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Canadian L'Abri is situated on Vancouver Island, on the Saanich peninsula, near the lovely city of Victoria. Victoria, the capital of British Columbia, is a harbour city, a gateway to Canada from Washington, USA. Many come to the island to view the ruggedly beautiful landscape of farmland, oceans, and beaches. Further up this large island is old tree growth and fly-fishing, or surfing and whale watching. For several years we discerned a move from the quaint rustic Bowen Island to the larger Vancouver Island, and recently we sold our property and are now seeking to find a permanent property for L'Abri Canada from which to welcome people. We anticipate to live in an area rich with organic farming and hope to be welcoming guests again in the coming year.
L'Abri, French for "the shelter," does not fit neatly into any categories of description. It is something like a residential study-center in the context of a small community of homes. L'Abri was born fifity years ago in Switzerland when Francis and Edith Schaeffer opened their home to those who came seeking answers to life's many questions, or at least a place where they would get a serious hearing. Since then it has grown to include eight branches in seven countries.
It has sometimes been supposed that L'Abri is a place for intellectuals or intellectual pursuits only. This has never been the case. A wide variety of people come to stay with us, for many different reasons, from a variety of backgrounds, world views, ages and occupations. Some do not see themselves as Christians, and come looking for a place where their questions will be taken seriously. Many people come to address living as Christians in the modern world. Every student brings to L'Abri their own unique life, thoughts, interests and questions.
L'Abri is a place where we try to take all genuine questions seriously. Our foundation belief is that Christianity as found in the Bible is true, and that belief is based on more than a "leap of faith." We believe that questions and problems about God and life can be discussed rationally and answers sought without having to conclude "blindly" to "take it all on faith."
Furthermore, we believe the life-affirming truth of Christianity speaks to all of human life and thought. This means our lives are not divided between "sacred" and "secular" activities, and that Christian faith integrates all of human life, including our minds, our hearts, our work, our play, our relationships. This also means that art, history, philosophy, economics, psychology, education, politics, science, contemporary society, and all other realms of thought can be examined from a Biblical viewpoint.
If you have read any of the books by various L'Abri authors you will be familiar with some of these ideas. If not you may find it useful to read one or two of these books before coming. We suggest The God Who is There by Francis Schaeffer, and L'Abri by Edith Schaeffer as good places to start. Also: Being Human by Ranald Macaulay & Jerram Barrs and Chameleon Christianity by Dick Keyes.
One of the helpful things about being at L'Abri is that the study and discussion are integrated into the "real daily life" of living with families and working at all kinds of practical tasks. God often seems to use this context as a place where people can begin to integrate their faith into all areas of life. This kind of integration is important in our increasingly compartmentalized modern life, and can be very freeing, but it may not be terribly glamorous.
A "mountain top experience" is not our goal. You should not come expecting a secluded retreat environment. Instead we have tried to maintain the reality of a family setting in all the different L'Abri branches. There are lots of mundane chores to be done, some perpetual disorganization and not enough space for students to have private rooms. You may find some of this difficult, but there is a reality to the environment that by the grace of God, many have found helpful.
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