A Life Wholly Dedicated - A tribute to Grandpa Dale
— Rey Diaz · Monday, February 20, 2023 —
Dale Caleb White went to spend eternity with Jesus on Feb 18, 2023, at the age of 91.
I first met Grandpa Dale at my wedding to Elise. He actually had a prayer for us. Over the past 20 years, our relationship shifted in many profound ways. And it's easy to follow the arc by what I called him. It started with Dr. White. After a few years, I started calling him Pastor Dale. A few years later, it was just Dale. And finally, I started calling Grandpa Dale. (Side note at some point he became the ‘Special Agent of Orphan Outreach’ a unique position created so that he can continue to impact the lives of the children these past few years.)
Pastor Dale encouraged me to grow my gifts and talents. He invited me to preach at his church and their youth camps offering me an opportunity and platform. He always bought me books to read on leadership, faith, and life. What really bonded us was our shared passion for God’s heart for children at risk. If you spent any time around Pastor Dale, his love for children would inevitably be part of the conversation. Under his leadership, his church became one of the largest donors to a Christian non-profit to help children in Guatemala and Honduras. They adopted villages, served orphans, fed the hungry, and made sure every child understood God’s love for them. Pastor Dale is the first one who encouraged Elise to serve internationally facilitating an internship for her for a summer in Guatemala where a heart for missions for born.
I remember a story he told often of a visit to a rural village. As he was leaving back to the city, they saw a small funeral procession for a toddler. He spoke to the family and offered pastoral support. In the conversation, Pastor Dale found out that the child had died due to a water-borne illness that is preventable. He promised to return the following year. And he did this with a church ready to adopt their village installing a water well, clinic, school, and church along with micro business to lift the families out of poverty. This story reveals Pastor Dale's heart and tenacity. A dangerous combination in the hands of God.
Dr. Bobby Clinton’s seminal work on Christian leadership sadly concludes that “few leaders finish well.” Grandpa Dale is one of the few. Till his last days, his passion for God and His mission were burning bright as ever. On my last call with him, he was asking how they could increase their impact. He was not trying to slow down his ministry. Despite all the Gallup polls pointing to fewer people going into ministry and highlighting the numbers leaving the ministry, I can always look at Grandpa Dale as a life who followed Jesus till his last day. He would often quote - “God takes full responsibility for the life wholly dedicated to Him.”
I’ve never had a grandfather. My kids are always surprised when I say that but it's true. My father was raised by a single mother and never met his father. On my mother's side, my grandfather Carlos Porras passed away the year I was born so I never met him. When I hear stories of Abuelo Carlos, I wish I had a chance to meet him. I believe a lot of my personality and character and curiosity come from him. He was a refugee who escaped the violence of the cartels in Columbia and moved to Panama. Despite no formal education, he was a learner and reader who wanted all his grandkids to study. I never thought much about not having a grandfather because that’s just life as I knew it. Until I had Elijah and Isabela. They LOVED their grandparents and their grandparents LOVED them. Grandparents have played a critical and valuable role in their lives to this day. They offer unconditional love, encouragement, support, guidance, and so much more. They are a shoulder to cry on, they can say things that are hard for parents to say, they can spoil them, call them on FaceTime, pillow fight, and everything else.
So I adopted Grandpa Dale as my grandfather. I never made an official announcement but I think we came to a mutual understanding. About 10 years ago I started calling him Grandpa Dale. And at least once a year, our family would drive over the mountain pass to spend time with Grandpa Dale. During those times I would be encouraged, supported, and challenged.
In the last few years, he became obsessed with ministries in Kenya. The Fellowship of Joy was instrumental in impacting the lives of hundreds of orphaned and vulnerable children. Grandpa Dale started with 5 children. Then 10. Then 20. Then 40. Eventually, we decided that they would serve in several different ministries. Pastor Dale cared deeply about these children. He would call me and our sponsorship department asking detailed questions – are they in families, do they have enough food, how are they doing in school, what church are they going to?
And at the end of our time together he always said the same thing – “I'm proud of you.” I don’t think I realize how much I need to hear those words as an adult. Think about that for a sec, when was the last time you heard those words directed at you? On my last visit, we had breakfast at his house, and at the end of the meeting, he said “Rey, Im proud of you.” This time I was ready and I told him, “Thank you. Grandpa Dale, I'm proud of you. And I hope to be as passionate about God’s mission as you are when Im your age. You’ve continued to inspire me.” We shared a moment that I treasure. And one day we can laugh about it in heaven.
Thank you, Grandpa Dale.