L'Abri Newsletter, November 2012
November 22, 2012
Dear L’Abri praying family,
It is the season for thanksgiving, and I thank you again for your dedication, prayer, love, and gifts. It has been a difficult year, both physically and financially; still, we have been able to serve many people who came to L’Abri, and for this we thank the graceful God.
Today, I am tired but also very happy. Pastor SeongKyu Jeong of Yein Church in Bucheon, who helped us renovate the office last spring, visited again with several church members. Together, we built an extension to the eaves at the rear of our main house. Until now, this area would become wet and dark every time it rained or snowed. But this winter, we will be able to walk safely and comfortably.
In the last couple of weeks, we had two large groups of visitors: the members of Seum Church in Seoul, with Pastors OnYang Kim and TaekBo Jeon; and a dozen law students (including several foreigners) from Handong University, led by Professor Cordell Schulten. This is the second time this year that Cordell has organized a visit to L’Abri with his students. Accompanying the students was Professor Nick Lantinga, whose expertise was a great contribution to our dinnertime discussions about the Christian Worldview.
We are particularly thankful for the gift of a turkey, which was large enough for us to prepare a full American thanksgiving dinner for a group of nearly 20. We are also grateful for our fellowship with the owners of the nearby Tree Thoughts lodge, who helped us greatly with our School of Christian Worldview last winter. Though they are not Christians, we gave thanks together for the blessings that we have seen this year.
Last summer, we calculated that the average age of L’Abri visitors was 23. During the last few weeks, however, we’ve had several middle-aged people as well as much younger men and women aged 17-19. It is a challenge for us to communicate with visitors from such a broad range of generations. In particular, we are deeply troubled with the kinds of psychological symptoms that we find in our latest generation of visitors.
Some are cynical and unconcerned about anything that happens around them, because they lack any strength to fight against an unjust and unreasonable world, and so at the very least want to protect themselves.
Some have cut off contact with virtually everybody, except electronically. This might be seen as a kind of rebellion against a world that has become so unreliable and untrustworthy.
Many are addicted to computer games, alcohol, or pornography. I suspect that addiction is seen as a way to escape from what they perceive to be a failed life and career.
Issues like homosexuality, bisexuality, tattoos, and even suicide might be seen as part of an anything-goes culture, but they can also be a kind of self-abuse – an adverse reaction to excessive interference, violence, and mistreatment by adults.
Loss of faith and spiritual insensitivity might be an attempt to rationalize behavior such as the above. Or perhaps they are passing symptoms of an honest struggle to regain a sense of identity and discipline.
I don’t know how best we might help youths who struggle with these and similar issues. A rule of thumb would be to wear their shoes and try to work things out from their point of view. “Jesus, who, being in very nature God … made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness” (Philippians 2:6-7). Schaeffer also said that making the manger lower allows smaller animals to eat, too. But this is a very difficult task for us to accomplish, as young students keep bringing us newer interests, problems, stories, and curiosities.
Nonetheless, we are encouraged by Kim and Cynthia who, despite being septuagenarians, spent a whole night talking with youngsters when they visited L’Abri this autumn; and by the professors from Handong University, who could play with their students as if they were one of them. Instead of dispensing scolding and admonition like so many older people do, they listened to their students. Cordell spent the whole weekend shuttling students between Pohang and Yangyang, laboring side-by-side with them, buying a cake for a girl’s birthday, and hanging balloons all over L’Abri for the party. Would any young person hate a man like that?
JinHyeon, our helper, will be joining the army very soon. He chose military service despite the fact that his English skills would easily allow him to study abroad. Please pray for him. Please also pray for MinHyeon and BoKyung, who have been helping us greatly with the meals; and for HaEun, their daughter, who will be entering college shortly.
Please pray for the financial situation of L’Abri around the world. Many branches are currently unable to pay even the meager salaries that their workers need, and Korea is no exception. Elections and economic downturns tend to make difficult times for missionary organizations that rely on donations, and this year we have both. We need to fix and extend many things throughout the house, but we are waiting for God’s time.
Due to KyungOk’s ill health and our lack of full-time workers, we will only open for 2-3 weeks at a time for the foreseeable future. We regret that this is not good for those who wish to stay longer or who are coming from abroad; but fortunately, most students seem to want to stay for less than 3 weeks nowadays. Please pray that we will be able to operate on a schedule that works best for our students as well as ourselves.
Please pray for students who want to come to L’Abri to study important questions about life, but who don’t have enough money to pay for the visit. Please also pray for our prospective students from Africa, who often face difficulties obtaining their visas.
Finally, please pray for the upcoming School of Christian Worldview. The seminar will take place from January 7 to 10 at the Chuyang House (KyungJik Han Memorial Center) in Seorak Mountain near L’Abri. Please pray that many young people and leaders who need to study the Christian Worldview will be able to attend.
I pray that God’s grace will be on your families and everything you do.