Friday, October 29, 2010

My Letter to FMCSF

Dear Friends from First Mennonite Church of San Francisco,

I don’t know if any of you read this stupid blog, but if you do I want to let you know that I often find myself thinking about you. And while the fact that church services here last for four hours, in two languages I don’t understand, in 110-degree weather may explain part of it; mostly, I think of you because of the blessing you are. Literally, since I’ve been in Mozambique not a week has gone by where I haven't received a letter of encouragement from one of you. I wanted to take some time to return in small part what you have given me – to encourage you, because I know that there are difficult times ahead. Times which will be important for the future of our strange little church held in a Jewish synagogue in the Mission.

There are many things about Mozambique that remind me of you. Sometimes I will be traveling on a highway through the desert and pass a lonely man dancing on the roadside. I think that sometimes you are that man. Or maybe since you are Mennonites, you are rather that lonely man singing. Recently as in many times in the past, it seems you are alone again because of your commitment to certain beliefs about types of love permissible in the house of God. And it is difficult. It is difficult to be the face of a cause you believe is right. And it is difficult to be the prophets of a new creation. But I've seen you singing in the desert and it haunts me still.

Do you remember that Sunday this past year when Russ gave his testimonial? After he spoke, I had the chance to ask him what was his vision of the perfect church community. He answered, “it’s this one.” Recently, I've come to agree with him on this completely. Though to be honest, it took me a while to realize it. I struggled with your theology, because it is perhaps as diverse as the people who attend. I found that you, much like myself, are still undergoing a process of figuring out who you are and what you want to be. And there are difficult and painful conversations left to be had. Because It always hurts to grow. It took me a long time to glimpse the true center of your theology. Which I now believe to be the inclusion of all people into the body of Christ.

I don't often write letters to churches; And I know this is a poor epistle because I am an even poorer Paul. Instead, I feel like Balaam finding myself unable to do anything but bless what God has already blessed. And yes, I believe God has already blessed you – how could He have not? You have someone in Mozambique praying for you. Never stop singing.

Your brother,
Stephen Esaki


  1. Stephen, I'm speechless. Yes, someone is reading your "stupid blog" (hardly; it's an amazing chronicle). Your testimony fills my heart with such gratitude. First Mennonite is First Mennonite because of people like you. You are us -- saints/sinners with feet that doesn't always dance the way we want them to, with hearts wide open. You're a blessing to us. Love, Sheri (pastor of strange little church)

  2. Amen, brother. Peace and love to you, far away, and thanks for your blessing and for keeping us in your thoughts. There's a place waiting for you at our table for when you see us again. And thanks for sharing some of your thoughts and experiences here.

    I'm not sure it's theology you're describing. Maybe it's a mission, or a vision, but maybe theology too.

  3. Stephen, it's so easy for us to hold you in our thoughts and prayers - YOU'RE doing the hard work! We miss you, and we're holding a seat for you when you get back!

    Thank you for living the example of Christ - I know, I know, a Jew saying that? But you are doing it! Much love to you from everyone here!

  4. Stephen, your letter to the Church brought tears to my eyes. Thanks for taking this strange leap of faith, commitment or whatever it was to get you to Mozambique! Thanks too, for taking the time to reflect and write about it. It makes us all better persons. Peace, Lyn.

  5. Stephen - you are in our thoughts and prayers at least daily when we take showers and collect quarters for the work you are doing in Africa, and sometimes more frequently! What an amazing journey you are on, stretching your comfort zone (sometimes beyond belief) and sharing your experiences with those of us cloistered in SF. Continue to keep us in your thoughts and prayers! The Suters

  6. Thanks, Stephen. Like I said before, you're a great writer. Thank you. I really appreciated this letter the first time I heard it (Jennifer read it to us all last Sunday during fellowship hour) and now, the second time - reading it here.

    I have one request. Please don't call your blog stupid. It's not.

    You're thought of and prayed for here more than you know.

    Happy Thanksgiving!