L'Abri Newsletter, March 2019
March 7, 2019
Dear L’Abri praying family,
It’s been two months since the wildfire. Hundreds of young men and women have come to L’Abri during the winter term despite the fact that we’re in the middle of a disaster zone. We had to turn away many more because we ran out of beds for them. I thank everyone who prayed for us, sent us gifts, and supported us financially in these difficult times.
We’ve had a diverse group, from high school students to people in their 60s. Most visitors are in their 20s and 30s, though. The majority is Korean, but we’ve met Swiss and Americans, too. We’ve met college students, office workers, pastors, lawyers, missionaries, and physicians. Some of them have been believers for a long time; others are seekers or skeptics.
What this means is that our meal times and tea times are full of passionate discussions. We are not always blessed with honest questions and honest answers; we hear half-baked questions and out-of-whack answers just as often. Days and weeks fly by as we wrestle with the troubles and questions that our guests bring to our tables. The general types don’t diverge much from the three types that the apostle Paul encountered in Philippi two thousand years ago: those who seek answers to intellectual questions, those who need consolation for emotional hurts, and those who need a solution to moral conflicts. If anything has changed since last year, it seems that more people are socially or economically in distress. We try hard to help each person according to their needs, but there are limits to what we can do. This week, we have some people who don’t believe in Jesus. Please keep praying for our guests and workers.
The winter term ends on April 1. We’ll take a few weeks off for the International members’ meeting, and reopen for the spring term from April 26 to June 18, and the summer term from July 5 to August 14. We are expecting a couple of special guests as well as another installment of Christian Worldview Forum. Please pray for and attend these meetings if you can!
- June 5-9: Richard Winter, Professor Emeritus of Counseling, Covenant Theological Seminary
- June 18 to July 31: Cordell Schulten, former Professor of Law, Handong University
- August 15-17: Christian Worldview Forum
Spring is coming, but our hearts still feel like winter – not only because of the failed U.S.-North Korea summit, but also because of the fine dust pollution that has covered all of Korea lately. Even in Yangyang, where we usually enjoy clean air year round, the air quality is stuck at the “very bad” level since yesterday. We had to cancel all outside work. If the pollution is so bad in Yangyang, how much worse will it be in Seoul and other parts of the country?
The fine dust pollution is drawing many people to take an interest in the environment. But as the Norwegian philosopher Arne Naess points out, we’re prone to stop at a shallow response. According to Naess, “shallow ecology” merely fights pollution in order to achieve health and prosperity, whereas “deep ecology” must consider the philosophical and ideological roots of the current ecological crisis and seek to change them. What we need in Korea right now is deep ecology. A shallow response motivated by political expediency will only hasten an even more serious environmental catastrophe.
The government should stop beating around the bush and make an honest report on the possibility of imminent disaster. If we need to change our behavior or bear additional costs, the government must be honest in telling us so. The people, meanwhile, should criticize the government’s short-sighted and shallow responses and demand a fundamental solution so that we can leave a clean country to our descendants. If necessary, we must be ready to mount resistance.
As Lynn White Jr. said, the church should repent for its hitherto anti-environmental stance. Christianity helped set up a dualism between man and nature, going so far as to suggest that it is God’s will for man to abuse nature for his own purpose. “Christianity bears a huge burden of guilt for the devastation of nature,” he said, “in which the West has been engaged for centuries.”
We must not only be angry about wanton destruction of God’s creation, but also encourage each other to do what needs to be done ecologically. As Francis Schaeffer said, the church must work to bring the healing power of Christ’s redemption not only to spiritual matters but also to the realms of psychology, sociology, and ecology.
Meanwhile, we must not remain silent in the face of unbiblical eschatology and eco-theology. As the apostle Peter prophesied, I believe that all the pollution we’ve created will one day be destroyed by fire and our hard work will be acknowledged before God as the earth is renewed. “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.” (2 Peter 3:10)
I have a few more prayer requests. Please pray for the ongoing cleanup of our property. We’ve finished pruning the branches of fruit-bearing trees, but there’s plenty of work still to do on the slopes and gardens. We are clearing obstacles around the entrance to facilitate fire response, and we’re also planning to replace trees in the back of the house with evergreens that are more resistant to wildfire. Something needs to be done about all the asphalt in the parking lot that turns into a grill in the summer; and of course, there are leaks in the roof.
Please pray for Rev. Pukkoung Kim who is suffering from pancreatic cancer in England. Please pray for our workers – SamWon, ChungSeong, and KyungOk – who worked hard to feed and counsel our guests all winter. They are badly in need of rest. So do our helpers HyungWon, ChanMi, and JinKyung.
Please pray that the young people of this country will not stop at cursing the fine dust but do their best to find and contribute to a proper solution. We’ll be here in Yangyang to help those who find their way here. I trust that all of you are also doing your best in your families and workplaces as stewards of what God has entrusted us with.
Under a suffocating sky,
Translated by Kijin Sung