Last week, news stories about Randy White and Eddie Long had special meaning to me because there is a Matthew 18 story, which I have not revealed until now, where it says to go to your brother privately.
Bishop Eddie Long announced last week that he settled with four young men who accused him of having homosexual relations. Long had said he was innocent and would fight the allegations, but he settled for an undisclosed amount so "his ministry could go on." You can read more here.
The other news item was former Pastor Randy White who was picked up on driving under the influence in Tampa, Fla. You can read a secular report with the sad details. Suffice it to say, at one time, Randy was one of the brightest young pastors whose vision to reach Tampa with innovative ministries brought him a lot of accolades from civic and religious leaders. We once featured him and his ex-wife, Paula, on the cover of Ministry Today. It's so sad because, for reasons we'll never know, White let all that influence and potential go down the drain.
What wasn’t known until now is that in the late 1990s, I called Randy and asked to meet with him privately to share a concern. We both drove to the small Disney town of Celebration, Fla., about halfway between where we each lived. Over lunch I told him I was concerned that his success seemed to be promoting pride and he should be careful lest he fall. He thanked me for caring enough to come to him. He responded humbly and said he'd take the warning. I felt I had done what God wanted me to do and forgot about it.
In 2006, I heard rumors about Bishop Long allegedly being involved in homosexuality. Long had built a great church in Atlanta. We once featured him on the cover of Charisma and his influence went far beyond Atlanta. I had great respect for him and published one of his books.
Since he was speaking at a large expo we were sponsoring a few weeks later, I felt I needed to talk to him. I tried repeatedly to make an appointment to warn him that there were rumors and to ask if they were true. He refused to talk to me and cancelled the speaking engagement. Saddened, I just quietly took his book out of print and withdrew any support we had given him.
Only God, those young men and Long know if the charges are true. If they are, I hope he's truly repented and will lead his congregation in righteousness and humility. Thankfully, he continues to say homosexuality is wrong and he desires to serve the Lord.
White, on the other hand, seems to have left the ministry. The last I heard, he was involved in celebrity fundraising events for secular charities and turned over the pastorate of Without Walls International Church to Paula. I haven't talked to him in years so I don't know where he is spiritually. But getting a DUI is not a good sign. I pray he'll get help before it's too late.
Contrast that to two other ministers I was with in the past week. In my last Strang Report, I told about how Pastor Ron Phillips gave his testimony of receiving the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and then ministered powerfully at Expolit, the leading Spanish book trade show in Miami. A few days later, I was in Cleveland, Tenn., to interview Perry Stone for an upcoming article in Charisma. Both men have built impressive ministries with national impact through television. But both have remained humble and free of even a hint of scandal.
Regardless of the details, the stories of White and Long have been an embarrassment to the body of Christ. Let's thank God that there are still ministries like Perry Stone and Ron Phillips. In the difficult times we live in, we need godly leaders to lead the church and to not give the enemy more opportunity to bring disrepute to the name of Jesus.