L'Abri Newsletter, December 2017
December 22, 2017
Dear L’Abri praying family,
I hope your year has been blessed by God’s grace. Here in Korea, we are under a constant threat of war due to the nuclear ambitions of North Korea and the tension with China regarding our THAAD missile defense system. The only reason we still have peace is because God has been mercifully protecting us.
The rise and fall of many nations come to mind, including the ruin of Israel and Judah in the Old Testament. Sadly, our society is just as corrupt as those fallen kingdoms had been; and the church is scarcely better. The world seems bent on doing exactly what our Father hates the most – worshipping the idols of money and success, and celebrating homosexuality and abortion. How should we live in such times, apart from begging God for mercy yet again?
Many of you have expressed concern, wondering who would want to pray and study quietly at L’Abri when the whole world seems to be preoccupied with creating chaos. We were similarly worried; during the spring and autumn, there were times when we only had one or two visitors. During the summer and Chuseok holiday, however, the house was just as full as ever before.
An hour’s drive north from here is the DMZ and Unification Observatory. Beyond that point lies the horror of nuclear weapons, intercontinental missiles, and an endless stream of murders and purges. But here at L’Abri, barely forty miles away, we’ve been enjoying feasts all year long – just as Esther saw 10 feasts amid the impending genocide of her own people.
As we studied the Book of Esther, we learned that not all feasts are alike. King Xerxes and Haman threw parties to brag about their own wealth and success. Some feasts were given to celebrate a royal marriage or the triumph of good over evil. Yet other feasts, however, were held in order to taste a moment of peace and consolation and to wait for the time of God even in times of desperation and despair. I think most of our feasts belonged to the second and third categories.
The School of Christian Worldview in January that we co-hosted for the second time with the Christian Worldview Studies Association of Korea was an opulent feast in which we learned to see the world through God’s eyes. Wim Rietkerk from Dutch L’Abri gave a talk about a Christian perspective on the refugee crisis in Europe, opening our eyes to the greater world and God’s plans for it.
We regret to inform you that the next installment of the School of Christian Worldview has been postponed indefinitely. In its place, however, we hosted two sessions of Christian Worldview Forum in the summer to pick out and encourage young speakers. An especially memorable participant was SangHee, who attended the first forum and returned for the second forum with her mother and sister. She promised us that next year, she would have a paper to present to the rest of us. The forum was an experiment, an opportunity for young men and women to share their struggles in trying to live by the word of God. It was a great feast in which we all partook in the wisdom of the Lord.
Alternative schools visited in groups and added a special adventurousness and festivity to our community. Students of Logos Academy visited with their parents for the second time this year, and 12th graders from Vision Classical Christian School spent three days at L’Abri. Younger minds bring fresh questions and even fresher answers.
HyeonWoo and Hyeju, members of our Sunday chapel, had a baby. The baptism of young SiYeon was a great feast proclaiming the birth of a daughter of God. She must have known that the party was for her, because she didn’t cry and seemed to be having a lot of fun.
The biggest feast of all was the marriage of HyeonSeok and Subin. It was a small gathering with only 50 guests, but that’s a big event for us! We had never hosted a wedding before, but all of the workers and members of our chapel worked together to make it an occasion for much fun and good food. We give glory to God for the successful event and ask you to pray that God will always look after their family. Please pray also that those among the guests who do not know God will come to find Him, and that those who have troubles in their families will find peace, all through the hand of God that they witnessed at L’Abri.
We also threw parties, big and small, whenever someone found God and/or the path that God had planned for them. Our parties seldom consist of more than a slice of cake or a glass of wine, but thankfully they happen often enough that some have even told us they envy us for enjoying heavenly parties every day.
For Christmas, we received a surprise gift of 10 chickens. We thank God and the person who sent us the gift. As we busy ourselves with the preparation for yet another heavenly feast, please pray that we will not forget who the master of the feast is. “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:6-8)
Looking back, it was not a coincidence that Lord’s Cross Church in Seoul gave us four new ovens at the beginning of the year. God must have known that we would have to prepare so many meals this year. I believe it is a solemn duty for L’Abri to throw these little, unsophisticated feasts in the name of Jesus in an age when fewer and fewer families can afford to share happiness at the table. All of us – ChungSeong, SamWon, Julia, InKyung, and myself – have tried to serve God’s love and consolation on our tables throughout the year for people who are deep in despair and lamentation. It is hard labor; but with God’s grace and your prayer, we would be able to serve another year.
This winter, we have two long feasts from January 5 to February 10, and from March 1 to April 1. The first term will have no special theme, but in the second term we plan to have weekly book discussions: Schaeffer’s Escape from Reason in March 5-10, Steve Wilkens and Mark Sanford’s Hidden Worldviews in March 12-17, Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens and Homo Deus in March 19-24, and a new book by InKyung and me in March 26-31.
Our book, A Love Song for Young Truth-Seekers: The Story of Korean L’Abri has been published by JeYoung Communications. We put the words on paper, but we cannot help but acknowledge God and all of you who have worked with us through prayer and gifts over the years as co-authors. Please pray that God will use our humble writing to demonstrate that He is alive and still working among us. Although we checked our records wherever possible, we may have misremembered names or dates. Please let us know if you discover any factual errors in the story. The book is dedicated to the late elder SeungTae Kim, who helped us greatly in the early days of Korean L’Abri, and his widow SeongSam Won, who now runs the publishing business he left behind.
I pray that the Lord will pour abundant grace upon you and yours this Christmas and the next year, and thank you again for persevering with us in serving this small corner of God’s great kingdom.
Translated by Kijin Sung