"God's Not Dead" Actor's Journey of Faith

David grew up as the son of a Mennonite preacher in Dodge City, Kansas. David's family went to church on a regular basis and he gave his heart to the Lord at the age of 4.  David’s parents instilled a strong work ethic in him from a young age, assigning him chores and duties including picking rocks out of their farm fields. "I began to acknowledge that certain work was pure drudgery," says David. "I realized that if I had to work, then I needed to learn to work smarter." Their family watched very limited amounts of television because the Mennonites thought television was too worldly. When David was 8, he went to see the movie, Grease, with his friend. "It was a magical experience," says David. The acting bug hit him in 7th grade when he played the role of Kurt in The Sound of Music. In 8th grade, the movie Rocky III changed his life forever but he didn't tell anyone about wanting to work in the entertainment field.

David’s father had one rule: all of the kids had to attend Moody Bible Institute for at least one year after high school. For the time being, David was content to stall his dreams and put them in a "someday" category. In 1988, David started his first year at Moody and got a job parking cars, Soon after he completed his first year, David worked on a Christian film in Chicago then moved to San Diego.  For 6 months, he worked the graveyard shift at UPS, enrolled in an acting class then moved to Los Angeles to become an actor. David worked at LA airport driving a baggage cart, enrolled for a full course load in college and tried to get an agent.  "My feet remained firmly planted on the ground and in my faith," says David. He joined a church and attended regularly.  "I had not forfeited my morals or compromised my values. Nor did I neglect to thank God for all the blessings He had given me because I knew He was the source of my good fortune."

After 4 months, David finally landed a job as an extra in the film, The Doors, starring Val Kilmer and Meg Ryan. At 19, David could see why LA is referred to the Land of Broken Dreams. Eventually he landed a flexible job at Enterprise Rent A Car that allowed him to go to auditions. One day he heard about a casting call for extras to play on a football team for a new show called Evening Shade with Burt Reynolds. For some reason, Burt took a liking to David and had show writers feature him as much as they could. "Over the 3 years I knew him, Burt Reynolds left an indelible mark on me," says David. "No longer did I aspire to be simply a working actor. I wanted to produce, direct, and be a star in Hollywood." David’s success in Hollywood came to a halt when Burt abruptly fired him from the show. He was no longer asked to play in any roles nor star in any TV commercials. David was broken-hearted. For 3 years he took any job he could get, including dressing as Barney the Dinosaur. “I truly believed God was going to grant my dream, like he was some genie.  When He didn’t, I was stumped, confused and angry,” says David.  He strayed from his faith, but looking back, he says God was there all along.  “I was just too busy feeling sorry for myself.”

In the summer of 1998, David was talking to a couple of actor friends about the state of their careers.  “We were willing to try anything different to get out of the rut we were stuck in,” says David.  They started talking about making Christian films. The only thing was that they had no experience.  “I slowly began to realize God had already provided what I needed by surrounding me with people who could teach me and help produce our own films,” he says. The three of them raised $87,000 through friends and family to producer their first film.  At the time, the Christian film industry was just getting started.  His first film, The Moment After, featured two FBI agents who were investigating mysterious disappearances as a result of the Rapture. The movie did well and they made all of their money back and distributed the film to ministries and churches, opening up a new way for a film like this to achieve a profit.  For the first time in years, doors were opening for David. 

For his next movie, Mercy Streets, David and company raised a million dollars, ten times the amount they raised for their first movie.  The movie was a financial bust.  Disappointed, David asked God for a sign.  “The Lord had been speaking to me all along,” he says.  The real success of Mercy Streets was that David rededicated his life to the Lord.  In 2005, he and two others formed Pure Flix, but after the economy crashed in 2008, their company struggled. Unable to take a salary from Pure Flix, David taught acting classes in San Diego. They continued to release movies on DVDs and got their break in 2012 with God’s Not Dead, which became the most successful independent, faith-based film of all time.  “I came to Hollywood at the age of 19 with the dream of working in the entertainment industry.  I was not able to fulfill or realize that dream until I dedicated the dream to the service of others,” says David.  He reminds us that our dreams are important to God.  “God’s dream for us is more about what He wants for us and what He wants to accomplish through us.”

Mentioned in the Video

Guest Info


Founding partner, Pure Flix which produces, distributes and acquires Christian movies

Actor on hit TV show Evening Shade with Burt Reynolds

Has starred in over 20 feature-length films including God’s Not Dead and God’s Not Dead 2

Wife: Andrea Logan White

3 children


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