L'Abri Newsletter, March 2021
March 15, 2021
Dear Praying family,
As the Coronavirus pandemic has been with us for more than a year, many problems have been raised. I am sorry that the pandemic has taken so many lives. Some people have lost the jobs or their will to live. It is not easy to meet family and friends due to social distancing. Many small business owners have difficulty staying afloat and even go bankrupt. The church is opening limited Sunday worship, and small group meetings such as Bible studies stopped. Many people have cooled down their faith, reduced church offerings, and withdrew their helping hands. Many missionaries have withdrawn from or stopped their missionary work.
The Coronavirus crisis is not only bringing difficulties but also benefits. One of the silver linings is that we seem to have grown an ability to respond to disasters. The development of new vaccines is one of the most significant examples. Some people say, “It's a gift from the pandemic that I have a lot of time to communicate with my family or that I have a chance to read and study.” Also, the pandemic played a great role in defeating the arrogance of modern civilization and revealing its fallacies. It took science down a peg, that used to be arrogant as the “highest authority.” And it revealed the lies of politicians who said they would “make everything better.”
The Coronavirus crisis gave us time to prepare for “the era of post-truth.” A man named JinKyung, who is studying with me, summarized the characteristics of this era and even suggested alternatives as follows: “(Nowadays) people live without great cause, justice, and truth, so they don’t care about sins. Also, as fake information became more powerful than facts, the influence of information on people enormously increased. (As a result), people blindly follow subjectively constructed beliefs. To improve this situation, we must establish a universal standard for the good life and critically accept any information. It is necessary to maintain fundamental essentials but to show tolerance to non-essentials. After all, it is most important to carry on a life of good influence without compromising with evil.”
The Coronavirus crisis also gave Christianity a chance to repent and reform. Some large churches announced that they would divide into small churches, and others stated that they would stop trying to steal members of other churches. Believers turned away from their nominal religious life centered on Sunday worship and various routine services, and made alternative attempts such as personal meditation, family worship, small group gatherings, online worship, and online donations. One of the consequences is that the world is suddenly overflowing with online worship and sermons. Most sermons and worship videos posted on YouTube or Facebook are helpful, but some content can harm your soul, so you have to be incredibly careful. I recommend that you participate only in the services of your own church and listen to the sermons of your own pastor rather than shopping for sermons from various other pastors.
The pandemic’s most significant gift has been that we realized the importance of one soul, the beauty of a small church, and of small groups. Until now, the Korean church has been busy boasting “the largest church in the world” rather than caring for one person’s life and soul. We ignored the preciousness of one soul. The numbers and economic logic had blinded us. And now we opened our eyes to how precious a small gathering of two or three people is. We have forgotten that Francis A. Schaeffer said, “No little people, no little places.” Now the Coronavirus reminds us of the weight of his words. And go back to Jesus’ words.
“If a man gains the whole world and loses his life, what good will it be? What will a man give to change his life?” (Matthew 16:26)
“I am among them where two or three people have gathered in my name.” (Matthew 18:20)
The impact of the pandemic varies from branch to branch, but most L’Abri branches have been focusing on research, repairs, and helping a small number of people. Last year, Korean L’Abri spent a lot of time replacing the old roof. For the past four weeks, we spoke at the “Christian Worldview School” hosted online by Jeonju Disciples Church. Seven speakers, including four workers and three research fellows, enjoyed 16 hours of lectures and discussion. For six weeks, I preached 1 and 2 Peter for Woori Geumgok Church. SamWon looked after her mother who has a backache for the past few weeks. ChangHee works in a hospital surrounded by about one hundred COVID-19 patients, but he himself has been tested negative four times in a row.
Please keep praying for several things. 1) Pray that the day will come soon when the virus calms down, and L’Abri can fully reopen. 2) Pray that Jimin, who is staying with us for a long term, will have a fruitful time. 3) Pray for us to discard the tree branches torn by heavy snow and prepare for spring gardening. 4) Pray for the workers and research fellows to prepare well for the Christian Worldview School program. 5) Please pray for the digitalization of L’Abri bookkeeping (ERP) and setting up an online platform. 6) Please pray for the health of KyungOk, SamWon, ChangHee, and me. 7) Please pray for our daily bread as well.