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Beloved Leader Says Goodbye to Asia

Elder Randy D Funk

Elder Randy D. Funk leaves a legacy of love and service throughout the 22 nations and territories that comprise the Asia Area of the Church — and half of the world’s population.

“Of the 38 stakes and 37 districts in the Asia Area, there are only a handful that I did not have the privilege of visiting,” Elder Funk stated. “Even more rewarding than seeing the Church grow, is seeing the people grow. As I have traveled throughout the Asia Area, I have felt God’s love for each of His children and of His desire to bless them.”

During a recent visit to Asia, Elder David A. Bednar commented on Elder Funk’s long-term service in Asia, “You served two years as a young missionary in Indonesia, three years as a mission president in India and now five years in Hong Kong in the Asia Area presidency. You’ve lived one-fourth of your adult life in Asia!”

As a young missionary, Elder Funk had the assignment to open Semarang in central Java as a new city for missionary work. Among numerous experiences he had the opportunity to teach and baptize Brother and Sister Samad, then a young couple with four little girls and limited resources and prospects for the future.

“Their commitment to living the gospel of Jesus Christ opened doors to a brighter future both temporally and spiritually. Thirty-five members of their immediate and extended family are now enjoying the blessings of the gospel and actively serving others. Brother Samad is the patriarch of the Surakarta Indonesia Stake,” Elder Funk joyfully shared as he saw the fruit of his labor.

Elder and Sister Funk with Brother and Sister Samad from the Surakarta Indonesia Stake.
Elder and Sister Funk with Brother and Sister Samad from the Surakarta Indonesia Stake.

After concluding his mission in Indonesia in 1973, Elder Funk and his companions had a 24-hour layover in Hong Kong on their way home. He recalled riding the tram up to Victoria Peak and looking out over the panoramic vista of Hong Kong, the “Fragrant Harbor.”

“I said to myself, ‘This is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen! Some day when I have a wife, I’m going to bring her here!’”

Little did he know the Lord would indeed call him to return to Hong Kong in 2013, after serving as mission president in India, to be the second counselor in the Asia Area Presidency, with his dear wife Sister Andrea Funk at his side.

Hong Kong view from Victoria Peak.
Hong Kong view from Victoria Peak.

From countless personal experiences, Elder Funk has a firm conviction of the blessings of God resulting from diligent efforts and righteous desires.

After receiving his call to be a mission president over the India Bengaluru Mission with a start date of July 1, 2010, Elder Funk said, “I left my law practice, we sold our home, we got all our affairs in order, and we announced our departure date. We then learned there had been no missionary visas approved for India for over a year. Having done everything we possibly could do to prepare, we continued to put our trust in the Lord.  In early June, we got the call that our visas were approved.”

However, visa issues continued to be a challenge. Of the 76 missionaries serving when they arrived, 52 would return home before the end of the year with few replacements.

Undaunted, Elder Funk said, “We did all we could do within our ability. We visited all the districts in the mission and encouraged the leaders and members to prepare more Indian missionaries. By the end of 2012, the mission was blessed abundantly to have 109 full-time missionaries, most of them came from India, but we also started receiving visas again.”

Elder Funk noted how he has seen that pattern repeated many times, “When we do all we can do, the Lord then blesses our efforts and miracles occur.”

He continued, “We have taught the members in India the importance of temple ordinances. We have encouraged them to do family history work and to come to the temple, and they have. It is a sacrifice to come so far, but many have demonstrated great faith and have come. Some experienced visa issues in Hong Kong, so we redirected them to Taiwan. We have tried to do all we could to make the blessings of the temple available and yet the number of faithful Latter-day Saints in India is growing faster than they are able to receive temple ordinances. We have prayed that there might be a temple more accessible for them.”

In humble gratitude, Elder Funk rejoiced with the rest of the Church at President Russell M. Nelson’s announcement at the Church’s general conference on April 1, 2018 of seven new temples, including one to be constructed in Bengaluru, India.

President Nelson described at a meeting with members in India on April 19, 2018 during his World Ministry Tour how the announcement for the Bengaluru Temple came about.

He said, “Our plans were to announce six new temples at conference time. The Lord told me on the eve of conference: ‘Announce a temple in India.’ … That was the Lord's doing.”

Reflecting on this remarkable series of events, Elder Funk said, “As we exercise faith, the Lord will cause things to happen that need to happen.”

And so it has been on numerous occasions and in countless ways as Elder Funk has ministered to individuals and families throughout Asia from Mongolia to Timor Leste, from Pakistan to Taiwan—and everywhere in between.

“Besides teaching from the pulpit, Elder Funk especially loves to visit the homes of members and families,” said Elder Zeno Chow, an Area Seventy in Hong Kong.  “His love has been felt by all those he has visited and taught. He is always so gentle and personable. Many lives have been touched because of his tireless service and great example.”

In 2013, in celebrating the 40th anniversary of the return from his mission and passing through Hong Kong, Elder and Sister Funk made a return trip to Victoria Peak, along with Elder Gerrit W. Gong who was then Asia Area President, and his wife, Sister Susan Gong. Elder Funk fondly recalled his thought as a young missionary to someday return with his wife.

Elder Gong said, “I think Heavenly Father heard you and fulfilled your righteous desire.”

Elder and Sister Funk on Victoria Peak in Hong Kong.
Elder and Sister Funk on Victoria Peak in Hong Kong.

As Elder Funk prepares to leave Hong Kong, he reflects on when he was a young father after their first child was born, “How could I possibly love other children we may have as much as I love this one?”

He and Sister Funk and their other five children can all attest that his love has been just as deep for each additional child.

From his experience in serving among this half of the world’s population, Elder Funk affirms, “It has been indelibly impressed on my mind and in my heart how much Heavenly Father loves each and every one of His children. He knows them. He hears them. He desires to bless them.”

To Elder and Sister Funk, the chorus of members and friends across Asia reverberates, “God be with you till we meet again.”