On Sunday when we were sending out Dr. Helen Byakwaga to Uganda I (Jeff Garner) got really choked up and struggled making sense of my emotions. Helen said something that struck me deep, I think the Spirit used her words to encourage me, when she said, "I will always have a home in San Francisco and you have a home in Uganda."
Helen's words seemed to be the final piece to a puzzle of God's voice I have been trying to understand. A couple weeks ago the Holy Spirit woke me up and impressed upon me so strongly that I need to reach out to Lighthousers that had been dispersed by the Wind far away from San Francisco and share with them what is going on in our life and how I long to remain connected. So I reached out through a Lighthouse Diaspora Letter to as many as I had contact information for and several responded. What I am sharing below (with her permission) is a response from Rachel Wierenga .
FROM RACHEL WIERENGA
Wow, seriously thank you for this. I'm sad, but so proud to be a "diaspora".
Being separated from the SFL family we've made is the same feeling (if not worse) than how we felt when we moved away from our parents/family in Alabama to move to San Francisco. There's a constant pull, like we've been ripped from a bone, but still clinging on. There's a void where so many good things were - like [the pastoral] voice speaking truth in our lives, Joy's gospel sound when she sings, Henry's welcoming hugs on Sunday mornings, the gritty conversations around trying to figure out how we could form effective Beloved Communities in our city, the celebrations, and even the lamentations we lived out together - our experience was just so rich. It changed us. It brought us closer to God and gave us a clear vision of who we are in Him. I couldn't be more grateful for it.
I love this idea of "diaspora" especially since the past few years since we've moved from San Francisco has been super busy and I've had very little time to try to invest in a church or make friends in the minuscule moments of free time I can grasp. I'm just so thankful to have a foundation of christian friends like those we made at SFL. It gives me peace to know that during a time that I don't have much to give to creating new relationships, that we still keep in touch, stay connected, and communicate as a family in Christ, even though we don't live in the same city anymore.
And, since we're being "real" here, your communication with us is an answered prayer for me. A big, depressing, fear of mine has been this: Given that SFL's main focus is making disciples and building community in the city specifically, since we left, we're forgotten.
Which honestly, is understandable - really it is. But man, the thought hits me like a dagger to the heart sometimes, and frankly, I know my heart needs to be gospelled on the subject. But this email and hearing your thoughts about those of us who moved away is comforting, so thank you. And it shows that my fear is just a big fat lie.
Just in recent weeks, Aaron and I have started going to a church called Crosspoint Community Church (Bellevue Campus). It's one of those satellite church deals. The messages are relevant, they have a great kids program, and they're super close to our house. We would probably fit in better with a different/smaller church, but proximity is taking precedence right now. We signed up for a small group and we've met three times. It's more of a traditional "bible study" that uses questions based on the previous Sunday message. We love the people, but we definitely see why Beloved Communities are so much more personal and engaging. I think it will get better with time though and I'm grateful for some guided study of the word.
But, we are also experiencing a Beloved Community in its truest form thanks to one of our neighbors (who doesn't even know of the concept). As you know, we live in a quiet little cul-de-sac and almost everyone around us has young kids. My neighbor, Vinnie, started an email and we all decided we would start to meet every other Sunday night to just be together, have dessert, let the kids play, share a reading, and pray for each other. It's been really great and it truly is wonderful to live life with our neighbors that way. We've been discussing if we want to start a study or do a service project next, so it will be awesome to see where God leads us.