Posted tagged ‘Tom Randall’

Being Free, Being Passionate

February 3, 2014

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                       February 3, 2014

 

 

Two weeks ago I wrote about my former college classmate, Tom Randall, who was being held, along with two Philippino men, in a jail in the Philippines. After 22 days the charges against Tom were dropped and he is now free.

Praise the Lord!

The other two men, Toto and Jake, are still being held at this point.

As I’ve been reading the daily updates from Tom’s wife, Karen, who I also went to school with, I’ve been amazed by the stories that have come out of Tom’s imprisonment. First of all, over 58,000 people have “Liked” the “Free Tom Randall” facebook page. the prayer support and encouraging words have been incredible.

But then there’s the stories! Tom Randall is passionate about the gospel. He understands the rescue that God did in his life many, many years ago. He has experienced a sense of peace in his life that was punctuated with restlessness. He knows the hope that can stay within a person when everything seems to be falling apart.

His passion for living a life that makes a difference for others has been evident. The charges that had been leveled against him came out of accusations about the treatment of some of the children at the orphanage that he has operated for the past thirty years. Understand that Tom began the orphanage to help rescue lives of kids who had no hope. As time goes on it will become clearer as to how these accusations came to be, but for now it is important to note that the orphanage was begun out a man’s heart for kids…hope for the hopeless. It’s an indicator of what his life is about.

In his time of incarceration he shared the gospel with a number of the men who were locked up with him. He introduced Jesus to them, and several became followers of Christ behind the iron bars of a cell.

It tells us that a person’s passion does not fade away just because his surroundings take a significant dive. Tom would probably say, although I’m presuming here, that God orchestrated this whole thing so he could be a proclaimer of the good news to some men who desperately needed to hear it. So us it is hard to see the “forever of a person’s soul”, but God demonstrates his love for all of us in the creating of temporary harshness for everlasting change.

How will this experience change Tom and Karen? It will only make them more resolved to love the people they have been serving. Passionate people rarely have their flame fade, but rather burn more intensely because of their experiences.

Perhaps the more significant question is how will this experience change us…the thousands of people who have been following it? My hope is that it will give us more resolve to be agents of change wherever God has placed us to serve, that we will seek to be people who will make a difference for the Kingdom.

A passionate life is never totally free because the calling won’t release us from it’s urgency.

Waiting For A Word

January 23, 2014

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                   January 22, 2014

 

     I wrote a couple of days ago about Tom Randall’s being held in a Philippino jail. Evidently, this is not a cell like the one Marshall Dillon watched over in Gunsmoke. This is a cell with about 40 men in it, all of them…waiting.

Waiting is an active part of our lives. Waiting in traffic, waiting in the dentist office, waiting for a parent-teacher conference, waiting in an airport terminal, waiting for an answer. Waiting halts us and frustrates us, because we don’t know when the next step will occur…or what the next decision will be.

For those of us here in the U.S. we’re waiting for a word as we go about our routines and conquer our “To Do” list. For Tom and Karen, and their friends Toto and Jake, the waiting is taking on another form. How do you wait in a cell with forty other guys?

You pray, try to remember moments from your past, battle through discouragement and delays. What I’m praying for is that Tom and Karen would be encouraged, stay encouraged, and hope would be a flame that grows brighter within them.

From reports I’m seeing on the “Free Tom Randall” Facebook page, he’s battling an illness that is weakening his physical condition. The danger sometimes in waiting is that things digress. For Tom that’s physically, for others it’s is emotionally, mentally, or spiritually. For many it is the slipping away of all four areas.

If prayer is all we can do on this side of the ocean let us do it with perseverance and power. Although it’s hard to believe, I believe that God, first of all, hears our prayers and, secondly, knows when the optimal time is for them to be answered. Waiting is part of the road leading to the resolution.

And it’s hard!

In Karen’s post today she said a group of pastors had come to the jail and prayed with the men. They were a huge encouragement.

We don’t see all the pieces until we get to the opening for that last piece to fit into and then it makes sense, or as much sense as it can to us. Perhaps a group of pastors from that area coming and praying with Tom is a seed of growth that will happen. Perhaps almost 25,000 Facebook likes is a beginning of a movement about helping not just Tom, but the people he has served and loved.

We must wait, but I pray that our waiting will not be without a celebration moment at the end.

Free Tom Randall!

A Guy Named Tom

January 21, 2014

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                  January 20, 2014

 

                                     

 

I went to college with a guy named Tom Randall. He had grown up in Detroit, gone to Redford High School, and had a tough outer core about him. We ran cross country and played basketball together at Judson College. Tom was one of the most popular students on our small campus. Being 6’5” made him stand out in the crowd, but he was also an amazing athlete, a stand-out basketball player.

This past week he was arrested, along with two other men, in the Philippines and charged with sex trafficking. Our tendency these days is to hear that someone has been charged with a crime and decide he is guilty as charged. Sex trafficking is a horrendous crime that is rampant across the world. To be charged with it immediately gives most readers a picture of the person as cruel and heartless.

Since I’ve known Tom since 1974, and I’ve seen his journey, I am firm in my belief that he is innocent. The evidence of his life is my convincing of his innocence.

Let me tell you a little bit about him. He became a follower of Jesus in the spring semester of his senior year of college. I would say his decision to be a Christ-follower was the result of the influence of a multitude of people upon his life…guys who played on the basketball team, professors, college administrators, coaches, and his wife-to-be, Karen. Shortly after Tom became a believer he began working in a factory in Elgin, Illinois, making a little bit of income as he faced graduation. He would go into the Director of Admissions, Press Webster (a memorable first name for us all), and talk to Press, and then he would look at all the Bibles that were on one of the bookcases in Press’s office.

“Press, what are you doing with all of those Bibles?”

      “Well, Tom, they are just there.”

      “I’ve got guys down at the factory who don’t have Bibles. They could put those to use.”

      “Well…okay Tom, take a couple of them.”

So Tom would take a couple…and then a couple more..and then a couple more. A little while later Press, who often had to travel for the college, came back to his office to discover his shelves of Bibles were empty.

“Tom, did you take all of my Bibles?”

     “Yes, Press! Do you have any more? I gave them out to the guys that work at the factory.”

     “Did you have to take all of them?”

      “Press, they weren’t doing anybody any good just sitting on your shelf!”

     That what the beginning of his ministry. Soon after college he went to the Philippines where he played professional basketball for a while, and then was involved in a sports ministry where he would travel around in the country, play basketball, and share the gospel. He began a ministry in the Philippines in 1979.

Because of health issues he and Karen had to come back to United States about fifteen years ago and Tom became the Chaplain of the PGA Champions Tour. He would do Sunday chapels, Bible studies, and be available for counseling for any of the senior golfers.

The last fifteen years or so he and Karen have traveled back to the Philippines for a couple of months each year. Their practice is to be their for the month of December. Tom has also taken a basketball team on a tour for a week each year, playing games in different locations, and then sharing the gospel. Their ministry, World Harvest Ministries, continues in the Philippines.

Now, after a lifetime of work and ministry, he’s being held in a jail. Karen has shared that he has been able to give Bibles to several of the other cellmates that are in the crowded room with him. So, in essence, he keeps being a proclaimer as a prisoner.

I don’t know how this will turn out. He has a hearing on Wednesday, January 22. He has a legal team that is representing him. For now we are praying and waiting. I hope you will also.

The evidence of his life is my convincing of his innocence.

     I encourage you to check out one or more of these social media information sites about Tom and Karen’s situation and their ministry.

Facebook pages:  “Free Tom Randall”

“World Harvest Ministries”

web site: “tomrandall.org”