Paula White-Cain has been a pastor for 34 years, and has been a spiritual adviser to Donald Trump since 2001. The Epoch Times had an opportunity to discuss White-Cain’s work, and her relationship with the president.
It started 18 years ago, when White-Cain received a call from Trump. He told her that he had watched her sermons on Christian television and began to recall three of her sermons almost verbatim, she said.
The Florida pastor happened to be in New York doing a Bible study with the New York Yankees. Trump invited her to his office, where she met him, his family, and some of his staff. Over time, she became close with all of them.
White-Cain tells her own story in her upcoming memoir, “Something Greater,” which will be released Oct. 15. She had to overcome adversity as a child, which influenced her spiritual journey: Her father committed suicide when she was just 5, and she also endured sexual and physical abuse from the age of 6 to 13.
At 18, she was an overachiever in college because, she said, she felt like she had something to prove. She was an excellent student and a talented gymnast.
“[I] had a lot of trauma, a lot of pain, but I also had this desire and need for love and acceptance,” White-Cain explained.
She recalled how she found her spiritual path.
One day, she went to a friend’s grandmother’s house, and the friend’s uncle was there. He told her he had answers to her questions and solutions for her pain and problems, she recalled.
He opened a Bible and started to talk to her about the Gospel. Initially, she recalls being guarded, but then started to open up as he spoke with her.
“He began to explain to me the Gospel, salvation, that God had a plan for my life, that He loved me with an everlasting love,” White-Cain told The Epoch Times.
As she immersed herself in the Bible, she started to find her purpose, she said.
Contemplating the Presidency
In 2011, Trump considered running for president.
“He saw the direction that America was heading, and really believed that he was called to make a difference,” she recalled him expressing at the time.
There were several prayer meetings at Trump Tower in 2011.
At one point, White-Cain said, Trump called and asked her to gather pastors for prayer.
The following day, Trump asked her what she felt God was saying. She told him that he could be of great service to the nation, but the timing wasn’t quite right. Trump agreed, and asked her to continue to pray on the subject.
White-Cain and other pastors held prayer meetings in the following years, and they asked Trump tough questions, such as where he stood on abortion.
Throughout the process, they got to know him well.
“They certainly got glimpses of the man that I know … Then-Mr. Trump never said, ‘I want your vote, or I want your endorsement.’ He was building relationships. He was listening, he was being heard. He’s one of the most phenomenal listeners, a brilliant thinker. He heard what people had to say, what the concerns of the faith community were.” And they, in turn, found who he was and where he stood on different issues.
By 2015, Trump felt it was time to run for the highest office. When he was elected, White-Cain prayed that President Trump would have the wisdom to lead the nation with discernment and to fulfill God’s will.
“He really believes in America and in making it great again. He had absolutely everything to lose and nothing to gain by doing this personally, ” she said.
“He saw the direction America was heading and really believed that he was called to make a difference … He works for free, comes out fighting every single day because he really believes in the value of what our Constitution was founded on … understanding there’s an accountability to God, as well as to the American people and those that he serves.”
Faith and Policy
Faith has long been part of the president’s journey.
“[It’s] something that has been a part of his life from his childhood, deeply embedded, given to him by his parents, and then, eventually, his own personal walk,” said White-Cain.
White-Cain said the president’s faith plays a role in his policy making, giving his opposition to abortion as an example.
“You can see he’s probably one of the most pro-life presidents we’ve ever had,” White-Cain said, citing examples, including his plan to defund Planned Parenthood, and the expansion of the “Mexico City policy” to restrict funding to organizations that provide or promote abortions.
“[He] believes in life, recognizes we’re not just fighting for the unborn, we’re now fighting for the born [with] what happened in Pennsylvania, New York, etc.”
In January, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a law that allows mothers to abort their unborn child up until the time of birth, if the mother’s health or life is deemed at stake.
In Pennsylvania, the state House passed a bill in May to ban abortion of any unborn child due solely to a prenatal diagnosis of Down’s syndrome. The bill is now in the state Senate for consideration.
Another example, she said, is how faith has shaped the president’s views on prison reform and “second chances,” particularly regarding the First Step Act (Formerly Incarcerated Reenter Society Transformed Safely Transitioning Every Person Act). During one prayer meeting, White-Cain said Trump asked her and other pastors if they believed a hardened criminal could be rehabilitated.
One of the people present was a professor and former bank robber, and he explained to the president the role that faith played in his own personal transformation.
On foreign policy, she said Trump’s faith guided him to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move the U.S. embassy there.
“He listens to good counsel, but he obviously is a man that is not afraid to make decisions, especially decisions that others wouldn’t,” White-Cain said.
“He’s certainly not afraid to take a tough stance,” she said. “I always say he doesn’t start a fight, but he certainly will finish it if necessary.”
“You can’t separate your faith from your decisions,” White-Cain said.
“He understands the power of prayer,” she said, and turns to prayer every time there is a domestic crisis, such as a natural disaster or mass shooting, or when confronted with international crises.
“He understands that prayer makes a difference. He’s called this nation many times to prayer,” she said.
According to White-Cain, while the president doesn’t attend church every week, similar to many people in our modern society, he talks to God frequently.
White-Cain views her role as his spiritual advisor as an assignment from God.
“I pray for him every day, several times a day,” she said. “For me, my priority is to pray for him because I understand the power of prayer, and to also be that pastoral voice.”
As for the president, “prayer’s a lifestyle for him, which I think would maybe be a little bit shocking to people … It is truly important to him.”
“But he doesn’t just pray,” she added.
From his visits with soldiers at the Walter Reed medical center, to time spent with those who have been hurt through tragedies, White-Cain said the president is “an extremely compassionate person,” but it’s not something he always publicizes.
“I know that is his faith has given him tremendous strength all throughout his life,” she said.
Growing up, his mother taught him that “all things are possible and don’t ever quit because God’s on your side. And I think that plays out in him as president.”