L'Abri Newsletter, March 2017
Late February, 2017
Dear L’Abri praying family,
Outside the window, the cold winds know that they have been ordered to retreat but keep trying to scare us one last time. The sound of the winds cannot, however, cover the tracks of the coming spring. As Aslan brought spring to Narnia, so the promise of warm weather will drive out the winter no matter how fiercely it tries to keep a foothold in our world. In the meantime, though, it seems in this world as if we will never see any respite from our cold, dry, tiresome lives. What happened to joy and thanksgiving?
Many young people who came to us last winter were afflicted by these cold winds of the times. Some had stumbled on the corrupted learning and trends borne out of our own sins. Some had been crushed by legalism that was originally meant to help us mature in our faith, but has similarly been corrupted. Some were burdened with guilt about drinking, smoking, and passionless church work, as well as the pressure to repent all the time for what they should not have to feel guilty about in the first place. These things prevent us from enjoying the joy of forgiveness and the freedom that God promised us, relegating us instead to a lethargic existence.
Thankfully, some realized out that the death and resurrection of Christ is the only answer to their troubles. Please pray for them to stay close to Jesus moment by moment and savor the joy and freedom that they’ve recovered at last. Only Jesus can help them win the enemy who prowls around like a roaring lion. Please pray that they will walk with God, whether at school or in their workplaces. Please pray that although their hearts have become as dry as bones, God’s word will blow new life into their conscience as we saw in the book of Ezekiel. Please continue to pray for L’Abri workers who are trying to help these people, but are every day realizing that we are no better than them, only more vulnerable to sin as we pretend to be teachers.
Community gives us not only the sad tales of our weakness but also great fun, beauty, and useful learning that comes from the image of God inside us. During the Korean New Year we exchanged greetings and shared festive dishes with our young visitors, including students from Russia and America. Some had never taken part in the traditional bow of greetings or received handsels before. We thank all of you who sent us fresh fruit, fish, cookies, etc. to help us prepare a fun and abundant Korean New Year.
A group of young engineering students from nearby Samcheok Jeil Church visited us for a couple of days. Quiet at first, they took interest in the lecture on science and asked endless questions. About 40 students, teachers, and parents from Logos Classical School also visited for a day. Many of the parents had read the biography of Francis Schaeffer, and the students were planning to read Escape from Reason together. We hope that they will gain a keen understanding of the roots and problems of modern culture and have great conversations with us next time; but since they visited on the day after we closed the winter term, we could only offer them a lunch and some short lectures.
It is both physically and financially demanding to open L’Abri and serve guests in the middle of the winter in Yangyang. Both the house and our bodies take a lot of energy to maintain in the cold. But we can’t tell people that God has sent us to leave us alone, can we? We are very thankful to the gentleman who paid to install two heat pumps last year and another this year. The heat pumps helped reduce our electricity bill for the first time last year, and we are expecting even more savings this year.
Speaking of appliances, I should also say a few words about our ovens. Sixteen years ago, we received a gift of three electric kitchen stoves; we bought one more the year after. The four stoves have been indispensable in serving tens of thousands of guest meals since then, but they began to fail one by one since last autumn. Only one is working properly now, and even that one has suffered too much abuse to last much longer. We’ve had to make do with partially functioning stoves and adjust our recipes because of this. Thankfully, God knew what we needed and replaced all four aging stoves with brand-new models through a timely gift from a small church, narrowly averting the disaster of not being able to cook.
Meanwhile, we finally installed a pair of triple sliding windows on the kitchen/bar on the second floor (in Kim JungSik Hall) that I used for the last 3 years and now belongs to Julia. We hope that these windows will keep the kitchen cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. As I think of all the workers and helpers who sweltered every summer and shivered every winter in the upstairs kitchen, I feel sorry that we didn’t think of such a simple fix all these years.
We are amazed with how God works every day through numerous people to keep L’Abri open and provide our every need just on time. We thank all of you who committed “holy waste” for us as Mary did with her perfume to wash the Lord’s feet.
SamWon works faithfully despite the heartbreak that she must have had since her father’s passing. ChungSeong hurt his back in December but managed to spend the rest of the winter without any further injuries. Julia is doing her best to find time both for her schoolwork and her responsibilities at L’Abri. We are all tired after a long and eventful winter, but I am thankful that all of has have survived to the end.
As I get older, I yearn for spring ever more. As the death of winter is followed by the rebirth of spring, I eagerly await the day when all our sins will finally die and we will find renewed life. I can’t wait for spring to come likewise in all of our families, economy, politics, and more. But before spring comes, winter must pass. Before we can have peace and new life, our sins and greed must die. I pray that you can endure the ordeal and come out the other side full of God’s life.
Translated by Kijin