Michael and Anna Sun serve in a unique way, opening up their home to host Bible Studies specifi- cally geared for a growing community of visiting scholars from China. We recently sat down with Michael to talk about this unique ministry.
“I am not a light, I am more like a servant.”
These are the rst words out of Michael’s mouth as we sat down in the Sun family’s Shorewood apartment to talk about how God is using their family and their home in mighty ways.
The Suns’ journey to their apartment in Shorewood was a roundabout one. It began many years ago when Michael was a young believer in his 20s, serving as a military o cer. He knew from the begin- ning of his faith journey that he was called to serve, and so any time he was able to, he would nd a church near his military barracks and serve in whatever way was possible. God was faithful during his 23 years in the Taiwanese military, allowing him to get two PhDs and three Masters’ degrees, all in the eld of International Politics. But after more than two decades in the military, their family was struggling. Michael was su ering from depression, their children were young, and extended family pressures led Michael to ask for early retirement. He says, “I think I made the right choice because I began to see God more closely. I feel that I had problems, my family had problems, and it was a lot of pressure. I wanted to retire early so that I could put my family back together.”
For the next 7 years, while their two sons,
Michael and James, were still young, Michael taught in the university and their family was growing stronger, but there were still problems. “I decided then to go to the United States to do research and I have very close friends who were professors in the Political Science department here at UWM and so I applied for a grant from the government and I got it. Previously, we only tried to stay here for 7 months but our whole family came and we liked it. Particu- larly we liked the worship at Eastbrook, which is very similar to the worship in Taiwan, in our Assembly of God church.”
They quickly got connected at a few local churches, including Eastbrook, as well as in their kids’ school, Atwater. When they rst arrived, in 2015, there were quite a few visiting scholars from China whose children went to Atwater. They found that the visiting scholar community had unique needs that they often found met in the church. In particular, they would come to churches such as Lutheran Memorial Chapel in Shorewood and Eastbrook for language help and for community. As they began to feel comfortable, they would begin to ask questions and wanted to go deeper in learning about Christianity. After only being connected with the visiting scholar community for two months, Michael saw that the need was much great- er than what they could do on their own. He reached out to Dan Zimmerman, a member of Eastbrook, and asked him to organize a Bible Study in the Suns’ home, which he agreed to. Soon the need became greater and they opened up another Bible Study on Tuesday nights led by another Eastbrooker, Derek Olsen.
In addition to the Bible Studies, the Suns also coordinate marriage and parenting classes once a month. As Michael describes it, “In China, because families only have one kid, their kids become like a prince or princess, and so parenting is a huge issue.” In general, Michael has seen the great need to equip visiting scholars with the resources they need to strength- en their families and marriages, which can often run into problems since their spous- es stay in China. He says that his hope is for visiting scholars to see that family is more important than career and money, and that God honors family.
As he builds up this community, Michael is very clear that the main focus is for the visiting scholars to know that they are loved. They come on assignment and generally are in Milwaukee for no more than 6 months, so the window of opportu- nity is small. The community is also very academic and elite, which is why he places so much emphasis on systematic teaching, but also on showing love, always asking, “If Jesus was here, how would He treat us visiting scholars?”
The Suns have seen the fruit of their minis- try, as they stay connected with old friends on WeChat. Some scholars have returned to China and set up their own versions of the Suns’ Bible Study because they can’t nd a church or place to go and connect with others and study God’s Word.
When asked what Eastbrook can do to support their ministry, Michael is clear that they need prayer. He says, “Pray for them. China is the most populous nation, and they are growing in power. There are more and more people like scholars and students, who are studying here. Quite a few people become believers because they feel loved.” Always a servant, Michael ends our interview with these wise words, “The reason we care for people is because we love them and want to give them the best gift. We just want to invite them and give them the good news.”