Saturday, April 18, 2009

At L’Abri: Learning from Francis A. Schaeffer

Over the past year, I devoted my reading time to the writings of C.S. Lewis. Some of my moments of discovery and illumination I shared on this blog. I called the series, “At the Kilns: Learning from C.S. Lewis.” Over the course of the coming year, I am planning (D.V.) to devote my reading to the writings of Francis A. Schaeffer. The new series is called, “At L’Abri: Learning from Francis A. Schaeffer.”

“L’Abri” is the name Schaeffer and his wife Edith gave to their ministry in Switzerland. The word is French for “the shelter”. L’Abri began as a one-on-one, face-to-face, ministry to youth and university students who visited the Schaeffer family in the mid to late 50s. They used their Chalet in the Swiss Alps to host anyone who had questions about all aspects of life on earth. Schaeffer believed that the Lordship of Christ extended to all areas of life and the cosmos, and therefore no topic or question escaped his notice or attention. Before starting L’Abri, he served for many years as a pastor in the United States and then as a missionary in Europe. Inspired by a love for Christ and His truth, as well as a fervent love for the lost and needy, the Schaeffer’s opened up their home to hundreds of visitors. Through hospitality, genuine Christian living, solid answers to tough questions, and a submission to the work of the Holy Spirit, many people came to know and love Christ through this ministry.

Francis Schaeffer’s ministry expanded into an extensive “tape” ministry, which visitors (eventually called students) could listen on their own while staying at L’Abri. Schaeffer lectured on and discussed a plethora of topics, ranging from art, philosophy, politics, to truth, faith and the Bible… and everything in between. Later Schaeffer began speaking and lecturing at conferences and seminars in Europe and North America, leading to the publication of numerous books, which would sell in the millions in over twenty different languages. In the 1970s, Schaeffer expanded into film, bringing the reality of Christ’s truth and love to millions. In 1984, Schaeffer succumbed to cancer after a seven year long battle. Even in his dying days, Schaeffer was continuing to speak with people and give lectures, sometimes arriving at locations on a stretcher! Even when he was at the Mayo clinic in Rochester, undergoing chemotherapy treatment, the doctors and nurses arranged for Schaeffer to give a seminar presentation. The presentation turned into a conference at which they expected about 500 people to attend; in the end, over 1500 people attended!

Schaeffer also established several L’Abri ministries around the world, and today there are over ten L’Abri ministries, functioning much the way it did in Schaeffer’s time. People coming to stay, listen, read, talk and learn about themselves and their Creator.

Although I am not studying in the serene and majestic mountain setting of the village of Huémoz where the Swiss L’Abri is located, I will be spending the year, through his life and literature, listening and learning from this heavenly gifted and blessed man of God, Francis August Schaeffer.

Barrs, Jerram. "Introduction" True Spirituality by Francis Schaeffer. Illinois: Tyndale, 2001

Duriez, Colin. Francis Schaeffer: An Authentic Life. Wheaton: Crossway, 2008
L’Abri Fellowship Official webpage, “History of L’Abri”

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