Missionary sailor Tom Tune dies at 83
Those were the words Tom Tune used to describe his desires “when he gets to the end of the road,” his son, Mike Tune, said in a 2009 interview with The Christian Chronicle.
Tom Tune had sailed the globe and intended to die in a foreign field — most likely Vietnam, where he had worked for eight years. Instead, the missionary sailor, ship builder, tailor and carpenter died Feb. 5 in a veterans hospital in Little Rock, Ark., after enduring multiple health problems during a furlough from his overseas work. He was 83.
Born in Murray, Ky., Tom Tune joined the Navy at age 16. In 1961 he and his family moved to Hong Kong to serve as missionaries. In 1979 he bought a boat, named after his daughter, Dorcas Sue, and sailed the waters of South America and the Mediterranean, delivering medicine, fitting the poor for eyeglasses and teaching about Jesus.
In 1991 he sailed for Hong Kong. He stopped at the Cook Islands, where he found opportunities to serve the people of the South Pacific. While overseeing construction of a medical mission boat in Vietnam, he shared his faith with the people he met. Baptisms followed and a church was born. Soon, nearly 100 people attended. Tom Tune helped establish another congregation in the Vietnamese city of Can Tho.
The missionary also launched “Tom’s Kids,” a program for impoverished children in Ho Chi Minh City. Many of the children are descendants of Vietnamese who supported the Americans during the Vietnam War. The program now has 145 children in school. Four have attended a ministry training school in Singapore, and two have studied at Christian universities in the U.S. Mike Tune, minister for the Church of Christ in Falls Church, Va., helps coordinate the effort.
MEMORIAL CONTRIBUTIONS may be sent to Amazing Grace International, P.O. Box 8453, Falls Church, VA 22041. Mark contributions for “Tom’s Kids.”