Tom Randall has played in over 2000 international basketball games in fascinating cultures and countries like China, Australia, Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong and his most beloved Philippines. He is bi-lingual, fluent in Tagalog (the national language of the Philippines) and familiar with many cultures and languages in Southeast Asia.
Tom grew up playing many different sports in the ultra-competitive (and often dangerous) public high school leagues of inner-city Detroit, Michigan. Withstanding the effects of drugs, crime, the riots of 1968 and violence that disintegrated a once proud and thriving Motor City, he developed skills and attributes that would enhance both his athletic career and ultimately 47 years of fruitful ministry.
Tom Randall and competitive sports
His love for competitive sports and success on the courts resulted in the opportunity for a scholarship to play at Judson University in Elgin, Illinois. Tom loved Judson’s beautiful campus situated on the banks of the Fox River, the student body, faculty and he thrived in the more stable and peaceful environment there.
Tom had two wonderful basketball coaches while at Judson. One was Dick Helm who introduced Tom to things of the Lord including the Bible and what a life lived for Christ would look like. Coach Helm went on to Wheaton College and then to the NBA as assistant to Lenny Wilkens in Seattle, Cleveland, New York, Toronto, and Atlanta. The second coach came to Judson Tom’s senior year. Jim Sziksai was another wonderful example of a Christian to Tom. Coach Sziksai introduced the idea of playing basketball for Christ to Tom.
Tom graduated from Judson University as the school’s All-Time Leading Scorer in basketball and led the nation in scoring as a senior averaging 31.5 points per game. His love for competition was evidenced by also excelling in cross country, soccer, and golf at Judson. Tom’s sports records at Judson still stand nearly five decades later and he was the first Judson athlete inducted into their Hall of Fame (sports). Judson named him Alumni of the Year in 1981 and he would later be given an honorary Doctorate in Humanities in recognition of his career in sports ministry overseas.
But’s Tom’s greatest experience by far was being led to Christ by his basketball coach, Jim Sziksai. His heart and life was changed forever and launched him into the fabulous life of sports ministry.
After graduating in 1976 Tom accepted an invitation to play basketball on a Sports Ambassadors team, going to Taiwan for five weeks. The team would be sharing Christ across the country and playing against their national team and professional teams.
About Pastor Tom Randall faith in Christ
On one particular day off he was invited to speak up in the mountains about his faith in Christ. He agreed and was happy to see more of the people and countryside. A very long car ride to an isolated building appearing to be a prison gave Tom the shock of his life. Kauchung Leprosarium was the home of 267 lepers at various stages of the deadly and hideous disease. With fear and trepidation Tom tucked his hands in his pockets (determined to keep them there) and was led through the gates and into a larger room where all the lepers were gathered to hear him speak. He immediately felt compassion looking out into the crowd of people suffering the destructive effects of leprosy. Tom was quite surprised to see all of these lepers greeting him with smiles of joy!
After speaking he was introduced to an older man with leprosy. He was the leader and was looked up to by everyone inside and outside of the leper colony. Mr. Tsai had lived in the colony for over 25 years and the advanced stages of the disease were obvious from his appearance. Despite being on crutches and with all his fingers gone the joy of Jesus shone brightly in his face and smile. He told Tom that they were all followers of Jesus in that place and reminded him that he shouldn’t judge them by their outward appearance but by the love of God in their hearts. Mr. Tsai also told Tom that he would pray for him every day because basketball provided Tom the opportunity to tell people all around the world the Good News of Jesus.
Even more amazing was that Mr. Tsai was the best woodcarver in Taiwan! They would fasten the carving knives to his wrists, and he carved animals, furniture, and busts so professionally that they sold his work all around the world. The money from the sales of his work paid for food, medicines, clothing, heat and utilities for the 267 residents of the Kauchung Leprosarium.
Mr Tsai’s life, work, testimony, and challenge inspired Tom’s decision to serve the Lord full-time.
He spent 47 years sharing the Gospel message of redemption all around the world. Rev. Dr. Tom Randall has dedicated his life to using sports to find common ground with athletes from many cultures in many countries hoping to win them to Christ.
Tom has played over 2000 amateur and professional and international basketball games. He has played in schools, stadiums, prisons, military camps, in small villages and in large cities. He has become known for being a basketball playing missionary for Christ!
Tom Randall Articles
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