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Reggie White: A New Kind of Defender - Many know him as the best defensive lineman who ever played the game of football. But did you also know that he's an author, an ordained minister and co-founder of Urban Hope Ministries? Reggie White recently discussed his faith, career and life after football on The 700 Club.

TERRY MEEUWSEN: So glad you're here, Reggie, God bless you.

G. ROBERTSON: You've been so open with your faith. What does your faith in Jesus Christ mean to you?

REGGIE WHITE (All-Pro Football Player/Author): Well, it's the most important thing in my life. You know, I've always believed since I was a kid that God was gonna allow me to play professional football, to use it as a platform to proclaim and live out the name of Jesus. And, you know, that's the most exciting part about my life because God has done things in me to change my character to benefit the kingdom.

G. ROBERTSON: I was in a South Pacific island and I got the news that you were going to retire. And I know Terry went into a period of mourning.

MEEUWSEN: I'm finally out of black.

G. ROBERTSON: How was the news of your retirement first received?

WHITE: It was received well. I mean, the people in Wisconsin, of course, don't want me to retire yet, but I feel that God is moving me on. Last year I was getting ready to retire and the Lord spoke to me and told me to come back. And you know, I got ridiculed somewhat for even saying God spoke to me and told me to come back. But the Lord proved Himself to me this year because I came back with a back injury.

G. ROBERTSON: You got healed, right?

WHITE: Yes, the Lord healed me later on during the season. And it was frustrating because when I went into training camp, I went to practice with my back hurt. And I was getting ready to walk off the field and say this is it. And I said, 'Lord, You said that You wanted me to come back, so You have got to do something.' And right after that, my back started easing up and I was able to give out a whole season.

MEEUWSEN: You gave a great message this morning at the prayer breakfast here in this area. And one of the things you talked about was just what you're alluding to--that there are times in life when things get tough and we need to stand firmer than ever before. You spoke to the Wisconsin Legislature not too long ago and you really took it on the chin for some of the things that you said. How did that impact you?

WHITE: Well, it impacted me in a way--I mean, you're not used to people being extremely critical of you, particularly being critical of you for proclaiming the truth. But the Lord showed me during that time, 'Reggie, I didn't bring you here to give you a good reputation.' Jesus didn't have a good reputation. And he also reminded me that the Scripture says, 'Woe unto you when men shall speak well of you.' So if everybody is patting us on the back and telling us how great we are all the time, that means we're not doing our job. We're not stirring the pot up. And I think too many of us Christians in America, we want to run away from the suffering when the Bible says we need to run to the suffering because that's where God does His work.

G. ROBERTSON: How has the suffering that you've experienced since that speech improved your spiritual life?

WHITE: One thing that I don't think my critics realize about me is that I've been trained to look adversity in the face. And that's what football has trained me to do number one. Number two, if we continue to back down from the truth, we'll never mean anything to the kingdom. Dr. King said before he died, 'If you don't have a cause to die for, then you have nothing to live for.' And Jesus is our cause. He died for us, so we should be willing to sacrifice our lives for Him and for others and particularly those who are in the kingdom and to bring others into the kingdom. And, you know, it just really opened up another door. One thing that God revealed to me is that we as Christians are going to have to get a portion of the media so that we can present the good news on a major basis the way that they're presenting the bad news on a major basis.

MEEUWSEN: You know, that--can I just say something, insert this in here? There's a lot of half-truth out there that's given in the media. And you really experienced that when you spoke to the Legislature. In what way?

WHITE: Well, I'm continuing to experience it. You know, they said that I was there to honor Ray Nitsche and Don Hudson, who had died last year. Some of the leaders of the Assembly invited me three years ago. They said I was only supposed to be speaking for five minutes. And I asked the speaker of the House, 'How long do I have?' and he said, 'You got as long as you want.' You never tell a preacher that. So I took advantage of it, and of course, they said that I had no business being before state legislatures saying anything because I'm a football player. I think some of society, in particular in the media, only wants to regulate me to being just a football player, and I'm more than that.

G. ROBERTSON: You're also a citizen, so you get the right to speak.

WHITE: Exactly. Plus I pay taxes. I think telling them about this thing with separation of church and state, we as Christians pay taxes, too, and we deserve the right to bring our values so that our kids can be affected by it. And I had just as much right to be standing before state lawmakers as anybody else did.


G. ROBERTSON: That's right. Amen. Were you surprised by how strong the attacks were? I mean, I got it in the Philippines. I heard all about this even in the Philippines; it made the papers. Were you surprised how virulent the attack was?

WHITE: I wasn't surprised with the attacks concerning what I said about homosexuality--not what I said, but what the Word of God says about homosexuality. I expected that.


WHITE: I was surprised they accused me of stereotyping each race. That was what I was surprised with. I believe that God has given each race a gift that if we only bring it together, it'll complete God's image because that's what God is. I think when God created us differently, He created us with Himself in mind. And when the body of Christ and when the world realize that, then we'll come together and we'll see the salvation of the people that are living here. So that surprised me.

But what most people don't know and they continuously accuse me of is that I was not attacked by one ethnic group; I was attacked by the homosexual activists. And it's sad for me to see how, when you look at the America Psychiatric Association, there are a lot of people that want to come out of this and they go and they sit down with a psychiatrist and the psychiatrists tell them, 'You're born this way.' That's why the suicide rate is so high in the homosexual community. People are catching AIDS that don't even have to get AIDS if they were only presented the truth.

This past week, I was at a conference, and last year the Lord told me at this conference to pray for people who were dealing with homosexuality. This was a Christian conference. There were tons of people that came up and we ministered to them. And I just had a lady come up to me and say, 'Thank you for praying for me.' She said, 'I want you to know I haven't had a desire anymore. God has delivered me from that desire.'

MEEUWSEN: Praise the Lord.

G. ROBERTSON: Praise God.

MEEUWSEN: The truth, Reggie, is, as you talk about different ethnic groups and things, you really are a man who stands for unity, unity in the body of Christ, but unity amongst all of us as well.

WHITE: Yeah. I think we have weapons that we're just letting lie right in front of us. God has given us weapons to fight the enemy. One of the things that we say when we get ready to go out as a team, when we come together as a team, is to dominate. And the church needs to come under unity and under God's authority so that we can begin to dominate the enemy. The enemy has done exactly what Jesus said: If someone comes into your house, he's tied the strong man in the church down.

MEEUWSEN: With the power that belongs.

G. ROBERTSON: Well, you and your wife, Sara, have started a great ministry called Urban Hope. Why did you get involved in that?

WHITE: Well, the Lord gave me a vision years ago particularly about what needs to be done in the inner cities. I heard a guy say one time, 'The inner cities to me is the inner sanctuary of the Lord.' There are a lot of people that are living in these areas that are oppressed, that are hurting, that need to not only to hear the gospel, but they need the gospel expressed to them. God told me that if we don't start helping to meet the needs of some of these people, they're going to continue to die.

So, we created an organization where we help people get into business, create entrepreneurs that come to classes for nine weeks. And we've started a program in Green Bay with the whole community, from the government to the business leaders; everybody came together under one umbrella to create different projects. It's called Urban Project and urban renewal. Green Bay's not that big, but it's small enough for us to get some things done quickly. We're proud to say we've been part of helping over 30 people get businesses started over the last year. And so it's really helping to meet some needs and it's creating jobs also.

G. ROBERTSON: You know exactly what you're talking about. You grew up in the inner city in Chattanooga, Tennessee, so you're not just coming at it from an outsider. You know exactly what it means to grow up in that environment.

WHITE: Yeah. I grew up in that environment for a year. I stayed with my grandmother for a year, but I stayed in a mixed neighborhood when I was growing up. And, of course, I saw the problem because I went to inner city schools. There seems to be a lack of hope.

A young kid that came out of a gang and gave his life to the Lord told me something interesting. He said, 'Reggie, though I love the Green Bay Packers, you were not my hero.' He said, 'It was the drug dealer that was my hero. I wanted to drive the same kind of car he was driving. I wanted to sell drugs and make money like him.' And that's why the church has got to invade these streets. We have got to really begin to promote fatherhood and we have got to become their fathers because most of them don't have fathers.

MEEUWSEN: You were quoted as saying that you didn't want to be a role model. You wanted to be a hero...


MEEUSWEN: that somebody could look at you and say, 'I want to live like he lives.'


MEEUSWEN: And that's what Reggie is doing for so many of us. It's what his book, Fighting the Good Fight, is about, as well as many other thoughts and ideas and concepts in here. You need to get a hold of it. It's available in Christian bookstores around the country. Thank you.

WHITE: You're welcome.

MEEUWSEN: You are a hero.

WHITE: Thank you.

MEEUWSEN: I'm glad to have you here.

G. ROBERTSON: I want to encourage the viewing audience to please pray for Reggie. He's taking a very strong stand. He needs our prayers more than ever right now. He may be retired now from football, but he's very active in the media proclaiming the good news and we need to lift him up in prayer.


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