Paula Michelle White-Cain, better known as Paula 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 White was five years old. White’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 White was 9 years old. Her family moved to the Washington D.C. area when her stepfather became stationed at the National Naval Medical Center. 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 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”.
Without Walls International Church, originally named South Tampa Christian Center, was founded in Tampa, Florida, by the then-couple Paula and Randy White in 1991.
The church struggled financially at first, and it could not afford to pay the Whites a salary for the first two years. As a result, the couple 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.
In 2004, Without Walls International Church reported a congregation of 20,000 as the largest congregation in the area making the church the seventh largest church in the United States.
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. 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
Ebony magazine said of White, “You know you’re on to something new and significant when the most popular woman preacher on the Black Entertainment Network is a white woman.”
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 part of Trump’s Evangelical Advisory Board during his campaign for US President, and provided the invocation prayer during Trump’s inauguration ceremony. Since Trump took office White has served as one of the president’s spiritual advisors, and has held Oval Office prayer circles with her.
White, with assistance from her own ministry board advisor, Jack Graham (pastor), has had an ongoing spiritual role towards 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 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, White addressed the 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, White officially became the senior pastor for New Destiny Christian Center, in Apopka, Florida. Her philanthropic work in the community along with New Destiny Christian Center has been publicly acknowledged by the Mayor of Apopka, “Her church’s mentoring of school students, donating food to the needy, assisting families victimized by violence and ministering to help young women trapped in the adult entertainment industry has been inspiring,” says Apopka Mayor Joe Kilsheimer. “What I see her doing in the community,” he says, “is of tremendous value to Apopka and northwest Orange County.”
On March 4, 2014, when White was senior pastor of New Destiny Christian Center in Apopka, Without Walls International Church filed for Chapter 11 federal bankruptcy protection. In response, the Evangelical Christian Credit Union, which claimed the church owed it $29 million, called the filing a “litigation tactic” to prevent the foreclosure of two church locations.
In a television interview with Erin Burnett (CNN) Paula White stated, “I’ve never filed bankruptcy. I had resigned without walls. I had absolutely no part.”
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 that he and Paula were divorcing. According to The Christian Post, White says the divorce was amicable and they remain friends.
On April 27, 2015, she married rock musician Jonathan Cain of Journey fame.
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.
White is a proponent of prosperity theology who, with some other televangelists who made millions of dollars, had been the subject of a 2007 Senate investigation into their practices. Southern Baptist theologian and ethicist, Russell D. Moore said, “Paula White is a charlatan and recognized as a heretic by every orthodox Christian, of whatever tribe.”
White has also been criticized for being introduced or claiming to have a doctoral degree, when she has no college or seminary degree.
In a January 5, 2017 CNN interview, White responded to some of the criticism saying “I have been called a heretic, an apostate, an adulterer, a charlatan, and an addict. It has been falsely reported that I once filed for bankruptcy and — my personal favorite — that I deny the Trinity!” During her interview she also said in her defense “My life and my decisions have been nowhere near perfect, though nothing like what has been falsely conveyed in recent days.
White was credited in June 2016 by James Dobson as having converted Trump to Christianity.