My name is John A. White and I live in Janesville, Wisconsin where I serve as the senior pastor of River Hills Community Church (Evangelical Free Church of America). By God’s abundant mercy, I married my high school sweetheart, Tanya. We have been blessed with four children (Bella 12yrs, Gabe 9yrs, Ben 7yrs, and Asher 5yrs). Tanya is due to give birth to our fifth child, Ezra Haddon White, this June. We also have a naughty but beloved Boston Terrier named Charlie. My family has been a continuous source of God’s grace to me and we rejoice to see the gospel taking root in the hearts and lives of our little ones.
I grew up in northeastern Florida until I was fifteen years old. My mother and I moved to Minnesota where I finished high school and would eventually attend university. Having been raised in the Bible Belt, I was exposed to the gospel from my youth and attended church regularly with my mother and grandparents. In hindsight, I was aware of the effects of the Law on my conscience from an early age and now consider it to have been God’s mercy to me. Though I was considered a tenderhearted boy, I was nursing a rebel heart and a lust for autonomy.
After moving away to attend Saint Cloud State University for undergraduate studies, I capitalized on my newfound freedom. In my self-righteousness, I always measured my sin(s) by the errors of others (cf. the Pharisee of Luke 18). I was able to assuage my gnawing conscience until my senior year. During that time, I began reading Scripture on my own and listening to Christian worship music. By the time spring semester came, I was sorely convicted and disillusioned with my life choices. Attending a class titled Elements of Moral Philosophy, I found myself arguing for moral objectivity even though I lived as a rank relativist! On a bitterly cold February morning, I returned from class to my rented basement apartment, got on my knees, confessed my wretchedness before God, and begged Christ to save me. The promises of the gospel flooded my mind and heart; I was truly born again. As I shared my newfound joy with my then fiancé, Tanya shared that she too had been severely convicted of her sin and had run to Christ. We both began attending an evangelical church with our parents and were married the summer after graduation.
Like my father, I decided to pursue a career in law enforcement. I was blessed with the opportunity to serve with a local Sheriff’s Department for five years. In that time, Tanya gave birth to our first child, Isabella, and I began serving in our church as a volunteer worship leader. As my aspiration for eldership grew, my church affirmed my qualifications to serve with a call to a full-time pastorate being extended. I exchanged my uniform and duty belt for a pair of chinos and a sport coat. Although I continued to lead worship on Sunday mornings, I was also tasked with teaching and preaching on a regular basis. It was during this time that I became increasingly burdened to shepherd with wisdom and preach with excellence.
Through the advice of a fellow elder, I researched Reformed Baptist Seminary as I was looking for affordable, biblically faithful distance education options. Being a vocational minister, I was in a unique position to implement what I was learning in real time. I was overjoyed to find that RBS had reputable staff, a clearly defined mission and doctrinal orientation, and was unashamedly Christ-exalting. Moreover, the price of tuition was very helpful for a pastor with a growing family. Specifically, I found Dr. Gonzales to be warm, humble, and eager to serve the student body. His encouragement throughout the application process made my decision to register even easier.
As you can imagine, time was always in short supply as I attempted to balance ministry responsibilities, family worship, date nights with my beautiful wife, play time with my kids, and seminary classes. Mercifully, Reformed Baptist Seminary offered classes that were accessible and helpful. From New Testament Theology to Pastoral Counseling, my experience with RBS has proven to be exceptional. Not only do the faculty seek to inform the minds of students, they also aim to ignite the hearts of students. Granted, the academic requirements were rigorous and standards were high; however, I found each class to be enjoyable, biblically saturated, doctrinally clear, and pastorally warm. I have been helped in my preaching, counseling, and personal sanctification through my time at RBS. One of the most refreshing and impacting elements of my studies was the clear emphasis on the supremacy of Christ (cf. Luke 24:27). I have and will continue to recommend RBS to my friends and colleagues in ministry as I can wholeheartedly, eagerly, and thankfully commend it as a viable and helpful seminary option. May their tribe increase!
A Steward of the Gospel,
John A. White