Pastor Tom Randall and the Pandemic Golf
The new Tom Randall’s golfing buddy, John, is a decorated combat soldier and 30-year military veteran who served under Sec. of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, at the Pentagon. On September 11, 2001 at 9:45 AM John was just exiting the Pentagon.
He immediately recognized the extremely low altitude of the 757-passenger jet banking toward him and the Pentagon. John’s warning screams saved a number of lives from the horrific explosion and jet fueled inferno and the structural collapse of the west portion of the Pentagon. Despite being covered in debris and jet fuel John somehow survived without serious injuries.
Tragically, 125 of his military and civilian co-workers at the Pentagon died along with 64 passengers on Flight AA 77. John spent the next 48 hours with other officers securing classified documents and offices and identifying victims.
So, you can imagine the joy and privilege Tom felt leading John to Christ on the golf course during the pandemic!
His new smile and enthusiasm for Jesus is infectious
He drives Tom to speak and play at different golf courses to play golf with his friends. John coordinated for Tom to speak to his PTSD support group that meets every Thursday.
Last week while playing golf a helicopter flew over them and triggered a PTSD episode in John.
Pastor Randall rushed over and wrapped my arms around John
Pastor Randall rushed over and wrapped my arms around John and prayed just as Karen and others have done for him many times. Jesus is our hope and refuge during life’s episodes of pain, stress, and fear.
A pandemic does not “shelter in place” God’s grace and redemptive powers. Our sovereign and miracle delivering God can use a widow’s oil, mud and spit, a shepherd’s sling, the ten plagues on Egypt, or even golf clubs during a pandemic.
Anticipating that opportunities to talk about Jesus would be severely limited by our shelter in place orders Tom was desperate to say yes to any invitation, anytime, anywhere!
Golf courses in central Florida remained open and it created a target rich environment of golfers for Tom to reach out to. There was a Korean group at Disney, 60 pro golfers at Mayfair Club, 30 Canadians at Mission Inn, Special Forces Veterans at Royal St. Cloud, Filipinos at Heathrow CC, etc.
The diversity of races and ethnic groups here in Orlando is like the United Nations of golf and everyone is mentally and emotionally stressed and in great need of hope and encouragement.
I kept saying yes to the invitations and was rewarded with 32 different groups over nine weeks on 13 different golf courses openly sharing the hope of Christ with men who normally would be resistant and do not darken a church door!
This message of hope was suddenly embraced by these men during the pandemic.
There is a cynical political strategy that says, “Don’t waste a crisis.”
But for Christians it is a reality! Christians show up with Good News during a crisis and trouble when others retreat in fear.
Tom’s nephew, Mike Randall, bravely reports to work at a Michigan state prison despite the presence of Covid 19. Tom’s niece, Dr Sara Svetich, treats her patients daily in Chicago despite driving through areas destroyed by rioting and looting.
Tom’s sister-in-law, Michele Derheim, courageously worked during the height of the crisis seven days a week at University of Michigan hospital caring for patients and for her staff. Even in the Philippines, Dr Arjel Rameriz, Tom’s godson and surgical oncologist, cared faithfully for his patients.
These family members inspire Tom Randall! Speaking to golfers is not much compared to these younger and talented relatives. But God uses what we have to offer, and one by one golfers are coming to Christ even during a pandemic and national crisis. A pandemic does not limit God. In fact, God can use a pandemic for His purpose.
Here are a few examples to think about when it comes to offering God what we have even in the midst of difficult circumstances!
- II Kings 4:2 “Tell me. What have you in the house?”
- Exodus 4:2 “What is that in your hand?”
- Judges 15:16 “…with the jawbone of a donkey have I struck down 1000 men.”
- I Samuel 17:40 “He chose five smooth stones for his sling…”
- John 6:9 “Five barley loaves and two fish…”
Because of Christ,
Tom and Karen Randall