Elder Gerrit W. Gong, recently called to serve in the Presidency of the Seventy, remembers a prompting that came to him while he was serving as a missionary in Taiwan.
An investigator came into sacrament meeting. “I felt inspired to write him a short note in Morse code which said something like, ‘Welcome to sacrament meeting. Happy to see you here!’”
The investigator happened to be a radio operator and was delighted to receive the message. “I was amazed that something I had learned years earlier could help me … to reach a certain individual in a particular way,” says Elder Gong.
Learning and reaching out to others have been the course of Elder Gong’s life since childhood, when he learned Morse code as a Boy Scout. In 1977 he received a bachelor of arts degree in Asian Studies and in University Studies from Brigham Young University, in 1979 he received a master of philosophy degree, and in 1981 he received a PhD in international relations from Oxford University.
Elder Gong has served in numerous Church callings, including high councilor, high priests group leader, stake Sunday School president, seminary teacher, bishop, stake mission president, stake president, and Area Seventy. At the time of his call as a General Authority Seventy in 2010, he had been serving as a member of the Fifth Quorum of the Seventy in the Utah South Area.
In 1985 Elder Gong served as special assistant to the undersecretary of state at the U.S. State Department, and in 1987 he worked as special assistant to the U.S. ambassador in Beijing, China. From 1989 to 2001 he served in several positions at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C.
Gerrit W. Gong was born in Redwood City, California, USA, in 1953. He and his wife, Susan Lindsay Gong, are the parents of four children and have three grandchildren. Elder Gong’s grandparents immigrated to the United States from China. He has traced his ancestry back 33 generations to First Dragon Gong, born a.d. 837 in southern China during the late Tang dynasty.