L'Abri Newsletter, September 2017
August 27, 2017
Dear L’Abri praying family,
It’s a beautiful day with deep blue skies, a few snow-white clouds and bright sunshine. After weeks of dreary rain, I am suddenly thankful for the sky even though it must have been there all along. The sun also feels like a special gift from God. As the suffocating heat and humidity of summer gives way to cool autumn breezes, so in our lives we must have faith that the seemingly endless darkness we face will someday yield to clear weather. This is the power of our Lord’s resurrection, evidenced in plain sight even in the change of seasons.
I believe it must have been a hard summer for you just as it was for us. Our long summer term is finally over. We’ve served meals, washed clothes, made beds and gave lectures for hundreds of guests, including participants in the Christian Worldview Forum and various other groups. Although it is hard work as usual, we do our best to serve every last one of them. We can only bear this burden when God is with us and you are praying with us. Let me take this opportunity to thank all of you!
We ran two sessions of Christian Worldview Forum this summer, for three days each. We welcomed people from many different backgrounds: pastor, professor, lawyer, doctor, scientist, soldier, teacher, graduate student, headhunter, advertiser, artist, and more. Some gave seminars, others offered reviews, and everyone shared their thoughts in the discussion that followed. We had a great time learning many different ideas, placing them in the fabric of the Christian Worldview, and talking about how we might put them into practice in our daily life.
In the first forum, I especially enjoyed BongRye’s talk on the education of children with disabilities, and Professor JaeMin Kim’s talk on restorative justice. Dr. WonHo Kim gave us an unforgettable lesson, with stories from his own personal experience, on how to turn negative circumstances into a chance to seek God. All the ideas and stories we shared were as delicious as a buffet, as gorgeous as a bed of wildflowers. Mr. JinSu Han, who works at a research center in Daejeon, sent us a letter afterward in which he described the event as “a beautiful meeting with beautiful people in a beautiful place.” We were utterly surprised to learn that JinSu, whose face we saw for the first time last month, has been supporting us anonymously for nearly 20 years.
In the second forum, I was deeply moved by NamYe’s story of how the Christian Worldview helped us keep her strength in times of great difficulty, and JuDong’s discussion of guidance counseling. Dr. ChangHee Cho, an ER surgeon, gave a talk on how a Christian should approach the topic of death and live an eschatological life. This led to much discussion on current issues such as suicide and euthanasia. We were especially happy to welcome back Dr. JongWon Kim, brother of our former worker JongChul, who had gone abroad to study philosophy after reading Schaeffer’s trilogy at L’Abri almost 20 years ago. His wife JiHye, a specialist in baroque violin, gave a solo concert on the first evening of the forum. InKyung and KyungOk were in tears to see the couple and their children for the first time in such a long while.
Meanwhile, we had several special guests throughout the summer, such as the principal of Hebron School run by World Mobile Mission, the editor in chief of The Gospel Times, a professor who has served a long time with The Navigators, and a teacher from Busan who worked for UBF. Here at L’Abri, we don’t have many opportunities to meet people from these mission organizations. I was really happy when one of them told me, “I gained not only rest and consolation here but also new strength and freedom in the Truth.” Please pray that when they return to their work, they will remember their right as children of God to enjoy every aspect of life that is not sin.
There are two more events from last summer than I cannot forget. Pastor YeongBok Oh from Joseong Church brought his youth group on summer camp to a village nearby so that they could visit L’Abri. We had a really interesting discussion when one of the students asked how Christians should react when a friend asks them to do something wrong together. Pastor Oh also built us a marvelous shoe rack with hinoki wood. On a different occasion, a young woman who had read the Bible on her own declared on arrival that she wanted to believe in Jesus. She had attended church since childhood but never really met Jesus, and was very thirsty for Truth. We had a little spiritual birthday party with her. Please pray that the young people of our country and of our churches will receive a good education on the Bible and Christian Worldview so that they will not wander far and wide.
Please pray for the annual Christian Worldview School to be held in Seoul this winter. I will be meeting the staff of the Christian Worldview Studies Association of Korea, with whom we have co-hosted the event for the last two years, in September to discuss the schedule and speakers. Please pray that we will find speakers who are trying hard to live the right way in their field of work or study. During the break, workers are planning to study the books Homo Deus and Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari, currently quite popular in Korea, and Total Truth by Nancy Pearcey, often requested by our guests. Please pray for us to know by heart the Zeitgeist that sets itself up against God, and to learn how we might make it obedient to Christ. Please pray also for our health. ChungSeong has worked hard to serve our guests; Julia is studying in a foreign land, InKyung’s shoulder still hurts, and KyungOk is exhausted trying to care for everyone’s needs and cooking for them. Please pray for recovery and new strength.
Several of the old appliances in BaekAmDang, the old toilet house where I’m living, have had to be replaced recently. As I watched the house become renewed bit by bit, I thought of my own spiritual growth. Someone once told me that Paul often asked for radical change but Peter encouraged gradual change. Maybe Peter, through his own experience, found it so much harder to change himself. Although I have learned many things at L’Abri, it’s not easy to change each of my habits to fit what I’ve learned. I fear that I might fall into the temptation of having a hot head and a cold heart, a false and arrogant Christian who knows this and that but does not see the sin inside her. And yet I take one more step, trusting that the power of resurrection will eventually, step by step and day by day, change me and bring to fruition the new life that He has given me.
The scent of herbs is always present within their leaves, but is magnified when it touches someone’s hands. I hope that the scent of Jesus will not only be present within us, but also spread to others and become more beautiful when we reach out to those around us.
Translated by Kijin Sung