L'Abri Newsletter, September 2013
September 8, 2013
Dear L’Abri praying family,
The seemingly unbeatable heat of summer has yielded, in the blink of an eye, to the cool breezes of autumn. Many people have visited L’Abri this summer. Those exhausted by work recharged their energy and returned to their places; those doubting their faith amid the chaos of the world rediscovered the Truth. Some people were struggling to survive in dishonest organizations. We’ve also met scientists, lawyers, doctors, pastors, and a professor of political science. Finally, there were two teams of students, 30 in total, from Joo-An Presbyterian Church who stayed with us for three days each. If not for your ceaseless prayer and gifts, it would truly have been impossible for us to help them through the sweltering summer.
L’Abri will reopen after the Chuseok holidays, and the autumn term will last from September 26 to December 19 except for a short break in November. We expect to meet students of Carmichael College at Handong University, led by Professor Cordell Schulten; a Singaporean student of theology; a few other university students; and a number of ministers’ families. Two Ghanaian men still await their visa to come to Korean L’Abri; they have been waiting for several months now. A few years ago, six people from Nigeria and Liberia also wished to come to L’Abri, but were denied entrance to Korea. Please pray that students from poor countries will not have their passion for the Truth frustrated by bureaucracies and their excessive concerns over illegal immigration.
We have good news and bad news. The latter is that Minhyun and Bokyung Paik will leave L’Abri. They have fed and counseled numerous people for three years, as well as helping a local church and children’s center. We will miss not only Minhyun and Bokyung but also their precious daughter, Ha-Eun, and the voice of her sweet laughter. Those who miss their excellent cooking should visit “Crayon”, the French-Italian restaurant in Daegu that they plan to open soon.
The joyful news is that Pukkoung and Cynthia Kim have come to join us. They will stay with us for ten months in Baek Am Dang, the house where my family used to live. As Visiting Speakers, they will help us with lectures, counseling, and serving people. They have kindly agreed to volunteer for us, not wishing to impose a financial burden upon L’Abri. In addition, Pukkoung will give lectures at Jaegun Theological Seminary for ten weeks, and deliver sermons in various churches. Please pray for their health and mission. Previously, Pukkoung ministered Korean Church London and served as President of the Ezra Bible Institute for Graduate Studies.
Please keep praying also for our finances. In the first half of this year, gifts have decreased by 20%, and so has the amount of living expenses paid by our students and guests. Given the difficult times, I am hesitant even to mention gifts, and only dare to ask for prayer. However, I also believe that I have an obligation to let you, our praying family, know about our current circumstances. Please pray that our necessities will be met every month, and please also pray that we will be able to undertake renovations to the former library to make room for additional workers and guests.
This summer, we didn’t have any aggressive atheists among our visitors. I recall what Wim Rietkerk said about why atheists do not believe in God: firstly because they believe God to be a figment of our imagination, and secondly because they believe Christianity to be a mere ideology. However, we have seen plenty of practical atheists lately, who confess belief in God and yet behave as if God didn’t exist in real life. While reading Psalm 10, I realized that I am not immune to the same failing, either.
Practical atheists do not deny God’s existence, but regard Him to be far away and uncaring of the miseries of the weak and troubled (verses 1-2). They do not hesitate to slander with greed and boast of the cravings of their heart. They do not know to fear God’s judgment, but rather revile Him. Here, “cravings of his heart” can be interpreted as “desires of the soul” or “desires of his self”. It means that they are greedy almost to the degree that they cannot control themselves (3-4).
Practical atheists cannot bear to see other people refuse to follow their own lifestyle or strive to live in God’s way. So they harass people who try to be righteous. They dig holes and set traps, as if hunting wild boars (5, 8). They hide like lions and aim for the weak. They are plunderers, bandits, and huntsmen. David writes that they “lie in wait”, slyly hiding themselves and stealthily harming others (9-10).
Conceit, lie, and slander are a practical atheist’s best friends; they are confident that neither failure nor misfortune can befall to them. Their mouths are full of curses, lies, and threats; their tongues are poisoned with swears and slanders (6-7). Practical atheists have an illusion that God has forgotten about them. The phrase “God will never notice; he covers his face and never sees” shows us that practical atheists, while not denying that God still exists, assume that He will never lay eyes upon them in real life (11).
David’s prayer teaches us how to escape from practical atheism: “Arise, Lord! Lift up your hand.” (12) The God we believe in is not distant, hidden, or silent. He still lives, cares for us, and works for us. He discovers all the sins of evil men (15), listens even to the tiny prayers of the humble (16-17), judges for the sake of the weak, and builds a nation that is free from all perils and menaces (18).
The times may be hard, but there is one way to live through them. It is by depending on the Lord moment by moment. I pray that David’s God will be with your family and church throughout this fall, and that you may bear much wonderful fruit in Him.
Translated by Haejin Sung