L'Abri Newsletter, July 2016
July 1, 2016
Dear L’Abri praying family,
It rained on and off today in Yangyang. Just when a group of visitors arrived, we were caught in a sudden shower. We think it was a gift from our visitors because a shower surely is one of the most precious gifts on a hot day. With many guests and so many things happening this summer, we are longing for your prayer.
This morning, a college student who had once fallen for heresy returned home. We usually believe that it is the Holy Spirit who sends people to L’Abri, but it was hard for us to let her stay here. It was exhausting to listen to what she had learned from the heretical organization and to teach her the correct Christian doctrine. Despite everything, we were relieved to see her firm decision to leave the heresy behind.
On June 13, we had an unusual scene where young people from six countries sat and prayed together. Just like when visitors from 10 different countries stayed with us in March, these young adults from Japan, China, Britain, Canada, and Argentina had a prayer meeting with Koreans under the same roof, which made us very happy and probably made God smile as well. Meanwhile, a dozen young defectors from North Korea visited L’Abri last Sunday, worshipped with us, and listened to a lecture on worldview. We ask you to pray that they can settle down well in South Korea and have a sincere belief in Jesus.
People say these days, “the second adolescence comes in one’s 40s.” During the last few weeks, many people in their 40s and 50s came and took much time thinking about their career and future. One couple who were almost divorced decided to stay together. Another couple resolved a religious conflict and made a decision to start anew. A woman in her 40s accepted Jesus as her Savior while staying with us. Please pray for the middle-aged people of this land who are struggling with many problems.
Four workers of the Christian Worldview Studies Association of Korea, with whom we had co-hosted the School of Christian Worldview last January, came to take a rest and hold a joint meeting with L’Abri workers. We decided to co-host the program again next January. In an age of spiritual chaos when modern ideas and heresies confuse even sincere young people, we truly ask you to pray that we can build a strong base of faith and intellect through the School of Christian Worldview.
Julia was admitted to the Master’s program on counseling in Asia United Theological University. While studying, she is going to stay in L’Abri, working as a helper. SamWon has been very busy for the last two months, enjoying meeting new people. I think she will be able to do the housekeeping and help our visitors very well. ChungSeong has grown his hair as long as Samson, is excited to inherit a car from JinSeong who went back to Canada. He is struggling to prepare monthly sermons for the chapel; please pray for the workers.
Every summer, I would like to have as many visitors as possible, but at the same time, I must take care of other workers and my family. I always have a divided mind between working more for the ministry and caring more for my family. While suffering from this dilemma, I studied Acts and found that sometimes even the Holy Spirit seems to have two minds at the same time. On the one hand, the Holy Spirit seems to lead the apostle Paul to Jerusalem, but on the other hand, discourages him from the journey. This discovery was much consolation to me.
Clearly, Paul was on his way to Jerusalem “compelled by the Spirit” (Acts 20:22, NIV), but in Ephesus and Tyre, through the same Spirit, several disciples urged him not to go (Acts 21:1-4). In Caesarea, prophets full of the Holy Spirit pleaded with Paul not to go up to Jerusalem (Acts 21:8-14). On the one hand, the Holy Spirit seems to lead Paul to Jerusalem, but on the other hand, the same Holy Spirit seems to detain him from going there. How come the Holy Spirit, who is one God, takes opposite sides at the same?
John Stott wrote that both sides were the work of the Holy Spirit, because both were done “in the Spirit.” If Stott’s interpretation is right, could the Holy Spirit be a professional double player or a double-faced character? Surely not! Then why does the Holy Spirit, definitely one character, recommend opposite courses of action at the same time? What did he really want Paul to do? I came up with two possible ideas.
Firstly, the Holy Spirit might have experienced an internal conflict because He loved Paul so much. The Holy Spirit is not a mechanical device or an artificial intelligence, but God with character. So the Holy Spirit would like to lead Paul to Jerusalem for the mission of spreading the gospel, but on the other hand, is willing to let Paul give up the journey because He is worried about the hardship that awaits Paul.
Secondly, the Holy Spirit might have respected Paul’s voluntary decision to go to Jerusalem and face hardship following from the choice. Paul did not necessarily have to go to Jerusalem, but he was willing to go there in order to reconciliation the church there with the foreign churches he had founded. The Holy Spirit might have wanted to stop him out of concern about the many difficulties He foresaw.
But the Holy Spirit was not only one who had two minds; Paul himself, who also had a character, struggled to decide which side he should think more important: his mission and individual security. He writes: “And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.” (Acts 20:22-24)
The same dilemma occurs to every parent, and indeed to all of us who often face difficulties. For example, parents urge their children to study hard, but at the same time, they also ask them to go to bed early because they are worried about their children’s health. They sometimes have the courage to say “Go for it” to children who choose a difficult path, encouraging and being proud of their children. But on the other hand, they want to say, “You don’t really have to take such a hard path.” This duplicity results from true love and compassion for the loved one’s voluntary choices.
Are you often mired in existential concerns about the choice between working more and loving more, or between mission and family? If you do, please don’t feel strange about having two minds; and whichever you choose, be in peace with your heart, loving the Lord. If you choose a hard path like Paul did, please don’t underestimate the price of your choice; the Lord, however, will always be there to comfort you.
Translated by EunHa Kim