Deacons of BelPres: Sean Neely & Ester Suan-Tjoe

Deacons of Belpres, Neely Family

Sean Neely & Ester Suan-Tjoe

Sean: I was born in Seattle and grew up in Bellevue.  Not necessarily unique, but my family always had tons of books.  Our basement was wall to wall with shelves of books – it looked like a mini library.   I have continued that tradition, much to the dismay of my family (we will need a bigger house soon – no more room for more shelves). Growing up, my family was nominally Christian, but we typically only attended church and activities during the holidays. By high school, I was firmly agnostic – God existed, but I wasn’t convinced about the details. As I grew older, I began searching for a stronger answer. Ester provided an “onramp” to the church and pretty much jump-started my faith journey.

Ester:  I grew up in Malang, Indonesia. We had no books. Christians are very much in the minority in Indonesia, so there were challenges at times to be able to practice my faith. So, my family placed great importance on keeping our faith and being faithful, regardless. In fact, our family hosted Sunday school for neighborhood kids out of our garage for a while.

Both: We met at work and were married in 2003. Sean’s aunt and uncle are long-time members at BelPres. Ester visited because of them and liked the church’s vision and message. After a while, Sean agreed to visit with her to see what “all the fuss was about.” He, too, found he liked it. We really like being able to support one another in the Deacon role. In fact, we can bring our daughter, Keira, into the mix to make it a family effort. Keira comes to the Deacon meetings and often helps out with various activities. It has turned out to be a wonderful way to both model service AND to provide a chance for her to practice it as well. Being a Deacon is deeply rewarding. Beyond the joy of coming alongside people to support and help them, we also have found wonderful community and connection with our fellow Deacons. It also has been great for our own faith journeys.  It allows us to engage in prayer more often than we probably would otherwise and helps keep us focused on being open to how God might want to use us.

Sean Neely & Ester Suan-Tjoe,

Deacons in Area 3, covering parts of zip codes

98031, 98038, 98056, 98058, 98059


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Deacons of BelPres: Alice Fong

“I guess the thing that I’m thinking about the most because I’m starting my own business is about my parents’ small business. They had a little Chinese restaurant in Tacoma, and because my work is about relationships, their restaurant really modeled that for me. They were very relational in their work, and it was a lot of fun. They still have relationships with people – they’re excited when they see them at Target or wherever they’re at. One time, we were at Anthony’s Seafood Restaurant, and somebody was staring at my parents, and then they came over, and it turned out they used to eat at our restaurant. I loved the restaurant because of how relational it was. I didn’t love all the work, but I did like being able to have conversations with people, to learn their story, and I think that is the coolest part of my childhood. I never felt sad that I didn’t get to do what normal kids did my age because I went from school to the restaurant, but it was fun because I just love talking to people. That built a really strong foundation, and it carried me through my whole career thus far and into my business, Gwaan Hai. Gwaan Hai means “relationship” in Cantonese. I started coming to BelPres to play badminton when I first moved out to Bellevue. When I moved out on my own, my mom told me I should find my own church, so I asked my badminton friend Geoff where I could go. He said, “why don’t you come to my church?” I asked where his church was and he pointed out through the double doors from the Community Center and said, “it’s right here!” So I came, and I didn’t fall asleep during the sermons. Scott is funny! So I kept coming. I actually was very hesitant when I got the call to be a Deacon because you have to pray for people. They gave us prayer training, but it didn’t sink in until the last couple years. I’ve had to pray more, and I got better at it, and I just realized that it’s not me praying, it’s God praying. Yeah, I guess that is probably the best thing. I love a lot of things about BelPres, but the prayer journey is just magical.”

-Alice Fong

Deacon for Area 2, 98004 & 98039