L'Abri Newsletter, January 2014
January 20, 2014
Dear L’Abri praying family,
The snow we had since the morning seems to have calmed down the whole world. It silenced the noisy cars, gave a day off to our postman’s tired motorcycle, and relieved our busy dogs of their duty to bark at strangers. We thank God for the quietness and peace that a heavy snow delivered to us.
We had a wonderful Christmas and the end of the year thanks to your prayer and gifts. It was especially unfortunate that Cynthia could not join us in the Christmas party because of pneumonia, but we had a nice time with fourteen single men and women getting to know each other. So far no couple came out of it, but I am personally expecting a higher matching rate over time.
Tomorrow we finish our camp of 21 days and 20 nights. About 10 people on average stayed here. Each day was a war, but it has been the most interesting and rewarding winter I have ever experienced. The Christian Worldview School we had also gave us many good lectures. I enjoyed the time we have spent together, laughing, working, and praying, from morning to night.
Particularly great was our study group of the comparative worldview textbook Understanding the Times, recently translated into Korean and published by DCTY. Seongjin, Euijin, Inju, Haejin, and Mi met twice a week to read and discuss the book. We’ve read chapters on philosophy, ethics, and politics, not having enough time to read the whole book. But it helped us make better discernments based on the Christian worldview. Kijin and PukKyung’s input also helped broaden the students’ perspectives.
A budding film director, JongWook Choi, also assisted us with movie sessions by coming down here every week from Seoul. This term, we watched European art movies with the theme ‘cynicism.’ Discussions of movies were so much fun that it often continued till late at night.
Perhaps the best parts of this winter term were Cynthia’s “This and That” sessions. We listened to her wisdom for five minutes during our Tuesday tea times. But with questions and discussions, we often spent more than an hour. One day, we were all touched when she told us that “to meditate is to think of His word this way and that way, as enthusiastically as a dog or a lion would devour and lick their bones.”
We feel sorry for saying “No” to many guests and old friends who wanted to come to L’Abri this winter. There were not enough rooms, and we also wished to focus more on the young people already staying here. However, we are grateful that some, like Prof. Jeremy Napp from Handong University, came through the snow to stay with us and hang out with our students, even though we only had a tiny, cold compartment for him to sleep in.
Chungseong Lee and Mi Jang continued their diligent services as helpers this term, too. Please pray for their future. Chunseong, KyungOk, and Cynthia also toiled to serve our guests without missing a single meal. Please pray for their health as well.
We are especially grateful that we finished repairing the old gas station office where Chunseong serves food, thanks to a gift from IPC Seoul Church and an experienced builder who volunteered to do the work. We are enthralled to be able to cook and eat in a warm, cozy place without having to make a fire in a charcoal stove or use expensive electric heaters. Please also pray for Chunseong. Since the first week of January, he has begun working as an educational pastor at HanMaEum Church in Gangneung. He is also planning to start working on a Th. M. degree in Spring.
In February, we are expecting fifteen teenagers from Gyeonggi Province and fifty teachers from Handong University’s Global School, each team staying for three days. Other than these guests, we wish to have an unplanned rest thanks to the sudden cancellation of other large events. KyungOk needs this opportunity to take care of her mother, who is getting radiotherapy for thyroid cancer, as well to take some long-needed rest as well. Recently, KyungOk has been suffering from cold and exhaustion. Please pray for her, as her fatigue seems to have been protracted for far too long.
This year, please pray for KyungOk and I to be careful of the following two things, as Jesus taught Martha and Maria (Luke 10:38-42):
First, please pray that we don’t confuse ourselves and complain while trying to do too much work. Jesus told Martha, “You worry and fuss about a lot of things.” (Luke 10:41, ISV) Here, “worry and fuss” is a translation of turbazo, meaning “trouble” or “disturb.” I am naturally greedy for work, and tend to make others uncomfortable because of it. But please pray that I overcome my greed for work, trying to travel all around to lecture and preach to as many people as possible. Please pray that I will instead be able to focus on a single needy person who comes to L’Abri.
Second, please pray that we learn to prioritize and choose wisely among many things that we want and have to do. Jesus told Maria “Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:42, KJVLite) Here, the word “good” comes from agathos, which means “joyful” or “happy.” But priorities can change depending on the circumstances. Later, when Lazarus died, it was Martha who came to Jesus and had more conversations with him, while Mary was the one who stayed home.
I am not naturally inclined to like what I have to do first; nor am I always happy to do what I have to do. Yet, please pray that I will be able to like what I must prioritize this year and do it with joy.
Translated by Haejin Sung