L'Abri Newsletter, January 2019
January 7, 2019
Dear L’Abri praying family,
It’s a bit late, but Happy New Year! I am delighted to be able to start another year of L’Abri work with your prayer and encouragement.
As usual, we started the year with an endless stream of tourists who came to see the sunrise in the east coast. Both the expressway to Seoul and the road in front of our house became a huge parking lot for most of the day. Disaster struck amidst the heavy traffic. A wildfire of unknown cause started in the Songcheon “rice cake” village nearby and engulfed not only the mountain behind L’Abri but also the hills in the front. We were surrounded by fire on all sides.
Dozens of fire trucks and hundreds of firefighters came and went throughout the night, our parking lot serving as the gathering spot. Several fire trucks, including a state-of-the-art chemical engine, helped set up a barrier behind our house by soaking a 10-meter wide strip of forest with water.
Staying with us were SamWon’s mother and a newlywed couple. They were evacuated as soon as possible along with the rest of the workers’ family. InKyung, Euijin, and I remained on the scene all night to keep watch and assist the firefighters. The wildfire was finally extinguished after about 20 hours. At L’Abri, no building was damaged and nobody was hurt. Many trees were burnt, however, and many wild animals must have been killed when the thick layer of fallen leaves caught fire.
Many people heard the news and prayed for us. Members of one church told us that they had prayed all night. We received messages of concern and comfort from as close as Sokcho and Gangneung and as far as Canada. I thank all of you for praying and worrying for us. I am also deeply grateful for the firefighters, volunteers, police, and town officials – over 700 of them – who worked all night to put the fire out.
Above all, I thank the Lord for covering L’Abri with His hands, holding it and protecting it in the middle of the fire like a hen protecting her chicks. God let the wind blow this way and that, neither too strongly nor too weak, so that everyone had time to evacuate and firefighters had space to carry out their duties. His mysterious work reminds me of the Book of Amos: “He who forms the mountains, creates the wind, and reveals his thoughts to man, he who turns dawn to darkness, and treads the high places of the earth – the Lord God Almighty is his name.” (Amos 4:13)
We talked about many things once we returned home. What are the weaknesses in our fire plan and how can we improve it? How should we react to a crisis like this and help our guests evacuate in an orderly manner? How should we as Christians understand situations like this? We realized that we had missed or forgotten many important things, and are thankful that we were given an opportunity for reflection.
Our most pressing difficulty was to prepare for the winter term, which was scheduled to begin immediately afterward. The whole area still smelled of smoke; our parking lot was covered in calcium chloride to prevent the firefighting water from freezing; and my heart still pounds when I see the burnt-out remains of leaves and branches only 10 meters away from the eaves of my house. But many people were waiting for us to open, and we could not tell them to change their plans. We could not ignore the Holy Spirit guiding these people to L’Abri. So we decided to start the term as planned, but shorten it a bit.
We have several prayer requests for you:
- As a result of the blackout caused by the wildfire, the water pipe to the old gas station has frozen solid. We tried to thaw it, but had to start the term without water in the old gas station. Please pray that the various equipment we depend on will not cause us too much trouble during the winter term.
- The workers started the winter term in a condition of high stress. Watching the mountains burn all around you all night burns your heart, too. Please pray that we will not be exhausted. Please pray that we will be able to help those who come to us. The winter term is from January 7 to February 16, with a short break in the middle.
- Please pray for safety and our finances. Many people come and go in this cold, dry weather. Please pray that everyone will be safe, and that God will provide what we need.
Translated by Kijin Sung