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Friends of a Hudson pastor jailed in the Philippines since Jan. 12 continued to rally around him at three prayer services Jan. 19, hoping for his freedom and needed medical attention.
Tom Randall, a pastor at Christ Community Chapel in Hudson, has been in a Manila jail since his Jan. 12 arrest in connection with allegations of human trafficking at Sankey Samaritan Orphanage in the Philippines. Two workers from the orphanage, Toto and Jake Luchavez, were also arrested.
Randall, a former pro basketball player in the Philippines and chaplain of the PGA Champions Tour, founded the orphanage and World Harvest Ministries, according to Joe Coffey, lead pastor at Christ Community Chapel.
Randall has been charged with "negligence" stemming from alleged human trafficking, according to Coffey. A hearing, originally scheduled for Jan. 17, was delayed until Jan. 22.
As of Jan. 20, Randall had not been to the hospital for treatment of high blood pressure, which is 170 over 100, toxic poisoning, a urinary infection, a chest infection and various bumps and bruises, Coffey said. Randall's godson, a doctor, has been visiting the cell and helping as he can, Coffey said. Randall has been treated "some in his cell," which included intravenous fluids for dehydration.
Filipino officials could not be reached for comment.
Randall, who initially feared for his life, has received visits from Filipino actor and model, "Hayden," which has given the pastor "celebrity status," Coffey said.
Hayden brought food and blankets to Randall, Coffey said. While in a Filipino jail, the only food and blankets you are given must be brought in from the outside.
Randall has made friends with fellow prisoners, who are requesting his prayers, and the guards, according to Coffey.. The guards allow him to charge his cell phone and use it for a limited amount of time, he said.
"At one point he got someone to buy the whole cell block Kentucky Fried Chicken," Coffey said.
According to Coffey, Randall is using the time to minister to people in the cell block, which at one point contained as many as 40 prisoners. The cell block contains one toilet and one sink.
"He [Randall] sounds encouraged that God is using him to pray with other prisoners," Coffey said Jan. 19. "Someone brought Tom a stack of Bibles in Tagalog, which is the language of the Philippines. Prisoners are asking for Bibles."
Ohio Sen. Rob Portman's office was made aware of the situation by members of Coffey's congregation.
"Senator Portman's staff reached out to and spoke directly with Ambassador Cuisia, the Filipino Ambassador in Washington, regarding Tom Randall," Michael Haidet, Portman's deputy press secretary said Jan. 16. "Our office is continuing to work all diplomatic channels to investigate this situation."
Haidet said Portman is also concerned about Randall's "declining health."
As of press time, Randall has still not been taken to the hospital, Coffey said.
"We are hoping Tom can be allowed to go to the hospital today [Jan. 19] for medical care and we continue to pray for resolution and then release," Coffey said.
"This is only going to end in two ways," he said. "Either Tom is going to die...or he is going to be released and live."
Coffey updated the congregation Jan. 19, during three morning services, on the condition of Randall and the circumstances surrounding his arrest.
Prior to Randall's trip, there were rumors about possible misconduct at the Sankey Samaritan Orphanage, Coffey said. Randall was going to investigate the allegations during the trip.
However, Filipino authorities began an investigation in which Randall was questioned, Coffey said.. There were no charges and Randall continued with the missionary trip. After the investigation, Randall contacted Coffey to report the trip had been a success.
"Thirteen hours later he texted me and said, 'I'm in handcuffs and headed to Manila,'" Coffey said.
Someone had contacted Homeland Security and the US Embassy in the Philippines alleging that "World Harvest was a front for sex trafficking," he said.
During the services, Coffey recounted cell conversations and several texts from Randall.
During one call, Randall mentioned a riot and said "'Joe, I got to get out of this place, I'm not going to survive,'" Coffey said.
"Then the phone went dead for hours," Coffey said.
Contact was later reestablished.
"He goes up and down, there are tough times," he said.
Church members started a "Free Tom Randall" Facebook page which has more than 21,400 likes since its Jan. 14 creation.
Coffey played a voice mail from Randall's prison cell. Randall thanked the congregation for their prayers.
"I feel your prayers and I'm uplifted by your prayers," Randall said. "I feel that Jesus has stretched His arms around me and kept me well."
After 22 days in a Philippine detention center, Tom Randall has been completely cleared of all charges and set free. Please publish an updated article, and help restore this good man's reputation.