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Prosecutor faces pastor’s ‘provocative question’

[SLIDESHOW=41582,41583]YUKON, Okla. (BP) — As a prosecutor for the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics, attorney Travis White was familiar with asking probing questions and trying to ascertain the truth. However, White wasn’t prepared for “a very provocative question” from Chris Smith, teaching pastor at Yukon Church in Yukon, Okla.

Smith had come by White’s home after the attorney attended Yukon Church the previous Sunday. At the end of the visit, Smith asked White about his relationship with the Lord.

“If you were to die tonight,” Smith asked, “do you know beyond a shadow of a doubt you would go to heaven?”

Even though White answered that question in the affirmative, in reality, he had no such assurance about heaven.

“As a prosecutor, I deal with burden of proof, so having to prove beyond a reasonable doubt really struck a chord with me,” White said. “From that point on, I began to have an ulcer-like experience, which can only be explained by the Holy Spirit bringing conviction on someone.”

White had experienced conviction about his spiritual condition before. It had happened often in his childhood, even though he grew up in a home where no one talked about the church or the Bible.

“Growing up, I went to all kinds of churches with my friends. Walking down an aisle was like a rite of passage, and the first time I did it, I was 12 years old.”

He recounted, “Nothing in my life changed after that, and I didn’t have any direction because I wasn’t a regular member of any church anywhere. I visited every church in the area where we lived, but it was done very haphazardly.”

White was still under conviction about his relationship with the Lord by the time he got to high school. “When I was 15, I went through the process of responding to the invitation again, but I had no real understanding of what I was doing. The Spirit was definitely pulling on me,” he said, “but I had no context, no way of understanding what was happening to me.”

When he went to college, “I went in the opposite direction. I became the pagan everyone was trying to correct. Finally, I decided I needed to change the course of my life, and I sought out a girlfriend I had dated in high school who was very spiritual.”

Hillary, who later became his wife, was a member of Chisholm Heights Baptist Church in Mustang, Okla. “I felt drawn to her,” White said, “because I didn’t want to take the same path in life my parents had taken.”

Not long after Travis and Hillary married, they both agreed they should get involved in a church. When a friend invited them to a church that was just getting started in a community center in Yukon, White was surprised when he went there.

“I didn’t feel like an outsider. In fact, I felt more like an insider, like I was part of the church staff. They asked everyone to help out, to participate, and I really liked that.”

The White family began attending Yukon Church regularly. Wrestling with Smith’s question about his eternal fate, White said, “I thought in order to be closer to the Lord, I needed to start going to church on Sunday, and I needed to start doing things at the church.”

It wasn’t long before White realized his salvation had nothing to do with his own actions. “Within a short amount of time, I was a participant and a contributor to the church, and the result of that was that I began to be exposed to the Word and prayer. For the first time in my life, I was hearing the truth, and I realized salvation wasn’t me doing something.”

He discovered the truth of Ephesians 2:8-9, a verse Smith introduced to him: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

A few months after Smith’s visit to his home, White went to pastor Keith Hinson and asked to be a candidate for baptism. “What I thought about salvation had to be completely rebuilt in my mind,” he said. “It really has nothing to do with what I do.”

White began to experience a change in his life — “a real change in my compassion for people and how I dealt with life’s challenges in general. I had a great desire to know more. I wanted to understand as much as I could possibly understand about the Word of God.”

Today, White teaches a Bible study class at Yukon Church and seeks to reach out to others who have a story like his own. “I love the verses in the book of Acts about the early church,” he said. “One of the most significant things impacting my walk with the Lord is the church.”

White said Joshua 1:7 has become his favorite verse because it deals directly with his role as a prosecutor: “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.”

“I used to be so concerned about what I should be doing, and I would pray and ask God what I should be doing,” White said. But now, he has realized that God isn’t as concerned with “what I’m doing” as whether “I’m doing it for Him.”

    About the Author

  • Luana Ehrlich