The following are three accounts of the founding of Sankey Samaritan children’s home. Two are from Tom Randall – one in 2012, and another in 2018. They differ significantly. A third is from the original directors of Sankey. It, too, differs significantly from Randall’s accounts.
Some details do line up:
- Randall visited an orphanage that was in poor condition.
- A Filipino couple donated land to build a new orphanage on.
- A seed donor provided $10,000 to get the work started.
But note also the elements that don’t line up:
- The Randalls had already left the Philippines in 1996; it is not possible they were adopting or caring for children there in 1998-2000. The Randalls never ran the day-to-day operations of the home.
- In his first story (2012), Randall says they have adopted 52 kids. In his second story (2018), Randall says they had 19 girls and 12 boys (total 31).
- Tom Randall claims the Filipino couple somehow already knew he wanted to build an orphanage and volunteered their land; the couple say he specifically asked them if he could build an orphanage on their property.
- In the 2018 account, the Filipino couple is omitted entirely.
Toto Luchavez was not the initial director.
Version 1: Tom Randall, Links Players, 2012:
And I was in the Philippines and many years ago, and I saw an orphanage. I went to speak at it and I realized how bad it was in condition, and I realized that politically, government-wise, government doesn’t do a good job of doing this. Christians do a great job, or a Christian organization that centers on that, does a good job. I just felt awful for these kids. So out of– I don’t know what I was thinking about, I impulsively thought I could start my own orphanage. And I still to this day don’t know what I was thinking, I didn’t even ask Karen. And so I prayed about it and there were two Filipino Christians that I knew really well, I said, “Would you help me with this?” They said, “We’ll help you start an orphanage.” I said, “How did you know I was going to start an orphanage?” And they said, “We’ve been praying about it, and we can see your desire. And if you’re going to do that, we’re going to do it.” I said, “Well, that’s amazing.” They said– I said– they said, “How do we start?” I said, “Let’s just get some kids and love them. But we’ll need some land.” And they said, “We don’t need any land. We’re poor Filipinos, but the land that we live on is ours, you can have that.”
And from that we developed the orphanage. And on the same day–now get this–on the same day–this is when email just started, I didn’t even know anything about it. My wife sends me an email from the States to a friend. First communication we’ve had by email. She says, “You’re not gonna believe this. A friend of yours, who you led to Christ years ago, decided he wants to do something for kids, with you in the Philippines, even though you do basketball, find some kid you can invest in,” she said. She didn’t even know I made the decision to do this. And neither did he. Coincidence, and immediately just to assure he meant something, he gave $10,000 and said, “Go do something with it.”
What I took that and these two and my desire. And I said, “That makes sense to me.” Now I know it’s going to be a sacrifice of some kind–I didn’t know over twenty years the sacrifice it was going to be, because we now have adopted fifty-two kids. But I’ll tell you what, I wouldn’t turn a kid back or any of the experience, I’m going, how much joy, and I have fun doing it.
We couldn’t have our own kids, so we decided, at one point, we needed to do something more. You know, we had funds. We had ministry funds, we had funds from our earnings from teaching and playing ball. So we thought, “Let’s adopt a few kids, you know?” And in the Philippines, there’s so many kids that need parents, their parents have died in a volcanic eruption, or in a tidal wave, or an earthquake, or just some tragedy, you have a disease. So we started taking in and adopting and taking care of a couple of kids and we got carried away. And we have nineteen girls and we have twelve boys. … And we love these kids and just watching them grow.
And so we built a home for us, a home for the girls, a home for the boys. We built a gymnasium, we built a medical center, and we built a school. So it’s all self-contained, and we had a farm we bought. So the farm, we ran the farm and that helped us, the kids helped us farm. And we did enough to earn, help with the budget of food and rice and everything like that. Plus, they learned to work and learned about farming and everything like that. So we had a wonderful, contained situation there. People from the outside came and taught at the school, Karen set up the curriculum. And then we had medical teams and basketball teams all come over from the Philippines–I mean, from the States to the Philippines.
Version 3: From Desperate for Love: The True Story of the Faith, Hope, and Love Kids’ Ranch, published in 2011:
In 1998, I met a missionary friend in a Christian bookstore in Lucena City. She told me that there was a man in town from the United States that I should meet, and that he would be playing basketball at one of the colleges in town. We had never taken our kids to a basketball game, so I thought it would be a good idea to go watch the American missionaries play basketball against the Filipinos. Afterwards, my friend introduced me to the leader of the group and he asked about our ministry. I told him that we held Bible studies with prisoners and taught at a government facility for abandoned, abused, orphaned, and neglected kids. He asked me if their group could visit the jail and a kid’s facility. We went to the jail first. He brought his unicycle and a few basketballs to juggle to entertain the prisoners a bit, and afterwards he shared the gospel with them. Then we took our new friends to an institution that caters to children in need. Because they wanted to do something for the kids, I asked the head of this institution what this group could do. The answer was simple: “They can clean.”
… I had already been volunteering my time at the center and a nearby school, trying to help as much as I could; but it was nice to have a group help out, even if it was just for a half day. The leader of the group wanted to do more for those kids inside the center, so he asked us to look for six Filipinos who could go in with me and help clean, teach, love, or do whatever was needed to help them take better care of the kids. He also said that he would pay the workers’ monthly salaries. That sounded terrific! I would have help! We wrote a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) listing our desire to come alongside with more volunteers, to help where needed. Impatient to begin work, we didn’t understand why it was taking so long for our MOA to be approved. We didn’t know what to do next; all we could do was to trust and wait for the Lord’s timing and perfect will. We didn’t understand at that time that God had a much bigger plan in mind. When our American friend returned to the Philippines, he found that we were still on hold. We were all getting impatient, and we began looking for another avenue to help the kids who were so heavy on our hearts. Our friend took Celing out for lunch to discuss the problem. He finally asked Celing to take him to our property to show him where our family lived. After several hours of discussion on the problem, he asked if we would be willing to build an orphanage on our property. We were shocked—it was the last thing we expected! But we agreed; and the $10,000 donated by investors became the seed money to start our own orphanage.