L'Abri Newsletter, May 2018
May 17, 2018
Dear L’Abri praying family,
It’s been raining for a few days now. Trees and flowers glisten with life; our outdoor dogs and cats blink lazily in their own shelters. Our guests seem to be enjoying the serenity and taking it as an opportunity finally to ask questions that they have been afraid to share so far. This means InKyung is having a lot of fun, not only doing apologetics but also just chatting with everyone. KyungOk, meanwhile, is busy in her Narnia kitchen serving all the people who come; ChungSeong in the old gas station keeps checking for leaks. The spring rain feels snug and comfortable, as if God had added a translucent awning outside my windows. It is a good day to press the Pause button on my usually busy life and write to you.
The current term opened on April 30; it’s been a fortnight already. Last weekend, we had a lot of guests thanks to the young adults group from Chilgok Jungang Church. Even our main lecture hall was not large enough for the crowd! Our research fellows presented a paper each day. On the first day, YunSeok shared what he learned at L’Abri in a talk titled “Honest questions, honest answers.” A woman from Busan, who came with her family, was so moved during the discussions that she cried as she asked questions. As she left L’Abri the next day, her face shined with newfound freedom from all the wrong knowledge about Christianity that had been oppressing her.
On the second day, Dr. ChangHee Cho gave a lecture on morning-after pills. This led to many questions and discussions into the night and helped us think about these issues based on exact knowledge of the biology involved. On the third day, Kijin presented a paper on AI, blockchain, big data, and human responsibility, showing us how we might live ethically in this age of information and how to avoid being deceived by the flood of misinformation. The more guests we serve, the more we learn to love, work harder, and think harder. Last weekend was a precious time of learning in all these respects.
I cannot forget Joy, a student from Hong Kong, whose parting words gave me so much strength I almost feel like I’m starting my life again. Joy is in her early 20s, but she had been through a lot of hardship working in studying in Ireland for the past two years; she’d also been blessed with great experiences of faith during these times. At L’Abri, however, she learned that spiritual experience is only one of the two pillars that support an unwavering Christian, and that the other pillar is true knowledge of God. Without good discernment, even a passionate Christian can stumble so easily. As she left, Joy told me that she is thankful for visiting L’Abri instead of sightseeing in Jeju island.
For me, tutoring Joy was a time for much-needed introspection. I had been getting a bit fatigued with L’Abri work lately. All the hard labor, loneliness despite an endless stream of guests, and the constant feeling that I’m not wise enough to serve them had led me to doubt my ability to continue to work here. But Joy reminded me why I wanted to be here in the first place, and why God has permitted L’Abri to survive in this harsh world for so long. As I remembered not only Joy but the faces of all the young men and women I’ve met here, the letters they left behind, the words of love and consolation from my coworkers, and all the prayers that you have been so faithful to offer on our behalf, I found strength again. Please pray for Joy, for me, and for everyone else who work and stay here whenever you remember us.
The current term lasts until June 23. After a short break, we will have a summer term from July 16 to August 18. Please pray that God will work to bring the people who need L’Abri, and also provide everything we need to serve them. Please pray for the workers’ health so that they can endure the hot season to come. Please pray in particular for InKyung and his daughter Haejin.
During the summer, we will hold two sessions of Christian Worldview Forum like last year. It will be a time for young opinion leaders who are living in this world with a Christian viewpoint to share their lives and ideas with short papers and presentations. Please pray for these young men and women so that that the Kingdom of God will be built on their work.
Christian Worldview Forum
- First session: July 27-29
- Second session: August 3-5
- Paper proposal deadline: June 6, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Full paper deadline: July 15, email@example.com
With thanks, we have another prayer request. All the workers have been allowed a short sabbatical in the autumn, from August 27 to November 17. Please pray that this will give InKyung and KyungOk much-needed rest to take care of their own health, and their children Haejin and Euijin some respite from the stress of life at L’Abri. ChungSeong will visit Canadian L’Abri during this time, and I’m planning to go to Dutch L’Abri. We hope this exchange will help us learn the spirit and philosophy of L’Abri better, and to get acquainted with the international family.
This is a great gift from God, so please pray that we will use the opportunity wisely and that God will provide what we need during this time. We are hoping that the renovation we’ve been planning will take place during this three-month window; but in order for this to happen, the donor who promised to purchase the old gas station and mountain for us must act fast. There are a lot of places that need to be repaired, and we are badly in need of more room for workers and guests alike.
Galatians 5:14 says that the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” I learned the hard way that it’s not possible to love my neighbors unless I know how to love myself a healthy way. There are several ways in which even a well-meaning person can fail to love herself: 1) not admitting the way she is, 2) easily compromising with her sinful nature, 3) trying hard to give and teach good things to others but not allowing herself anything good, 4) trying too hard to conform to the desires of others, and 5) blaming others for her own problems when they inevitably come to the surface. We should neither love ourselves to the detriment of others nor disparage ourselves in the guise of love. Each of us is a human being made in the image of God. We must love and be at peace with ourselves, secure in the knowledge of God’s greatest gift of all: freedom from the shackles of sin. Please pray that both you and I can enjoy this peace every moment.
As rain hastens the arrival of summer, with love,
Translated by Kijin Sung