Megachurch speaker Tom Randall describes alleged abuser as “best friend”, calls colleague who reported abuse “evil”

Truth Seeker
19 min readApr 8, 2019


“Entangled” (CC BY 2.0) by Arktekt

Christ Community Chapel has yet to comment publicly on the recent allegations from two women that Tom Randall, employed there since September 2013, touched them inappropriately while they were minors. Regarding the abuse allegations at a Philippine orphanage funded by Randall, nothing further has been posted by Joe Coffey since a March 12 internal email.

Randall spoke frequently about the Philippine orphanage case during the gap between when he was released in February 2014 and last month’s statement by Coffey. My first post covered Randall’s statements about the former Sankey kids and noted that Randall almost entirely omitted the ongoing criminal case being fought by some of the alleged victims. My second post covered Randall’s statements about his time in NBI custody, where he says he was assaulted and asked to pay bribes. He described the NBI detention center as a hotbed of human rights abuses, including life-threatening beatings. I am still trying to follow up on these claims, which would be explosive if true.

This post covers Randall’s statements about two other major persons involved in the case: Toto Luchavez and Joe Mauk.

Toto Luchavez

Based on his stories, Tom Randall met Luchavez circa 1983 (in a 2018 sermon, he says Luchavez had been his assistant for 35 years). A church profile for World Harvest Ministries (dated approximately 2011) describes the Luchavez family as follows:

Toto and Bebs Luchavez are an integral part of World Harvest Ministries. Toto and Tom met when Toto was a caddy at a nearby golf course. He soon became Tom’s right hand man helping with errands, preparation for ministry teams and then going along on the trips and doing whatever needed to be done. He eventually became the director of our orphanage in Lucena City, Sankey Samaritan Mission. He and Bebs are the heart of the work there. Toto still does preparation for teams that are coming, handles all the finances of World Harvest Ministries in the Philippines, and is a wonderful mentor to the kids and dorm parents at Sankey. Luchavez’ have three children, two of which are in college and the youngest is a high school student. All three love the Lord and willingly have worked alongside their parents to make the kids at Sankey happy.

It’s unclear exactly when Toto Luchavez went from golf caddy to right-hand man, but it appears to have been before 2003 — in Randall’s 2003 interview with Sola Scriptura, Toto Luchavez is pictured with the caption, “Toto Luchavez, Tom’s right-hand man”.

By the time of his arrest on January 13, 2014, Toto Luchavez was in charge of both Tom Randall’s ministry in the Philippines and Sankey Samaritan children’s home. Luchavez was arrested on suspicion of sexual abuse and human trafficking. Two girls had made written allegations of multiple forcible kisses each. Both also gave sworn statements to the NBI after the arrest reiterating their claims. Other alleged victims gave sworn statements implicating Luchavez’s adult son, Jake Luchavez, who was also Randall’s godson. Jake Luchavez was arrested at the same time, but Randall does not mention him in his detention center stories.

Luchavez described as “friend” and “bodyguard”

Luchavez is typically introduced in Randall’s sermons as his “best friend” or “bodyguard”. In these sermons, Randall says Luchavez was arrested “with” him — he never mentions that between the two of them, Luchavez was the one facing allegations of sexual abuse.

  • “I mean, I’ve been around long time, 60 years, you learn to look at your enemies real quick, and Toto my bodyguard got arrested with me, fortunately, and he said, ‘Boss you watch those three right now. They’re sleeping ten feet from you. You sleep with one eye like this.’” (Aug 6, 2017 @ Venture Christian Church, Los Gatos, CA)
  • “And thankfully, I had a friend, Toto Luchavez, my best friend in the Philippines, he’s been with me for thirty five years. Thank God he got arrested with me, you know. Thank God for me, you know — for him, not so good, you know. But I was thinking, I’m glad we’re in here together.” (May 31, 2015 @ First Baptist Church of Geneva, IL)
  • “And I was not doing well. My friend Toto, who came in with me, thankfully, we both got charged. He saved my life, really. He’s been my friend for years. He saved my life a couple of times in the Philippine jungles, but he just was fantastic.” (Nov 9, 2014 @ Purpose Church, Pomona, CA)
  • “The one blessing was that my best friend in the Philippines, Toto Luchavez, and he’s worked for me for thirty five years, he’s been my assistant. They arrested him with me. And two are stronger than one, three, like an unbroken cord, it says in Ecclesiastes, so back-to-back, we were able to survive.” (Aug 19, 2018 @ Church on the Hill, San Jose, CA)

Luchavez portrayed as co-missionary

Randall portrays Luchavez as his helper and co-missionary in evangelizing the detention center block. Some examples:

  • Toto came over. He said, ‘Tom, Tom, look around.’ It was early morning. I always started my day with my own little private Bible study, quiet time. And I opened my Bible, he said, ‘Look, look around.’ I looked up and there were eight or ten guys with Bibles around, reading the Bibles we’d given them. When they started asking for Bibles, we got them, in any language they wanted.” (Jun 29, 2014 @ Venture Christian Church, Los Gatos, CA)
  • Toto and I ran into Bernie Carpio today!! I met Bernie in cell block 1 where he had been held for 8 months before I arrived as his cell mate. You may remember we paid for his wife and two young sons to travel from another island so he could see them for the first time since his arrest. He joined our morning Bible study in prison and came to Christ. He is head of security at Mega Mall near my hotel and a strong Christian, bold in his faith and testimony for Christ! Toto and I are so encouraged to meet yet another man we won and discipled in the prison who is living for Jesus now. Toto and I have continually met men and women who remember our story from going to prison and all of them have been thrilled to hear about our faith and how God has used us since!” (Dec 3, 2017 newsletter)

Joe Mauk

Joe Mauk appears to have been a friend of Randall since about 1980 or 1981. (Randall has said he was a friend of 33 years when it all went downhill.) The Mauks were also missionaries in the Philippines and ran a partner ministry called the Rizal Re-Creation Center. Randall described Mauk and the ministry in a February 2004 prayer letter:

The Rev. Joe Mauk is 50, is happily married, has five daughters, a seminary degree, founded a Bible school, directed an international mission, managed a resort, has a very high IQ, plays the trumpet, reads Greek, and is the best top spinner in the world. He has the only Saint Bernard (could feed a village) in the Philippines, a temperamental 20 year old pet monkey, and several large pythons. He also loves sports and competition and using them to win as many to Christ as possible.

For over 20 years Joe and I have enjoyed using sports and recreation to reach Filipinos for Christ. We also took our SCUBA certification training and dives as a team (he kicked my mask off at 60 ft.), taught each other how to slalom ski (busted eardrum and flipped the boat), hunted a deadly cobra (don’t ask), and did fireworks displays (nearly took out the snack shack!). We like to go on runs, swim across the lake, play Frisbee golf, Coconut Croquet, Ping Pong, pool, and have water or dart pistol fights. And most of all we like to attract others using sports, competition, or recreation to hear the Gospel of our precious Savior.

Because of our friendship and desire to win others to Christ we invested in Rizal Re-Creation Camp and opened it last March. We are trying to provide every activity possible (after trying it first ourselves, of course) to be enjoyed along with the Good News that changes lives. And every month more people are coming to the camp to vacation, retreat, or have conferences. They do the ropes course, play beach volleyball, play basketball, go down the water slide, and a dozen other activities. And more and more are coming to know Christ.

In a blog post dated March 29, 2010, Randall described Mauk as a trusted friend and ministry partner for over 25 years. The Randalls also mentioned visiting Joe and Ruth Mauk in their Christmas 2010 and Christmas 2011 newsletters. Mauk’s daughter described the Randalls as very close family friends:

I clearly remember the day that my parents met with us and we unanimously decided to call Mr and Mrs Randall, Uncle Tom and Aunt Karen. My family has no one else that close who bears that honour. Though everyone calls Uncle Tom, “Uncle Tom”, for our family, it was an honour only given to him.

The partnership appeared to continue until the end of 2013. A short-term missionary at Sankey mentioned visiting the Rizal Re-Creation Center in August 2013. In mid-November 2013, replying to a query about how to support the center post-typhoon, Mauk directed financial support through World Harvest, saying, “Can also send funds through World Harvest Ministries — Tom Randall, Karen Tom Randall. World Harvest Ministries — Tom and Karen Randall.”

All this appeared to change soon afterward. By December 26, 2013, Tom Randall had resigned from Joe Mauk’s ministry board. By January 14, 2014, the day after Randall’s arrest, Joe Coffey on behalf of Randall was calling Mauk a “friend gone bad”. Randall’s comments about Mauk from 2014 onward have a markedly different tone from his earlier ones.

Randalls blame Mauk for “pushing” complainants, “influence”

In the weeks and months after the arrest, the Randalls updated supporters through their newsletter and through the Free Tom Randall Facebook page. The newsletters were sent to supporters but not posted on their website. (I had wondered why there was such a big gap in their website posts.)

On January 14, the day after Tom Randall’s arrest, Karen Randall wrote:

We believe we know who made the complaint but we can’t figure out why. Maybe I will be able to share more on that later. But for now I’d rather not just speculate.

On January 19, 2014, she sent an update saying that they had found out who the complainants were. (From court records, we know these were several youth and young adults from Sankey who had made sworn statements to the NBI.) Karen Randall wrote that they suspected others of “pushing” the complainants to bring the charges:

I’ve been asked about who brought this complaint and why they would do this many times. We know who the official complaintants are and we also suspect who is or are the one or ones pushing these complaintants to bring the charges. We don’t believe the official ones named on the charges could ever have handled bringing charges to the American Embassy who then asked the NBI to step in and are now considering prosecuting a case against Tom, Toto, and Jake.

On January 30, 2014, Toto and Jake Luchavez were charged with several counts of sexual abuse based on the alleged victim testimonies. Randall was not charged, and a few days later, he was released. The criminal case against Toto and Jake Luchavez would remain open until 2016.

In the meantime, the Randalls’ newsletters continued to focus on the ones they claim were “influencing” the complainants. In an April 2014 newsletter, they wrote:

When the raid on Sankey Samaritan Mission happened in January we had no idea of the eventual repercussions. Tom, Toto, and Jake spent time in the NBI detention center, our 31 kids were all held and questioned by authorities and eventually spread out to various children’s homes around the country, and our family of 31 would become divided and influenced by some who would mean us and Toto’s family harm.

We have spent time with Toto’s family, with some of our present and former staff, and most especially with our kids. Of the 31 kids we have 22 living under our care. One is living with her family for now (we hope to get her back with us when the time is right for her and her family) and our youngest, John Paul is still being held by DSWD. The other 7 were signed out of DSWD by the ones behind this case. Those kids remain with that group and we are so sorry to be separated from them. But in this situation we have no say. So, we are going to focus our energy and attention on the 23 under our care and keep working to get John Paul in a better situation.

Randalls blame “bitter individual” for “gossip”, “interference”, “slander”

In several later newsletters cross-posted on their blog or in posts to the Free Tom Randall Facebook page (both have now been taken down), the Randalls blamed “gossip” and “slander” by a “bitter individual”:

  • “We experienced the painful consequences of people’s slander and saw our kids’ lives blown up.” (Aug 13, 2014 newsletter)
  • “Two years after being cuffed, arrested, and publicly slandered Karen and I believe neither the willful, malicious acts nor unintended mistakes of people can thwart God’s purpose for us!” (May 18, 2016 newsletter)
  • “Our staff, the kids, our lawyers, our church family and friends have grown in faith despite the false accusations, arrests, social media gossip and slander directed at us and at them.” (Nov 26, 2016 newsletter)
  • “The missionary who inserted himself into our business and escalated the gossip and slander which resulted in our arrest and the detention of our kids is no longer credible or relevant and poses no threat.” (Oct 4, 2017 newsletter)
  • “Having ignored the recent social media slander and gossip of the bitter individual who cased me harm and time in NBI custody four years ago I still feel fortunate NBI agents or police allowed me two wonderful weeks of ministry and a safe trip back home.” (Jan 13, 2018 newsletter)

Randall calls Mauk “evil”, obliquely at first, by name later

In his sermons, Randall frequently referred to the Mauks as “evil people” who “betrayed” him:

  • “Obviously you know about my story, that I went to jail for twenty-two days recently in the Philippines. I wouldn’t pick that out as my favorite place to encounter God. But I did. I did. I encountered God for twenty-two days, and now I look at it, and never mind the evil people that put me in there, never mind the corruption and stuff that kept me in there and never mind all the difficulties of being in there.” (Jun 15, 2014 @ Christ Community Chapel, Hudson, OH)
  • “When I got arrested in January, it was a shocker. Now, I’ve been arrested before — and not for anything that I did bad, by the way, just because I was sharing Christ in other countries, in several different countries. But it was never this bad. You know what made this one worse? Because it was a personal offense of somebody that I knew. It was another Christian who betrayed me and started this whole uproar. That can happen to anybody. It happens, but it makes it harder, doesn’t it? When it’s personal.” (Nov 9, 2014 @ Purpose Church, Pomona, CA)
  • “There are friends who pretend to be friends and there are friends who stick closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24. Sanj, you stick closer than a brother, Doc, you stick closer than a brother, and Joe, you stick closer than a brother. It’s not — ironic that the one who sent me to prison, or had a lot to do with it, was somebody I considered a very, very close friend for 33 years and was actually sitting in the car when I got handcuffed and taken away and did nothing about it.” (Apr 10, 2015 @ Christ Community Chapel, Hudson, OH)
  • “Being put in jail for twenty two days was humiliating. It was also painful. And it was offensive, because it was somebody that I knew who put me in the jail, unjustly. And nothing’s been done about that. But you know what? I do better when I forgive and let that go, even though it hasn’t been asked for yet.” (Mar 6, 2016 @ Blossom Valley Bible Church, San Jose, CA)
  • And at the time, I could see the evil. What people were doing for evil. And even made it more personal, there was, it was some friends who had done this to us, that had betrayed us, said these untrue things, and we had to deal with them. (May 2, 2016 @ Christ Community Chapel, Hudson, OH)
  • “And even doing this, this church has been attacked, through the press. Joe Coffey’s taken some attacks from the people in the Philippines that started this. They attacked everybody. But over time, what they meant for evil, God has used for good…” (May 2, 2016 @ Christ Community Chapel, Hudson, OH)
  • “That’s what makes it so hard. The last one, the one that put me in prison for twenty two days. That one hurt so bad because the guy who had it done was my friend of thirty five years. He was a man that I trusted. In fact, it says in Psalm 55, it was such a a bad thing for David, he wrote about it. Psalm 55. Here’s what it says. ‘For it is not an enemy who taunts me — then I could bear it. It is not an adversary who deals insolently with me — then I could hide from him. But it is you, a man, my equal, my companion, my familiar friend. We used to take sweet council together, fellowship within god’s temple and house. We walked in the throng.’ The one who had me put in prison was a friend. Yeah. I helped raise his children, his daughters. I did their weddings. We helped them financially in generosity. We gave them all of our life. We knew them. We had never done any wrong to them. That one hurt.” (Aug 6, 2017 @ Venture Christian Church, Los Gatos, CA)

In a 2017 sermon, Randall blamed Mauk by name:

The hardest thing for me that broke my heart was, it was a friend who had me put in jail, unjustly. And then all the social media and all the things that came after, the television, the character assassination, the lies, all of it. Ay, it hurt. Remember William Wallace, in the movie, William Wallace? When he’s wounded, he’s laying on the ground. He realizes somebody’s betrayed him and turned the army against him, and it turns out to be Earl the Bruce, a fellow Scotsman. He takes off the thing, he looks at him, and he goes — he wanted to give up. He was brokenhearted. That’s what I felt when I found out it was my friend. But the circumstances don’t change the order from God, command of God, to love your enemies. And you know, it has helped me, over time, is praying for Joe Mauk and the others who did this to us, for Karen and I. (Jul 24, 2017 @ Christ Community Chapel, Hudson, OH)

Statements from Mauks

It’s interesting that Randall’s negative statements about Mauk began immediately — I have found no statements where Randall allowed for the possibility the alleged victims were telling the truth. At the time of many of these statements, Luchavez was facing criminal charges for committing lascivious acts against minors. Rather than reserving judgement until the case finished, Randall made it very clear which side he was on.

In contrast, the Mauks’ statements from early years were positive about Randall. When Joe Mauk initially reported the abuse allegations to Tom Randall in November 2013, he wrote:

I would like you to please, take a breath, slow down a bit, and don’t read the following fast. Contemplate and absorb as much as you can without rushing to conclusions. There are three things I want to share with you to outline the basic situation as I see it.

1. I am your friend. I re­committed to this friendship when we had the kerfuffle over Brian. I made a vow to God that, no matter what, I would be your friend. In this vow I am writing to you now, and I compelled Ruth to call Karen first to lay a little foundation.

2. There is clear evidence that for at least the last four years, Toto has been using his position of authority to take advantage of the girls of Sankey.

3. If you give Toto any indication you have been informed of this, innocent people may suffer and most likely no additional evidence of wrongdoing will ever come forth from our kids.

I am sending separately by email attachments the letters from {VICTIM 1} and {VICTIM 2}. I am doing this out of friendship and concern for the ministry. But primarily love and concern for you. Since these came to my possession, to not hand them over to you would be a violation of our friendship (and also a criminal act). Actually my first desire was to come home and enlist the help of Joe Coffey to break the news to you. Unfortunately my passport is being renewed and the time of your trip is very soon.

By February 2014, Mauk was expressing “disappointment” but was still “glad” to hear of Tom’s release. The Akron Beacon Journal reported on Feb 4, 2014:

“I am very glad to hear of Tom’s release, this means that none of the many sworn statements of the rescued children/young adults implicated him in any way with physically abusing them. This is what we all have been hoping and praying for,” said Mauk, in email correspondence. “I have been disappointed in the stubborn refusal to accept that long-term systematic abuse and oppression was taking place at his institution. Of course, four months ago, I wouldn’t have believed it either. But when the plain statements of the young people themselves are overwhelming, it is time to change our thinking.”

And in his June 2014 letter to Joe Coffey, Mauk wrote of his “concern” for his friend:

My second concern is for our mutual long­time dear friend and brother, Tom. He has always valued my analytical ability and has counted on my recommendations in handling many problems in the past. This time there has been an amazing rejection and denial of the truth of my reports and, further, an assignment to me of diabolical motivations which don’t exist.

The strength of his denial and his recruiting of his army of support network to come to his aid is very unfortunate. He is trying to transfer his considerable reputation of personal integrity to Toto, and he has been successful in part. However, truth can not stay hidden forever. Abuse was happening routinely at Sankey and, even if successful in hiding it now, it will come out sooner or later. The kids who began giving reports will give them again some day. Those abused by Toto and Jake will tell their stories sooner or later. It is the pattern in these institutional abuse situations. The next tragedy beyond that the actual abuse happened, is that Tom and all those he has convinced to support him, will be shown to have been strongly defending the abusers rather than hearing the statements of the abused. It may be that Tom is emotionally/psychologically unable to accept the depth of betrayal that Toto has perpetrated on him. This is where he may need the emotional and spiritual support from the pastoral concern and counsel of a long­time trusted friend as yourself. If meeting with you could help with your pastoral counsel of Tom, I would then be in favor of such. I am not really interested in a protracted debate on a “he said-­you said” basis. I am very concerned for my friend, who no longer claims me as a friend, to be freed from the snare in which he is becoming entangled.

Miriam (Mauk) Bongolan in her May 2014 interview said:

But the hardest part for us, and I was talking to the girls the other day about it, the hardest part for me is I don’t want to find out that Uncle Tom isn’t the man I always thought he was. I don’t want it. I don’t want to hear that he might have done something wrong or that he’s intentionally covering up, even though it looks like that. For all of us, it’s really a torn thing, because we love Uncle Tom and we wouldn’t ever want to hurt him or lose his friendship. But standing up for the truth is more important.

Now we’re going through this case and it’s just a lot of drama that seems unnecessary, and a lot of criticism. And we never, ever thought it would come to this. We thought Uncle Tom would read the letters and say, “OK, Toto needs to be replaced.” We never thought any of this would happen. I think we’re all still kind of processing that it did.

As the years went on and Randall continued to call them gossips and slanderers with evil motives, both Mauks began to give stronger statements, culminating with Bongolan’s March 21, 2019 Facebook post, which for the first time made allegations of inappropriate behavior by Randall himself.

Willow Creek parallels

There are interesting parallels to the situation that imploded in 2018 at Willow Creek Community Church.

In the Willow Creek case, lead pastor and nationally-famous speaker and author Bill Hybels was alleged to have sexually harassed women, including having a long-standing affair with a woman he was counseling. Two prominent Christian couples brought their concern to the elder board in 2014. They conducted an “investigation” and closed the matter:

The Elders conducted the investigation on their own, and it comprised the following:

(1) Discovery of 1,150 emails between Bill and the woman over the previous two years. The Elders reviewed none for content.
(2) A face-to-face conversation with Bill Hybels on April 6th. They said they could “look him in the eye and discern if he was telling the truth.”
(3) A fifteen-minute phone conversation, also on April 6th, with the woman who made the confession, who had previously emailed Leanne three times that if her story went public she would deny it.

Then, the church Elders declared the matter closed. All of this had taken place over the course of only nine days. The coordinating Elder recommended that I talk to Bill Hybels directly.

More women came forward. The two couples continued to communicate with the church elders. In 2017, the church hired a law firm that “exclusively represents management” to do another investigation. Ortberg wrote, “I and others were left with the painful decision to not participate in a process I believed lacked genuine independence and credibility.” Predictably, the law firm concluded in favor of Hybels.

Finally, the issue went to the Chicago Tribune, which published an article in March 2018. Hybels threw the two couples supporting the alleged victims under the bus:

Hybels said the Mellados and Ortbergs are at the center of what he describes as the collusion against him, describing the couples as a kind of “vacuum cleaner” pulling in false accusations.

Both couples denied orchestrating a campaign to bring Hybels down by gathering false claims to bring against him. The last four years have been painful, they said.

“It’s absolutely not the case,” John Ortberg said. “This information came to us in a way that was unlooked for, unwanted, and it put us in a terrible situation. To say I was motivated to find a problem couldn’t be further from the truth.”

He added, “I love Willow Creek dearly.”

Hybels’ church leadership and elders also blamed the whistleblowers, sending a letter to the congregation saying:

We want to share something with you of serious concern. The Chicago Tribune just published an article that is extremely negative toward Willow Creek. It is based on false allegations resulting from a campaign by a group of former church members who want to damage the reputation of our church and our senior pastor. They have mounted a campaign to accuse Bill of inappropriate behavior.

But the investigative reporting continued, and several more women came forward over the next weeks and months. Hybels resigned without admitting guilt. It became more and more clear that the allegations were true. Eventually the replacement pastors and the entire elder board stepped down. An advisory group hired by Willow Creek published a report in 2019 concluding the allegations were credible.

Time will tell what Christ Community Chapel chooses to do.

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