Thomas "Tom" Joseph Rust g72
Few would have guessed when Tom Rust graduated from Fort Wayne Bible College (FWBC) in 1972 with a major in Christian Education that his real impact on the world of sports was just about to begin.
Originally from Lima, Ohio, Tom was reared by his mother and paternal grandparents after his father died when Tom was two. Tom was the oldest of four siblings, one of whom, his sister Judy Rust (now Deeter), followed him to FWBC and also graduated in 1972. There was just a hint of things to come at Elida High School, where Tom played basketball one year and baseball four years.
Tom’s athletic career at FWBC spanned 1966 through 1970, earning him six varsity letters in three sports: three in basketball, two in baseball, and one in tennis. A hard working, multi-sport role player, his coaches and fellow players remember Tom especially for his unflagging dedication, humble service, and wonderful sense of humor during years when the school’s athletic teams sometimes struggled to win at all. In addition to playing, he kept statistics, chronicled the exploits of his teammates in The Student Voice, and even drove the team van on long road trips.
Tom’s contributions to the realm of athletics, and especially to sports ministries, have grown fairly steadily and dramatically since then. Today he is best known as the director of Face to Face Ministries, an organization he founded in 1992 that uses radio interviews with Christian athletes to encourage others in their faith. Heard on numerous stations across the country as well as on the internet at www.facetofaceradio.com, Tom has interviewed hundreds of celebrated athletes about their lives, their athletic careers, and their personal faith—players and coaches drawn primarily from the professional and collegiate ranks.
The scope of outreach has expanded over the years to include ministry to the persons being interviewed. “I realized early on that it was important to connect with the athletes,” Tom says, “because they needed someone they could confide in. It has been a joy to be that person over the years.” As communication technologies have proliferated, Tom has reached out through each of the new media now available, providing his athletic friends and contacts with Scriptural insights and personal encouragement.
Tom plunged into sports ministry shortly after graduation from FWBC, beginning with his role as the first director of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes on the Michigan State University Lansing campus (1973-1979). For three years during this period, he was also a chaplain to the Michigan State University football team. For his efforts, he was awarded an honorary varsity letter in 1974 from the MSU varsity club.
From 2000 to 2006, Tom was basketball chaplain for the Indiana University Hoosiers under Coach Mike Davis. Currently, his chaplaincy efforts are focused on two local high schools near his home in Columbus, Indiana. He is the sports chaplain for South Decatur High School, and also the chaplain coordinator for the Columbus North football team.
In Columbus, Tom has also enjoyed a successful career as a sports broadcaster. Since 1990 he has been the play-by-play voice for football and basketball on WRZQ and WYGB radio in Columbus. During that time, he has covered three state basketball championship games, and has broadcast games from both Conseco Fieldhouse, home of the Indiana Pacers, and Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the Indianapolis Colts. He also writes a monthly column centering on sports and faith for The Republic (Columbus, Indiana) newspaper, and distributes an occasional e-mail blog. Tom is in demand as a speaker and has recently developed a tract ministry, rehearsing stories from remarkable interviews.
For much of his career, Tom ministered with Youth for Christ, first as a staff member in Lansing, Michigan (1972-1979), then as Executive Director for programs in Cincinnati, Ohio (1979-1982) and Columbus, Indiana (1982-1998). Following the death of his beloved wife Frances (“Fran”) Kay Dunham Rust (1949-1997), a former fellow student at Fort Wayne (FWBC 1967-1970), Tom turned to Face to Face Ministries on a full-time basis, currently serving as its director. In 2004 Tom accepted the call to pastor Sardinia (American) Baptist Church in Decatur County, and he continues in that role in addition to his other ministries.
Tom was named the Taylor University Fort Wayne Distinguished Alumnus for Personal Achievement in 2002. Then, in 2004, the Indiana Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association honored him with the Marv Bates Award as the Indiana Sportscaster of the Year.
[Editor's note: Tom was officially inducted into the Indiana Sportswriters & Sportsbroadcasters Hall of Fame on April 19, 2014. Introducing Tom was Dick Epps g65. Here's a link:
Tom is joyfully married to Beverly (“Bev”) Jean Trimpe Helmbrecht Rust; he has two children, Matt Helmbrecht and Stephanie Helmbrecht Rawlings, and one step-grandchild, Claire Elisabeth Rawlings. Tom’s mother, Mildred Rust Carnes, lives in Wapak Manor, Wapakoneta, Ohio. In his spare time, Tom loves to read biographies, bicycle, bowl, golf, play softball, and lead his fantasy baseball league, which he has participated in for a quarter century.