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Tom Tune, longtime missionary to Asia and South Pacific, dies at 83 (Updated)

Update: Funeral service and memorial contribution info added below.

Tom Tune in Vietnam (Photo provided by Steve Hawley)

Tom Tune — a missionary sailor, ship builder, tailor, carpenter and performer of countless other tasks — died Feb. 5 in a veterans hospital in Little Rock, Ark. He was 83.
A funeral service is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 16, at the J.H. Churchill Funeral Home, 201 S. 3rd St., Murray, Ky. Visitation is Friday, Feb. 15, from 5 to 8 p.m. at the funeral home.
Tune was a longtime missionary to Asia and the South Pacific. He and his family served in Hong Kong for five years. In 1972, he and a group of church members bought The Christian Chronicle and moved it to Nashville, Tenn. Tune served as this publication’s business manager for two years.
In a 2008 feature, we detailed Tune’s work:

Longing to return to mission work, Tune bought the Dorcas Sue, which he named after his daughter, in 1979. He traveled to 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.

Tune’s nautical skills brought him to Vietnam  about five years ago, after Arkansas-based Partners in Progress asked him to oversee construction of a medical mission boat. Launched last March, the Ship of Life makes trips along the Mekong River in Cambodia.
During the boat’s construction, Tune started meeting with a handful of Vietnamese Christians.
Baptisms followed, and the group has since grown to more than 100.
“I was told not to teach or preach or I would get kicked out. The Lord only knows how I have managed to stay,” Tune said, adding that God “has blessed us so very much — as only he could.”
In addition to nurturing the young church, Tune has 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. They have little money or social status.

Most recently, Tune worked in Can Tho, Vietnam. A longtime friend and ministry partner, Steve Hawley, visited him there in 2012.
“The work in Can Tho won’t perish,” Hawley wrote of his friend. “Tom took care of the vision part. But we’re sure going to miss him on the journey he laid out for those he loved. When I left Can Tho on July 31, I told him I’d see him next summer. There are no more summers for Tom, but he got the best end of the deal.”
Tune’s son, Mike Tune, is minister for the Church of Christ in Falls Church, Va. In 2009, he said this of his father:

“He has served the Lord in Central America, South America, the Mediterranean and … has begun a church in a country where it is forbidden,” Mike Tune said. “He just keeps going.
“We’ve talked about what happens when he gets to the end of the road. He told me, ‘Plant me where I drop. I’ll rise with the people I love.’”

Memorial contributions may be made to “Tom’s Kids.” Contributions may be sent to:
Amazing Grace International
P.O. Box 8453,
Falls Church, VA  22041
(Please mark contributions for “Tom’s Kids.”)

  • Feedback
    Tom Tune was my friend. He was one of the most unselfish men I ever met. He overcame numerous obstacles in his life. He spent his years working for Christ, without the training most preachers receive. He worked abroad, often without adequate support. When necessary he worked with his hands inorder to stay on the field. He was unafraid of danger. While traveling with his little ship, the Dorcas Sue, he often found himself in serious trouble: from stormy seas, to equipment failure, to complications with foreign maritime officials. With abounding faith he worked his way through those problems. Most brethren never heard of Tom. Few would count him among the great preachers or scholars of our day. But he was a true servant of God…faithful unto death. That’s what really matters. I look forward to seeing him in gloryland. John Waddey
    [email protected]
    John Waddey
    February, 7 2013

    @johnwaddey, thank you for the wonderful words about Bro. Tune. I attend Falls Church where his son Mike preaches and I am encouraged to hear of this man’s love for God from his son Mike and others. I am sure his legacy will live on.
    Tammy Cowart
    February, 7 2013

    I have tried to keep track of Bro. Tune since he visited us in Pensacola to raise support for his work with the Dorcas Sue in Latin America. He has shown his faith in the Lord Jesus by the things he has done.
    RIP Bro. Tune.
    Brian McCown
    February, 7 2013

    Something else Tom did was to write the facinating biography of Elizabeth Bernard, “Ah Wing’s Elizabeth Bernard, Forty Years among the Chinese.” This is an ideal narative to inspire young people (and old people) to serve the Lord with complete dedication. Read it aloud to children’s classes! Click on the link above for an online copy.
    Roy Davison
    February, 7 2013

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