Sheriff White keeps walking by faith
JEFFERSON CITY – Sheriff Greg White feels at home behind the wheel of his cruiser as he helps keep Cole County safe, but he feels just as comfortable standing behind a pulpit proclaiming the Word of God to a world that needs forgiveness.
Cole County’s top law enforcement officer, who is a member of Southridge Baptist Church in Jefferson City, recently gave his testimony to the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) staff during their weekly chapel service.
Before coming to Missouri and settling in Jefferson City, White began his law enforcement career, and his life as a Christian, in the cold wilds of Alaska’s Baranof Island.
“I came to Christ when I was 27 in a patrol car in Sitka, Alaska, at the end of the road,” he said.
Although White was physically at the end of the road, he sensed that he was at a crossroads in his life.
“I remember sitting there,” he said. “I turned off everything but the police radio and I prayed, ‘God, I’ve always known there’s a God and now I choose to believe that you are Jesus.’ When I said that and believed it with my whole heart, I knew what ‘born from above,’ ‘converted,’ ‘born again,’ ‘saved’ and all those terms meant in that instant. I knew I was different but I didn’t know what it would mean for me long term.”
White’s coworkers and friends didn’t know for sure what it meant for him either.
“I went back and told my dispatcher what I had done and she said, ‘So?’ At 5:30 that morning I called every Christian I knew in town and told them what had happened. I got responses from ‘Praise the Lord!’ to ‘We’ll see.’”
And they saw. God called White to preach and that’s just what he did. After training under his pastor at First Baptist Church in Juneau for three years, White went out to preach the Word, starting 10 churches in small fishing villages and camps. One church at Hobart Bay was particularly vibrant and experienced revival when the community suddenly dried up and everyone left.
“Sometimes it’s hard to see what God is doing at a given moment,” he said. “I was crushed. This was the real thing: People were getting saved, the church was growing and more than 50 percent of the community was attending.”
Although the church at Hobart Bay – the first church on Prince of Wales Island – was no longer meeting, it spawned six other churches as its former membership spread out. That’s six churches planted from the original four people who met with White at the first meeting at Hobart Bay.
“Sometimes you’ve just got to walk by faith,” he said. “Your responsibility is to follow God. If he has led you to do something, do it. If it’s hard on you, so be it. If it causes controversy, so be it.”
It was that determination to be obedient that led White to run for Cole County Sheriff, even after he lost his first election. White said God told him to run, so he ran.
Seeing God’s vision was White’s focus as he spoke to the MBC staff, citing Proverbs 29:18: “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”
“There are two kinds of vision out there,” White said as he slipped from sheriff mode into his preaching mode. “There’s the vision God brings and there’s vision from any other source. The vision from any other source doesn’t count whether it’s from you, me, the flesh, the world or the Enemy. When we talk about listening for God’s voice, it’s not a joke, it’s a reality. When we talk about living, breathing and walking like a Christian, it’s not an option. We must constantly seek God’s vision. It’s just letting Jesus do what He promised in John 10, ‘My sheep hear my voice, I know them and they follow me.’”