When working as a reporter, you meet many amazing people. Some inspire you to emulate something about them and others are a reminder of things you don’t want to ever become. I had both experiences in my conversations with Shane White.
I first heard White’s voice at a public meeting about problems of crime, debris and other issues in Copperas Cove’s poorest neighborhood area, Casa Drive and Sunset Lane.
Sitting on the front row, I heard White speak out and his words forced me to turn around in my chair. Not only was he taking a risk by telling city officials in words that could not be misconstrued about the gang and drug activity in the area neighborhood, he added credibility to his statements by sharing an unflattering side of himself.
“The neighborhood draws a bad clientele. People coming in to the area (wanting to buy drugs) go where the reputation is,” White said.
White went on to say that he himself was a former gang member and he recognized gang activity in the neighborhood. In a society that is extremely judgmental today, I found it refreshing that he was so transparent in who he was and the changes he was willing to work toward with the city’s help and support.
As I spoke with White after the meeting and then called him later to talk with him further about his life experiences, I came to truly understand not only who Shane White had been, but who he is today. For White, sharing his torrid past of being jumped into the Hoovers 107 gang at 14 in his Killeen backyard to sharing the sexual abuse he experienced as a toddler, it is really not about him at all. It’s about using his horrific experiences to help others. He has turned his tragedy into triumph.
After admitting he nearly killed himself after being high on cocaine and cutting himself 28 times, White turned his life around in a men’s Christian shelter. He later trained in the ministry from 2006 to 2008, and in January 2012, he became the pastor of Mission Casa on Casa Drive.
Although he had the opportunity to go pastor a church elsewhere, he returned to the very type of environment that caused him to lead his own life into darkness and despair.
“I can relate to people here. I’ve been where a lot of them are at. They live by the gun,” White said. “They can now get help from someone who has tasted the other side.”
White works in the Casa Drive/Sunset Lane area with a weekly youth program, weekly adult Bible study, a food pantry, and meeting the needs of residents while not forcing his religion on them.
“People can tell when you are selling something. My job is to show them the love of Jesus Christ. Nothing more,” White said.