L'Abri Newsletter, April 2013
April 11, 2013
Dear L’Abri praying family,
I write to you amid threats of missile launches from North Korea. We are all concerned, as well as angry, about the latest developments, and sincerely await a peaceful resolution to the crisis. I hope that the worst tensions will have subsided by the time this letter reaches you, but in the meantime it is very important that not only political leaders but also each of us remain alert and careful not to misjudge the times. This country belongs to God, and He alone has the right to decide its fate. I pray that He will decide to give us peace.
As some of you may already know, Edith Schaeffer, who founded L’Abri with her husband Francis, passed away on March 30. She was nearly 99 years old. Edith was born in China as a daughter of American missionaries, married Francis in 1935, and raised three daughters and a son while helping her husband’s ministry. In 1955, while working as missionaries in Europe, Francis and she started the first L’Abri, opening their home to seekers and bringing many of them back to Christ. After Francis’s death in 1984, Edith focused on writing, lecturing, and prayer. Now, finally, she is with the God whom she loved so much. Reminding us of Edith are over a dozen books and films, as well as every branch of L’Abri where we continue to walk in her footsteps. As her son-in-law Udo Middelmann says: “She lived her life as a work of art, an exhibition of true significance and a portrait of a generous, stunning and creative personality. She always sought ways to draw on life’s opportunities to show that human beings are made for the enrichment of everyone’s life, for the encouragement of people.” Edith is also remembered for the beautiful meals that she served at L’Abri despite financial hardships. L’Abri chefs around the world still have a hard time beating her number-of-guests-fed-with-one-chicken record.
Edith’s son, Franky Schaeffer, recently wrote in an online obituary:
Here’s what my mother showed me how to do by example: forgive, ask for forgiveness, cook, paint, build, garden, draw, read, keep house well, travel, love Italy, love God, love New York City, love Shakespeare, love Dickens, love Steinbeck, love Jesus, love silence, love people more than things, love community and put career and money last in my hierarchy of values and – above all, to love beauty. I still follow my mother’s example as best I can and I have passed and am passing her life gift to my children and grandchildren not just in words but in meals cooked, gardens kept, houses built, promises kept, sacrifices made, and beauty pointed to … Mom treated everyone she ever met well, spent more time talking to “nobodies” than to the rich and famous who flocked to her after her books were published and became bestsellers.
In Korea, Edith is known for the kind inspiration that she gave to Dr. ChinKyung Kim, the founder of Yanbian University of Science and Technology in China. When ChinKyung was a poor student in France, the Schaeffers offered him a scholarship of 100 francs to visit L’Abri in Switzerland. There he was introduced to the Christian worldview’s power to integrate all areas of study, as well as the spirit of community that later became the basis of his university. Regarding the Schaeffers, ChinKyung said: “Dr. Schaeffer is a great man, but Edith is an even greater person. She opened her family, even the bedroom. Her family was a holy academy.”
The rest of us are not Edith Schaeffer, most likely cannot live like her, and need not become like her if it is not our calling. Nevertheless, I think that her love and passion for God and humans as well as the true spirituality that she demonstrated in her life and books are extremely valuable lessons that we should all learn and pass on to our children. Please read Edith’s books if you can find them; they will introduce you to a small woman who walked with the great God and inspired countless lives. Edith’s life is evidence of the abundance and freedom that a Christian life can bring to you.
The annual Members’ Meeting is currently being held in Swiss L’Abri, the branch founded by none other than Francis and Edith Schaeffer. InKyung and I have been unable to attend the meeting this year, but please pray for the meeting to bear much fruit. From the time that the Schaeffers founded L’Abri, we have abided by the principle of praying for, but not actively recruiting, students, workers, and donors. We believe that if we pray, God will send us all the people and money that we need. Since we consider you, the praying family, to be our fellow workers, we would like to invite you to pray with us for our – and our visitors’ – needs.
First and foremost, please pray that God will continue to send us people who need help from L’Abri. Our recent guests include a man who wanted to learn more about the true spirituality before he became a pastor, another who was waiting for the results of his bar exam, and a young woman who was curious about Jesus. Although each of them contacted us separately, the time they spent together as a community seemed to help them in many surprising ways. The fact that God must have been working for a long time already to arrange for such encounters never fails to amaze us.
Please also pray for our finances. Spring is a difficult season for us. Please pray that God will send us what we need every month and that we will learn to live abundantly like Edith even in times of economic hardship.
Finally, please pray for workers and their families. We must stand before God before we can help others in His name, and we must learn to be kind to our own family before we can be kind to other people’s children. But sometimes the openness of L’Abri lays bare our sinful selves for all to see, and we realize that every day we spend with our children, guests, and students is itself a process of becoming mature. Still we pray that God will carry on His work even through our blunders and failures. I guess this applies not only to ourselves but to every single person.
I thank you again for your overflowing love, prayer, and gifts that we cannot hope ever to return in kind. Instead I turn to God and pray that He will walk with you throughout these difficult times, winning together in the end.
Yours truly, as God’s creation springs back to life on every tree,
Translated by Kijin Sung