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Reflections | Dr. Leighton Ford (Mentoring)

John Wesley White: Silenced No More

September 8, 2016

John Wesley White BG

John Wesley White can preach again as of last Sunday evening.

Although he may not need to preach, since there are quite a few preachers where he went – heaven!

He will, however, be able to speak of his love for his Kathleen who preceded him to the Lord.

John was an evangelist suddenly silenced years ago by a stroke just as he was about to preach at a crusade in Tennessee. Since then he could say only a few words clearly.

He was my friend and classmate at Wheaton College. We played hockey together. Prayed together with other guys most afternoons. We chuckled at his eccentricities, like wearing a bowler hat and a blue Burberry overcoat, and washing his dirty clothes by stomping them in the bathtub!

He was an unforgettable character. When he graduated before us he went to Ireland to preach and there at a street meeting spotted lovely Kathleen and was speechless then too. He wrote that they married in the arch of Westminster Abbey as Big Ben tolled in the New Year.

That was wedding number two. They had already been married a few days before in her chapel in Belfast!

He was brilliant, earning two PhD’s from Trinity in Ireland and Oxford. And he was as passionate in his preaching and heart to bring others to know his Savior as much as anyone I have ever known. He traveled and preached incessantly for years, often with little monetary reward, until I introduced him to Billy and he became part of the Graham team.

My biggest appreciation is that he introduced me to Jeanie. He told me when we were Wheaton students that he was not getting anyplace with this farm girl from North Carolina. And then arranged a double date to a hockey game. He took Jeanie as his date so I could meet her. So I had to invite him to be an usher in our wedding.

After his stroke we would sometimes talk by phone, occasionally in person. He had an infectious chuckle even when his words would not come out straight. But always, when we ended, he would burst out, clear as a bell, four words: “Jesus Christ is Lord”!

Yes he is, John. And now you have seen him face to face.

And I think I can hear your words from heaven.


And countless others know that, John, thanks to you.

john wesley white book cover

Leighton Ford

Photo credit: Billy Graham Evangelistic Association

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