L'Abri Newsletter, January 2010

Dear Praying Family,

There have been a lot of thankful occasions in L’Abri in the beginning of this year. First of all, we have finally completed renovation in students’ rooms and old gas station house; in place of a grand kitchen, we have a small kitchenette and a room for students. Hongsuk Hall now has a fire stove that warms the lobby area. I was surprised to witness how that small fire stove worked wonder in warming the whole lobby. This made wearing coats at the hall needless. Instead, the hall has turned out as a place for tea time and study. What a joy! We have renamed our old gas station house into a different name in Korean, “Byul Chae,” meaning a separate housing. Chun Sung is now using it to serve meals to students.

We, however, experienced close calls. The renovation, which was supposed to be done in 2 weeks, lasted more than a month due to cold weather and heavy snow. Because of frozen water pipes in the old gas station house, we were able to finish the renovation barely in January. Just before the winter semester, a big chunk of money had to be spent on installing the new electric wire. Water supply pump has caused problems to make us stay awake in the middle of the night to check on it on hourly basis. Our puppy, Tuoshi, was killed by a passing by car in the parking lot. All workers were already worn out by the end of the break.

But as the new semester began, we were able to recuperate from our weariness by receiving students who have come all the way to this countryside to seek truth and shelter. As we prepare meals, wash clothes, have table discussions, share tutoring sessions with individuals, we vaguely understood what Jesus said to his disciples: “My nourishment is that I do the will of Him who sent me and completely do His work.” Now we are reaching towards the end of this semester. We ask you to pray for workers to serve students without failing in health.

Christian Worldview School began for a week on January 12th. Dr. Frank Stootman with the help of interpretation by Pastor Jung Hoon Kim, our past L’Abri worker, lectured on Science and Faith. L’Abri was almost on fire with zealous lectures followed by heated discussions around the clock. Representative of L’Abri Australia and professor teaching science all his life, Dr. Stootman challenged all of us with his passion in searching the truth. Have you ever been caught up in pursuing the truth lately? We ask you to continue to pray for these students to react honestly to Frank’s questions and to be able to stand on their own feet in facing God’s truth.

God sent many students both long-term and short-term to L’Abri this semester. Getting off the bus at Yangyang in early dawn, Choong Sung, a philosophy major senior, was the first to arrive in L’Abri on a heavy snowy day. He is a very precious student as he came to re-establish his faith shattered in the world and to study Christian worldview. Jeong Yeop, an atomic physics senior, came to find answers for his call. We are sure that he will be used greatly for our nation and people. Coming from Gwangju, Ji Hye is a kindergarten teacher; she found out most education philosophies were influenced by humanism. So she decided to study biblical education philosophy. Jin Hyun is a high school student who quit public school and attends international school. He came to study Christian worldview during winter break. Although he is the youngest among current students, he seems to be the most hopeful. Having worked for an international mission organization previously and visited L’Abri occasionally, Kyung Min came to find answers by completing the study of the book called “Being Human.”

L’Abri was also blessed by several visitors; pastor and evangelist who served local church for a long time, aged elder couples, teachers with several questions, David and his father from the U.S. who honored us with a private music concert. They were all seekers for honest answers. Please join us in prayer to help them find our God is true God, and all truth belongs to Him so that they would dedicate their lives to the world and their neighbors. We sincerely hope that they would become pride to us, answer to your prayers, and wonderful joy to our God.

Please pray for In Kyung, Kyung Ok, and their three children. Kyung Ok, in particular, asked to pray for her health as she often gets embarrassed by her sudden change of body conditions. Please pray for In Kyung to carry out his lectures and leadership faithfully. He is afraid that his prayer and health may fall short of many students and workers. We also ask to pray that his children, Ki Jin, Hae Jin, and Eui Jin, to meet their financial needs so they can pay for tuition and living expense and to heal Hae Jin’s backache. Chun Sung has returned to work in L’Abri starting this semester; we are glad that he has got along very well. When this semester is over, Chun Sung and his family will clear their house in Dongtan and move to Yangyang. Please pray for Chun Sung’s family to find a proper housing in Yangyang and his wife, an elementary teacher, to be assigned to a school nearby L’Abri.

Mokyung, who has joined as worker since last December, is doing well in her first semester. Thanks to your prayer, she is doing a good job in tutoring with which she was most concerned and grew rapidly accustomed to life in L’Abri. Jung Won is back as a helper this semester. She is doing a splendid job in serving students. We ask you to pray for these two people to stay healthy in body and spirit at L’Abri. Ga Hee and Han Hee are now at ease with L’Abri; they are no longer afraid of dogs and comfortable with students. Please pray for Eun Chol and Eun Ha to grow in sensitivity and wisdom in looking after students and checking every minute details of L’Abri after having lived in L’Abri for almost a year.

“Entertain no worry, but under all circumstances let your petitions be made known before God by prayer and pleading along with thanksgiving. So will the peace of God, that surpasses all understanding, keep guard over your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7, New Berkley Version) The weather is cold, and household situation is still in need. However, we trust God will send necessary people and materials to this place when we pray to God in faith according to His word. We implore each one of you to keep praying and working with us this year as well.

In Christ,

Eun Chol from L’Abri

Translated by Mokyung Choi

The Story of a Ponytail Guy

Written by In Kyung Sung (Director of L’Abri Korea)

In the morning of January 27, 2010, the ponytail guy and his friends were chopping the wood. It has already been 2 weeks roaming back mountains to collect dry wood for a fire stove. Finally, several piles of oak wood are readily prepared. They are the best quality of fire wood prepared with saw and axe. After hearing the rumor that the current price of a truck load of oak wood reaches 800,000 Korean Won ($670), the ponytail guy decided to save that worth of money in a matter of few days.

The ponytail guy went straight ahead with the fire wood making project. First thing was to gather fellow workers. An atomic physics student has become very good at sawing. Sergeant Choi, who just got his last vacation from military service, saws wood as thick as his waist as if he is slicing radish. A seminary student, who came for a break from Greek and Hebrew, is clumsy in chopping the wood but never gives up. A female kindergarten teacher is quite skilled in sharpening a saw with metal chains. A sister who worked as a secretary for head of international mission organization carries wood that weighs as much as her own weight on her back.

While his fellow workers were chopping wood, the ponytail guy spent all morning in sharpening an axe with a stone. Out of his concern for his fellows’ safety, he did the most dangerous job himself. But when he finds his fellows are doing a poor job in chopping the wood, he would take over that job as well. No matter how thick the wood is, it easily gets split into two by his hand. The philosopher is not only chopping the wood but also breaking up his doubting mind.

In the afternoon, he listened to a presentation and critique of “emotion and reason” by his fellow workers. He was content to sit next to a fire stove that smelled burning oak wood prepared by him. The presentation was by a wavy hair guy who is 10 years junior to the pony tail guy; he described his hurt wandering between emotion and reason in the mist of his elder fellows. His metaphor was very exceptional.

“There was a dragonfly. It was such a beautiful dragonfly that I wanted to trade my life with it. I wanted to catch it. I was in deep agony worrying that it may fly away. But I could not control myself and reached out to it. But it bit me instead of flying away. I was disappointed by it, but I finally gave it up. God probably did not want that free dragonfly to be caught by a human. I found out that I was emotionally sensitive but did not know how to make an objective approach with reason. It was such a poetic and rational analysis beyond expectation.

An atomic physics student, who is skilled in sawing, critiqued on the presentation of the wavy hair guy; “I believe it is almost impossible to make clear distinctions between reason and emotion because reason is incomplete and emotion is unclear. This statement itself is self-contradictory. I learned that a lot of problems occur when one pursues one of the two to the extreme from the book, “Truth Is Alive.” by InKyung. I personally believe that reason and emotion function as complementary measures for each other. If you want to catch the dragonfly, why don’t you study about the dragonfly? Then consider what the dragonfly feels. Be honest with yourself in your own purpose to catch the dragonfly.”

Everyone was silent to his excellent critique that penetrated the very heart of the presentation. But there was a person who was gazing at him intently; it was his roommate who shared the room for the past 3 weeks. He wondered how this atomic physics major student knew so well about Hegel’s dialectic that he studied as a philosophy major student. It was the very ponytail guy. In the end, the ponytail guy finally opened his sealed lips; “Western history of intelligence evolved around the battle between reason and emotion. Western philosophy is the history of confrontation between idealism emphasizing reason and empiricism emphasizing experience. In Christian perspective, we should consider both and make them into one. Otherwise, we would fall into the trap of the West dividing them up into dualism. To learn more on perfect reason and emotion, study the life of Jesus.” When one brave L’Abri worker was about to make some comments, he was interrupted by a bell that announced the tea time was over. It was regrettable that everyone was obliged to leave the scene.

On one Wednesday night where we studied the book of Romans together, the ponytail guy also answered the question by a non-believer; Sergeant Choi confessed that he had never been to a church and asked an honest question if one needed to read the whole bible to believe in Jesus and be saved. While workers were searching for a proper answer to his question, the ponytail guy answered; “I also thought that I should know the whole 66 books of the bible to believe in Jesus. I have not read even the half of the bible. But whichever part of the bible you read, you will find one consistent message that you will be saved by faith. I am sure that if you believe in Jesus, you will be saved without reading the whole bible.” No further explanation was required.

It was the ponytail guy who made an igloo (snow house) a few days ago when we had heavy snow. Along with his fellow friends, they spent nights and days to complete an igloo as big as a house with a low entrance so that people can get in with their heads bent. It was built to block the stiff necked people from getting in.

To celebrate its completion, the most humbled gathered in the igloo with instant noodle cups. English class students who are my wife’s pupils also studied English with instant noodle cups in their hands. But no stiff necked person was able to step into that igloo. One night, I found the pony tail guy was shivering in the cold and smoking just outside the igloo. I came near him for a talk.

Sung: “The weather is quite cold. Why don’t you smoke inside the igloo?”
Ponytail: “I want to abide the rule of L’Abri.”
Sung: “Do you mean that smoking in the igloo goes against the rule of L’Abri?”
Ponytail: “No Smoking Inside also applies to my igloo.”
Sung: “Is that so? We should take off our shoes when we are in the igloo then.”
Ponytail: “Yes. Sir”
Sung: “Why don’t you keep the law of the Bible rather than the smoke and shoes?”
Ponytail: “Pardon?”

A small change is surely happening in this ponytail guy lately. Silent wind of Holy Spirit is passing through the heart of this ponytail guy who wants to keep a small promise of L’Abri although it leaves him outside in fierce wind. His spirit, which was long oppressed as a pastor’s son, must be awakening. He must be meeting Jesus not only in intellect but also in experience. I am expecting “the day of awakening” would come soon.

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