Meet Anita J. (Smith) White, LCC ’72, the Alumni Spotlight for June.
I served in ministry alongside my husband, Dr. Leslie L. White, LCC ’71, LCS ’83, LCS ’88, former trustee ’06-’08, ’08-’13, for 41 years. Six years ago that all changed. Les had developed Early Onset Alzheimer’s and passed away in January 2013, having been diagnosed only 11 months prior. Life and ministry as I had experienced it up to that point changed. I strongly felt that even though Les’s life on earth was over, I was still here, so God still had purposes for me to fulfill. Les’s death had impressed on me that time is truly a gift from God. I didn’t want to waste a single day of the opportunity to live for Christ. I wanted to be open to His leading.
My love and focus had always been working with children and youth. I had shied away from leading women’s ministries. I soon discovered that God was now nudging me in that direction—mentoring women 1:1 in their faith! Within a week of Les’s funeral, Eva, a former teacher colleague of mine, asked if I would do a Bible Study with her. I declined at the time, my mind whirling with the new reality of life without my husband and all the details that it entailed. A month later she asked again, mentioning that she had in the meantime asked another strong Christian to help her learn about the Bible, but she had declined as well. Immediately I accepted, realizing that I could not be the second person to turn away someone sincerely seeking the Lord. Initially I had the attitude that I was doing this for Eva’s benefit, but it is evident to me now that God never intended for the other Christian to accept this assignment; He intended it all along to be for Eva’s and my mutual benefit! It has been six years and we have developed a deep spiritual bond.
Within the next 6 months, my cousin Diana expressed to me her desire to come back to a relationship with Jesus. She lives a distance from me, so we began a long distance Bible Study that has worked beautifully! We each study the week’s lesson individually, then discuss it together over the phone. As cousins we have always been close, but studying and applying God’s word together has taken our relationship to a far deeper level.
Two other 1:1 relationships have also developed. I meet bi-weekly with a 90 year old retired missionary whose husband has passed away. She knew I did 1:1 studies with others, and asked if I would come to her house to study the Bible. In this case, I am the one privileged to be mentored by her! God knows our needs! My former hairdresser is a younger woman who has accepted Christ, but has only a few Christian friends, so we meet every 4-6 weeks just to talk about any topic she wants. She desires a Christian viewpoint to keep her on the right path and growing.
In closing, if you find yourself in a transitional stage of life as I was six years ago, embrace the reality that life changes, ministry changes, but God is constant. He’s not done with us yet!