Brewing a better fundraiser

Boba for Missions uses tea to alleviate the steep cost of missions trips.

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Brewing a better fundraiser

Photo by Yehju Park/ THE CHIMES

Photo by Yehju Park/ THE CHIMES

Photo by Yehju Park/ THE CHIMES

Brittany Ung, Deputy News Editor

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(This story was originally published in print on March 14, 2019).

A businessman, a missionary and a tea specialist walk into a fundraiser. This is not the start of a bad joke. Rather, it describes the life of junior business administration major Brendan Sun over the past few months. Through Boba for Missions, a fundraiser he started for student mission trips, Sun combines his love for business, missions and tea.

BOBA BEGINNINGS

Sun says his passion for tea was sparked last summer, when a friend brought him to try a wintermelon oolong tea at EYEfiniTEA, a hybrid eyewear store and tea shop in Morgan Hill, California. Disappointed by the quality of local tea shops, Sun began experimenting with homemade tea. With Youtube as his primary source of information, Sun used trial and error to guide his choices of fresh tea leaves and brewing temperatures.

“I was researching and I ended up buying some tea online and trying different things. My parents probably thought I was kind of crazy,” Sun said.

Upon returning to Biola last semester, Sun found that his friend, sophomore cinema and media arts major DJ Schaffer, had also discovered a love for tea over the summer. The two concocted drinks from Sun’s dorm room, sharing new recipes with friends and creating a small circle of tea enthusiasts. Schaffer says he sees a divine influence even in something as niche as a shared appreciation for tea.

“I think it was a God thing that we both happened to get into tea over the summer,” Schaffer said. “Like, that doesn’t just happen, you know. So to come back both of us, and see that develop from ‘Wow, we both like tea’ to ‘We could do something with this.’ We can impact not only Biola but also parts of the world.”

MILK TEA FOR MISSION TRIPS

In preparation for his mission trip to Ensenada, Mexico through the Student Missionary Union, Sun began accepting donations in exchange for his tea—not yet a full-fledged fundraising initiative, but a forerunner to Boba for Missions.

After the trip to Ensenada, Sun was inspired to empower other Biolans to engage in missions. One trip can cost as much as $4,000, and support letters and Chick-fil-A fundraisers only go so far. According to Schaffer, finances remain the insurmountable barrier for many would-be missionaries.

“That’s one of the reasons that I couldn’t go [to Germany with SMU last summer], so I think if God could bless in that aspect so we could send out more people, I think that’d just be cool,” Schaffer said.

BOBA AS BUSINESS

Sun was inspired to launch Boba for Missions in part by Praxis Academy, an annual conference for business students. The event emphasized redemptive entrepreneurship—“redeeming the world through sacrifice”—which Sun describes as the intersection of his faith and fundraising efforts.

“I love serving people and helping people,” Sun said. “Before my thoughts and my opinion on that was like, ‘Oh, I have to pick one. I can’t do both.’ So through Praxis, and then being able to do this Boba for Missions thing, I was like, ‘Wow, I can actually integrate business with missions. And still hold true to both of them and do them both well.’”

Now, Boba for Missions fulfills around 10 to 30 orders per night, with Sun and some volunteers working to deliver boba on Wednesdays through Fridays. Sun dedicates around 18 hours per week to the fundraiser, but he says his favorite part of Boba for Missions is being able to spread his passion for missions.

DELIVERIES AND DISCUSSIONS

Sun’s original goal was to use boba sales as a bridge to raise awareness and involvement in missions. He realized this goal through his conversations with customers.

“The cool thing is getting people to think that you’re not just buying boba, but also getting them to think about missions. And like, what does missions mean to you? And what does it mean to us as Christians?” Sun said.

Sun’s friend and sophomore sociology and Spanish major Liz Beth Herrera was an early supporter of Boba for Missions. She says the fundraiser was uniquely successful due to Sun’s vision of boba as a conversation starter, not just a sale.

“When he would deliver, he would just be like, ‘How are you? How was your day?’ And that’s something that sometimes you don’t get. It’s good to have someone who cares and stuff,” Herrera said. “It’s not just about the drink but it also more about who’s buying the drink and kind of wanting to get to know the customer behind it. Or getting to memorize their orders because he just knows them so well.”

According to Sun, Boba for Missions gives students an opportunity to live missionally even before stepping off Biola’s campus.

“Yeah, I’m at Biola and it’s a Christian university, but knowing that the things that I do, my day to day is that it’s actually a mission,” Sun said. “It’s fulfilling God’s plan for the world, which is to restore and to redeem us. And me, by me living faithfully and obedient, I’m also fulfilling God’s task of mission, on a daily basis.”