The Words of the Fleischman Family

Profile: Gary Fleischman

Kevin Thompson
February 12, 2010

Favorite movie:

Captive Hearts -- not a well-known movie but to me a heart-warming story -- during the World War, a captured American pilot and a young Japanese village woman fall in love.

Favorite book:

East Wind, West Wind, by Pearl Buck -- a story of two couples set in the early 20th century: a Chinese-American couple dealing with cross-cultural issues and a Chinese couple struggling to embrace modernization. I only read it once, many years ago, but it's stayed with me.

Most admired person:

Sun Myung Moon

Biggest influence in your life:

My wife, Birgitta


Hiking, walking, and reading.

Favorite quote:

Jeremiah 29:12-13 "Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."

Nicest place visited:

Austria -- especially the Austrian Alps with picturesque villages.

How did you come to your faith?

At the time I was witnessed by my brother, I called myself a Jewish atheist. I identified culturally with Judaism but injustice that I perceived in the world, the Vietnam War, and a book I read called African Genesis led me to believe there was no God and that man was evil by nature.

After hearing the DP, I went on a backpacking trip to Yosemite. I prayed three days and had two experiences which shocked me into the realization that God exists and was with me. On the seventh day, I had an accident, injured myself, and had to cut the trip short. I think that was also from God, because if I had completed the trip (30 days minimum was planned, and I had thought of traveling for one year), I probably wouldn't have taken the faith experiences seriously nor pursued anything having to do with religion.

As it was, I returned to the Bay Area, heard the DP again, and gradually came to the realization that I believed it and should dedicate myself. Going to Africa 3 years later as a missionary was also like a rebirth, since it felt like meeting God in a deeper way and taking ownership of my faith.

What legacy would you like to leave?

To have never given up despite all the challenges and struggles I have faced, in terms of faith and various relationships, especially family.

What do most people not know about you that may be a surprise?

When I was 5 or 6 years old, I won a hula-hoop competition, keeping it spinning around me longer than the other contestants.

Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?

Not much change from where I am now -- our two girls will both be in college, maybe blessed, but since I have a 6-year old he will still be a middle-schooler at home. I will still be working in the import-export field but hopefully I'll have put away some money and will have found ways to use the business more in a sense of serving, teaching, and benefiting others. I started to do that this year when I was able to gather and send relief goods to American Samoa after the tsunami, which was a rewarding experience.

If you were suddenly given $1m what would you do with it?

Tithe 10%, pay off our mortgage, then go traveling with my family -- Hawaii (my wife's dream) then Africa, Europe, Asia, and the South Pacific -- take my kids to people and places where I've lived and visited.

What do you like most about BAFC [Bay Area Family Church]?

(1) Having Kevin Thompson as pastor,
(2) having lots of nice young people around.

What suggestion do you have for improvement?

It seems our church has trouble finding a balance between faith/sacrifice and living a "normal" life. I guess that's another way of saying mind/body unity. It looks like In Jin Nim has been able to find more of a balance in her life and I would like to learn from her example 

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