By Sarah Montez —
Todd White joined the Marines to prove to his stepdad he was a man, but on break after boot camp he partied so much with drugs he forgot to report for duty.
“I went home and I stole a bunch of money in a drug deal, went out West and hid in the Rocky Mountains,” Todd says on a YouTube video. “A little while later I got busted and put in jail, extradited across the United States and put into the military prison.”
Today Todd White is a pastor helping myriads of people tripped up by Satan’s snares. But his past was beset with foundering and failure.
He was born out of a hookup when his father came back “messed up” following service in the Vietnam War. Two other siblings arrived from that union and his parents eventually married. It was perhaps inevitable that what started wrong wouldn’t end well, and his parents divorced when Todd was 11.
He was thrown into the foster care system and raised by Free Masons. Frustrated by the breakup of his family, Todd turned to drugs.
“I was rebellious, angry, bitter, so mad,” he says. “I was fully addicted to anything I could get my hands on. It started with weed and it just escalated more and more.”
On a dare from his step dad, he joined the Marines to become a man — and to straighten up his life. Boot camp saw him drop 83 pounds and transform into a lean, mean, fighting machine.
“They kicked my butt,” he says.
Granted leave before he had to report for duty, Todd reverted to partying, drinking and drugs. He fled to the Rocky Mountains, where he eventually got arrested. In the computer system, cops found he was an AWOL Marine and shipped him back to the military to be tried and punished.
After five and half months in a military jail, Todd told his superiors he wanted to quit the Marines. But he had signed up for a period of service and they refused.
So he ran away again.
“I ended up getting arrested again,” he says.
So now the Marines court-martialed him and gave him a dishonorable discharge, a black stain on his record. “Boom. Kicked me out of the military. This is the way I started out my life,” he says. “That’s not too good on a resume.”
Drinking and clubbing, he met a girl and tricked her into thinking he was an amazing guy.
She got pregnant and gave birth to a baby girl. Sadly, Todd was repeating the cycle of hopelessness and broken family that he inherited from his own dad. But the tiny baby in his arms melted his heart and sparked a motivation to seek change.
“When I held my little daughter I was like, I don’t know how to be a dad. I have a lifetime subscription to issues,” he recounts.
No one in Todd’s family was Christian. They were all atheists, not theoretical atheists who think up all the reasons to not believe in God, but practical atheists who live out the consequences of not having God.
“I am lost, and I’m floundering, and I’m hurting, and I’m hurting people,” Todd recounted.
When Todd’s daughter was a couple months old, the mother said she was leaving.
The emotional wallop caused Todd to entertain suicidal thoughts.
“Those thoughts have always been there at times more and more, but now it was like everyday. I became massively depressed and suicidal. Mixed with all kinds of drugs in my body. It was just a twisted life.”
Then his girlfriend announced she was going to leave Todd for another man and he went crazy.
”That’s it,” he responded furiously. “I’m taking them out. I’m taking you out. I will make you watch and then I’m going to take myself out. And then we’re going to leave our daughter with no one.”
Out of fear, his girlfriend stayed — for a time.
When she finally got up the nerve, she left when Todd was out.
”Finally one night I come home and she’s gone,” he recalls. “I said to myself, ‘That’s it. I’m done.’ I drive to her stepdad’s house because he has rifles. I’m going to end my life. I head over to the gun cabinet on the way to the gun cabinet I pass by this ledge with a phone book on it.
Then something remarkable happened. When Todd randomly flipped open the phone book, in God providence it opened to a page displaying churches.
“I’m thinking, this is stupid, yet I drove to the church,” he says. “I needed to talk to somebody.”
“Praise Jesus!” a man said heartily when Todd walked into the church. He began to share Jesus with Todd.
When the man asked Todd to give his life to Jesus, Todd thought, Who would want my life?
“If He wants my life, fine, then, here, He can have it,” Todd told the man, as if his life were a recycled can. Obviously the man was more enthusiastic about Todd’s “conversion” than Todd was himself.
When Todd went home though, he noticed that he no longer wanted to kill himself.
He got his little girl to beg her mother to come back home.
“When she came home, man, was she mad,” Todd says. “I put my daughter to bed and that same night I’m out on a cocaine bid.”
The next morning Todd called the man from church and confessed he’d stumbled into cocaine again. “ Your Jesus didn’t work,” he said.
“How did the cocaine make you feel?” the man replied.
“Horrible,” Todd responded.
“Good for you because that means there’s a seed that growing inside of you,” the man said.
For five and a half months Todd continued to struggle with his addiction to cocaine.
One night, Todd was making a call to his dealer. He didn’t answer. As soon as Todd finished the call and turned around, there was his daughter and girlfriend looking distraught.
“You promised you would never do it again, daddy,” his daughter cried. ”You say it every night you promise and every night you do it again.”
Todd wanted to stop but couldn’t.
That same night, Todd went down to a place where people deal drugs. He planned to steal drugs from someone. He found a young guy in his car, took his cocaine and then “reads him his rights,” as if the kid was being arrested and he was a cop.
“The kid gets out of the car and when I hit the gas he pulled out a nine millimeter gun and unloaded at me,” Todd recounts.
Then he heard an audible voice say: I took those bullets for you. Are you ready to live for me yet?
Like Jonah, Todd tried to run from God and sped out of town. As he drove, he began taking the drugs he had just robbed. To his surprise, he couldn’t get high, no matter how much he consumed.
When he got home in the early morning, he examined the back of his car. There were no bullet holes anywhere. The teenager had fired from a distance of about 10 feet.
Even in his rebellion, God protected him!
His girlfriend kicked him out, but Todd found a place at Teen Challenge, David Wilkerson’s rehab program. He shaved off his hair and submitted himself to God for three months. Twenty-two years of drug addiction ended.
When the prodigal returned home, his daughter ran towards him and his heart melted like never before. All of a sudden, he realized what it meant to be a dad.
“I love you. I’m going to take care of you and provide for you,” he told her.
His girlfriend also came out to greet him.
“I’m so sorry,” he said and begged her forgiveness.
In the fullness of God’s timing, his girlfriend gave her heart to Jesus while he was at Teen Challenge. They later married.
Today, Todd is a motivational speaker and street evangelist with Lifestyle Christianity. He meets lost people on the street and shares the love of Christ with them. His hair is in dreads, which turns off some Christians but gives him credibility on the streets, the main focus of his ministry.
Sarah Montez studies at the Lighthouse Christian Academy in Santa Monica