L'Abri Newsletter, December 2015
Dear L’Abri praying family,
We are already at the end of another year! Though we cannot turn back the clock, this season gives us an opportunity to ask ourselves whether we have made “the best use of our time” (Ephesians 5:16, ESV) this year. Paul exhorts us to use every moment well because, as he writes soon after, “the days are evil”. We live in a sinful world where there is so much to harvest. Haven’t we all wasted so much time this year, as we do every year?
Still, I thank you first and foremost for your praying for us and sharing our burden through another year. We would not have been able to help so many visitors that God sent us this year without your spiritual and financial support. In these difficult times, we owe it to every one of you to say a sincere phrase of thanks in person; but regretfully, I am only able to wish you a merry Christmas with written words. I do sincerely hope, however, that you will understand that our letters are far from lip service.
In the last week of our November term, we spent a special week with 12th graders from Vision Classical Christian School who had just finished taking their college entrance exams. After the term, from November 25 to December 10, InKyung and I flew to Argentina and the U.S.
We were invited by SeungHyuk and Yeari Lee, a Korean-Argentinian couple who had stayed with us for two years during their graduate studies in Korea 10 years ago. Two more people from Argentina visited us last year through the introduction of Pastor Deok-kyu Lee, who ministers a local church in Bariloche. Several more people had been to Korean L’Abri thanks to them. The Lees, who helped produce a Spanish translation of The L’Abri Statements, are now petitioning International L’Abri to open a branch in Argentina. So InKyung, on his way to the trustees’ meeting of International L’Abri, wanted to meet our potential future colleagues and what kind of Christian community might best fulfill the needs of their country.
Argentina is almost exactly on the opposite side of the Earth from Korea. As we sat in a cramped airplane for almost thirty hours (not counting transfer times), we were reminded of the six-week boat trip that the first generation of Korean-Argentinians endured back in 1965 when they immigrated to this country far, far away. Even today, South America is not a place that we can easily visit just because we want to.
Our trip turned out to be well worth the time and expense, as we enjoyed many opportunities to meet people and give lectures (thanks to Yeari’s excellent Spanish interpretation) in and around Buenos Aires. We met not only Argentinians but also young men and women from other Latin American countries who were studying in Argentina, as well as Koreans who have been living so far away from home for all these decades. Our usual set of lectures on the Christian worldview was received very well. The audience – much larger than we anticipated – told us that they had never encountered such topics before.
Many Christians in Argentina seemed to believe that the Bible was only useful as a guide to salvation, rather than as the Truth that explains and gives answers to every problem in the world. Nonetheless, the word for “worldview” in Spanish is cosmovision, a vision for the entire Cosmos. It sounds even grander than the English word “worldview”. I pray that our visit will open the eyes of young people in Argentina so that they may see all of universe with God’s eyes, walking with Him in every moment of their daily life.
Please pray for SeungHyuk and Yeari Lee, Pastor Deok-Kyu Lee, their families and all who share their vision. Coming from a small country with its own language and yet divided, I find it amazing that almost every country in Latin America uses the same language. As I witnessed young people from over a dozen countries worshipping God in a shared language, I think I also witnessed a small slice of Heaven. Next year, please broaden the scope of your prayers and remember the incredible opportunities for God’s work that this part of the world presents.
On our way back from Buenos Aires, InKyung attended the trustees’ meeting in Southborough, and I took some rest with my sister in Los Angeles. We have been home for a week now, but I’m still having a hard time recovering from jet lag. Perhaps the sudden transition from winter to summer and back to winter takes a toll on the body. Still, I thank Dr. SungJoo Hwang for helping us with the cost of this long trip, our friends and family in Argentina and L.A. for looking after us so well, and for everyone else for prayer and support.
Our next term will be from December 29 to January 30. We have a few special events this winter, for which more prayer is very much needed.
From January 11 to 15, we will read C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity out loud and discuss it with Mr. In-Young Jeong, who helped translate the study guide into Korean. Anyone who hasn’t had time to study Lewis yet, or who is having difficulty understanding his ideas and their relevance, is welcome to join us in our sessions. We are looking forward to a great week of lively discussions!
From January 28 to 30, we will co-host the School of Christian Worldview with the Christian Worldview Studies Association of Korea. The event takes place in the No. 3 Annex Building of the 100th Anniversary Memorial Church in Hapjeong-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul. This is the first time since we moved to Yangyang fifteen years ago that we are organizing anything in the Big City, so we are both excited and anxious. Please join us for great lectures and discussion if you can!
No matter how much we plan, God is the one who fulfills His plans. Please pray that He will guide us not only in the aforementioned events but also in the daily life of L’Abri throughout the winter. We have received word that a number of foreign students attending Handong University will visit us for a few days at the beginning of the term. Please pray that God will send us those who can truly benefit from our work, and that we will serve them with the heart and mind of our Lord Jesus. Please pray that God will bless L’Abri with overflowing grace and wisdom, so that young people who come through our doors will have the power to discern good and evil in this murky world.
I cannot imagine how we could have endured the year without our missionaries in residence, JinSung and Sul-Ah Kim. They not only cooked for our guests but also helped us with maintenance, work duty, and counseling. Their three children, Ain, Rua, and Ian, have grown up a lot since I first met them. Children are an immeasurable blessing to a community such as ours. The Kims are planning to return to Canada next year to continue their missionary work, but will be staying with us while their visa applications are being processed.
ChungSeong is making new waves at L’Abri, not only with his hand-roasted coffee but also with his meals and guidance of young people with whose culture he is highly familiar. He is learning to become a better worker every day. Our three children are fine, too. One of our dogs, Haetnim, gave us five puppies last month. Our animal population seems to keep increasing, much to the joy of children and our guests.
Christmas is upon us again. As always, I feel sad that everyone seems to have forgotten the Son of God whose birthday they are so happy to celebrate. I hope that this coming year, we will become servants like Jesus did; laugh and cry with sinners – not only ourselves but also our families and neighbors – just like He did; and to kneel before God every day, as it is written in Philippians 2:5-11:
“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (ESV)
Translated by Kijin Sung