L'Abri Newsletter, December 2007
Dear Korean L’Abri Family,
Spring, summer, and fall have swiftly passed by, and we are already just a few days away from the end of this year. Has this year been kind to you? Or are you almost exhausted while struggling to keep your head above the water, in this troublesome world?
Just as the apostle Paul said, the endless struggle within us between the “law of God” and the “law of flesh” would be the deepest agony. Were it not for the law of the Spirit of life, we could never survive this struggle. By the spirit of life, through Christ Jesus we are here alive and well. Our struggle as children of God and our efforts to live according to His Will shall never be in vain; it will be there forever. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10, NASB). May you all be comforted by His Word!
Do you still remember November, 2005? Yes, that’s when Mr. and Mrs. JungShik Kim, purchased the property L’Abri was on and leased it to L’Abri; it was a miraculous intervention of Lord because L’Abri was at the verge of eviction at that time. This year, to our great amazement, they donated the property to L’Abri. Mr. Jong-Chul Kim, our lawyer, took care of all legal matters for L’Abri, in May. As we haven’t officially celebrated the dedication of this property, we are trying to figure out the best time for the ceremony. May our Lord remember Mr. and Mrs. JungShik Kim of their dedication at the time of His second coming! Would you please pray that this L’Abri house may serve its purpose as a spiritual shelter particularly for young generation, just as the cave of Adullam was for David and his followers? “…David … escaped to the cave of Adullam … everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented gathered to him …” (1 Samuel. 22:1-2, NASB).
We are accustomed to the foreign visitors from US or Europe. However, this year there were many visitors from around the world – Argentina and Colombia of South America, Ghana and Congo of Africa, and Pakistan of Asia. A couple of Nigerian couldn’t come due to visas. It is beyond our understanding why our Lord keeps sending people from around the world to L’Abri at the eastern edge of Korea. Next year, a few young Chinese are planning to visit. We are looking forward to the day when young adults from many nations will sit around our table to discuss on the Truth and on the life; it will taste a small Kingdom of God.
Many teachers from public schools and Alternative Christian schools such as the “Eagle” school, visited us. In summer, several teachers from the Good Teacher, a branch of Christian Ethics Movement, stayed with us. ByungJoo Lee, one of them, came back for the fall term for two weeks. We pray that their knowledge and insights gleaned during their stay at L’Abri may help establish the Christian worldview and education philosophy at their homes and schools. In summer, Mr. Joseph Cerquitella, the principal of GGIS, Hungary, visited us for a presentation on education. Many neighbors and teachers from around the town joined the discussion. We had a serious discussion on the harsh reality of education environment of Korea.
Each term, our Lord brought us good Helpers. The couple, YeRi and SeungHyuk, helped us until June; then left for L’Abri in Netherland and England. Once they returned to Argentina, they’re working for church and pharmacy. JungWon Choi, an IT security programmer, has been diligently studying and helping us since May. When she briefly returned home to take a break, it became evident how significant her role had been. EunChul & EunHa Seo stayed with us since the summer term; they spent their sabbatical with us and returned to ShangHai Korean Church. We look forward to hearing great news of our Lord working through them in China. Their children GaHee (8) and HanHee (4) gave us great joy. They used to play hide & seek around the Narnia closet; they would come out of the closet with big smile. And there are the Kims (HongGyu, HaeSoon, SaeHan (6), and SaeRa (4) who had to commute from a B&B in the neighbor. In a few days, the Kims come to stay as helpers. We look forward to living with them through this winter.
Churches in YangYang and SokCho provided us various forms of support, this year as well. We have monthly meeting among the ministers in this region. In this monthly meeting, we visit each other’s church for seminars and fellowship. We are grateful for Reverends SungOh Kang (HanWool church), HyungSeon Kang (SooRee church), SungKyu Lee (JoongAng church), and their family. Especially, Rev. InShik Jeon and his wife, HaeWon Jang, invited us in their weekly worship service and served us with meals; they also invited us for the movie and discussions. We are planning to get the four churches and L’Abri together for the Christmas service; all of us will be less than 100 but it will be an exciting fellowship – “… that they may be one as we are” (John 17:11). We are thankful to Dr. WonSeok Seo of SokCho city (former vice president of the Food for the Hungry), Mr. Gallep Shin (missionary, President of ANN) of GoSung City, and Dr. GaeWon Bang (director of Psychiatric Clinic) of SamChuk city. Dr. Seo and Mr. Shin gave us very meaningful lectures for 5 weeks; it was something you won’t expect to come across in the rural places like YangYang. It was beneficial to us as well because we need to understand diverse viewpoints of Christian and non-Christian; in the last term, we had many non-Christian visitors.
About 74 employees of Häfele Korea Co. visited us since this spring. In spring, each week four employees stayed with us for 4 days; in fall, six employees each week stayed with us for 5 days. We had to prepare ash trays, suitable programs. Only few of those employees were Christian. Most of them had this or that incidences with Christians, which led them to even hate churches. We felt so much ashamed when they explained why they came to stop attending church and began to hate Christianity; they went astray because we Christians did not live according to what we say. As such some of them were very upset against their employer for forcing them to come to a Christian Institute; but some of those told us that, later on, they came to look forward to coming to L’Abri. We knew that it wouldn’t be easy but eagerly took them in anticipating God’s intervention. We had to be alert because we didn’t know whether they would care for the way of life in L’Abri; and there were times of serious tension among us. JungWon got so stressed out that she suffered an acute kidney infection during the term. We started loose at the beginning and then we strategically increased our message. By the time they had to leave many changes occurred.
According to Häfele employees, some of them after going back home quit smoking or drinking and some started attending church. Many of them came to more serious about their life, their purpose, and their family. We are thankful for those visible changes; but we dearly pray that they may eventually find the Truth. We do not think that we had some kinds of silver bullets for their changes; we just planted or watered on them. “I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth.” (1 Corinthian 3:6,7, NASB). InKyung says, “Planting and the watering by workers may be one time thing but the growth comes from a persistent care of the Lord”. Please pray for us that we may focus on planting and watering. Now if you come to L’Abri, you will find a sign, “Häfele Trail” at the beginning of a trail. The trail has a nice little bridge called “YangDong Bridge” after the builder’s name. The Häfele employees made it including many other things such as fixing doors and handles and putting up new doors as well. We are so grateful for their hard works. Every corner of L’Abri has renewed shiny face with the God-given skillful touch of Häfele-ians. We owe you some memorable episodes from Häfele family to help your understanding and prayer.
Episode 1, Wedding Song: Do you remember Mr. SamYoung Han who fixed our landslide-damaged deck last year? In mid-October, he was getting married at NakSan Beach hotel near L’Abri. InKyung would conduct the ceremony; EunHa Kim, to play piano; L’Abri students, to sing a nuptial song. The news of wedding and nuptial song was told to the Häfele visitors the week before but it was not passed to the ones visiting on the day of wedding. As the result, some of the Häfele employees showed up with a casual & sporty wear. However, they worked real hard; with EunChul Seo’s conducting and the Häfele employees’ outstanding musical sense, everyone in the wedding thought they were the professional musicians in intentional comic disguise.
Episode 2, Beer Breads: This incidence is with the last team from Hafele. One of them brought in beers in his car trunk. After the first evening lecture, he asked InKyung if he could celebrate with beer – at least we were impressed for his asking our permission because some people would sneak in alcohol at night and would skip the breakfast the next morning due to hangover. InKyung turned it down and instead proposed him to donate the beer to me so that I could use it to make delicious breads. In the morning of November 11, about 60 of us, including the group from SaRang church enjoyed the “beer” bread. Many of us came forward to thank the gentleman who donated the beer. After he had gone back, he wrote to us that he had a great experience to sleep without alcohol, and wants to visit L’Abri with his family asking us to grant them a little more personal time for him and his wife. If he comes back, we might serve him the wild berry wine which is a specialty of YangYang.
InKyung had a busy schedule this year for invited lectures from both domestic and international. He eagerly made long trips despite the pain in his leg. This fall he gave lectures at Evangelical Paradigm School for 80 young adults of SaRang church, Seoul; he drove to Seoul on Monday afternoon and came home safely at 2 ~ 3 AM on Tuesday; then he had to fulfill his tight schedule on Tuesday morning without taking a break. During those 5 weeks, he managed to keep up with all his responsibilities, owing to the grace of our Lord. Maybe the sincere attitude of those who were at the School was a strong encouragement for InKyung. After the last lecture, about fifty of them came to L’Abri; we continued the discussion on how to live this life as a believer, past mid-night. This young generation is facing a tough world against them; we should pray for them that they may hold fast the Truth and live accordingly.
Now L’Abri is quiet again. I look around the sofas visitors would take a rest on, the rooms they would sleep in, and the HongSeok hall they would dine in; they are taking the long overdue rest. As I recollect so many people who were planted or were watered with His Word at L’Abri, and those who joined our Lord’s work through prayer and financial support, I entrust all of them to our Lord. I realize that our Lord has provided us abundantly. There were days of very tough challenge without any clue on what to expect next; there were times when we were greatly encouraged. With your prayer and love, our needs were fulfilled daily. In the coming year, we hope for the same; we pray that our needs will be met according to His timing, that all students and visitors may be led to us through His intervention, that we may be properly staffed with God-fearing people, and that we all may experience that He is there and His Words are true.
Dr. Frank Stootman will visit us from Jan. 4 through Jan. 15. He is a professor of Western Sidney University, the director of L’Abri Australia. He will present on the topics of Evolutionism, Intelligent Design, Creation, and the Bible and creation. Our former worker, Prof JungHoon Kim will translate for us. From Jan 21 through Jan 27, we will have a School of Christian Worldview; Dr. WonSeok Seo, Dr. JaMan Gu, InKyung and myself will lead the discussions.
Next year, we designed the terms shorter than this year. Without additional workers, we can not handle everything even though Helpers may be available. We need to discern when to advance and when to stop, and what L’Abri should do and what we may not do, according to His guidance; please pray for us. Please pray for us that we may not withdraw when we have to advance and that we may not arrogantly advance when we need to stop. Dear L’Abri family, we are deeply grateful for your intercession and support. We boldly ask each one of you to join us in our spiritual warfare in the coming year.
May our Lord’s grace be with you!
Dec. 14, 2007
At the end of our Pilgrim in 2007,
KyungOk P. Sung
Translated by Ohig Kwoun