Article of the week: Arthur White – A force for God
4 September 2021
FEATURE I Stories of transformation
Major Rosemary Dawson continues a series in which she remembers some of the inspirational people she met while working on the War Cry
A SEVEN-TIME British powerlifting champion, three-time world champion and five-time European champion, Arthur White is a force to be reckoned with. But soon after his first world championship victory in 1992, Arthur’s dependence on steroids, amphetamines and cocaine sent him on a downward spiral of self-destruction.
In 1993 his life was changed by an even greater force: the love of God. When I met him, Arthur was still competing to win, but without reliance on drugs.
‘I started taking steroids for bodybuilding, which led to amphetamines and cocaine,’ he said. ‘People think drugs are an easy fix in sport, but they nearly destroyed me. Like any addiction, they took over. I am not proud of that, but now I use my experience to warn others. I’ve been born again, in the truest sense – my heart was badly damaged, and that’s been healed.’
Arthur grew up in Essex and started a carpentry business in the late 1960s. He went to the gym to keep fit and then took up bodybuilding.
‘I was at my lowest between October 1992 and March 1993,’ he recalled. ‘I’d left my wife, Jacqui, and two children, and was having an affair. I tried to cut my throat several times, but just couldn’t
‘Jacqui knew about the steroids, but not about the others or the money involved. I spent £700 a week on drugs and took extra jobs as a debt collector and club doorman to pay for them.
‘I planned a new life in South Africa with my girlfriend and withdrew £35,000 from our bank account. We blew the money on drink and drugs, but nothing had any lasting attraction. I came home to earn some money.
‘It was Christmas and I promised Jacqui I’d stay – but by New Year I was off again. She’d always taken me back but finding out about my affair was the last straw. When she said, “Never again,” I’d never felt so lonely.’
In Tenerife with his girlfriend, Arthur sat on the beach watching the dawn break. His mind was in torment, racked with guilt, remorse, anger and loneliness.
The waves seemed to beckon him to a watery grave. Then he heard a voice say: ‘You cannot take your own life.’
He looked around but saw no one.
‘I looked up to the sky and shouted, “Who are you?” The voice answered:
“I am your Father.” I really thought I’d flipped, so went back to the hotel and took some cocaine.’
Back in England, Arthur’s girlfriend asked him to settle an argument over drugs with a man in a club. ‘The man legged it up the street, which was a dead end,’ Arthur said. ‘I stabbed him in the back; he tried to run, so I did it again, punched him a few times, and was about to cut his ear off when I heard a voice: “Arthur, stop!”
‘I froze and looked around. There was nobody near, just a big crowd watching from the club.
‘I knew I needed help. My daughter had become a Christian, and Jacqui was going to church too. I’d never thought about church before – Christianity was for wimps, not champion weightlifters! But at Jacqui’s suggestion, I talked to a church bloke who said I needed to change.
‘That happened one morning in March 1993 in the car park at Spitalfields Market. I literally shook my fist at God and challenged him to sort me out. I expected the heavens to open up, but instead felt a deep warm peace inside.
‘I threw my knife and drugs away. But turning my life around was really difficult, especially with terrible withdrawal symptoms.
‘I prayed hard to Jesus to help me and went to counselling and Bible study sessions. Jacqui and I made our commitment to Christ at the same time; now we enjoy worshipping together.’
For years afterwards Arthur visited schools, youth clubs and prisons as a member of the charity Tough Talk, talking to men with similar backgrounds whose lives were changed by God.
‘A Hell’s Angel once said to me, “If God can change a scumbag like you, he can change anybody.” I took it as a compliment. As a Christian, I’m more of a man now than I ever was on drugs – and I’ve regained the love and respect of my wife and children.’
MAJOR DAWSON LIVES IN RETIREMENT IN ST AUSTELL
Based on an article published in the War Cry, 9 July 2005