CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (BP) — Freddie Yi-Yin Sun, who served a decade in Chinese prisons because of his faith and who helped establish more than 150 Bible institutes in the communist country, died of cancer Aug. 22. He was 76.
Sun’s Sept. 15 memorial service was scheduled at First Baptist Church in Charlottesville, Va., the church where Lottie Moon, a celebrated Southern Baptist missionary to China, was baptized in 1858.
Sun, born in Shanghai in 1936, immigrated to the United States as a teenager while his mother was a visiting faculty member at Wellesley College in Massachusetts, according to a report by Bill Bray, special projects coordinator for the Virginia-based Christian Aid Mission.
When he returned to China, Sun completed his education at Nanking University and became a geologist with the Chinese Academy of Sciences. He was involved in house churches planted by Watchman Nee. During the revolution launched by Mao Zedong, Sun’s faith in Jesus led to his imprisonment in a labor camp.
During a work release period, Sun met and married Dorothy Chang, who served 20 years in a labor camp because of her faith in Christ. Despite China’s one-child policy, the Suns were blessed with twin sons, Joseph and Daniel.
In 1988, Sun joined Christian Aid Mission’s staff as director of indigenous missionary works in China. The couple traveled more than 25,000 miles inside China each year since 1992, visiting every province. They helped start 154 Bible institutes and missionary training centers in China, some in every province including Tibet, Christian Aid said.
More than 50,000 graduates of those institutions have formed thousands of house churches throughout China, leading millions to faith in Christ, Christian Aid said.
Bob Finley, founder and chairman of Christian Aid, said, “No other missionary or Christian leader has had a more significant influence for Christianity in China than has Freddie Sun.”
In the United States, the Suns led an active ministry among Chinese students at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. Dorothy started a Chinese Bible Study Fellowship in 1987, with weekly meetings on the Christian Aid campus. More than 125 new believers were baptized at the meetings, the organization said, and more than 50 of them had been members of the Communist Party in China.
The group that emerged from those weekly Bible study meetings organized into a Chinese congregation that has been meeting at First Baptist Charlottesville.
“I believe history will show that Freddie Sun’s work in establishing and distributing financial support for 154 Bible institutes in China during the past 20 years has had a greater impact for the cause of Christ in that communist country than that of any other single person or ministry,” Finley said in a statement.
“When I left China in 1949 we estimated that there were less than half a million evangelical Christians in the entire country. Today there are more than 100 million,” Finley said. “Most have been won to Christ by native missionaries working with local house churches throughout the country. And by far the greatest source for these native missionaries has been the 154 Bible institutes started and financially supported by Freddie and Dorothy Sun since 1992.”
In addition to his wife, Sun is survived by his sons Joseph and Daniel, their wives and five grandchildren, all living in northern Virginia. In her husband’s absence, Dorothy Sun will continue the work between Christian Aid and the Bible institutes, the ministry said.
Compiled by Baptist Press assistant editor Erin Roach. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).