“Run, Forrest, run!” is the instruction Forrest Gump got from his friend Jenny, and that started the adventure.
It led to him playing football for the Crimson Tide, running coast to coast across America, being an unlikely hero during the war, becoming a ping pong phenomenon in China, investing in Apple, and becoming a shrimp boat magnate. That all happens in the course of a 90-minute movie.
It has taken my friend Tom Randall 40 years, but his life has amazing parallels to the story of Forrest.
I don’t know anyone who has had more adventures or done more in the name of Jesus than my friend Tom. Being his friend for 25 years has given me a front row seat to his life. I’m probably one of the few that has had the privilege of not only hearing most of the stories of his amazing life but also living some of them side by side with him.
I’ve walked the streets of Manila and watched as scores of Filipinos came up to him to thank him for saving their lives in one way or another while introducing them to their Savior. I’ve seen him do his halftime show to thousands while they laughed, and then saw him take their laughter and turn it into an opportunity for them to hear the greatest story ever told. I’ve seen him love government leaders, professional golfers and poor street kids with the same intensity.
If that is all I ever saw, it would be enough for me to say that I’ve seen someone be more like Jesus than anyone I’ve ever been close to.
But in the last few years I’ve seen him face prison, betrayal, pain and a deep joy. I’ve watched him wrestle and love and forgive and continue to minister wherever God puts him. His last 3 years might have been his best ever because they’ve been unnoticed and unseen by most. But I have seen them, and it has made me love Jesus more.
This week he heads back to the Philippines where his heart has always been. He sees it as his time to love the country that has been his greatest source of joy and pain. He wants the chance to love them one more time and tell as many people as he can about the Jesus who suffered for them and loves them even more.
I’m writing this to ask you to pray for my friend. I would ask for you to pray for his safety, but I think he would want me to ask you to pray more for something else. Pray that Jesus would be seen and be glorified. Pray that light would shine in the darkness, and that Tom would be once more right in the middle of that miracle.
Forty years ago God grabbed hold of Tom and said, “Run, Tom, run!” And Tom has been running ever since. He wasn’t running away but running toward where God wanted him to go. And God gave him adventures we just get to hear about. I am praying this will be one more time that God uses him and gives him more stories to tell. Years ago someone said to D. L. Moody, “Moody, the world has yet to see a man wholly consecrated to Him.”
I’ve seen that man. His name is Tom.