L'Abri Newsletter, March 2023
March 1, 2023
Dear prayer family,
Today, there was a report that plum blossoms are in full bloom in Jeju Island, which marks the end of winter. Once plum blossoms bloom, forsythia, azalea, and later cherry blossoms follow. About a month later, perhaps cherry blossoms will bloom at the foot of Mount Seoraksan, where we live. Because winter this year was exceptionally cold and long, I am looking forward to spring more than ever.
Last winter, for the first time since COVID-19, every room was occupied with guests, and the table was full of food. There were many people of faith who visited, as well as some who used to be of the faith and were questioning. We had a young man who, at the age of 17, came out to not believe in Jesus and expressed regret for the things he misunderstood about Christianity. He even prayed earnestly for some L’Abri guests who stayed with him. We also had a high school teacher who attended church for a long time but realized more deeply the depth of sin through sincere conversations, discussions, and Bible study. He left desiring to live as a new person. Please pray that everyone will live in obedience to what they learned from the Word of God.
Through sub-zero temperatures, our helpers, Tae-yoon and Hyeon-ji, a married couple who met at L’Abri, worked hard to cook, wash, and clean, and they even got sick. For several terms, my daughter, Hae-jin, has been helping us with registrations. Though physically weak, she continues to teach English to children in our local neighborhood and, little by little, has been helping KyungOk to prepare meals for our guests. These days, we are reading Timothy Keller’s “Hope in Times of Fear: The Resurrection and the Meaning of Easter,” which has been very encouraging and helpful.
Hyun-seok, part-time worker, wrote the ‘L’Abri Content Management Plan’ and returned to work as a researcher, after interviewing our prayer family, donors, board members, research fellows, and workers over the past year. With his spare time, he also wrote and published a leadership training book titled, “If You Are a Leader, Practice It.”
Joon-won, research fellow, has accepted to lead the team for ‘Content Platform.’ We will need a lot of hands, prayers, and support to select, organize, and present the resources.
Sam-won successfully completed her master’s degree in counseling thanks to the prayers and love of many people. Because she is interested in the residency program at Acts University Student Counseling Center, she will be commuting to the school once a week this semester.
Last week, KyungOk and I shared about our experiences at ‘Cultural Apologetics Seminar,’ hosted by Young-Adult Theological Academy in Seoul. Professor Sun-il Kim of Westminster Theological Seminary in Korea summarized well L’Abri’s evangelical characteristic in three ways after we talked. Professor Kim and his wife used to be helpers at L’Abri a while back, and they seem to know and analyze L’Abri better than any of us.
- Version 1: Evangelism through rationale and cultural understanding – honestly answering sincere questions while understanding that methods of evangelism and communication differ based on a person’s culture, needs, and intellect.
- Version 2: Evangelism through hospitable community – imitating the way the Apostle Paul opened his doors to people in Corinth and Rome and evangelized to them.
- Version 3: Evangelism through spiritual reality – relying on the spiritual power and reality of the Triune God who lives and works through every moment, including hardships and disasters.
Many people have studied L’Abri’s evangelism and called it different ways. Schaeffer called it “cultural apologetics” because of the way L’Abri tries to evangelize using each person’s cultural background as a point of entry. Os Guinness called Schaeffer’s method “one to one personal evangelism,” perhaps because Schaeffer was considerate, respectful, and evangelized to people one by one. Professor Sun-il Kim used the phrase “ecological evangelism” and recently added another descriptor, “integrate evangelism,” because studying, living, and conversing are all integrated with each other.
I thought of the phrase, “typological evangelism”, after discovering how the Apostle Paul did not stick to one method of evangelism but ministered based on people’s worries, tensions, and types of problems. “For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings” (1 Corinthians 9:19-23). The Apostle Paul mentions four ways he went about evangelizing:
- “To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews.”
- “To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law.”
- “To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law.”
- “To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak.”
However, having met those of the MZ generation nowadays, I realized the need for a new evangelism method that also incorporates all of the above. The MZ generation doesn’t give much of their time, has trouble distinguishing between what is true and fake, and doesn’t like to have serious discussions about their thoughts and questions. Though these characteristics can apply to people of any age, I think the MZ generation needs “spontaneous apologetics” in which any opportunity that arises to speak with them must be done with high clarity, sensibility, and wisdom.
The war in Ukraine has no end in sight, and the world is getting more and more chaotic, but the work of saving and raising a life cannot stop. L’Abri will be open on weekends only from now to early summer, fully during midsummer, and then on weekends only again in the fall. Please pray that the Holy Spirit would select and send those who could benefit from a place like L’Abri and would also send us helpers and worker candidates who care about working hard and serving our guests rather than winning the world.
- February 10 - March 27 (Friday to Monday only)
- April 12-18 (L’Abri Members’ Meeting)
- May 5 – July 3 (Friday to Monday only)
- July 14 – August 21 (Fully open)
- September 8 – December 11 (Friday to Monday only)
- Closed for Chuseok, September 29 – October 3
where the shout for national independence rang 104 years ago,