Tom White: What Happened (and What Might We Learn)

Tom white what happened to Tom White vom

Tom White has been the face of Voice of the Martyrs for the past two decades. With Tom White as its head, the ministry of Voice of the Martyrs increased exponentially.  What will happen next to that ministry is in the Lord’s hands (which is the best place for it to be).

The tragic details of Tom White’s death are just now coming to light. I searched two days for answers after first learning of White’s death on Wednesday. His death was so sudden. It seemed something had to be wrong.

As it turns out, something was wrong indeed. Word is now leaking out from Bartlesville, OK (headquarters of Voice of the Martyrs) that Tom White was being investigated for inappropriate relations with a young girl.  The official blog page from Voice of the Martyrs has posted an announcement admitting there were allegations and acknowledging that those circumstances apparently led Tom White to take his own life.

I do not report this gladly. I have wept over the tragedy. Tom White has been a great influence in my life and has shaped to some degree my desire to know the persecuted church of Christ. I have fond memories of an evening I was able to spend with him in Cincinnati. Between the various courses of sushi, we spoke of the church in Iran, Pakistan, Vietnam, Laos, China, and Iraq. His knowledge of particular examples of persecution was unparalleled. Even more edifying was his ability to recount example after example of Christians being wise as serpents yet innocent as doves in the face of horrendous suffering. I told my wife that night that I hope to be like that some day—able to unfold global gospel encounters one after the other as an encouragement to all believers.

Sadly, I can now be reminded of an even more crucial lesson from Tom White. The evil one prowls like a lion seeking whom to devour. Sin is not limited to the down and out. Sin is capable of destroying any of us, and, certainly, the evil one desires for it to ruin pastors and leaders—striking the shepherd in hopes of causing the sheep to flee. It is an old strategy—but still a terribly effective one.

My response to all of this is not to doubt Voice of the Martyrs and most definitely NOT to doubt ministry to the persecuted church. My response is to remember that the real battle we must win is the personal battle over sin and death. Or, better put, we must remember the battle Christ has won over sin and over death and remain extremely close to Him. May the Lord bring His miraculous power to Tom White’s family, especially his wife and children. May the Lord remind us all to pray diligently for our pastors and leaders.

29 thoughts on “Tom White: What Happened (and What Might We Learn)

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  1. That is truly heartbreaking. But our focus on God Himself and to be aware of sin’s temptation around and even in us needs constant reminders to myself. I’ll pray for he family.


  2. May Tom Rest in Peace. Once again, as our father Adam did not ‘shomer’ the garden but let his guard down and the subtle one got it. Oh how crafty the adversary is. For all the rest of us, Examine Yourselves daily!!!! The corruptors days are coming to an end, but it won’t be pretty. As we can see from yet another comrade in arms. Tom White.


  3. Too many tears to comment much right now. All I can say is my heart goes out to his family and the young girl and her family if the allegations are true. They all need our prayers right now as does the persecuted church. Please do not stop givng to V.O.M and praying for our brothers and sisters who are being persecuted.


  4. I too was shocked to hear of the passing of Tom White. While I didn’t really know him, I did have the opportunity to talk with him at the VOM headquarters in Bartlesville. He had a true heart for Christ and our persecuted brothers and sisters.

    This morning I heard about allegations of inappropriate relations with a young girl. I am still a bit shocked, but not shaken. I’ve learned a while back to trust Christ when I’ve experienced Church leadership fall into moral failures. I see my own failures daily and sometimes forget that those in leadership positions are very vulnerable to temptations (a reminder that I’m not the only sinner on earth). I do not say this as some relief for myself, but that as a long time supporter of VOM and other ministries, I have not prayed as often as I should for their leadership. Part of the reason is I feel they must have their lives solidly together in Christ.

    I still hope the allegations are false for the sake of Christ, His church and the White family.

    Whatever comes out, I still believe Tom White was a great man of God. What pushed/pulled him (if the allegations are true) to this sin and subsequent suicide is a sad reminder that none of us is so safe that we can put down our guard; we need to pray for our church leaders; for we rarely know the struggles and temptations hurled at them.

    May the Lord bring good from this; may that young girl not reject Christianity because of this; may there be healing for all affected parties.


  5. Ahhhm an accusation so there must be something to it. Muslims, No. Korean officials, etc. have all threatened Tom and VOM with death. How easy to make an accusation which the police must follow up and then kill Tom making it look like a suicide. Police are now saying they are not sure it is a suicide. Tom just came back from China and suddenly he falls for a 10yr old little girl? Those Christians who accept this charge at face value are on dangeroous ground before the Lord!


    1. I went to church with Tom’s family in the 70’s & 80’s. I find the accusation hard to believe. I find the suicide hard to swallow.

      Thank you for speaking up.


  6. Ken,
    While I certainly appreciate your concern for our not reaching hasty conclusions–especially in light of the fact that Christians are very often accused of heinous crimes against the state in order for state authorities to condemn them–I cannot in this case go along the conspiracy angle. I really wish I could (believe me). I would love to think of Tom White’s innocence in all of this. However, I did not receive my information from news media or outside voices. I received the information directly from those who worked most closely with Tom White at Voice of the Martyrs. I remain grieved, yet faithful, in the face of this great sadness. Like you, I entrust justice to our God.


    1. How about finding out if there really IS a little girl and her family? I have heard a report that it was his grandaughter! How about compassion for the full report? Waiting till it comes out? Besides, WHO does not have coompassion for the little girl even if she exists??? Are you trying to say that someone who doubts the initial story has no compassion for the little girl? Why/how would anyone come to that conculsion???


  7. Read this month’s new VOM magazine. Read Tom White’s letter. I may be wrong, but it appears to me that the mystery is over. I felt it had to be someone he knew well and worked with the family. Does anyone else get it?

    But, now. is the allegation true? Now I really wonder.


  8. VOM needs to come clean with those who’ve supported it, and also to the community that has hosted it. A ministry needs first of all to be loyal to God, and transparent, not behaving secretly in order to protect itself. And let’s all please remember that leadership in ministries are servants, not icons or idols.


      1. If you are talking about Tom White, aka Roland Lamb….it is on police record he was a peeping Tom. Also, you might ask yourself the question, if he wasn’t guilty of molesting his 10 yr old female relative, why did he suddenly commit suicide as soon as it was reported to the Bartlesville PD?
        There are many predators sitting right next to valid Jesus believing, God fearing Christians in churches all over this country. They are wolves in sheep’s clothing.
        There have been much exposed about Tom White, and much has been covered up. Guesswork and surmising doesn’t count.


  9. SCARLETT – YOU ARE RIGHT ON. Stop the detectives trying to figure it out to make sense of it; I admit to being one of those. VOM-PLEASE TELL US WHAT HAPPENED…THOSE OF US WHO HAVE GIVEN THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS T O YOUR MINISTRY OVER THE YEARS DESERVE TO KNOW.


    1. Upon reflection;

      Hate to be a “Doubting Thomas” but in truth until there is an eyewitness account that stands up in a court of law there is no proof of what happened with Tom. It just seems strange to me that he suddenly turned into a pedophile. Doesn’t ti to you? We are all under temptations but we are not all under death threats as Tom was. From governments!

      I am very saddened by the Christians who are so ready under the above circumstances – including those at VOM – to accept as fact the above charges without an actual investigation by the authorities. You do realize that they are still investigating. If the girl and her family do not testify in court there is no decision.

      My daughter who is in health care noted that it is very possible to drug someone these days and drive them to all kinds of acts that can include leaving notes behind. It is a weapon governments use. Remember Wurmbrans’s writings and others about such uses of drugs.

      That the Christian community is so ready to accept initial reports at face value (like the blacks about Zimmerman) is shameful. That’s why I stated that it is dangerous to do. Mercy to those who give mercy, let him who is without sin cast the first stone, etc. It would be interesting indeed to view the sexual thought -ife of those here on this blog who are so quick to assume a position of judgment on Tom.

      IF the stories ARE true about Tom I refulse to cluck, cluck about it and I wish to bear his shame and pain with him – to bear his burden. I would like to hold him in my arms and stand wiith him and encourage him to repent and and receive mercy. Since that is not actually possible since he is dead and I cannot, at least at this time, know the details of what happened with some degree of certainty,

      The idea that we are owed an explanation from VOM because we gave money to them is nonsense on the face of it. Tom is not accused of stealing money or using it wrongly.


      1. I realize this was over a decade ago, but abuse doesn’t care about the passage of time.

        The fact that zero of your words show compassion for a victim really says a lot. I hope you have changed, though your reference to “the blacks” makes me think it’s unlikely. You’re the reason victims don’t come forward. Yes, you. Specifically and generally. You shame a young girl. A child. While you claim to want to “protect children”. No. No you don’t. I doubt you ever reflected on this. Or anything else.


  10. Ken, that was very nice and thoughtful. Thank you.I, too,would like to stand with him . We are are sinners saved by grace.

    A friend just sent me a link to Wade Burleson’s blog. He is a SB preacher. He was very sympathetic to the girl in a letter he wrote on his blog last week. Today he received a call from the girl’s father who thanked him for the letter. With the father’s permission, he recounted as much of their conversation as he could. It is very encouraging for the family.


    1. Ken said…

      Dear Wade,

      And you know for sure that the man on the phone is who he says he is how??

      I don’t doubt your sincerity, just your knowledge.

      Your “I know things I can’t disclose” line while perhaps true, is not compelling.

      Hate to be picky, but epistemology is a bear.

      Tue May 01, 08:04:00 AM 2012


  11. Thanks for the on-going concern for light to shine on this process. In case you missed it, I am posting here VOM’s latest response which indicates that the ministry has been in contact with the young girl’s family. Thank you, Catchicksme, for your insightful link on the subject of this little girl.

    From VOM:

    In VOM’s work we often think of I Corinthians 12:26, which tells us that if one part of Christ’s Body suffers, the other parts feel that pain as well. VOM staff members usually think of this verse in relation to our persecuted brothers and sisters. But in the past 10 days we have been suffering, and so many within the Body of Christ have reached out to support us.

    Every member of the staff at The Voice of the Martyrs has been encouraged and blessed by the incredible outpouring of prayer, love and support from our readers and ministry friends. So many have called, written or posted encouraging comments via social media. Thank you.

    Many have asked about the young girl who reported the allegations of abuse, and her family.

    Both her family and the White family have asked VOM to respect their privacy during this time and not comment on specifics of the investigation. After listening to both families, and because the alleged activity did not take place at VOM and was unrelated to Mr. White’s work with the ministry, VOM’s leadership believe it is appropriate to honor their request [prior to issuing this statement VOM asked members of both families to review it].

    We have been in continual prayer for the healing and restoration of this child, her family and the White family since the tragic events unfolded last week. As you continue to pray for VOM, we hope you’ll join with us in lifting up these two families as well. Their pain and suffering is difficult to imagine.

    May the God of peace rule our hearts and minds.


  12. I knew Tom and his family for years. This is very unlike Tom to take such a drastic measure.

    I wonder (honestly) if he saw this as the end of VOM and he gave his life for the ministry as an ultimate sacrifice.

    Logic dictates that he should have stepped down from VOM brass and then dealt with the allegations on his own time without involving the ministry.

    All I know is that I am NOT God to determine this or to judge Tom. I will continue to pray for VOM and give them my money. I will continue to pray for his family and his soul.

    Tom was a very good man and he did more than most Christians combined would do in a lifetime of service to Christ.


  13. I, like many of you, received a letter from VOM yesterday. IMO, it missed the mark. It was a copy of James D letter on the website. As a tither to the ministry, I need to know a lot more before I will ever give again. I want to know the truth of what is going on overseas – with all those dear people who have been helped by VOM in their persecution. Perhaps they will reject aid from VOM after finding out about this. I cannot give to a “blind ministry” now. I want them to be completely transparent about the state of affairs globally as far as the ministries to What about Muslim reaction? This is real world stuff.

    This is way off subject, but the subject of Tom’s funeral seems to be verboten. Why? Somewhere – in one of the OK newspapers it was mentioned that thousands attended his funeral. Is that true? If so, why keep it a secret? Aren’t we allowed to love and care for him and his family even though he is a sinner, like us, saved by grace?

    I think the thing I abhor in all of this is the secrecy. VOM, it appears, is just waiting and wanting for this to blow over and disappear.


  14. Well, according to this article, the case is now closed. No information released ever? They don’t even claim to know yet how he died. Must be time to contact Dateline if they are not going to tell the truth. Transparency is necessary in this case for VOM to survive.


  15. I went to church with Tom’s family in the 70’s & 80’s. I find the accusation hard to believe. I find the suicide hard to swallow. His testimony about being imprisoned in Cuba for the cause of Christ casts more doubt on the events leading to his death. He would not be the first to be falsely accused. Nor the last as Justice Kavanaugh will attest to. I publicly declare I doubt the validity of these events. If I am wrong, let us see evidence, not shadows.


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