Please Note: Now that most of you have access to the Internet, we would like to be able to send our newsletter out electronically so as to save on printing costs. If you would like to receive our newsletter via e-mail, please send us your e-mail address. It is important that you respond one way or the other. You will also be able to access the Rochester newsletter at the L’Abri website, www.labri.org.
Latest Prayer Letter:
“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and do not do what I say? I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice. He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock”. Luke 6:46-48
As I write this, we are still processing the death of Mrs. Schaeffer this past Easter. In many ways, though death is of course never good, for her it was a mercy to be united with her Lord at Easter time, but for us it is a sadness to find ourselves without her friendship, love and support. Tears flowed on Easter Sunday as we celebrated the Resurrection and the sure hope that she will be enjoying. Now, as we move forward without the Schaeffers in this work that they founded and loved, I am reminded of their admonition that it was to be the LORD’S work and not their own. They always called us to be dependent on the finished work of Christ alone, acting with faith in the here and now on the foundation that he laid down in himself and his own death. As Luke 6:46 points out, we are to be those who come to Him, hear his Word and put it into practice. The Schaeffers made this the foundation, not having mere orthodoxy of belief, but also seeking orthodoxy in practice, in order to demonstrate to this generation and the watching world the reality of Christ’s finished work for here and now.
This is a high calling for us all and were it not for his work in us we could never aspire to such heights. But our saviour descended and became man, knowing our frame and making himself sufficient for all he calls us to. My prayer is that we would remember this “moment by moment” in our own unique lives, that those who come would still see and know that the Lord is Good and True. Edith has already had her funeral in Gryon and burial in Rochester, and on May 11th the Rochester L’Abri will hold a Memorial Service in her honor. We need to be holding up the family in their grief at the loss of their mother, grandmother, and great grandmother, as well as the many that held her dear, and pray that we would all have courage to live by faith in the manner that she showed us. I have been re-reading the L’Abri story at this time and was struck again by the amazing story of the days that led up to the start of this work. Edith’s courage to not give up and to travel alone to find a house in Huemoz, and the miraculous gifts of money that confirmed her decision, are an inspiration to not despair when we face life’s hurdles. Since that time, there have been countless stories of miracles and it is a precious heritage to share in.
Next week we are opening again for students, having recently attended the members meeting in Switzerland and led another L’Abri Retreat down in Missouri. Our small lives are stretched wide in this work but we see God’s hand in it all. We would appreciate prayer for the students that are coming, that the Lord would prepare them and that we would provide them with what they need to find here. Many folk who come have serious challenges and if it were not for God’s help we would feel at a loss. We would also appreciate prayer for some of the ongoing practical challenges, as we need to replace a portion of the L’Abri house roof and we also need to replace a sewer pipe so that the basement does not flood anymore and we need to fix the truck. We have put these off as long as we can but they will not last much longer. Jock juggles many hats - in our church, in the wider International L’Abri, and here with the running of this branch, and the practical needs of this large property are an added burden. My health continues to be a bit up and down, but that is to be expected. I am currently recovering from shingles, another glitch in daily life. Tabby has been a great help and she is a pleasure to work with, but she would appreciate continued prayer for her important role in the L’Abri house.
We do so appreciate all the prayer and support we have received from each one of you, each with your own story of how you came to know L’Abri and how the Lord is working in your life. It will be wonderful to share these all in heaven one day, to get a good bird’s eye look at the tapestry that Edith loved to talk about. We are all a part of God’s story that is unfolding even as I write. I am glad that even though we face uncertainty in what will happen next in this fallen world, we know for sure that the story has a wonderful ending, when death is swallowed up in victory. “Oh death, where is thy sting?”
Yours, in Him,
Previous Prayer Letters:
“Rejoice in Hope, be Patient in Tribulation, be Constant in Prayer” Romans 12 : 12
With the annual Rochester L’Abri Conference behind, us there is indeed much to rejoice in. Some 430 folk and some 20 speakers gathered in the Kahler Hotel for a wonderful two days of rich teaching and fellowship. With Immigration and gay ‘marriage’ much in the news, our subject matter was really pertinent and the speakers did a terrific job balancing fidelity to Scripture with respect for those that differ. No one has a more solid basis to ground the equal dignity and worth of all people than the Christian and there is such freedom and comfort in worshipping a God for whom there is no partiality. Would that we, God’s people could express that better in the way we treat people. But the atmosphere throughout the conference was such an encouragement, as truly difficult issues were wrestled with, with grace and integrity. Less important, but equally a matter for rejoicing was the fact that, though attendance was somewhat down and the cost of flying speakers in had soared, we nonetheless were able to break even financially (ending just $210 in the black, to be precise) God is indeed faithful!
And now we are in the midst of our Spring Term, and very thankful for the small group of students that has gathered. They are as diverse a group as one could imagine but wonderfully settling into the community of L’Abri and really learning to care and support each other. Already we see significant progress but of course still much need for prayer. Some are just coming to faith, others recovering from deep wounding, or wayward behavior and yet others seeking direction in ways that would honor God.
And, this being the first student term with Tabby, our new colleague, we are rejoicing in once again having an energetic and gifted co-laborer to help shoulder the work. For Alison especially this is a great reprieve. Do pray for Tabby as she continues to settle into the work as well as the local community.
But is it all rejoicing? Is there any need for ‘patience in tribulation’? Well, how about the transmission on the L’Abri snow-plough packing in just before the worst snow storm of the winter? Or the septic system backing up into the basement just before the first public Friday Lecture of the term? And I wish these were the worst of the challenges that we face. But no work of God is without significant opposition, and that is why Paul’s short formula ends with the call to ‘be constant in prayer’. And that is where you, our ‘praying family’ form such a vital backbone to this frail ministry. Without your support, we really could not soldier on.
So thank you - and may God bless you even as you bless us.
Yours in Christ,
“…to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Eph.3:18-19
I am writing this letter basked in full afternoon sunlight, from the apartment in the retreat building in Missouri. We have just ended our first January L’Abri Retreat here in this new building and it all went well. Jock is currently busy wiring in some lights and Tabby is painting, so the work on the building is still carrying on, but at this point we have enough done to enable people to stay in reasonable comfort and for this we are thankful. It is hard to believe that another year has just passed and soon we will be hosting the annual Rochester L’Abri Conference. Jock is glad for access to email as he carries on with handling details here, but when we arrive back home the last push will begin. We would appreciate your prayers for all that needs to be done, for the speaker’s preparation, safe travel and for the logistics - oh and for good weather!
Our good news is that as of the 1st of January, Tabby Yang has joined us on staff as a worker. She was a helper at both the Canadian and English branches and has her masters in theology and counseling from Westminster. She is from Florida so Minnesota may be a challenge, but she brings a warm spirit and a kind smile and is already proving her worth. We are still in need of a helper as well so we do hope that someone materializes to help with all that is ahead.
Our recent terms were fairly full and we found that many who have come have been struggling with shame - even after many years as Christians. Again and again we find ourselves discussing the power of grace and the depth and breadth of God’s love and for our students, who as sinners that have been wounded by living in a fallen world, it can be hard to believe. The eyes of faith are what help us to see, but this does not come easily. Living in community and experiencing love is a simple thing, but it can work deeply in broken hearts to start binding the wounds. We have been privileged to see something of this change, like water on a withered plant and we thank the Lord that he has blessed us with His presence in order to bring this change about.
Jock has been reading to us from Ephesians each morning, and it has been a good reminder of the power of the resurrection that has been made available to us through Christ and the Spirit - and it is a comfort in the face of the gap between our strength and all we are called to. Today I was struck by Eph. 3:17-19, that this is what we are called to pray for each person that comes. It can be so hard to grasp the enormous extent of Christ’s love for us personally, that it is a gift of grace and not something that we earn. May we all be reminded of this afresh in the new year. Blessings and love,
In Him who holds us in his loving arms,
“Do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with your God.” Mic 6:8
Here we are already in the midst of our Fall term, thankful to have full houses and an interesting array of students. John and Day Hodges are here with their students from the Center for Western Studies as well as others, including another Russian and a former Ethiopian refugee.
Looking back, our second Summer term in Aug/Sept went very well, with signs of significant change in the lives of the many students that came. It comes at a price though, as we were alone as workers for the 2 months and like most of L’Abri, our finances have been thin. Nevertheless, we were aware of the Lord’s sustenance and goodness and we were grateful to have Karen and Tabby so ably helping us. Unusually we had more guys than girls, so our basement was mostly full, but Jock was able to get a lot of grounds work done, both removing dead trees as well as buckthorn. We also, unusually, had a number of Europeans with us, probably a sign of the low dollar, but we enjoyed the diversity.
At the end of term we headed to St. Louis to put on our first L’Abri conference there. It was a one-day event, designed as an abbreviated repeat of our February conference, and we had over 100 attend. It was good to stay with Larry and Nancy who helped with the organization and hopefully there will be many more of these St Louis Conferences in the years to come. We then headed out to the farm and the Ebenezer Retreat building project where Jock carried on with dry walling and electrics and we hosted another working retreat. We were thankful for the many volunteers who came out to help, including a couple who drove down from Chicago just for the week-end.
So we have been juggling many things and often feel hard pressed. Please pray that the Lord would send the help we need, especially as we recently said goodbye to our faithful helper Karen, who is now back in Texas. Thankfully Tabby is staying on and is doing a wonderful job. But at these times it does seem that we often fall more heavily on the Lord in our weakness. This work has always centered around the truth that we live in a supernatural reality and it is prayer that helps to orient ourselves aright, both in the times when we are told to trust and hold back and wait, and when, at others, we are to press forward, even when facing insurmountable obstacles. We are always to turn to the Lord and to trust him in all things; we are never promised an easy life, but we are promised that he will walk with us as we depend on him.
The Lord’s grace in all this makes us feel gladness, and walking this road has been sweet as we are frequently surprised and encouraged by His very personal care and provision. And this includes the people who are sharing life with us here in the L’Abri community, as they have many struggles too. This wrestling that we do together bears fruit, as the Lord does indeed hear and answer, and for them this is an important experience.
We do continue to ask for your prayers for this branch, that we would have the right workers to work alongside us, and for the finances to pay them. Please also pray for the students of his choice to come, for them to find the things here that God has brought them for, and for good helpers in the face of many needs. Please pray for my health as it can be very up and down and please also pray for Jock and his many responsibilities. He is thankful to finally get the February Conference brochure finished and in the mail. Pray that these get into the hands of folk for whom the Conference will be a blessing. (You can download extra copies from our website at www.labri.org )
“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” Rom 12:12
With many thanks,
Last Friday I did a lecture on the legacy and influence of Francis Schaeffer. This was my contribution to his centennial year. He was born on January 30th, 1912 and died in 1984, over a quarter of a century ago - more than enough time to relegate most to history. But Dr. Schaeffer continues to have a wide and ongoing impact, particularly in evangelicalism, and thereby on into the wider American culture. The ways in which he has influenced evangelicalism for the better are surprisingly numerous and I found it a deeply inspiring exercise to simply list them. Consider the number of Christian academics who cite the inspiration of Schaeffer in their own decision to follow their vocational calling. Schaeffer affirmed the mind and elevated the importance of Truth, he showed that Christ was Lord of all of life and no area of reality was off-limits. In addition, He showed the value of analyzing our culture in terms of the flow of ideas and how these shaping ideas can be seen as worldviews. He led evangelicals back into a real and thoughtful engagement with the wider culture, put pro-life issues on the front burner for evangelicals and gave impetus to a new generation of Christian activists. But he was no less concerned for the Church and his struggles for biblical orthodoxy helped solidify most evangelicals around an inerrant Word of God. Then too, his embrace of the Arts was a breath of fresh air and is now a commonplace, as is the practice of hospitality and community living in evangelism and discipleship. Of course, he was not the only one to emphasize these matters and his legacy has certainly not been uniformly embraced. There were also many other concerns of his that went largely ignored, but can we doubt that so much of what is good in contemporary evangelicalism is to a large part due to his tireless efforts.
As encouraging as all this is however, I confess that as I looked back on his legacy I was disappointed to note two singular exceptions where his voice has not been heeded. From the very beginning of his ministry to the very end, Schaeffer railed against what he called the ‘middle class’ values of personal peace and affluence. One still hears this phrase parroted but can we really say that the Church has been weaned from these idols? Still more concerning is the almost total neglect of perhaps his greatest concern – namely a radical dependence on God. This is the central conviction of his book True Spirituality and the collection of seminal ideas in that book were of such significance to him that without them, he often declared, there would have been no L’Abri. Even many of Schaeffer’s most ardent fans value him either for his emphasis on Truth or for his emphasis on Love, but seldom mention his emphasis on the Reality of living in dependence on a Supernaturally active God. It is of course no coincidence that these two blind spots are intimately related! We are extraordinarily good at keeping our need for personal security uppermost in our planning – and trusting God gets harder and harder, even as our practical need for him gets less and less.
In L’Abri however, depending on God continues to be an unavoidable part of the work. The finances are in fact the least of it. Looking back at this wonderful legacy we have from Dr Schaeffer only reinforces our own inadequacy. There will never be another like him, but we all feel a responsibility to do at least some partial justice to this remarkable inheritance – and who is up to that? And then there are the students! Countless numbers of wonderfully diverse human beings, each on their own unique journey, and each with huge questions and issues to be dealt with. Who is up to that?! None of us, of course, and without a deep conviction that this is the Lord’s work and that He is enabling what good there is in it, none of us could go on. We have to depend on God and we have to look to him for the increase, even as we faithfully plant and water to the best of our abilities.
Right now we are deeply thankful for God’s faithfulness through a stretching time of transition. The Summer term is up and running with good numbers of students coming through – and it’s all going well. Karen and Tabby are doing a wonderful job in the main house and Alison and I feel gradually able to breathe again. The students have been so considerate and grateful and we see God at work every day. Depending on him is never easy – but seeing his hand like this does make it easier. And looking back at the extraordinary way that Francis and Edith depended on God is equally encouraging - as is a consideration of the extraordinary fruit that they bore.
Just yesterday, I took one of Schaeffer’s great-granddaughters to see his grave, as he is buried nearby. It was moving to once again read the inscription on his gravestone – They go from strength to strength - from Psalm 84, which he was quoting as he died. A small apple tree was planted next to the gravestone when he was buried. It is now very large, with sweeping branches and is producing the most deliciously sweet fruit. I like to think Dr Schaeffer would be pleased. It is certainly fitting – for this small man, who, in the grip of God, cast such a long shadow.
Yours in Christ,
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Cor 12:9
BJ & Jess moved out this week and it was very sad to see them go – they leave a big hole. This past year they made a wonderful contribution, filling the L’Abri house with all the warmth and delight of family life – and they and little Matthew, Henry and Hero will be sorely missed. It was always going to be something of an experiment to fit a family with toddlers in the confines of the L’Abri house but with the addition of dear Hero it just proved too much. Though they certainly gave it their all, raising three children three-and-under in any circumstances is challenging enough – but doing it in the open-house context of L’Abri, and with limited private space, just did not allow the kind of family situation they need. Thankfully we all remain the best of friends and we are so glad they have found good temporary accommodation with family nearby, so we will continue to see them. But do pray on for BJ as job hunting in this economy is not easy.
As they moved out, we have been busy reconfiguring the house for our second summer term which starts this week. We are very thankful for a good number of students booked in – some with a very critical need to be here. Please do pray for the new term – that the students would settle in quickly and make good use of this place. And pray for Alison and I as we will carry a big load in terms of teaching and tutoring – for deep Godly wisdom in all our interactions with these precious souls that the Lord sends.
We will have good help – and for that we give thanks to the Lord for his truly amazing provision. Karen Robare, our wonderful Texan helper will stay on and is excited about doing more meals and taking on more responsibility. And then we will be joined by Tabby Yang. Tabby is a Westminster grad with extensive experience in both the English and Canadian L’Abris. Do pray for her as she settles in here at Rochester - that she will find her gifts well used and enjoy all that this new location has to offer. And then, in addition, Gretchen Haughey will come up from St Louis for a few weeks to help in the transition, as she did last summer. Even after 25 years in L’Abri it never fails to amaze me how faithful God is in his provision. There is so much obvious uncertainty in times of change, but we really can have a quiet heart when we look to our gracious Father. But please remember this branch in your prayers as we seek the Lord’s provision for the right coworkers into the future.
In other encouraging news, we now have all the arrangements for next year’s Rochester L’Abri Conference finalized. We meet as usual at the Kahler Hotel on February 8 & 9, 2013 under the theme “Every Tribe and Nation…” and will be looking at the things that divide in light of the gospel of reconciliation. As usual we will have some 20 speakers coming in from all over and have a wonderful program of lectures and workshops outlined. Please pray for the preparation of the brochure and that as word goes out we will get a good response again this year.
Thank you for your support and co-laboring in this work – without you we would feel very alone.
Yours in Christ,
It is with great sadness that I share with you the news that Jessica and I have decided to move on from L’Abri. Our decision has come as we have reflected on the reality of the needs of our rapidly growing family and the limited space available for us at Rochester L’Abri. Jock and Alison have been very gracious about our decision and we are discussing the details of our departure, but I want to assure you that L’Abri will always be a part of our hearts. We have felt insufficient in many ways, but we take comfort that his “power is made perfect in our weakness.” God’s grace has been evident in every step of our journey, and this last year has been an indispensible time of training and growth for us. We do ask for your prayers in this challenging time of transition.
We also ask you to share in prayer and praise for this branch. Jock announced at our last worker meeting that we were in better shape financially this month. Things are still tight here, but this is an encouragement. We deeply appreciate the sacrificial support by you all which has helped us through this time. We are grateful to God that he has continued to provide for this ministry through difficult economic times.
We are also grateful for a growing group of students here this term. We have had students from Iowa, Nebraska, California, England, as well as a local boy from Rochester who just finished a week here. This term we have had some students dealing with particularly critical decisions of faith, and we are poignantly aware of the need for God’s spirit to open eyes and ears to His gospel. That being said, we are deeply encouraged by their positive response to discussions, lectures, tutorials, and community life here at L’Abri.
Other areas for prayer and praise: Jock is beginning plans for next year’s conference, and has just lined up all the main speakers. We are excited about the theme which will be disclosed shortly. Also, things are coming along with construction at the Ebenezer Retreat building in Steelville, MO. We have made a number of work trips already this year and plans are in process for the next L’Abri Retreat in October. Also, a note about Alison’s health. She has gone in for annual testing for her MS this past week, and we desire prayer concerning the forthcoming results and peace for the McGregors in these things.
Finally, please do pray for all of us over this coming period of transition – for the Rolands as we seek God’s leading for our future – and for the Rochester branch as they seek God’s provision for this busy ministry.
B.J. Roland for L’Abri
"Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke”, we also believe, and so we also speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God." 2 Cor 4:13-15
Alison and I have just returned from Holland where we had the annual leadership meetings for L’Abri International. What a joy it was to meet with all our colleagues from around the world. It always amazes me to see just how God has used this tiny ministry in such a global way. It was so encouraging to get reports of the great work being done in the newer branches of Korea and Brazil. There is a real thirst for the Christian Worldview in these developing regions. But the older branches also remain strong with large numbers still visiting England and Switzerland. Of course, all the branches do also have struggles of different sorts - shortage of suitable workers, space issues and so on. God’s work is never without challenges – and everyone (including us) has felt the financial strains of our present economy. Overall, however, we came back deeply encouraged to be a part of this precious ministry that God has grown so organically over the decades. Seeing the dedicated faith-walk of our fellow-laborers is also deeply inspiring and spurs us on.
And now we look ahead to our first Summer term. Summers are the busy season here in Rochester and we are so glad to have two able helpers joining us this term – Karen from Texas, who has already been with us since last summer and Taylor, coming up from St Louis for the summer break in his college studies. Give thanks for God’s provision of these wonderful young folk who add so much life to the community. Do also please pray for the Lord to send the people of his choice as our summer students begin to gather. Each comes with a unique story and we count it a real privilege to become just a part of what God is doing in their lives. Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians 4 that we are in this ministry ‘for their sake’. Though in our weakness we feel our ‘clay’ natures all too keenly, yet what we have in these earthern vessels is indeed an immeasurable treasure – the light of the Gospel. Pray that we may speak into people’s lives in ways that commend God’s truth in love. Please also do continue to pray for the Roland family, as the challenges of raising three little ones in the community of L’Abri will not get easier in the busy summer months. We are so glad for all they bring to our small branch.
Finally, please do pray for our finances. God is faithful and every month we see minor miracles of loving provision – but the coffers have been very low of late and we have had several months of salary cuts, struggling sometimes even to pay bills. Pray with us that this is just a ‘bump’ in the road and that God will continue to grow and establish this branch as a real shelter where grace may ‘extend to more and more’.
Yours in Christ
“All this is from God who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespass against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.”-2 Cor. 5:18-21
This year has got off to a very busy start. In early January we headed down to Missouri for another L’Abri Retreat - but this one was very different than the previous 14. For the first time we actually stayed in the new building which was a wonderful step forward! Of course it is still some way from being completed and so this was a working retreat and we focused on getting the apartment dry walled. Many folk came and helped, but the highlight was a visit from an old friend from Australia who is a master builder. He was here for a few days while on a ski trip and was able to give invaluable advice and assistance. Then two weeks after we returned we held our annual Rochester L’Abri Conference. We are so thankful that it went very well, as it was our first time running it without Larry and Nancy - though we were glad they could attend and relax and enjoy it for once. We had about 600 attend and the lectures were well received. It was wonderful to catch up with so many people and to see many new faces and we were thankful that there were no snow storms to deal with and everything went smoothly. We are thankful for how the Lord has built the conference up over many years and we pray that it will continue to be a blessing into the future.
Now we are gearing up for our Spring Term on the 1st of March. So far we have a few booked in, including a girl from the Netherlands. Please pray that God will bring the people that need to be here and that we will quickly understand their issues and help them to find their solutions in the God of Grace who is reconciling them to himself. Living in this public way can be daunting and we would appreciate your prayers. With a young growing family in the main house there are many adjustments and challenges for all, not the least for BJ and Jessica. We are so thankful for them and the children are a delight - they are very affectionate and Hero is full of gurgling chatter and smiles, but we would appreciate prayer for their protection and for wisdom for BJ and Jess as to how to juggle family and L’Abri, as many other families would attest to the unique challenges that L’Abri life brings. We would also appreciate your prayer for health. I am thankful that the MS has not progressed for a few years now and I can still keep up, but there are many ongoing health issues.
Today as we prayed together we were aware of God’s presence and encouragement. We are looking forward to see how this term unfolds as we often see his hand revealed in the lives of the students as he works in their lives. Please pray too for our helper Karen, as she had to head home for her grandfather’s funeral. She returns today and we hope that she will find comfort and encouragement in her time with us this term. She has been invaluable. We are all aware of how much we are dependent on God’s grace and our need to be led by His strength and not our own. He has given us reconciliation to himself and it is a precious hope that we have to share with others. Thank you so much for your faithful part in God’s provision, we are deeply grateful,
Yours, In Him,
We want to let you know how very thankful we are as we end the year here at L’Abri. First of all, we are so thankful that the Lord has met our financial needs after a difficult summer. As you know, Rochester L’Abri faced several financial challenges adjusting to financing a branch with a family with three children. At the same time we had other expenses including an expensive tree removal. The Lord has continued to work in various ways to meet these significant needs. Of course no small part of the Lord’s provision was met through your prayers and generosity. So we also say a big THANKS to you as well. We know many of you are struggling with finances during a difficult economic situation as well. And we trust that the Lord will meet all our needs abundantly even as we bear one another’s burdens in various ways.
Also, we are grateful for finishing a wonderful Winter term. We were full for the entire term with students who booked in for the entire term instead of short stays. That made for one of the most solid terms this branch has had in many ways. And while the numbers are wonderful, more importantly, we saw God work in people’s lives! Our young man from Canada was very encouraged to find a community where Christians take questions seriously. As a result, he told us his younger brother was looking at visiting a L’Abri branch next year! Similarly, we felt all our students made significant progress in finding Biblical answers to their questions and real Hope in the Gospel.
In other news, Hero just got her final cast off in the process of correcting her club feet! The doctor gave us a good report on the progress of correction. Now she will have to wear special shoes to maintain the correction until she starts “toddling.” Our little family is adjusting well to life at L’Abri! The boys are growing and developing more all the time! Matthew wants to read at 3 ½ and keeps asking me what certain words mean. Henry is working on his verbal language skills, and keeps bringing me little word books. Jessica and I were just talking about how he is both the active one and the “cuddler” in our family, as he is so full of life he usually won’t even sit still for a movie break!
Karen, our helper, just headed back home for Christmas and will be back for the January L’Abri Retreat in Missouri. We have been so thankful for her. She has been a real Godsend and a friend, a great help with meals, as well as helping the students develop a real sense of community during their time here.
Jock and Alison are gearing up for the January Retreat as well as continuing the Ebenezer building project - and then rolling right into the February conference. Please pray for their rest and rejuvenation in the brief down time before these begin.
Finally, please keep us in prayer as we anticipate a challenging new year as we expand our term lengths (see http://www.labri.org/minn/dates.html). We are excited about this step in our branch as we have been growing in our residential work! Also, please pray for the finances as we have been living on miracles from month to month. It is wonderful to be a part of an organization which God has sustained like this for 55 years and we pray He will continue to use this organization as long as benefits His glorious Kingdom!
God Bless and Keep you during this Blessed Season!
B.J. Roland for Rochester L’Abri
Today we start our Fall term and we are expecting seven students who will stay the entire term. It’s unusual for us to have so many stay for the full term rather than for just a few weeks at a time and so we are delighted to be able to look forward to a lovely group spirit developing. It is exciting to look forward to these dear folk that the Lord is sending and to anticipate what their time here may mean. Each undoubtedly comes with a unique story and different set of issues they are grappling with, but what confidence we can have that it is the one true and living God who is calling us all deeper and deeper into the transforming power of his Grace and Truth. Pray that we may be able to reflect that in our lives together this term.
We are also delighted to tell you that the Roland’s have had their little baby girl! On October 18th, Jessica safely delivered little Hero Kathleen Roland (named for the Shakespearean character) after a very short labor. She was in fact born just 20 minutes after arriving at the hospital – which was a great relief to poor BJ. We are also so happy to report that she is responding excellently to the treatment for her club feet. This involves wearing casts that are changed every week - but should last only until she crawls and will leave no lasting difficulties. Please continue to pray for a full recovery for her. Please also pray for the Rolands as they adjust to the larger family - managing Matthew (3) and Henry (1 ½) as well as the new-born. We are all very thankful that Karen Robare from Texas is here as a helper and able to fill in very well while Jessica is on maternity leave.
We are truly thankful to the Lord for sending us the Rolands during this year of transition - as we continue to miss the Snyders, recently retired and relocated near family in St Louis. Throughout the nearly 57 years of L’Abri, God has not only sent thousands of individuals our way seeking light and life in the safety of this small ‘shelter’, but he has also always provided workers willing to live sacrificially and dedicate themselves to the needs of others. The Rolands have deep roots in this part of the world and both fell in love right here at the Rochester L’Abri, so there is a certain ‘coming home’ for them as they start their ministry here. Their gifts of loving hospitality and quiet commitment to the Lord have already been a wonderful blessing to the student life in the main L’Abri house.
The Apostle Paul in the second letter to the Corinthians refers to Christian ministry as being the ‘aroma’ of Christ. It is a beautiful image of the multifaceted way in which we are called to reflect Christ before the watching world. Indeed it is Truth that sets us free, but demonstrating that truth in community is what creates the beautiful ‘fragrance of the knowledge of God’. Paul rightly asks – “Who is sufficient for these things?”. Indeed we often feel that way – but we have also so often seen Him work powerfully, even through this small work. Pray with us that we might see His work continue this term.
Yours in Christ,
P.S. Download the brochure for the 2012 Rochester L’Abri Conference (Feb. 10&11) at www.labri.org
Here we are in the Northland! Moving back to Rochester has been a blessing for the Roland family in many ways. First, we love that we get to work with L'Abri Fellowship. Jessica and I met at the English branch and both volunteered at this branch 6 years ago and began dating here. We both appreciate the care we have received from L'Abri in the past and we are deeply pleased to have the chance to join the work here.
Also, it has been wonderful to reconnect with family and friends in the area, as this is Jessica's hometown. The church community has been very kind to us with offers of meals and childcare. And we love getting to spend our days off with family. We are very aware that most L'Abri workers around the world (as well as most traditional missionaries) must endure long periods of separation from their families, so we feel very blessed to live within 5 hours of my family in Iowa as well. Coming to work here really is coming home for us!
In addition to these items of thanksgiving, we also have some practical prayer requests. Jessica is due with our third child (a girl) later in October, and the strain of pregnancy and working and cooking is becoming more of a challenge. Also, the doctors tell us that this baby is going to have club-feet. They say this is a very treatable condition, but we will need to work with special equipment for a couple of years (as well as at least one minor surgery) to get her feet trained correctly. So, please pray for our energy and patience as well as for our little girl's quick healing.
We also have some pressing needs as a branch. Like everyone else, the Rochester L’Abri is having to tighten its belt with the economic downturn. And aside from the normal concerns of paying bills, paychecks, etc. we have some significant upkeep issues - including a dead Elm tree on our property which is hanging over a neighbor's house. Because of how it is situated, removal could be extremely expensive.
Last week we watched Babette's Feast with the students and I noticed a refrain throughout the movie which is taken from Matthew7:9 "Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone?" In the story the passage is used as a device of irony as the Puritan characters learn that righteousness and joy may thrive together as they hesitantly enjoy a sumptuous French meal. But it has stuck in my mind this week as a reminder that God still cares for His people and desires to give them good gifts. Most of all, he wants us to seek His Kingdom as the passage also emphasizes, and he also promises to care for daily practical needs. He lifts our eyes to Him in eager expectation that He will delight us with His love and care.
With Love from Rochester,
B.J., Jessica, Matthew, Henry, and Baby Girl Roland for L'Abri
We do thank you for your faithful support. We are very aware that we are now turning the page on a new chapter in the life of this branch. It is the same story, but also something new as we have said farewell to one family and welcomed another. We enjoyed such a wonderful day to mark this change as we opened our doors to over 80 adults and countless children at the end of June. Friends were able to say farewell to the Snyders and able to get to meet the Rolands. As the house teemed and the lawn was full of playing children, we were so thankful and moved as we embarked on this new beginning.
We are very aware of our dependence on the Lord for all things and in this, nothing has changed. We were so thankful that our last term was mostly full of students with burning questions, eager to study and to talk late into the night. It was one of the best terms that I can remember in recent history and we were glad of it’s encouragement. We are about to embark on our first term without the Snyders and as Jessica is in her third trimester we were a little concerned about how we would manage, but we are thankful that the Lord has provided a helper in the last few days, it is such a relief and it came about in a providential way!
In the break things continued to be busy; Jock left for England the day after the end of term, and taught for a week for Ranald at Christian Heritage in Cambridge. Then on his return we left for MO, where he is busy building a retreat center. We also stopped by to see Larry and Nancy in their lovely new home. Then last night we entertained 11 of our neighbors for National Night Out. We are so thankful for the good relationships we have with them. The retired couple on the west side are Christians and staunchly supportive. We returned from MO to find our lawn mowed, a tree that had fallen in the woods cut up, my wilting tomatoes re-potted, and the garden watered. We also have very friendly contact with the family on the other side, and though they are a bit bemused by what we do, they are very warm. These relationships are so important as we are living in the middle of a suburban neighborhood. At the same time BJ and Jessica have been ‘nesting’, getting the upstairs finished and ready for the arrival of their little girl. It is so good to have a family able to take on the care of the house and grounds and BJ brings 4 years of experience in working on the grounds and maintenance for Covenant Seminary.
So as we embark on this new chapter, not knowing the twists and turns ahead, we know that we move forward in continued dependence and expectation for the future. Please continue with us in prayer for the people of His choice to come and for them to find the help they need. Please also pray for our finances as our expenses have increased with taking on a growing family and we are impacted by this poor economy. Give thanks for the helpers who have offered to come and pray that their time would go well for them. Give thanks that the speakers are all lined up for the Feb. conference and pray that we would be able to get the brochure out soon. It looks like a great lineup. Please also pray for our strength to meet all the demands of the new term and for health for Jessica and the baby.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. 2 Cor 4:7. We are always aware of the gap between our limitations and our high calling, but this is for His glory so that people may see the present reality of our living Lord. We depend on your prayers and support and thank God for each one as our lives are woven together into the Great Story.
With thanks in Him,
Dear Friends of Rochester L'Abri,
The new brochure for the Rochester L'Abri conference should be in your mailbox soon. The theme for the 2011 conference will be When Things Fall Apart: Living with Hope and Dignity. Ever since L'Abri began in the home of Francis and Edith Schaeffer over 55 years ago, there has been a consistent emphasis on the Lordship of Christ over all of life, a confidence in Biblical truth, a devotion to Christ and the reality of prayer, an appreciation of God's gifts in all of life, and a commitment to encourage Christians to make a contribution to the wider culture. It is our prayer that this conference will foster a renewed commitment to our high calling as Christians to proclaim and exhibit and demonstrate to the world the glories of the Christian faith. I trust that the conference will be an encouragement to all who are planning to attend. Remember that bulk mailing always takes longer to get to your mailbox, so you might want to go online and view the brochure at www.labri.org. As always, it is very helpful to us when folk send in their registrations in good time.
One reason that I am writing this brief update is to ask for your prayers as next year will be a year of transition for this branch. Though I will be 70 next November, all the pieces are seemingly falling together for Nancy and I to retire a bit earlier, probably sometime during the summer months after the student terms. It has been 44 years since Nancy and I took a taxi from the train station in Aigle to L'Abri in the little Swiss village of Huemoz. We lived in Chalet Beau Site that first year with 30 girls, always with a few extra that we would squeeze in somewhere, and made do with two bathrooms, one for the girls and one for us! Three of our four children were born in Switzerland, and those years are full of good memories, some difficult times, but again and again we saw the Lord's faithfulness and goodness to L'Abri and our family.
When we moved to Rochester 22 years ago, Edith was living here and it was a great joy to be able to work with her for many years until she moved back to Switzerland. Shortly after we arrived the Lord provided the wonderful L'Abri property at 1465 12th Ave. I remember vividly the day when I took Betty Phillips to see the house and property. After some hours looking over the property, while we were walking on the front yard and looking out over Rochester, to my great amazement and surprise, she simply said, "This is the property for L'Abri!" Her gift to buy the property has made it possible for Rochester L'Abri to be an oasis for many students and families and friends over the past 20 years.
We will be moving to St Louis to be closer to family, and are in the process now of buying a house with our daughter Katie and her husband Jacob. Nancy and I will be renovating over the next year the large, unfinished basement into a separate apartment. There will be lots of work to do, but I am eager to begin; building walls and partitions, replacing some windows and doors, laying down floor tile, and putting in a kitchenette and proper bathroom.
In the meantime we have accepted BJ and Jessica Roland to become workers in the Rochester branch beginning shortly after he graduates from Covenant Seminary in the Spring. Both BJ and Jessica have had a heart for L'Abri for many years, and I am sure that they will be very hospitable hosts in the big house. They have two small children, Matthew who is two and Henry who is 9 months, so pray for them as they look forward to moving to Rochester after BJ's graduation. Until they arrive, Kara from England who was a helper last year, will be coming back for three months at the beginning of the New Year to help with the L'Abri Retreat at the Kramer farm, the Rochester Conference and our spring student term.
As you know, Jock and Alison joined us in the Rochester branch 10 years ago and have contributed to this branch in so many different ways. When the Snyders leave next year, Jock will become the director of this residential branch and will continue to organize the yearly conference into the future. So, please be in prayer for the McGregors in this new role, and also for the Snyders as we begin this year of transition. We go forward in faith, trusting that the Lord to guide us each step of the way.
Under His Mercy, now and forever,
Larry & Nancy Snyder
L’Abri Fellowship Rochester
1465 12th Ave. NE
Rochester, MN 55906-4383