November 20, 1917– January 26, 2010
Esther Fish was born to a Free Methodist pastor’s family. At the age of 6 she became a Christian and a member of the Free Methodist Church.
While attending Roberts Wesleyan College, New York, Esther met Edwin Clemens. They were married in December 1940. Following Edwin’s discharge from the U.S. Navy in December 1945, the couple sensed a call to agricultural missions. After consulting with Free Methodist World Missions, the Clemenses enrolled in the College of Agriculture Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio. They were appointed to Portuguese East Africa, now Mozambique, and completed their courses in March 1950. That September they went to Lisbon, Portugal, where they spent one and a half years in language study.
Esther and Edwin arrived in Mozambique in March 1952 and focused their missionary careers on agriculture and education. They served at The Evangelists’ School located at Inhamachafo. The three-year course offered there included Bible, history, catechism, theology, reading, writing, Portuguese and agriculture. The evangelists lived with their families in student housing and earned a living off their small plots of land. Esther taught in the school and also conducted classes for the evangelists’ wives. Esther and Edwin believed strongly in the importance of the Evangelists’ School. In an August 1952 letter they wrote, “The church can never send enough missionaries to evangelize the area. The nationals must be taught so that they may evangelize their own people. Then what better opportunity is there to minister to one’s spiritual need, than when alleviating their physical suffering.”
The Clemenses were joint superintendents of FM youth work. Esther also taught youth in Bible school and served as principal of a government school for a time, as well as teacher and associate principal at the Evangelists’ School. Esther spoke at special women’s institutes; her topics included basic Christian beliefs, hygiene and the effects of alcohol. When Edwin had to travel in the conference for his district superintendent duties, Esther accompanied him. Esther also served as bookkeeper and translated and mimeographed texts.
Because unfavorable changes came in Mozambique’s government, Esther and Edwin left Mozambique in 1975. They returned to the United States and were on deputation ministry from 1975 to 1978. At that time, God opened a door of service in Haiti and the Clemenses gladly accepted. Edwin was again involved in agricultural projects and evangelism. Esther headed up a self-help program, specializing in the retailing of hand-crafted articles. She also served as mission treasurer.
They retired from missionary service in 1983, after 26 years in Mozambique and 6 years in Haiti.
Former Africa Area Director Henry Church remembers, “My first week in Africa brought me to the home of Ed and Esther Clemens. I stayed with them for several days. What wonderful hospitality. This visit in 1972 began a long-time relationship with them both. I was also privileged to visit them in Haiti several years later and found that though their beloved Mozambique was closed to missionaries at that time, they looked for another opportunity to serve. A new culture, new language, different food, so much to adjust to, but they took it all in stride. It was another way to serve Jesus, and that was their highest priority.
“Esther loved to play Rook. It wasn’t just a game to her; it was serious business. She was serious about her responsibilities, too. As she worked on the mission financial books, she was a stickler for detail – a good asset in a treasurer.
“Her love for God and her desire to share Him with people of other cultures was always with her. She and Ed were an inspiration to this young missionary. We will miss her, but we will meet again, at the feet of Jesus – along with many Africans and Haitians she introduced to Him.”