L'Abri Newsletter, October 2015

October 12, 2015

Dear L’Abri praying family,

The trees are changing into beautiful autumn dresses under the still warm, yet ever shorter, sunlight. Farmers are spreading out newly harvested rice to dry, reminding me of the serene gleaners in Jean-François Millet’s canvass—with the same dignity and a touch of reverence. Perhaps I am a person of a bygone age, when we encouraged reading in the deepening nights of autumn. Now, I see all kinds of “festivals” steal away our young minds from the magic of books, and in the name of “culture” shove them into the materialism of the marketplace.

Our family has been reading the Book of Judges lately. As the story unfolds, we cannot but feel sorrow at the sight of judges getting better only at corruption and Israelites racing into ever deeper valleys of sin. Though the early judges sincerely served the Lord and judged fairly for the people, their successors increasingly indulged in their own worldly power. Gideon is a prime example of this shift. Meanwhile, Samson couldn’t resist sins that not even commoners would commit, and concludes his life among his enemies. My heart breaks to remember his parents prudently asking the angel of the Lord, “…what is to be the child's manner of life, and what is his mission?” (Judges 13:12, ESV)

Priests are not free from corruption, either. In Chapter 17, we see a priest in private employment, assured of economic stability not by God's covenant but by the promises of one man named Micah. Instead of God Almighty, he serves Micah’s family idols. As soon as the tribe of Dan offers a more successful career, he abandons Micah and even robs him of his idols.

These historical characters—Micah the false priest, and the tribe of Dan who all chose a path of idolatry—are none other than the people we see around us every day. The author of Judges wraps up the book with these words: “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” (Judges 21:25, ESV) The world today is no different. Because we who do what is right in our own eyes, the Lord’s name is not receiving the glory He deserves. While we, the servants, are busy lifting up our own names, our will, and our honor, our Lord is not receiving the proper service that He is abundantly entitled to.

None of us is sinless, of course. Yet since we were forgiven by the blood of Christ, we need to have a strong will to live according to what is good in His eyes, not ours. Reading Judges and grieving for the deteriorating spiritual health of the Israelites, I remind myself to strengthen up.

Not all the people who visited L’Abri returned home with more faith than they had before. Not all went back to a brighter future, and not all found the truth while staying here. Nevertheless, I am happy to have witnessed people begin to set their eyes on the truth, pour out honest and important questions, open up their hearts, and learn to discern. One young man was at first uncomfortable with praying, but later he learned to pray earnestly and passionately, saying that he did not ever want to quench the fire of prayer. What could be happier than to watch our Father work?

Do you know that children of pastors and missionaries find it more difficult to believe in God? Countless children of faithful parents distance themselves from the Lord as they grow up, tired of having to live under the watchful eyes of the congregation. Please pray for the sons and daughters of ministers, not only those who visit L’Abri but also those in your own churches and organizations. Today’s “lost sheep” could as well be them.

Please also remember in your prayers those who are overwhelmed socially and psychologically by the difficulty of finding a job in this bad economy. Please look for young people around you and encourage them. How wonderful would it be if these disheartened young people could find the meaning of life, arm themselves with the Lord’s words, and go back into the world to fight for His kingdom? Please pray that L’Abri and the Korean church will help them as best we can.

We have been trying our best to save every penny, so we are all the more grateful for an elder who came forward to help us reduce our electricity bill. Last month, he donated 20 million won (approx. $18,000) to add heat pumps to our nighttime boiler that would save a lot of energy. This month, he changed every light bulb in L’Abri into highly efficient LED lamps. He has also suggested that we install some solar panels as well.

We are thankful beyond words for these gifts. But as maintenance continues to cost a huge amount of money, we can but pray on. Please pray that recent upgrades will help us conserve electricity and that God will reward the kind elder with overflowing grace. Because L’Abri is a wooden house, there is a high risk of fire, reducing our options for heating systems. Although we occasionally use the fireplace, we rely on the nighttime boiler for our residential areas, which gets quite expensive in the cold months.

We need special prayers for next January. From January 11-15, we are planning to host a reading group for C. S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity. In addition, there will be a Christian Worldview School from January 28-30. Please pray that people will find the help they need in this frozen world.

I didn’t write down the real names of many people who helped us in various ways. It is my little wish to protect them, since they are so close and precious to us and we love them so much. But please do remember them in your prayers, as they have remembered L’Abri in theirs. I pray that as the autumn deepens, your wisdom will ripen as well in the same warm sunlight that God shines upon the fruit. May God bless you and your families with the miracle of prayer that can move the heavens and the earth.

In one autumn night,


Translated by Haejin Sung

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