An Open Letter to Andrew Smith (Lead Pastor of The Bridge Fresno)

An open letter to the Lead Pastor of The Bridge Fresno. In this post I discuss how an Evangelical Free church badly bungled a prayer request by someone whose Mom was dying in nearby St. Agnes Medical Center. This post asks some hard questions including the following…why does this church exist if it fumbles such basic sincere needs from those in the community the church claims to serve.

“Be true to yourself, help others, make each day your masterpiece, make friendship a fine art, drink deeply from good books – especially the Bible, build a shelter against a rainy day, give thanks for your blessings and pray for guidance every day.”

John Wooden

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

Philippians 2:3-4 NIV

Is The Bridge Church Fresno the church for the San Joaquin Valley?

Andrew-

I can’t believe I am writing this open letter to you. This is going to be short but it will pack a punch to it. I had no plans to write such a letter but recently when I was at Whitehurst Funeral Home I realized something and it brought me deep concern about the stability and health of The Bridge Fresno. That is the church you pastor, and the one you are responsible for.  I have a history with your church as I was baptized and had my first evangelical Bible study there in 1999 and 2000. I wrote about that in A Personal Reflection on Fresno Evangelical Free Church; Known Today as The Bridge Fresno.” In “The Bridge Fresno vs. Holy Spirit Catholic Church: Who was More Pastoral?” I wrote about my family’s medical crisis and the eventual death of my Mother in St. Agnes Hospital on April 1, 2017. I also wrote about how I attended the 8:00 a.m. service at The Bridge Fresno on March 26, 2017 and left a prayer request. If I remember correctly in that prayer request I explained how my Mom is ill and my deepest fears of what could happen. What happened stunned me and is one of the most disturbing things I have encountered. What happened is that you guys did nothing. You neither contacted, reached out, emailed me and said “David, we got your prayer request and we’re praying for your Mom, and we’re here if you need anything, or if you would like to meet.”

I honestly didn’t think something like this would have happened. After all your church asked and stated if people needed help. My Mother was in the depths of an illness and dying. Does such acts, that of my Mom’s illness and her dying process, warrant prayer requests from The Bridge Fresno? When I realized The Bridge Fresno never responded I was in the midst of working with my family to help plan my Mom’s funeral. Isn’t helping the sick, and those under duress the basic core foundation message of The Gospel? Isn’t that what Jesus address both in parts of the Sermon of the Mount as well as verses such as Matthew 25:35-40 and Mark 12:31? Plus there are all the additional scripture verses such as Philippians 2:4, 1 Peter 4:11, 1 Corinthians 3:9 just to make a point.  What good is a church that doesn’t respond to a prayer request of a very serious nature? So tell me Andrew why does the Bridge Fresno even exist? If it can’t respond to the most basic aspects of the Christian Gospel in the community of Fresno, California then what next? If the Bridge Fresno can’t minister or love someone whose Mother is going through a medical crisis and dying then why does this church exist? Why solicit prayer requests anyhow if they are going to be ignored?

There is another issue that is going on in my mind due to this entire experience. I am wondering if there are other people in distress or pain who pass through your church who reach out for help and ultimately ignored? Are there other people who reach out I the midst of a medical crisis, a recent death, a family tragedy or something of a similar nature who fall through the cracks? If that happens the reality is that most people probably shake their head and walk away disgusted and they just stay quiet about it. I wonder Andrew how much a problem this is at The Bridge Fresno? I honestly do…in the process of figuring things out I ran this by another person for some feedback and they were stunned. So that told me that I am not the only one who feels like this in regards to this prayer request. As they say in the military, “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot!” I can’t believe that a church would act in such a way? I just can’t and I am stunned in many ways to be quite frank with you Andrew.

Your church which you shepherd is not serving or helping the community when this is how it behaves.  This is a profound loss and indicative of major problems that exist at your church. I do want to make sure that such a thing does not happen again to someone in need and someone in pain. But it will be interesting to see if this brings out other stories involving The Bridge Fresno. What I have usually found as a writer is that people start to come forward when they discover situations like this one.  But this stuns me deeply in so many ways. I think I have made my point in this rather brief letter to you Andrew. I hope I don’t have to write another open letter to you like this in the near future. I don’t enjoy this, and I am profoundly troubled that I have to sit down and pen this letter. Andrew your church needs to get its act together damn it!  Your church needs to find a way to respond and engage people who leave serious prayer requests. If you guys can’t do that then at least do the following…close your doors. Shutter them so people will not be hurt or walk away disillusioned. If your church can’t respond appropriately to a prayer request of someone dying in the nearby hospital then please….honor God by turning The Bridge Fresno into a parking lot. 

That’s all I have to say right now.

Very Respectfully,

David Bonner