Co-authored by Faith Driven Business CEO Steve Hoeft. Steve helps faith driven entrepreneurs accelerate their businesses to high growth mode ethically and authentically, so they can make a difference in the world.
Late at night, Mark Whitacre watched an FBI agent leave his home and walk toward the car, gone at last and completely oblivious to the corporate crime at work in a Fortune 500 company (as retold in The Informant book by Kurt Eichenwald).
It was over.
But then his wife, Ginger, made it clear that she, at least, was not going to let one of the world's largest food ingredient companies, Archer Daniels Midland, get away with stealing from the public. She started to walk toward the FBI agent. In that moment, Mark must have remembered her earlier ultimatum: "Either you turn yourself into the FBI, or I will do it for you."*
He had to confess.
That was the moment Mark Whitacre solidified his fate to turn in ADM and become the highest-ranking executive whistleblower in U.S. history -- all because of his wife, Ginger, and her Christian faith.
It's a story that made headlines when the Archer Daniels Midland price-fixing scandal news broke in 1995. It's a story told in The Informant book by New York Times bestselling author Kurt Eichenwald, and again when Hollywood took it to the big screen in The Informant 2009 movie, starring Matt Damon as Mark Whitacre. And it's a story that Mark and Ginger Whitacre share when they speak about the case and their Christian testimony all over the country -- including their recent speech at the St. Louis Prayer Breakfast with CBMC.
"It was Ginger who was the true whistleblower of the ADM case," Mark says when he shares his testimony, according to prepared remarks. "If it was not for a 34-year-old stay-at-home mom of three young children, the largest price-fixing scheme in U.S. history may never have been exposed."
But Mark knew that what ADM was doing was wrong. So what held him back when Ginger did the right thing?
Fear almost stopped Mark Whitacre from reporting a corrupt Fortune 500 company and becoming an FBI informant.
- The fear of losing his highly-respected job as the youngest divisional president at ADM.
- The fear of losing his comfortable lifestyle, mansion and seven-figure salary.
- The fear of being prosecuted for his own criminal involvement in the price-fixing scandal.
But fear didn't stop his wife. Faith emboldened Ginger Whitacre.
At the time, Mark went to church and considered himself a Christian, but his faith didn't influence his actions. Ginger was the Christian who told him she'd rather be homeless than live in a mansion paid for by his company's theft, as Mark later recalled in his testimony speech.
"I wish I could say it was me," Mark said in a January 2010 interview with PBS. "I wish I had the right moral compass back then... but it was really my wife."
Ginger didn't let fear stop her from doing the right thing and trusting God with their future. But fear held Mark back -- so much so that he almost didn't confess to the FBI. Only after Mark was convicted for his own corporate crimes did he find God... but more about that story later.
How do Christians find freedom from fear?
So what does Scripture say about fear? The Bible tells us not to fear 365 times, and Paul reminds us that "God has not given us a spirit of fear" (2 Timothy 1:7).
Many people like Mark fear the unknown. What would happen to his career, to his salary, to his family if he turned himself in? He feared the worst.
Perhaps you can relate to Mark. Are you afraid or conflicted? Are you thinking, "This is too big for me," or "There just doesn't seem to be a solution"? What if you've reached your breaking point and just can't take it anymore?
Sometimes God allows the enemy to appear too big for us to handle for a reason. When the odds of victory appear 50-50, we might try to do battle in our own strength, as Mark did, rather than trusting God with our future, as Ginger did.
When King David was just a boy, he too faced a giant. The nine-foot-tall Goliath carried a spear and wore a coat of armor weighing about 125 pounds. Scripture says the Israelites "were dismayed and greatly afraid." Sound familiar?
This picture defies all logic. David came on the scene with bread and cheese. He was small. Where was the hope there?
But David knew one thing that no one else understood. The battle wasn't his, but God's. David said, "You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty" (1 Samuel 17:45). It's a truth that Ginger Whitacre must have known when she told Mark to turn himself in, even if it meant risking everything.
Know that God is with you. He has already fought the giant and won. Trust him with your future rather than allowing fear to cloud your judgment.
Hear This Redemption Story in the Faith-Driven Business Live Interview
So how did Mark Whitacre end up discovering faith after all the corporate crimes he committed?
It's a crazy story, to say the least. That's why our startup Faith Driven Business secured the real-life informant Mark Whitacre and his wife Ginger Whitacre for a live webinar on Monday, May 19 at 10 a.m. CST. Register here.
*Storytelling based on The Informant book by Kurt Eichenwald and Mark Whitacre's prepared remarks for testimony speech. Ginger Whitacre's quote "Either you turn yourself into the FBI, or I will do it for you" is from Mark's testimony speech.
A version of this article originally appeared at Faith Driven Business.