Paula Michelle White-Cain (née Furr; April 20, 1966), better known as Paula White, is a Pentecostal Christian televangelist. She is the Senior Pastor of New Destiny Christian Center in Apopka, Florida (near Orlando), a non-denominational, multi-cultural church whose membership ranges in the thousands. She hosts a television show, Paula White Today. She was the co-pastor of Without Walls International Church in Tampa, a church she co-founded with pastor and then-husband Randy White.
White is the personal minister to Donald Trump, and will chair the Evangelical Advisory Board in his Presidential administration. She was the second woman to deliver a prayer at a presidential inauguration on January 20, 2017, delivering the invocation.
White was born Paula Michelle Furr on April 20, 1966 in Tupelo, Mississippi, the daughter of Myra Joanelle and Donald Paul Furr III. Her parents owned a toy and craft store. Donald and Myra Furr's marriage began to fail when Paula was five years old. Paula's mother left Tupelo and took her to Memphis; her separation from her husband and his subsequent suicide drove Paula, her brother and mother into poverty. Paula's mother became an alcoholic. While her mother worked, White was looked after by caregivers. White has said that she was sexually and physically abused between the ages of six and thirteen, by different people on different occasions. Paula has also said that during this time she battled with bulimia.
Paula’s mother remarried to a two-star admiral in the US Navy when Paula was 9 years old. Her family moved to the Washington D.C. area when her stepfather became stationed at the National Naval Medical Center. Paula White is a graduate of Seneca Valley High School in Germantown, Maryland.
In 1984, while living in Maryland, she converted to Christianity at the Damascus Church of God. She later claimed to have received a vision from God shortly after her conversion: "When I was just eighteen years old, the Lord gave me a vision that every time I opened my mouth and declared the Word of the Lord, there was a manifestation of His Spirit where people were either healed, delivered, or saved. When I shut my mouth, they fell off into utter darkness and God spoke to me and said 'I called you to preach the gospel".
The church struggled financially at first, and it could not afford to pay Randy and Paula White a salary for the first two years. As a result, Randy and Paula lived on government assistance and the kindness of others. Soon the church began to grow quickly through the various outreach programs. From 1991 to 1998, the church changed locations three times until they secured the property located at 2511 North Grady Avenue in Tampa, and changed the name of the church to Without Walls International Church.
While the church was holding services in an outdoor tent in 1999, they reported 5,000 attendees a week and 10,000 ministered to outside of the church with 230 outreach ministries.
Without Walls International Church then purchased the property next to them at 3860 West Columbus Drive expanding their Tampa campus. The property acquired was a Canada Dry warehouse which they remodeled, and was the main sanctuary for the church until September 2014.
In 2002, Without Walls International Church began to expand to its second location in Lakeland, Florida. At this time, the church reported 14,000 members and 200 ministries including job training, evangelism among public housing projects and a teen club. Without Walls International Church also began to hold Saturday night services at Carpenter's Home Church in Lakeland renting the property. Carpenter's Home Church would later on be purchased by Without Walls International Church in 2005 for $8 million renaming the church to Without Walls Central Church.
On July 12, 2009, White became the senior pastor of the church she co-founded, Without Walls International Church, replacing her former husband Randy White, who stated that he was stepping down as pastor due to health reasons and would still remain connected with the church in a different position.
On January 1, 2011, following the resignation of Scott Thomas, White became the senior pastor of Without Walls Central Church in Lakeland, Florida, making her the pastor of both church locations. However, later that year, both senior pastor positions were restored to pastor Randy White. Paula White is no longer associated with Without Walls International Church.
White recorded the first broadcast of Paula White Today in December 2001 and, by 2006, her show appeared on nine television networks, including Trinity Broadcast Network, Daystar, and Black Entertainment Television
White considers T.D. Jakes her spiritual father. Jakes invited her to speak at his "Woman Thou Art Loosed" conference in 2000. She also participated in the Mega Fest, hosted by Jakes in Atlanta, in 2004, 2005 and 2008.
White has ministered to some well-known people including Michael Jackson, Gary Sheffield, and Darryl Strawberry. She was the personal pastor to Darryl Strawberry, starting in 2003 following Strawberry’s release from prison for cocaine possession. Charisse Strawberry, Darryl Strawberry’s wife at that time, worked as an assistant to White, accompanying her on speaking engagements. She is the "personal life coach" of Tyra Banks and appeared on her show, the Tyra Banks Show, in an episode concerning promiscuity on October 4, 2006.
White has been a personal minister to Donald Trump who discovered White by watching her TV show. Trump would often bring her to Atlantic City for private Bible studies, and he has appeared on her television show. White was credited in June 2016 by James Dobson as having converted Trump to Christianity. White was part of Trump's Evangelical Advisory Board during his campaign for US President, and provided the invocation prayer during Trump's inauguration ceremony. The subject with assistance from her own ministry board advisor, Jack Graham (pastor), have an ongoing spiritual role towards President Trump.
White was a 2009 Trumpet Awards Honoree.
On December 31, 2011, the board of New Destiny Christian Church in Apopka, Florida, announced they had appointed Paula White to succeed Zachery Tims as the new senior pastor. New Destiny Christian Center had been searching for his replacement since Tims' death in August 2011. Tims’ ex-wife Riva filed a lawsuit against the Board of Directors, but quickly dropped it, citing a hold harmless clause in her 2009 marital settlement agreement.
Upon hearing of the controversy, Paula White addressed New Destiny Christian Center during a service she was leading. “I’m not asking you to like me. I’m not asking you to love me or respect me, because I’ll do the work to earn that. I always ask people to give me one year of your life and I promise you will be changed.”
On January 1, 2012, Paula White officially became the Senior Pastor for New Destiny Christian Center in Apopka, Florida.
White's first marriage was as a teenager to the father of her son, Dean Knight. In 1984, while living in Maryland with her newborn baby, she converted to Christianity. Her marriage ended soon after.
According to the book Holy Mavericks, a turning point in White's life was meeting Randy White, a third-generation preacher in the Church of God denomination, in 1981. White had divorced his first wife and was in the early stages of reviving his career as a preacher and evangelist. They met while he was visiting the church where White volunteered as a janitor. They became friends and dated for several months, working together in ministry projects. Less than a year after meeting, Randy proposed during a tour to Israel and she accepted. Shortly thereafter they moved from Maryland to Tampa, Florida.
On August 23, 2007, Randy White announced to the Without Walls International Church congregation that he and Paula were divorcing. According to The Christian Post, White says the divorce was amicable and they remain friends.
White has a son. She was a stepmother to the three children Randy had from a previous marriage. White and Randy did not have children together.
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