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L'Abri Newsletter, December 2009

Dear Praying Family,

Last year, our Lord has spoken to us in various ways as the other years: Among them is InKyung’s study on Ecclesiastes. Life throws at us curve balls unexpectedly. It may be everyone’s experience that, in those days, we do not know what to expect next, get exhausted and completely disappointed that we lose any drop of hope; we perceive that all efforts were in vain and don’t see that anything good can ever happen to us again. Who can get out of the iron fist of this nihilism or cynicism under those circumstances! Three suggestions are made as follows:

First, don’t straighten by force: “Consider what God has done: Who can straighten what he has made crooked?” (Ecclesiastes 7:13) It means that you should not dare to straighten things that God has crooked it intentionally but should trust God. “Crooked” means the challenges and difficulties that we encounter in our life – something that is hard to accept; and many occasions, we do not know what caused those situations. But the Ecclesiastes says that God allowed it to happen to you and if God has done that with intention, who can undo it!

It may be to the contrary of what we have learned from schools or our culture, the Word implies that ‘we have to simply accept the situation that we cannot straighten, fix, add, or remove with our capability’. The Wiser said, “What is crooked cannot be straightened and what is lacking cannot be counted” (Ecclesiastes 1:15) “Accepting” something means ‘being obedient to God’ – giving up the thought of trying to change others, giving up our own methods and efforts to change circumstances, and acknowledging whatever God is doing around us and trusting Him that He is in control. This is the first Wisdom of Solomon in coping with Cynicism.

Second, don’t miss out little joys: In the Ecclesiastes, the preacher starts with complaints and cynical comments about life, but suddenly he changes his tone. ““Go then, eat your bread in happiness and drink your wine with a cheerful heart … Let your clothes be white all the time, and let not oil be lacking on your head. Enjoy life with the woman whom you love all the days of your fleeting life which He has given to you under the sun… Whatever Your Hand Finds to Do, Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might …” (Eccl. 9:7-10, cf. Eccl. 2:24, Eccl. 8:15)

Why would he suddenly say that nothing is better than enjoying life eating and drinking and pursuing pleasure? It may be because, when we are tired of our daily life and when we find ourselves in trouble or in a dead end, ‘the only way of life available for us’ may be just enjoying whatever seems still within our reach at that moment. If we are willing, we should be able to find something around us that we can find joy from. Remember that even the time of the worst imaginable is by design and intervention of the Creator, trust Him that we are under His watchful eyes, and find joy from every single trivial thing. This is the second wisdom Solomon found out.

Third, don’t forget your duty: The preacher repeats “for this is the whole duty of man” (NIV) three times. This is the same as saying “for this is whole of man” (ASV). I interpret that it means the whole duty of man is to accept God & His works. The preacher points out three particular areas. 1) Duty of young adults is to “remember also your Creator in the days of your youth …” (Eccl. 12:1) 2) Duty of adults is to remember that “the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it.” (Eccl. 12:7) 3) Duty of all mankind is to “fear God and keep His commandments” (Eccl. 12:13)

This is the wisdom Solomon learned. It is our dearest desire that no one would be so proud not to accept God and His Works that one would take everything in one’s own hands. It would be a big mistake to miss out daily joy from seemingly insignificant & routine happenings around us, just to wait for ground-breaking miracles to occur to save us from the on-going troubles. Let us remember the whole duty of ours as Christians. May our Lord bless each one of you abundantly!

We have had large visitors but small students this year: We remember college and university students who passed through L’Abri. They would study Bible Inerrancy, the basics of the Faith, the communication, and the truthfulness of Christianity and would struggle with their career path, to name a few. JungWon, a Helper for this year, said, “The questions students ask are so intriguing & precious. Each one of them was like a sweet fragrance from Heaven.”

Over hundreds visited us including pastors and staffs from mission organizations. Non-Koreans are regular visitors each term; this year, English teachers from America and Europe made frequent visits to us; Andy & Lindsey were among those and would regularly come for their study and to help our work as well. We are going to have a Christmas party with six teachers from America.

Our Lord has multiplied the L’Abri family: Several new workers joined L’Abri this year; we are now a big family: in April, EunChul & EunHa as staffs, with their daughters GaHee & HanHee; in December, MoKyung Choi(see picture), as a staff; in the coming January, ChunSung Lee & SuYon Kim as staffs with their children, JiHo & JiMin. SuYon will teach full-time at a nearby elementary school and will work part-time for L’Abri;

MoKyung has been working with college students very well for she had finished her undergraduate and master degree in Massachusetts and worked for companies and the government for many years. GaHee & HanHee are getting used to the new environment and they are finding new friends at SangPyung elementary school. EuiJin is in Kingston, Canada, with his brother and sister; he will be learning English for just 6 months due to lack of funding. Please pray for KiJin’s dissertation research and for HaeJin’s tuition for 2010.

When we were looking into brining in new staffs, many of you expressed concerns if we can have necessary supports. Lisby Laughery, a staff of Swiss L’Abri, in her letter to us last month, said, “We decided to fast because we didn’t have money; But somebody sent us a big turkey for our Thanksgiving day celebration; we are grateful that we could enjoy ‘Feasting’ in the midst of ‘Fasting’.” Please pray for us that, despite the difficulties we are facing, we may have one mind on serving others and building the body of Christ. We deeply appreciate all who extended their hands to us despite economic turmoil. We have been abundantly supported with gifts of money, fruits, cookies, flowers, rice and side dishes, books, and office supplies.

Renovation is almost done: As you all know, our building donated by Mr. and Mrs. JunkSik Kim, is spacious and beautiful. However, to host so many visitors and guests, she requires continuous repair and maintenance. An anonymous American donated about $20K that we were able to go ahead with urgent renovation.

We had the big kitchen changed into a students’ bedroom and we added kitchenette in one corner of HongSuk Hall. We are planning to install a wood stove in the Hall to keep it warm and to make the Hall useful during cold winter times. SamYoung Han has done a great job this time as well. We are still lacking housing for ChunSung & SuYeon’s family. Currently they are commuting from downtown YangYang; ChunSung will be using the kitchen and office space of the old gas station to host students and visitors, for the time being.

Some additional news for you: Per-Staffan Johansson, the director of the Swedish L’Abri, and had served L’Abri for 27 years; to our sadness he passed away recently due to brain tumor. The funeral was held on Dec. 22. Please pray for his wife Pernila and their three children. Financially all regional L’Abri fellowships are going through the same difficulties as the rest of the world. Swiss L’Abri is especially impacted by the depreciation of the dollars. However it is worth noting that the L’Abri Resource Center, Brazil, has been very active, since its opening this year. Please pray for all L’Abri around the world.

Oh-ig, in U.S.A, has been helping us with English-Korean translation of documents and letters. Rev. InSuk Jeon has been film critics among us to lead discussions at movie nights and his wife HaeWon Jang helped us with delicious dishes.

The bible study with the pastor couples around YangYang got famous that a couple of people from neighboring churches are joining as well. We have been leading Christian Worldview School for young adults at Sarang Church for 6 terms, during springs and falls in the past 3 years. Please pray for the students that they may build the truthful foundation and solid faith in Christ. Please also pray for the Worldview studies with YWAM.

For this winter term: we are expecting students from various places such as SokCho, half an hour from here, and even Ghana and Liberia of Africa. Please pray that the students will be heating the snow which covered L’Abri. During the current winter term, Dr. Frank Stootman, the director of Australian L’Abri and Prof. of the Astrophysics Department, Western Sidney University, Australia, will visit with us.

Frank will give us lectures on Christianity and Science (Jan 12~15). He will also give lectures at several churches and mission organizations in Seoul & Busan (Jan 3~11). JungHoon Kim (former L’Abri worker) will be translator and will give lectures as well. We are excited to hear that his wife, KiSook and their children, Samuel and Susie, will visit with us as well. Pray for the speakers, students and workers.

An American became a Christian. As I look back this year, our Lord’s graceful interventions were vividly displayed by numerous people led to L’Abri – particularly those young adults who chose to come to this remote & inconvenient place over the splendor of contemporary & unconstrained lifestyle. Ryan from St. Louise, MO, U.S.A. may be one of the lines.

One night last September, Ryan heard a voice asking him to go to Korea. So he had flown to WhaGae Temple in Seoul to learn about Buddhism – he had attended a lecture by HyunGak, an American Buddhist monk and the author of “From Harvard to WhaGae Temple.”

While staying there he wasn’t sure whether the Buddhism was the truth. By that time, he heard another voice telling him to leave the temple. It occurred to him that one of his American friends had told him to visit L’Abri if Ryan were to stay in Korea. That’s how Ryan ended up at YangYang. It turned out that his friend was a Helper for the L’Abri Retreat in St. Louise where Jock & Alison McGregor of Rochester L’Abri led the program.

During Ryan’s visit with us, there were a few more Americans including Andy and Lindsey, English teachers in KangNeung, and Dr. JaeHo Han, famous for his theological works on the king David. Ryan helped us with setting chairs up outdoor, harvesting persimmons, etc. He was open and had long conversation. During a Sunday morning service, he expressed his willingness to accept Jesus. Through the discussion with him in the afternoon, we confirmed that he was serious and determined.

But this is not the end of the story. When Ryan came to Korea, he just left home with one note saying, “I’m going to Korea.” When his father heard that Ryan was at L’Abri, he immediately hopped in an airplane to fly to YangYang via St. Louise – Seattle – Seoul. Around the mid-night, the dad arrived at YangYang. A dozen of us including four American teachers were so surprised and moved to see a father who flew to Korea to see his son in the middle of a discussion after watching movie. The good father was a Christian as well. He prayed for all of us before heading back to US with his son, the next day. We appreciate your prayer.

With love,

KyungOk & InKyung

PS: In an effort to reduce the operations cost, we would prefer delivering this news letter electronically to using regular mail delivery. If you have an e-mail address, please let us know.

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