The independent regulator of charities in England and Wales,...
Canon Andrew White, the man known as the Vicar of Baghdad, has said he will not stop ministering in the Middle East, despite being "retired" by the charity he founded.
Canon White had previously said he resigned from the organisation he founded, the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East (FRRME). But speaking at the London School of Theology's Deo Gloria lecture last night, Canon White said "They recently retired me. They said I was too ill to work. But I'm not stopping."
Writing on Facebook last month, Canon White said "It was simple they kicked me out. The doctor they sent to me said I was too ill to work so I had to retire."
In November last yeat, FRRME told Premier it had been informed Canon Andrew White had stepped down because of ill health and its work supporting refugees will continue.
Canon White has since founded two new organisations - Canon Andrew White Reconciliation Ministries and Jerusalem Merit. FRRME is currently under investigation by the charity commission following reports of improper use of charity funds.
Addressing a congregation of 300 at Emmanuel Church, Northwood, Canon White admitted his health was "a bit dodgy" and said he needed to return to Baghdad in order to continue his stem cell treatment.
The author of Faith Under Fire was the vicar of St George's Church in Baghdad until 2014 when his departure was ordered by the Archbishop of Canterbury. It was reported that Justin Welby feared White could become a target for ISIS.
Canon White has spent the past months travelling, speaking and ministering both in the Middle East and the West. He is due to visit Washington DC this weekend where he will meet with the Trump administration.
In a video released shortly before last night's lecture, Canon White praised Trump's decision to not include Iraqi nationals in the new travel ban.
He said: "We had people praying that the key Iraqis would be allowed back into America and they are. These are big answers to prayer. I can honestly say all my prayer requests I put out on my Facebook page are answered.
"We really need to pray for our engagement with President Trump."
Speaking to Premier at the event, Canon White said: "There's a lot to do. I hope we can work with him...Trump isn't perfect by any means but in Jerusalem they had a party. The Christians celebrated Trump's election in Jerusalem because they said at last we have someone who will listen to us. I think there is a real chance of them listening...We've got to pray so hard."
Referring to the Obama administration, Canon White said the previous eight years had been "disastrous". The last Presidential election was between a "really, really, really bad person or just a really bad person" he said.
"And the really bad person won!"
Canon White also admitted he was "totally wrong" about the Iraq war and now believes the American invasion in 2003 was wrong.
"I was so upset because I knew George Bush so well. I did a lot of planning with them for going into Iraq and I was for the removal of Saddam. Iraq is now 1,000 times worse than before Saddam was got rid of. I was totally wrong and I admit that."
Responding to the question of what motivates him to continue, he said, "I can honestly say my life is inspired by the people I meet and the people who spur me on."
But he also criticised those who hide behind spiritual language: "All these people when you ask what they're doing who say 'I'm waiting on the Lord, I'm waiting on the Lord'. Really it's an excuse for 'I'm not doing anything, I can't make up my mind and I can't take any risks!'"
Speaking from the sheep and the goats passage in Matthew chapter 25, and referring to his own reconciliation work, Canon Andrew White commented: "Jesus says it's no good for you just to know the theology. You need to demonstrate it."
Mentioning the schools in the Middle East he's supporting, Canon Andrew White said, "The very heart of what I do is educating children. Jesus showed in his life and ministry how important the children were. I have a school. It's the best school in the world...Our work is the work of Jesus."
"I want to make known the love of the Almighty. I want to make known the presence of the Almighty among the Jewish community, the Christian community and the Muslim community."