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Open to God

In 1987, an energetic young couple from Canada arrived in Austria with a desire to serve God. It was their first long-term assignment, and they wondered how long it would be. 

Now, in 2021, Richard and Hazel Funk are ready to retire after thirty-four years of ministry in Austria: thirty-four years of church planting, preaching, teaching, counseling, leading seminars and coming alongside leaders who needed some support and encouragement. 

The couple originally met at Millar College of the Bible in Saskatchewan in 1969. Shortly after that, Richard went to Austria on his own to serve with Operation Mobilization (OM). Upon returning to Canada, he and Hazel were married and, as they both sensed a call to mission, they began to pray about returning to Austria together. Shortly thereafter, they embraced an opportunity with OM in Austria, but within two years they found themselves back in Canada. They loved their time overseas together, but it had not yet been time to stay long-term. Still, their hearts were open to the possibility of more.

A few years later, in 1985, they prayed specifically about a long-term opportunity overseas. The very next day, they received a call from MBMSI (now Multiply) explaining that the Austrian MB Conference had asked for them to return in order to help with church planting. Richard and Hazel landed in Austria in July 1987 and never looked back. 

“We were inexperienced,” Richard said as he recalled their initial interview with the mission agency, “but we were ready to commit to the task of church planting. We told them we wouldn’t run from problems.” When asked specifically about their church planting strategy, Richard said he drew inspiration from Acts 4:13, and said, “I’m an ordinary man, a farmer’s son.  I just want to live my life in such a manner that people take note that I have been with Jesus.”

As Hazel now looks back on more than three decades in Austria, she says, “We love many things about this country—the culture, the language, the people, the land. It became our home.” 

When the couple returns to Canada this year, they will leave behind two of their grown children with their families and, of course, many loving friends and co-workers. 

As for retirement, Richard and Hazel plan to take it slow for the first year. They realize that they need time to deal with culture shock as they adjust to their new context in Canada. Two more of their grown children and their families live in Canada, so the Funks plan to spend a lot of time with them. Hazel intends to start a Bible study in her new neighborhood. They both cherish the hope of going back to visit Austria in the years to come. However, mostly the Funks plan to wait on God for guidance. Like all those years ago, Hazel has said again, “We’re open!”

SERVE

Are you open to God and to his calling on your life? If you are sensing a call to serve God overseas, let us know how we can help you. To speak with a Mission Mobilizer, call 1.888.866.6267, or go to serve

 

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