would take us to church. There was a part of me that didn’t believe [though], because I knew there was a part of you that didn’t believe. But when you brought Jesus Christ into our home and every time I look into my daddy’s face and I see the Lord glowing in your eyes, I am so at peace because I am 100 percent sure that our whole family is going to heaven.”
Another change in White’s life was a newfound eagerness to tell everyone how to be saved. In one instance, White gave a woman at his dental office Billy Graham’s book, “Peace with God.” She quickly read the book and gave her life to Christ.
“All I can truly say,” White reflected, “is thank you, Lord Jesus.”
White now is a member of the First Baptist Church of Artesia, N.M, where he serves as a deacon.
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: THEN & NOW.