L'Abri Newsletter, May 2020
April 30, 2020
Dear L'Abri praying family,
How have you been enduring the Coronavirus Pandemic? For the last two months we spent half of our days working and the other half studying among ourselves. We decided to reopen our place on May 11 within strict guidelines based on community-wide considerations: 1) we prioritize long-term guests over short-term visitors; 2) we set a “one person per room” policy except for married couples or a family; 3) we have gatherings and meals in a spacious room if possible; 4) we take people’s temperatures when they arrive and take immediate action for anyone who has respiratory problems or fever; and 5) we continue to practice the ordinary work and study schedule even when we do not have any guests. There is always some risk with L'Abri's ministry of community life, so please pray for workers and visiting young people.
The Coronavirus outbreak has given us several topics for discussion, such as self-quarantine, social distancing, working from home, ban on public gatherings, and ban on church services. The following news broke my heart when I heard during self-quarantine: “Many of the old and those with underlying diseases have died.” “Among people who are in self-quarantine, there are many people who have depression.” “Even medical workers have died.” “The unemployment rate of young people has skyrocketed.” “Small businesses and the self-employed are about to go bankrupt.” “Christians’ faith has cooled soon, and Christians pray less without Sunday services.” and “Offerings are diminished since there are no church services.” Please pray for those who have economic difficulties, who have lost their family members, and whose faith is shaken.
The Coronavirus outbreak crushed the pride of modern civilization and revealed its vanity. Although in the past modern science, politics, and economy set themselves up as a "supreme authority and solver" on various issues that humans have, the coronavirus showed that it is impossible or at least a false assumption. Here, I am not insisting on disparaging modern civilization, or the uselessness of science and technology, nor anarchism. I believe that science, politics, and economics can be beautiful when they play the right roles and serve the Kingdom of God and its people's happiness. Please pray for medical workers, politicians, and businessmen who worked hard with humility during this difficult time.
The Coronavirus Pandemic taught us that disease, death, and disasters will get worse. As you have observed, in the past decade we have experienced different kinds of pandemics like SARS, MERS, and Coronavirus as well as disasters like wars, earthquakes, typhoons, and wildfires. Although such diseases and disasters are heart-breaking and abnormal events, we should not be afraid of nor surprised of such things because these will continue to happen and even get worse until the Kingdom of God is accomplished. The Bible says, “You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.” (Matthew 24:6) Therefore, we should strive to pray together, not to be misguided by false eschatology and heretical teachings.
The Coronavirus has warned us that new viruses scarier than the Coronavirus may emerge in the future. It is the asymptomatic characteristic of the virus that frightens us the most, along with its rapid spread and high mortality. It is why the Coronavirus has been scarier than Ebola, SARS, or MERS. It means that it can spread without showing any symptoms such as coughing or sneezing. Maybe in the future a new asymptomatic virus might emerge that is even more fatal and able to spread by a mere touch. Also, times may come when side effects are scarier than the virus itself. As many people have noticed, we have seen these side effects in the form of fear, anger, distrust, anxiety, group depression, all kinds of discrimination, disparagement, indifference, and Post-truth. All of them indeed follow along with the disease. Please pray that all countries can overcome these threats with combined action.
The Coronavirus moved forward the "Post-truth" era. "Post-truth" means in the Korean context no separation between fact and manipulation, between truth and falsehood, between being right and wrong. According to Wikipedia, it is “the disappearance of shared objective standards for truth and the circuitous slippage between facts or alt-facts, knowledge, opinion, belief, and truth.” Post-trust changes its form reflecting the time, place, and topic. Please pray that Christians are not influenced by such ideologies, but to take them as an opportunity for evangelism and apologetic approaches.
The Coronavirus pandemic instigated a free-riding morale in the form of “College grants”, “National Disaster Aid”, and “Public Welfare Aid”, to name a few. In normal times, we have high interest in “buy one, get one free” marketing and how to make easy money. This time, Korean citizens have become even more sensitive to their own interests than in fairness and truth since both of the major parties and the President himself scrambled to hand out money. The prophet Ezekiel once diagnosed the reason for the fall of Israel as follows: “Their mouths speak of love, but their hearts are greedy for unjust gain.” (Ezekiel 33:31) Here, “gain” means profits earned by violence or injustice. In another English Bible, it is translated as “ill-gotten profits” (ISV). It is time to think whether “too much of a good thing” like government aid policies could makes citizens sick with a free-riding morale.
The current pandemic asks Christians to make a conscious choice. I would like to propose that, unless you have lost a job or are in serious trouble due to the Coronavirus, you do not request the government aid or pass on the monetary opportunity to other people. The following reasons might support your voluntary decision: 1) to redirect the subsidy to people who need it more; 2) to help reduce the national debt; 3) not to be misguided by the hidden intention of those who want to buy people's consciousness and sovereignty with handouts at election time; 4) to make a good example to your children that you do not get easy money; and 5) to live up to God's name and your consciousness. Please pray that Christians can follow God's will in this difficult time.
Translated by Hyunsuk Ji