Rochester L'Abri

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Rochester L’Abri Prayer Letter                              November, 2020

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgements and how inscrutable His ways!      Rom. 11:33

Dear Friends,

We’ve just recently returned to Rochester after wrapping up a full and productive Fall Retreat at Ebenezer, so it seems like a good time to pause and look back over the last few months, and to share a bit about what’s been happening at L’Abri through the summer and fall.

Our summer started off quietly, with a short two-week term in June as we worked out the logistics of hosting guests in a safe and careful way while still providing the hospitality that is characteristic of L’Abri. We picked up momentum as the summer rolled on, hosting a 5-week term in August/September, and then our normal 3-week Fall Retreat at Ebenezer. All went well, and we have been able to maintain a reasonable measure of protection for our community through our COVID safety protocols.

I never cease to be fascinated by the variety and diversity of people that come through our doors – each one a unique expression of the image of God and of His infinite creativity; each with their own story, personality and unique perspective on the world we inhabit. Those who made their way here in the last couple of months came from widely diverse backgrounds, each with their own burdens and serious questions ranging from deep skepticism, to questions about the goodness and wisdom of God and our place in the world, to the question of how to live out their faith in this moment. It’s a rich experience to walk with these people, but always a reminder that without God we can do nothing! Please pray with us for a number of the people who have spent time with us recently whose faith is tenuous or non-existent – that their eyes would be opened to see the reality and goodness of God.

It’s easy for me to get discouraged sometimes as I see how every person’s story is marked with the pain and brokenness that is part of our lives in this beautiful but broken world. I see it on an individual scale in the lives of those around me, and it’s played out on a bigger scale in our nation – and in every nation throughout history. Sometimes the brokenness that surrounds me becomes overwhelming and I find myself confused by the question “Why?” Why do so many suffer so deeply? Why do people persistently hurt each other? Why does God seem to stand by in silence as people harm and exploit one another? In wrestling through these questions, it appears at first glance that we need to try to fix the suffering – to teach people to treat each other well, or to bring about political or cultural reform. But the root of the suffering runs so much deeper than what we are able to touch with even our most sincere efforts.

Every time these questions raise their heads and I wrestle through them once again, I realize that the only place I can find true hope and encouragement is in the good news laid out in the Scriptures. Here I find an explanation for the brokenness and corruption in and around me, and here I find a remedy. God is not standing by in silence, but has stepped in with a remedy that reaches to the very root of the sin and suffering that mark our existence. And He has done it in a more profound, beautiful and far-reaching way than anyone could ever have imagined. By taking on Himself the wages of our sin, He canceled the debt that is owed by every one of us for the ways we have wronged Him in harming one another. And He canceled the debt of the wrongs that have been done to us. The justice we cry out for in regard to the wrongs that have been done has already been brought about by Him! As Isaiah says, “But He was pierced for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and by His wounds we are healed.”

So rather than living under the oppression of the wrong that has been done to us or that we have done to others, He liberates us to live in the glorious freedom of forgiveness and new life. This is a hope worth sharing, a hope that can transform our brokenness into beauty and life! I thank God for the reality of this hope and for the opportunity to share it with others!

We are about to open again for our November term, which is already booked to capacity. Please pray with us for the term and for those coming, that they would find their time here helpful. Pray also for energy for our small team as we work to care for our guests. We’re grateful that God has provided a helper for this term – we had two very capable helpers over the summer whom we expected would stay with us until the end of the year, but they both ended up needing to return home early to attend to medical and family needs, leaving us to anticipate a very busy term without a helper! And then along came Emily, from Des Moines, IA, who offered to be our helper for the month! It is amazing to see how God repeatedly provides for our needs – often just at the moment we’ve decided there must be no available options. On that subject, we continue to pray for the right family to join the work here, trusting that God will provide for that situation in His way and His timing.

Much has been accomplished here practically over the summer, including a new deer proof fence around my vegetable garden, a number of house maintenance projects thanks to our helper Logan, and the acquisition of a new (at least, new to us) plow truck which is in much better condition than our old one! Jock has worked hard to switch the plow from the old truck to the new one and get it set for winter…and just in time, as we’ve already had unseasonably early snowfall!

We continue to make progress on the completion of Ebenezer lodge, and we’re in the stage of finishing the final touches – adding closets to the dorm rooms and adding a pantry/closet to the kitchen (Alison and I are especially excited about this development!) The one large project left to finish is the installation of an oak staircase with balustrade. We are hoping and praying for a way to finish this soon. Now that the building is so close to completion we are working towards making it available for groups to come and use it. We have been in touch with Covenant Seminary and others, exploring the possibilities of how they may be able to use it. Please pray for this next step, that God would orchestrate the right connections and use Ebenezer for His purposes.

As many of you may have heard already, we have decided to cancel the 2021 February conference – the first cancellation in 27 years! It is disappointing but seemed like the wisest choice at the moment with the uncertainty of what the virus and the restrictions surrounding it will look like in February. It seems strange not to be preparing for the conference like normal, but we’re looking forward to 2022!

Finally, many of you will have heard the very sad news that Nancy Snyder passed away unexpectedly in August, a few days after a successful surgery to remove the tumor in her pancreas. Jock and Alison were able to go down for the memorial service in St. Louis, which was a beautiful tribute to a wonderful person and a comforting reminder of the hope we have, in life and in death. Please pray for Larry and for their family and friends as they grieve this loss.

I hope this update finds you well. We are so grateful for each of you, and for your faithful support through all of the ups and downs and uncertainty of this time.

May the Lord bless your holiday season!

Yours in Christ,


Previous Prayer Letters:

August, 2020

For when I am weak, then I am strong- 2 Corinthians 12:10

Dear Friends,

It has been such a strange year for us all. And when I say all, I mean ALL. I have no memory of anything having such a global impact as the Coronavirus is having. Its impact has shaken up our expectations and has reminded us of our frailty, and that we are not really in control. I recently read an article that gave some helpful perspective on what life was like if you were born in 1900: two World Wars, a pandemic flu in 1918, and the Great Depression would have been experienced in just the first 40 years of life. This generation was called the Greatest Generation; their courage and fortitude transcended their circumstances; and I suspect that as a culture we are going to need to relearn those skills. Someone from a slightly later time, who was a hero and great influence in Jock and my lives, was Dr. J.I. Packer, born in 1926 during the Depression. His book Knowing God redirected my life, and Jock studied under him for three years and was also profoundly inspired.

We were so very saddened to hear of his passing this July, as he was unique in his simple humility and faithfulness. He taught without thinking about how he looked or was coming across. He was simply but diligently focused on teaching as his calling, and that was what he did until the very end. He was a tall, pale man and quite frail looking. He had a large dent on his forehead from a childhood accident. Though he, like Paul, had nothing about his appearance to commend him, like Paul, he was blessed by God with great courage and conviction. His calling was to teach and that was his passion, and he did so with great clarity and truth. Jock would describe how each sentence was perfectly put together and carried such weight, showing the depth and breadth of his biblical understanding and revealing God’s word with power. It was a privilege to have known him a little and we grieve knowing that this world is now bereft of such a wonderful teacher and writer. Packer wrote Our aim in studying the Godhead must be to know God himself better. Our concern must be to enlarge our acquaintance, not simply with the doctrine of Gods attributes, but with the living God whose attributes they are.” He did indeed demonstrate a living faith.

So, what are we doing in response to this unusual disruption to daily life in L’Abri? Well, we cut our first Summer Term down to a few weeks with tight protocols in place. Extra cleaning, masks, no coming and going, health checks and no meals in our home were part of our new normal. Much was done to try and protect me, given my health vulnerability. However, after I went grocery shopping, I became the only one in the community to get it! It was something of a shock, but everyone else got tested and they all came back negative, thankfully, and I only had a mild case in the end. We did have a few nights of anxiety however, with Jock holed up alone in the basement and me at one end of the house. Being separated at a time of such uncertainty was hard on us both, and made us feel all the more for those in nursing homes and hospitals, whose loved ones were separated at the very time when they were needed the most. This has been such a cruel disease,  surrounded with so many unknowns. I was fortunate to have the full might of Mayo Clinic monitoring me remotely, but most are not so fortunate.

While we do not know the answer to why this has happened, we do know from God’s Word that self-sufficient autonomy is not God’s purpose for our lives, and we need to press against the tendency in the West to think we can just ‘pull ourselves up by our bootstraps’. We live in a very connected world, which is why Covid has spread so far and wide, yet we are too often living isolated lives, in single person households, cut off from relationships that are crucial for life. We think, with hubris, that we can just fix everything - with enough money, education and good political policies all problems can be solved. We are ignorant, though, of our need, frailty and sinfulness, and the connection between well-being and the metaphysical. Life apart from God and without dependence on Him, is a shadow of what we are made for. Humans are wonderfully made and can do amazing things, but we become our best selves and can do the most good when we are connected to our head, who is Christ.

One of the last books written by Dr. Packer was called Weakness is the Way - Life with Christ Our Strength and is a personal reflection on his own weakness and mortality, and the strength that only God can provide. It seems to me that we should all be reading it, as we are having weakness and mortality brought very much to the forefront.

Practically, the last 2 months have been very productive, with finishing touches done at the Ebenezer Retreat Center in Missouri, installing a much needed deer proof garden fence for Mercy in Rochester and purchasing a new plow truck. This week, we have opened again to students and we have again structured the term with careful measures. We have a very good group of mostly men at the moment, with deep and serious questions. Jock has them working on the grounds also, which require much maintenance.

Please be in prayer for our L’Abri colleagues around the world, who are also navigating these unique challenges - that we would be flexible in our response and also faithful in this moment - to not shrink back, while also being responsible.  Mercy and Jock, as always, have been working very hard. But, so have our two helpers, Debbie from CA and Logan from IN. Pray that they would have their needs met, even as they work hard with us in L’Abri life. Please also pray for protection for us all. I do feel that this is a time of reflection and evaluation for everyone, so lets pray together for reformation for this troubled world, where we see so much suffering. We do have a sure and present Hope, and we thank God that he has not left us alone in difficult times.

Yours in Christ,

April, 2020

“The Earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those that dwell therein” Psalm 24

Dear Friends,

Its only been a few weeks, but already the ‘new normal’ dominates, and our busy activities of just a month or so ago now seem a different time and another world. But, this is where perspective is so important - historical perspective and, of course, the eternal perspective. The Lord reigns; mankind’s essential dilemma, living under the shadow of death, is unchanged; as is our only Hope; ….and this too shall pass.

Since we last wrote, much has happened. After our usual Winter Retreat in Missouri in January, we were back up in Rochester for our annual Rochester L’Abri Conference, our 27th! How thankful we are now that we were able to pull this off ahead of the corona virus shut down. It was another wonderful gathering of some 450 people with 15 speakers – past and present L’Abri workers and friends. We were finally able to get Os Guinness and what a treat – his voice and recent publications have never been more important. But all our speakers served us well. The topic was challenging but crucial – ‘understanding our times’. Since Dr. Schaeffer’s series, How Should We Then Live, L’Abri has tried to understand the ‘flow of ideas’ that shape our world, so as to better enable us to speak into it with Truth and Love. In our deeply divided culture, Godly wisdom has never been more needed. We were so thankful that we could navigate these difficult discussions throughout the Conference with grace and care, and the overall atmosphere was wonderful. You can get these lectures from our recording agents at

After a few years’ absence, the Conference was back at the Kahler Grand Hotel, which worked very well, and after some lean years, we were so glad to have better attendance and to actually balance the finances. Give thanks that we had good weather, safe travels and beautiful fellowship. Pray that the ripples from this would go out, shaping hearts and minds.

The conference was followed by our Spring Term, which was quieter than usual, though very productive in the lives of those who came. As a smaller branch, we find the Lord sending us more and more unusual situations to minister into - but His grace is sufficient, and though we often feel inadequate to the challenges and find ourselves wondering how on earth we can speak into this particular complicated situation, again and again, we see God multiplying our small and halting efforts to produce fruit. Term ended just as the Corona shutdown began and, since we always have a break at this time anyway, the timing seemed providential. Our students were able to get home safely, and even our helper Sophia, from Norway, managed to find a flight home at the right time.

Ordinarily, in April, we are overseas attending our annual meeting of L’Abri International – a wonderful and important gathering of L’Abri workers from around the world. This time, of course, we had to cancel and take care of the business virtually. That went well enough, but we sorely missed our time of fellowship, learning and mutual encouragement - it is the first time these ‘Members Meetings’ have been cancelled in L’Abri’s 65 years!

Right now, we are focused on projects – of which there are many. In addition to the usual mountain of office work, we have also been finishing the renovation projects at our old house on 11th Avenue. When Alison and I moved into our wonderful new home at the bottom of the L’Abri drive, we decided to hold onto our old house through the woods for future staff needs. It was a good opportunity for needed renovations, with Mercy doing the lion’s share of putting in new flooring and painting out a number of rooms. Our hope now is to rent it out temporarily until the Lord sends us additional workers that might use it. Please pray for a good, mutually beneficial arrangement with whoever moves in.

Next up is our Spring Retreat in Missouri, though it is likely now we will not be able to have guests. Instead, we will focus on continuing projects towards the completion of the Ebenezer Retreat Centre. Pray for those already booked in, that we might see them soon enough when things are more back to normal.

We are all safe and well and trying to keep others safe and well, as we follow the guidelines. That is certainly the responsible thing to do, though, of course, that is not where our hope lies. How grateful we are to be living ‘in community’ at this time when social distancing can so easily lead to social isolation. L’Abri has been a ‘shelter’ for so many throughout the years, but also for us too – Mercy, Alison and I are so glad for this lovely property and the shelter of our small community at this time. But, in a time of fear and anxiety, it is the ‘shelter of the Most High’ that gives the most comfort. We are not facing anything new – previous generations have faced far worse, with far less. We will surely come through this also.

And, as we look at the global nature of this pandemic, our hearts go out to those smaller, developing nations that will soon find themselves overwhelmed – and without the ‘safety nets’ we enjoy. They should be in our prayers also, even as we pray for our immediate families, friends and neighbors.

May the Lord be close to you and your loved ones in this trying time. May it be a time of sober reflection; of re-orientation rather than of disorientation; of re-connecting, even in the midst of ‘distancing’; and a time to once again ‘abide in the shadow of the Almighty’.

Yours in Christ,

P.S. We have wonderful news about Nancy Snyder. After chemotherapy and radiation, the doctors are so pleased with the shrinking of the tumor that she will not even need surgery!  Pray on, as she will need regular checkups and she and Larry are exhausted, but Praise God for this miraculous progress.

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.

Psalm 91:1-6

January, 2020

“At the end of twelve months he was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, and the king answered and said, “Is not this great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power as a royal residence and for the glory of my majesty?” While the words were still in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, “O King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: The kingdom has departed from you, and you shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field ……..
Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.” Daniel 4

Dear friends,

How remarkable it is to us that the date is 2020.  We have just returned from six weeks in Missouri where we spent Christmas with family and then hosted the first Retreat of the year. We said goodbye to our helper Heather, and then welcomed in January our new helper Sophia, who came from Norway and has spent time helping at English L’Abri.

We always enjoy the St Louis Retreats and, though it wasn’t as busy as usual, we had a good range of people, including a family from Holland and several people who work for L’Arche, among others. It is lovely having the family accommodation finished as we had quite a few families that came in the past and had to stay in one small room – now they have a large room with en suite bathroom and private entrance.

Now we are back in Rochester and are in full swing, preparing for the February Conference. We are excited to have Os Guinness come and speak this year, and are looking forward to him sharing his well balanced wisdom and help in understanding our culture. There are so many varied Christian voices - some who lean too far in either being too optimistic or too pessimistic in understanding our times. Os is a calm voice of reason, who sets our contemporary moment in the flow of history, encourages us in faithful engagement, and then brings the focus of our hopes back to Christ. Please pray that we have sufficient registrations to cover expenses and that health and travel conditions do not impede this important time together. Please also pray for us as we iron out all the many organizational details. Spread the word and book in at

This last week I have been reading Daniel, and it brought back memories of loving the story as a child. Now, as I am reading once again with older eyes, it is hard not to see the narcissism of Nebuchadnezzar and his obsession with his own glory. We like to identify with Daniel and we long to mirror his faithfulness. However, the problem of narcissism is not just a problem we can see in our leaders, but many have observed that narcissism is currently a very real problem that we all struggle with today. The proliferation of images and memes, the promotion of everyone being ‘awesome’ in school, and the epidemic of unrealistic expectations with people longing for fame, is as much a problem for us as God’s people, as it is for the wider culture ‘out there’.

Sometimes when we are so surrounded by something it becomes as ubiquitous and invisible as the air we breathe. Psychology Today has been reporting on the narcissism epidemic and psychologist Jean Twenge has written two books, ‘Generation Me’ and ‘The Narcissism Epidemic’ that highlight this phenomenon. Many have also addressed this issue and have lectured on it in L’Abri.

In Daniel we see that it is Gods glory we should be pursuing, and whether we receive accolades or are left alone in a lion’s den or thrown into a proverbial pit of fire, our hope is always in our God who is mighty to save. He is the one whose Glory should preoccupy us. Unlike Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel humbly lives in reliance on God. He is not puffed up by his successes but rather he always credits God for his help and strength and identifies rather with the sinful nation of Judah, pleading for mercy, on the basis of God’s character, not his own.  Daniel’s significance is rooted in the God of love who is his creator, and trust in God’s character is the means by which he lives his life. His focus is always on God and rather than gazing like Narcissi into his own reflection, he sits by an open window worshiping God his redeemer, fixing his eyes on his God, rather than worshiping idols. Indeed at the heart of narcissism is the god of Self. I love this quote from C.S.Lewis: “Humility is not thinking less of myself, it is thinking of myself less.” When Daniel is praised he is quick to give God the credit and when God answers his prayers he first stops and sings a wonderful song of praise.  Daniel understood where his hope lay and from where his help would come, and no matter his circumstances, he remained God-focused and faithful.  Surely this is the call that each of us has and we know that Christ himself perfectly portrayed such humility, though he was due all glory. This is the God who is to shape and mold our thoughts, hearts and actions. Though we each fall short, he is with us and will help us in our need.

At the moment Larry and Nancy Snyder are in the grip of a major life struggle, as Nancy battles pancreatic cancer. She returns today to Rochester for radiation at the Mayo Clinic as the chemotherapy has not been as effective as hoped. Please lift them and their dear family up in prayer with us.  Nancy knows where her help comes from and she is showing great strength and courage in this battle.

Please pray also for our branch, that we would have the right people come and join us in the work. Now that Jock and I are in our new house, the old 11th Ave house is being renovated in preparation for a worker family to join us. We have some people who are interested and would appreciate prayers for God to bring the people of his choice in his timing to join Mercy and the McGregors in the next chapter of this work.

And finally, pray that the conference will help us all look up and out. To focus on God’s purposes for using his people in our moment in history. We hope we will be joined by many of you.

With thanks and appreciation to each of you for all your prayers and support, especially through 2019 - we give God the glory and praise for his faithfulness,


October,  2019

"Everyone who comes to Me and hears My words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock...but the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation.”  Luke 6:47-49
Dear Friends,

It's hard to believe that summer's already drawing to a close! Our second Summer Term is finished, and we're preparing to head for Missouri to host our Fall Retreat at Ebenezer. It's been a busy summer with its fair share of challenges, but it is encouraging to see how God always provides for our needs, and to see evidence of His Spirit at work in our little community. We have much to be thankful for!

Though our students trickled in by ones and twos, the numbers have added up - it's surprising to look back over the summer and realize how many people have made their way here and, we pray, found a respite from their struggles, and encouragement to continue on and face the challenges that come their way. Community life can be demanding at times, but it's also a joy to walk with people awhile on their journeys, and to see God at work in the interactions and discussions that take place in the rhythm of L'Abri life.

It has been a summer of transition, as Jock and Alison have settled into their new place bit by bit. We continue to be filled with gratitude for God's provision of this house that fits their needs so perfectly without compromising proximity to the main L'Abri house! And we're grateful that in gaining this new home we were able to hold on to their former home, which opens up the possibility for another family to join our small team. We pray that God would provide for this need in His way and in His perfect timing.

With all the extra projects that a transition like this brings, we have been so grateful for Heather, who came from California to be a helper here for a few months. She has been an invaluable help to us in keeping up with the regular hospitality of this place, as well as tackling construction and repair jobs.

As I reflect on this past summer and think back over the events and the many conversations had over cups of tea or around the table, it seems that the common theme which keeps emerging for me is the idea that in every area of life, and throughout every generation, there is only one firm foundation that we can rest on which does not give way when put to the test. As we experience life in a broken world, we each in our own ways are searching for the security of a firm foundation, and the hope that goodness will prevail at the end of the day; that we won't be overcome by the brokenness we experience in and around us. There are many ways that seem right and good. There are many truth claims, and many voices clamoring for our attention. And they are often being promoted by people who have a genuine concern for the well being of the world around them.

But, in a world where we are confronted every day with evidence of the suffering caused by sin, and bombarded with so many opposing opinions about who is at fault and how the problem should be fixed, it can be confusing to sort out what is right and true, and how we should live.  Where can we turn to make sense of this confusion and find a solid foundation to rest on? And how can we solve the problems that plague our societies and our lives? The answer is not found in getting behind a cause that seems worthy, nor in finding the 'right' therapies and technologies that we are told will make our lives better. No, the only place we can find a true and honest assessment of our plight, and real hope for change is in God's word communicated to us through the Scriptures!

The philosophies and causes of our day have the appearance of truth. They sound reasonable and noble, and it is easy to be drawn in by them! But "Wisdom is shown to be right by its results" (Matt 11:19 NLT). And, as these philosophies and religions are observed over time, it becomes obvious that there is only one that has been able to stand the test of time and to offer real hope: the Word of God. 

In contrast to popular jargon that touts empowerment or inclusion as the answer for our society's ills, Scripture offers a solution of a different sort, one that is not obscured by a false illusion of our condition. It gives an honest statement of our desperate plight, and offers a trustworthy hope. Only in accepting the Scripture's claim that we cannot "fix" ourselves because we are dead in our sin and in turning to God for help do we find the things we most long for - the security and dignity that comes from being loved unconditionally, and the hope for real transformation in our own lives and in the culture that surrounds us. In submitting to His laws, we discover that instead of losing the freedom we hang on to so desperately, we are in reality liberated to be who we have been created to be: image bearers of the living God!

This thought was brought home to me in a fresh way recently as I listened to Dr. Chris Hook, a Medical Ethicist at the Mayo Clinic (who is also a Christian), who gave a lecture here addressing the topic of Physician Assisted Suicide, which Minnesota is now working towards legalizing. As our society gradually accepts this practice, on the basis of respecting the dignity and freedom of the individual, it is in reality losing the basis for any meaningful human dignity or worth. This has been a reminder to me of the importance of knowing God's word, " that no one will deceive you with well-crafted argument." (Col 2:4).

Looking ahead, Jock has been busy organizing the 2020 Rochester L'Abri Conference, which will be on the theme 'For such a time as this… Grasping Our Cultural Moment'. We'd appreciate your prayers in this as Jock works to sort out the many details involved in pulling the conference together, and as the speakers begin to prepare their talks.
And in the more immediate future, we'll be hosting our Fall Retreat at Ebenezer for the first two weeks of October. We continue to make good progress on the construction of the building. We had a productive work week in July and managed to complete one of the two remaining unfinished rooms, which is designed to be a family room. We're excited to finally have a purpose-built room which will make accommodations much less complicated for families who want to spend time there!

We are thankful for the many ways God continues to provide for our needs, whether it be through the helpers He sends, the blessings of being part of a vibrant church community, or the provision of L'Abri's financial needs through your faithful support. We are giving thanks that we were able to fix our broken snowplow at a much lower cost than we expected. Another cause for thanksgiving is that when our electrical wires were severely damaged during a summer storm, the house sustained no other damage, and our insurance was able to cover most of the expensive repair costs.

While giving thanks, we continue in prayer for many of those who have spent time with us, and who face challenging circumstances in their lives. We especially want to remember Larry and Nancy, former directors of this L'Abri branch. They are in the midst of a difficult season as Nancy is undergoing treatment for pancreatic cancer - please keep them in your prayers.

As we walk through this life and face daily challenges of all kinds, let us remember to "hold fast to the hope set before us...the sure and steadfast anchor for our souls" (Heb. 6:18,19).
With thanks,

June,  2019

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.  And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose”.       Romans 8:26-28

Dear Friends,

Much has happened since I last wrote. The snow did finally melt, we had a lovely Spring Retreat in Missouri, and the Summer Term is now underway. Jock spent two weeks in Europe; one with his ailing 94 year old father in England, and the other at the L’Abri Members meetings in Switzerland. The Retreat went very well, and we were delighted to have some old colleagues visit – first, Larry and Nancy Snyder, followed by Richard and Jane Winter. We were so glad to show them around the almost completed Ebenezer Retreat Center, especially now we have the new kitchen up and running.

Our BIG news though is that Jock and I will be moving into a single-story home, just at the bottom of the L’Abri driveway. We had been looking for some time for a solution to my need to not live with stairs, but there are very few houses adjacent to the L’Abri property that would be suitable. One day, as I was heading towards the L’Abri drive with my dear friend Dorothy Prentice, I pointed to this house and said, “that would be my ideal house”. So, she said “well we should pray about it”, and so we did. The owner had been living there since 1975 and it was not on the market, so it seemed like wishful thinking. But, the very next day, a gentleman approached Mercy as she was collecting the mail and mentioned to her that he was a real estate agent and would soon be putting that very house on the market and gave her his card. To cut a long story short, Jock and I jumped at this providential opening, put an offer in, well below the planned asking price, before it even went on the market, and it was accepted! I am so thankful and awed at this provision, even down to the original 1948 wood paneling which makes the main section look just like a Swiss chalet inside. Given that the students will now be walking up and down the steep driveway to our new ‘chalet’, we now have a real Swiss feel to Rochester L’Abri.

This all happened very quickly, but we are now slowly getting the house ready and plan to move in gradually. That will free up the current L’Abri house we are in, and so there is a real possibility now for another family to join us in the work. That way we could go back to having three L’Abri homes, as we were when Larry and Nancy moved into their own home. God has been so gracious and kind to this branch and we are deeply thankful.

With all these changes, and a busy summer ahead, we were concerned that we had no helper lined up, but there too, God has provided. We have been joined by a former student Deb from California for two weeks and then another Californian will come as a helper for the rest of the summer. The future only opens up one step at a time, but God has faithfully been providing.

This term’s first Friday Night Lecture was done by Professor Greg Jesson and was very well attended, with discussion going well past midnight. We are hoping that the next lecture, by Dr. Chris Hook on the very important topic of Physician Assisted Suicide, will be well attended as well, as legislation is looming in Minnesota. We are thankful to be able to have such excellent speakers and friends to call on to lecture. We started the student term rather quietly but things are starting to pick up now.  With all that has been going on, we were glad for a slow start and once again we see God’s provision.

In the midst of the changes we are very aware of the ups and downs of life, seeing a faithful member of our Church nearing the end of her life, but also expecting the birth of our Kelsey’s baby this week.  Others close to us have just been diagnosed with cancer - and I am sure these life events are familiar to all. As our emotions swing between the highs and lows inherent in life, we are deeply thankful for the sense we have experienced of the personal love of our heavenly Father. He is indeed a God who hears and cares for our needs.

Our prayer meetings on Mondays are often a great witness to those students He sends us. It is not just the positive answers, but also the wrestling with the hard things, that speak of God’s reality. Joy and sorrow are both very real in all our lives and the reality of God’s infinite breadth is sufficient for all that we encounter, even when we are insufficient. Our hope is in Christ’s sufficiency, not our own. He is calling us to live one day at a time, one step at a time and to be faithful in the small things. This is a small work, but we have a great God and in this chapter our hearts are filled with thankfulness.

Let me close with these words from Corrie ten Boom – “Worrying is carrying tomorrows load with today’s strength – carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time.  Worrying does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of its strength.”

With thanks

March, 2019

“8 Now go and write down these words. Write them in a book. They will stand until the end of time as a witness

9 that these people are stubborn rebels who refuse to pay attention to the Lord’s instructions.

10 They tell the seers, “Stop seeing visions!”  They tell the prophets, “Don’t tell us what is right. Tell us nice things. Tell us lies.

11 Forget all this gloom.  Get off your narrow path. Stop telling us about your ‘Holy One of Israel.’”

                                                                                                                                                            Isaiah 30 NLB


Dear Friends,


I have been reading the the book of Isaiah and have been struck by the relevance of this book for today. Some of the passages are alarming while others are deeply comforting, and all the way through we can see the pointers to Christ. I led the prayer meeting this Monday morning reading from Chapter 30, which begins with a reminder that God is the “Holy One of Israel”. In fact, it is repeated three times. We read that God’s people have not only been unfaithful, but have gone bearing gifts back to Egypt, seeking their help rather than turning back to God to save them from their enemies. Their unfaithfulness is so audacious, because they are trusting Egypt and not the God who rescued them from slavery out of Egypt! Yet, though God’s judgment is about to fall, he is still calling them back to himself, he still loves them and wants to whisper gently in their ear, directing them in the way they should go.


This still seems so relevant, as we still only want to hear what we want to hear, and a feel-good Christianity is very appealing to many today, as ever. We swing between either simply seeing God as affirming and offering easy Grace, or the pendulum swings to just seeing God as a harsh judge who loves to punish. The Bible gives a picture of God that is complex - he is our safe refuge and friend, and he is the judge of mankind. He disciplines us for our good, to help us thrive, and loves to be kind and gentle. “O my people in Jerusalem, you shall weep no more, for he will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry. He will answer you. Though he give you the bread of adversity and water of affliction, yet he will be with you to teach you - with your own eyes you will see your Teacher. And if you leave God’s paths and go astray, you will hear a Voice behind you say, “No, this is the way, walk here.”Isaiah 30:19-21


The people of Jerusalem did see their Teacher, the one who gave them the bread of Life, the living water. These words of Isaiah were preparing God’s people, and remind us thousands of years later that we are still called to faithfulness, trust and obedience. This is a complex reality that only finds its resolution in Christ. The more we understand God’s Holiness and our sin, the more we understand the depth and breadth of God’s Grace, because we understand that we do not deserve it and Christ has paid such a high price for it. There is no room for cheap grace or as Isaiah said, “pleasant lies”, but we need to make room for the person of God in this present reality, holding on to the fullness of His truth in all its complexity. Please pray that we would walk in the path set before us.


Since Mercy wrote in December, we have done a great many things. Firstly, we had our January retreat in Missouri where we had some wonderful folk come out and stay for varying lengths of time. The schedule is run as in any typical L’Abri term, we just do it in our wonderful building in the woods. We had all kinds of people, from families with small children to elderly folk in their 80’s, and everything in between. We ranged from serious questions to laughter and song, with much good food in between to keep us all going. One couple first came just as they discovered they were pregnant, then returned when their little baby girl was 8 weeks old, and this time when they came back she was 6 months and it has been a delight to have them included in our extended L’Abri family. Another family has been coming frequently for 4 years and their girls see the place as their home away from home. Together with a gentleman who first came to L’Abri in the 60’s and another who brings his harmonica and wonderful voice, we have enjoyed the richness of this bundle of life. Our former helper Hannah came with her brother and friend through a snow storm for a long weekend and finished our wood counters and trim in the kitchen and dining room. Along with a number of new faces we had a wonderful time and were encouraged by the progress. One new student, who was questioning his faith, exclaimed after a time of singing that he felt that he had experienced a taste of what true Christian community was. God has been so gracious in filling the place with a presence that is tangible to all.


After the retreat, we then rushed back to get ready for the February conference, and due to excellent help from our helper Julie and friends from church, we were able to kick in to our routine and get the job done. Again, the conference was well received and though there were the usual travel challenges because of bad weather, I think it was an encouragement to all. Folk were especially appreciative of the theme, focusing on work and vocation. Attendance was, however, lower than usual and so we did experience a significant shortfall. We are trying to be creative in order to keep it going, as it is a blessing to so many, but please pray for Jock as he carries all the organizational challenges.


After the conference, we then continued wearing down the road between Minnesota and Missouri, as we headed back down after a few days of recovery. We worked on the building and the contractors came out to do the last of the mudding, and we are now at the point where we can say it is almost done. This is an enormous relief, but also a remarkable thing as we have, by the grace of God, been able to get this done only by the hard work of many friends and generous donors. We marvel at the way that the L’Abri story of living by faith and answered prayer continues, and how God, in his love, has brought us to this point. He created a community before the building and it has grown out of long term relationships and support.


After another week of catch up, and dealing with mountains of snow (this Winter has broken all records), term has just started here in Rochester. Already we have welcomed new faces and heard sincere questions and struggles. It is lovely to see the relationships grow over time and how God brings the right people together. We would appreciate prayer though, for a solution to our snowplow truck as the plow snapped off due to the weight of frozen snow! It seems that these practical headaches trip us up when we are trying to focus on other things. We had to cancel the Friday Night Lecture this weekend as we could not move the mountains of snow and there is nowhere for guests to park. And tonight we are getting even more snow. I think it may be June before things melt, given the high mountains of snow everywhere and continued freezing weather!


We do feel so thankful for the many ways this work has been supported by so many. Your prayers and support are a huge encouragement in the face of the daily challenges. God is the same, the Alpha and Omega, and our hope is in His unfailing faithfulness to this small work on this hill.


Thank you,


December, 2018

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14

Dear friends,

Another year is drawing to a close and we find ourselves already in the midst of the season of Advent. As we celebrate this season at our church we have been going through the Christmas story according to the gospel of Luke, and I have found comfort and encouragement in meditating on these passages. What stands out to me as I’ve studied these passages is how He came in love and humility, in a completely unexpected way, and was disregarded and scorned by most of the learned Scripture scholars because He didn’t come the way they expected Him to. Throughout the history recorded in the Scriptures we see many examples of how God “chose what is low and despised in the world…to bring to nothing things that are, so that no one might boast in His presence” (1Cor. 1:28-29). Here again, in the Christmas story, He announces His coming first to the shepherds, who were considered nobodies in the eyes of the world. He came as a helpless, needy baby, and was born into a poor family who was of no account according to the way the world judges things. He grew up as a carpenter’s son, living an ordinary everyday life with ordinary everyday people. He throws aside our shallow ideas of what is important and shows us true nobility and royalty in His character of love and humility: “Who, though He was in the form of God did not count equality with God a  thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men…Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus  every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Phil 2:6-11.

What a wonderful truth! That He who is all-powerful and self-sufficient, pure and perfect, would have the humility to come and make His home among us. And that through the power of the Holy Spirit, we still have the privilege today of His presence among us! He has promised to walk with us, counsel us, provide for us.  And there is no special requirement of class or rank or good works or intelligence or any of the things that human value systems tell us are important; the only requirement is that we take Him at His word and trust Him.

This truth is fundamental to the functioning of L’Abri. We pray that God would bring the people of His choice to spend time here, and they continue to come through our doors in a steady stream: people of every sort, each with their own unique story, each struggling with the effects of the Fall – deep wounds, bitter questioning, confusion and shame. As we seek to help them work through their questions and struggles it’s obvious that on our own we have nothing to offer. We are all too aware of the effects of the Fall in our own lives! But by the grace of God we’re able to offer life-giving hope through the truth of God’s word and the power of the Holy Spirit to heal and restore broken lives. It is a great privilege to be in this community and to see God at work through the interactions and relationships that grow out of the everyday routines of work, study and discussion that make up L’Abri life.

Looking back over the year we have so much to thank God for as we see how He daily cares for us and how He graciously responds to our prayers. With each challenge we have faced He has been there, providing the resources to meet that challenge. We experience this most often through your generous giving which make us able to keep our doors open. And it was obvious in a special way this past September when, after a summer with no helpers, we learned that Billy would not be able to return due to family needs back home and we were facing a busy season with no prospective helpers. It was at that time, in response to our prayers for help, that things fell into place for Jason to spend a couple months with us! He joined us in Missouri to help with our Fall retreat and the St. Louis conference, and then came up to Minnesota to help with the November term.                        

This past month was a full one in terms of student numbers. We saw many new faces and welcomed a few old friends back, making for a lovely and vibrant atmosphere that was both energizing and taxing! We were so thankful for Jason, who made himself invaluable in many ways, accomplishing practical maintenance projects, shouldering some of the cooking responsibilities and helping to create a lovely hospitable atmosphere in the L’Abri house. With his help we were finally able to finish a project we’ve been working on in our spare time over the past year: repairing and re-painting the screen frames and sills in our 3 season porch where the wood was decaying. It is quite satisfying to have this project finished and to look forward to using the porch again (well, maybe in a few months!)

With the 2018 term season behind us, we’re looking ahead and making plans for 2019. We’ve set the dates for our January retreat and we’re looking forward to having Julie, who spent the month of November here as a student, join us there as a helper! We have been steadily working away on the construction of the retreat center and we have hopes of finishing it this coming year. We would appreciate prayers for things to fall into place and for the resources to be able to finish it.

 We’re relieved to have everything in order (so far) for our 2019 Rochester L’Abri Conference. Jock has been working to organize everything from speakers to hotel accommodation, and though he has had to deal with various frustrations and setbacks as always, it has also been encouraging to see answers to our prayers in the practical details.  This year the theme is “Common Grace for the Common Good: Living Life Vocationally”, and we’re excited to once again welcome people for a rich time of fellowship and learning. You can find out all the details on our conference webpage. Please join us in prayer for a good conference and for the speakers as they prepare.

As we enter a new year full of unknowns may we become more aware of the everyday presence of God in each of our lives and find hope and encouragement in the knowledge that He is sovereign, whatever the circumstances we face.

With gratitude,


September, 2018

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him.                                  Ecclesiastes 3:11-14

Dear Friends,

I recently came across an article on the most popular undergraduate course in Yale history. So popular has it become, that they had to hire a theatre to hold the 1200 students who enrolled this fall! Taught by a Professor in the Psychology department, the course is on ‘Happiness’. The professor herself sees this as a response to the very high levels of depression, anxiety and other mental health issues now prevalent in our colleges. Listening to her describe her course in an interview, I was amazed at the simple, common sense solutions she was suggesting to her unhappy students. ‘It’s not about your circumstances, it’s about your attitude; establish healthy routines; maintain a good social circle; etc’. As I said to Alison, we’ve been saying these same things to generations of students at L’Abri. As disheartening as the situation is for our young college kids, we can at least take comfort in seeing academic psychology finally teaching some common sense.

We see this also with the phenomenal rise of the Canadian Clinical Psychologist, Jordan Peterson. His You Tube site now has had 30 million views! A brilliant mind, a clear and precise speaker and an incisive critic of all things politically correct, this very unusual academic has a number one best-selling book on the market. It is a 12- point self-help book that starts with the deeply profound advice of ‘stand up straight’! This is followed by others like ’tidy your house’, ‘tell the truth’ or ‘pet a cat’, and so it goes. Don’t be fooled by the apparent simplicity however, this man has thought things through and is making a big impact in a number of areas. As valuable as discussing those would be, the point I simply want to make here is how common-sensible his advice really boils down to. And we have a whole generation now apparently deeply hungry for just such common sense.

In L’Abri we have been teaching common sense for over 60 years. Edith Schaeffer once wrote a book called ‘Common Sense Christianity’. For the light that God’s Word sheds on our Lives is eminently sensible. The creator God has no desire to play mind games with us or to lose us in the labyrinths of abstract theory. He roots us in reality. He blesses us with finiteness, is merciful in our fallenness and restores us to our humanness. With living waters to refresh us and a lamp for our feet, He calls us to walk through this life in blessed companionship. It’s as practical and common sense as it gets. And, as happens so often, when the wisdom of this world finally makes it to the peak, there it finds that the Wisdom of God has been patiently waiting all along.

Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding,
for the gain from her is better than gain from silver and her profit better than gold.         Proverbs 3:13-14

With our summer term winding down, we are looking to our Fall Retreat at the Ebenezer Retreat Center outside St. Louis. Construction of the building is (lord willing) nearing completion and we hope to be done sometime next year. We will host our seventh annual St. Louis L’Abri Conference on Oct 13th on the campus of Covenant Seminary and then head back to Rochester for our November term, which is filling up nicely. Meanwhile, we are putting together the program for our February Rochester Conference which will be on Work and Vocation, under the title “Common Grace for the Common Good: Living Life Vocationally”. You will be receiving a mailing about this later in October.

Do please pray for our small team here in Rochester. We are so delighted with Mercy Winnes, our dear colleague in the work, but as Alison’s health remains a daily challenge, we do need more help. But space is limited on our property and so we are trying to think of creative solutions for the future. Perhaps a garage with a small apartment above – but that is expensive!

Whatever the future, we know God is with us at every moment, and as we seek to serve the folk he sends to us, whether through our residential terms, our retreats, our Friday night lectures or our conferences, we long to see this small community continue as a real shelter – a place of grace and truth, where common sense Christianity can offer some sanity in our crazy world. Please pray that God strengthens us to the task and keeps us clear-eyed and focused.

And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.    2 Peter 1:19

Yours in Christ,

Jock McGregor

June, 2018


Psalm 100

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!

Serve the Lord with gladness!

Come into His presence with singing!

Know that the Lord, He is God!

It is he who made us and we are His;

We are His people, and the sheep of His pasture.

Enter His gates with thanksgiving,

And His courts with praise!

Give thanks to Him; bless His name!

For the Lord is good;

His steadfast love endures forever,

And His faithfulness to all generations.

Dear Friends,

With the recent celebration of Memorial Day, I observed many heartfelt expressions of gratitude towards friends or family members who have spent time in service to their country. It reminded me again of the beauty of gratitude! Left to our human nature we find it so easy to take life for granted and forget that everything we have is a gift. It sometimes seems that the more one has the more one wants, and the less one is able to appreciate the everyday things that give us life and health.

Gratitude is a frequently recurring theme throughout Scripture. The purpose of many of the celebrations that God instituted for the nation of Israel was to remind them to pause and acknowledge His care for them. The Psalmists pour out their hearts before God, giving praise to Him and acknowledging their dependence on Him. In the New Testament, we are often encouraged to give thanks. Gratitude is essential to our walk with God.

I see over and over that when I focus on my needs, or on my efforts to be a good person, I am filled with frustration and anxiety; but when I focus on God and His provision for me I experience something of the “life more abundant” that Jesus came to give. As Psalm 50 says: “The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies Me”.

After an unusually late and cold springtime, summer is upon us in all its glory of hot sunny days, lush green landscapes and spectacular thunderstorms.

Looking back on the events of this past spring, after wrapping up our March term, Jock had a good trip to Europe for the annual L’Abri Member’s meetings. He was also able to spend a few days in England visiting his father and his sister’s family. Alison enjoyed a short vacation with friends in St. Louis, I had some time with family, and Billy and I were able to complete some house maintenance projects.

Towards the end of April we headed to Missouri to host our Spring Retreat for 3 weeks. The group of students who came to stay with us was small but diverse, and it seemed that their time with us was well spent and significant for them in various ways. The variety of personality types, life experience and occupations of those who stay with us is delightful; I am always encouraged when I see how God uses the ministry of L’Abri to touch them in different ways specific to their needs.

Spring is a lovely time to be in Missouri, and since it was delayed this year, we arrived in time to watch the whole process, from a bare brown landscape, to blooming Redbuds and Dogwoods, to fully leafed-out trees and a profusion of spring wildflowers. I had the privilege of taking in the Spring scenery on horseback, since the caretaker of the farm on which our retreat center is located has horses, and kindly invited me to ride with her.

We were able to make good progress on the construction work during our time there; our goal is to have the building finished, or nearly so, by the end of this year. The finish line is close but it seems that with every project we take on there are complications, and for every two steps forward we take one step back! We are praying for things to fall into place, and for the resources to be able to complete this project.

Instead of returning to Rochester with us after the retreat, Billy headed west to Kansas City to start his summer internship as a hospital chaplain. He is excited about this opportunity to gain experience as a chaplain, and we are excited for him, but will miss his presence and all the ways he contributes to this community! He plans to return to L’Abri at the end of the summer. I’m sure he would appreciate your prayers during this season.

We recently started our first summer term and already several students have come and gone. We will be welcoming several more in the next few days. We pray for wisdom to help our students in whatever ways we are able; we pray also that seeds planted during their stay would bear good fruit. The needs and burdens of people can sometimes be a heavy weight to bear and I am often reminded that while we can share their burdens and help them to a degree, we can’t “fix” their lives, and we need to depend on God in His goodness and sovereignty to bring about lasting changes and provide for all their needs.

We are thankful for God’s faithful provision for all of our needs, and for the evidence of His hand at work here. What a privilege that He invites each of us, in our unique ways, to be part of the tapestry He is creating!

We at L’Abri are so thankful for each of you who participate in this little piece of the tapestry through your support!

With gratitude,


April, 2018


Psalm 66

1 Shout for joy to God, all the earth!
2 Sing the glory of his name;
make his praise glorious.
3 Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!
So great is your power
that your enemies cringe before you.
4 All the earth bows down to you;
they sing praise to you,
they sing the praises of your name.”

Dear Friends,

This past Sunday we celebrated Palm Sunday, with the children waving palm branches for the coming of our King. This coming weekend, we will first mourn with sorrow his crucifixion, and then celebrate his triumph over death. This is the most important time for the church and goes to the heart of our faith - and it stretches our hearts out of their hardened complacency to the extremes of joy and sorrow. If we are united with Christ, our hearts will be full to breaking, as we are left with joy and longing for his return.

This past Sunday was also the last day of our Spring Term, and during this time we also experienced both highs and lows with our students. Firstly, we saw our prayers answered with a wonderful group of many students, thriving in community life, and wrestling with important questions. It was a vibrant group and quite diverse, and it was great to see them engage fully. The highlight for all of us was the profound and dramatic conversion of a 41-year-old man who had come to L’Abri a number of times in the past with his wife and kids. He has no church background but his wife is a believer. This time he came alone, and his conversion was amazing to see and such an encouragement. He could clearly see and feel God’s hand at work through his family and L’Abri, and it was lovely to share his joy at receiving his first communion at our church. Mercy had been calling us to pray for him and his family for months, and it was wonderful to see this direct answer to prayer and have the privilege of playing a part in his new birth. It was also good to see it have a real impact on the other students, as some of them had been struggling with dark thoughts.  It was a remarkable taste of the contrast between darkness and light that Easter brings home. To know the power of the Resurrection and Christ’s power to redeem even those living in darkness, should fill us all with a deep-seated joy and longing.

The February Rochester L’Abri Conference seems a while ago now, but we were encouraged by how well it was received. Folk loved the emphasis on the Arts and on Beauty, and even though Luci Shaw was unfortunately unable to come because of poor health, the feedback was still very appreciative - and it was a good time of learning and fellowship for everyone, including the speakers. Sadly, the numbers were down though, and we are once again left with a deficit in our conference fund. We would appreciate your prayers as we seek to make it work better financially.

Right after Easter, Jock is heading to the Dutch L’Abri for the Trustees and Members Meetings, as well as visiting his father (who is in His 90’s) in England. Then, on his return we head to Missouri to run our regular Spring Retreat at Ebenezer outside St. Louis.  Please pray for these events and for Jock as he travels and carries many responsibilities. There are also many ongoing practical needs, with accounting and administration, maintenance and repairs, gardens to weed and trees that need felling – there is much that goes into keeping things going even between term times.

Billy will be gone for the Summer as he will be doing a chaplaincy internship, along with carrying on his MDiv. studies. I’m sure he would appreciate prayers for his Greek! Along with Mercy, who is the solid rock in the main house, they keep things ticking over and create a lovely atmosphere. We are hoping that God will make it possible for a student from California to come and help Mercy while Billy is gone.

We are deeply encouraged as we see so many answers to prayer; students that come and are changed, bills that are payed, and prayer support and encouragement from so many kind people – we have very much to be thankful for and we do not take it for granted.

It is easy to see the events of the world and feel despondent, helpless and pessimistic. I know that I often do - there is much to feel sad about. But God re-invigorates our hearts, so that along with feeling sorrow, we can be stretched and enabled to feel comfort and peace as well. Not one or the other, but both.  It is the Spirit of God that does this work in us and enables us to live lives that are fully engaged and yet free.

With thanks in Christ,


January, 2018

Seek the Lord while he may be found;

call on him while he is near.

Let the wicked forsake their ways

and the unrighteous their thoughts.

Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them,

and to our God, for he will freely pardon.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,

neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.

“As the heavens are higher than the earth,

so are my ways higher than your ways

and my thoughts than your thoughts.”          Isaiah 55: 6-9

Dear Friends,

Christmas has just passed and the New Year has begun. We have just celebrated the baby in the manger who was also the Christ child and now we are looking ahead to what the New Year may bring. Some are making resolutions, sweeping out the old and moving forward with new steps, others are a little more pessimistic and don’t expect much to change. But as we look ahead, let us be prepared for the unexpected Jesus. The Saviour of the world who came as a baby, the Holy God who associated with prostitutes, tax collectors and other nefarious individuals. His salvation makes a new covenant, one of Grace, not works. He healed, brought the dead to life, forgave sins, and was willing to submit to the Pharisees and die on a cross because they could not believe that a carpenter was also the Messiah. All very unexpected.

I do so appreciate that at the start of L’Abri, the Schaeffers looked to Jesus and expected the unexpected. They buried themselves on a mountain and prayed for the nations and the nations came. They stepped out in faith in complete dependence on God, not knowing where the money would come from, and God answered with his provision. Jesus so often defies our expectations. We live with the widespread belief that if we are just practical and responsible, with a good organizational plan, then things will always work out. But if we are following the Jesus of the bible we should be expecting the unexpected. We should be ready to leave with only our sandals and the gospel. We should expect to be rejected for having a public faith. We should look to see His hand lead us to where we may not want to go, give up what we hold dearly to, and learn what we do not want to know.

The good news is that what God is calling us to is always good in the universal sense. We may not see it now but we can trust him. I will never forget moving to Rochester MN in 2000, somewhat resentful to be in this cold place, miles from friends and family. We believed that this was where he was leading us to, but my attitude was less than good. But now all these years later I see that he brought me to just 10 minutes from the Mayo Clinic (the reason the branch was here in the first place) and he gave me a doctor who, because she had MS, immediately recognized my symptoms.

God is always constant in his love, goodness and promises, but he is always unexpected in that things rarely just go to plan. As we make our resolutions, let’s make sure that we are ready for the unexpected Jesus, as we place him first and follow His agenda. Who knows what it may bring, but He will always be with us wherever it leads and He will always provide what He knows we need most. I am praying that by His Spirit He will continue to lead us as a work, just as he always has done. Please pray with us, that we would be ready to do all he asks.

This is a busy time of year for us as the next few weeks will be spent running a L’Abri Retreat in Missouri, and then we return in time to get ready for the Rochester Conference. We are thankful for these opportunities and pray that the right people will come and that they would find what God wants for them. Please pray for our health and energy, we have already had the flu and are not yet back to full strength. Give thanks for the wonderful help we have in Mercy and Billy, but please pray that we will have wisdom and grace as we minister to our guests. And pray for all the organizational details for the Conference and especially that our wonderful line up of speakers would have smooth travels.

We were surprised last year by the trials of health we experienced, but we also saw God’s loving hand at work in the midst of the struggles. Who knows what this next year will bring? But whatever we face, we will not be alone, and we know that God loves to use the weak things of the world to reveal His Strength. We always have Hope and can anticipate that our God and Saviour will be faithful, whatever lies ahead.

With Love in Christ,

Alison McGregor

 November, 2017

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through Him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.’          Romans 5:1-5.

Dear Friends,

Summer is behind us, and after a mild Fall the cold weather has sprung upon us rather unexpectedly! As I sit here writing, I am basking in the late-fall sunshine and thinking about the kindness of God displayed in the numerous everyday gifts He gives us. The warmth of the sun on a cold day. The variety of color and texture in the landscape as nature goes to sleep for the season. The gift of a warm home, and food prepared with love and enjoyed in the company of others. The joy of living in community and experiencing the ever-changing variety of people who come to spend time here.

This has been an interesting year for me, as I have continued to grow and learn through the unique opportunities and challenges that life in L’Abri presents. Life in community is a beautiful gift in many ways, but it is also stretching and difficult at times. Through the challenges of living with others, God has brought me back again and again to the reality and beauty of His grace. Truly, it is only because of His grace that we are able to stand, and that we are able to offer hope and help to those who come to spend time here.

After our unusually quiet summer, we had a very well attended Fall Retreat at Ebenezer, and it was good to welcome old friends and meet new ones. The beautiful Fall weather allowed for our guests to enjoy the land surrounding the retreat center, taking walks in the woods and wading in the river. There was time for study, and some good discussions sparked by the studies Jock led on the first 12 chapters of Genesis.

We also found plenty of time for fun in the evenings - roasting s’mores around the fire, star gazing, and a wonderful impromptu music evening, where several people shared their musical gifts. The Great Room is an ideal place for making music; the sound resonates through the room with its high ceiling and big fireplace.

We concluded the Fall Retreat with our annual St. Louis L’Abri Conference, on the theme of ‘The Power of God’s Word to Transform Cultures’. It went very well, and despite the fact that it is a small conference, those who came expressed their appreciation for it, and seemed encouraged by the lectures and the opportunity for fellowship and discussion.

Our November term is underway, and we have already welcomed, and said goodbye to, a number of short term students who came with a wide range of questions, from a new believer learning for the first time what it means to walk with the Lord; to questions about the truth and reasonability of the Christian faith; to growing in understanding and practice of the Christian life.

It is not often that we get to spend time with brand new believers who are experiencing the truth of Christianity for the first time. It is a joyful thing to see them discovering more about God. We experienced that with Sunny, who was with us for a week. As she and I were talking one evening about a particular struggle, I was able to encourage her with this passage from Romans 5. Living as God’s redeemed people does not mean we will be spared from suffering! It means something far better – that we can live at peace with God because of the grace shown to us through Jesus, and that through suffering He will bring us to a deeper understanding of His goodness, and a confident hope in Him.

The brochures for the upcoming February Conference, titled ‘For Glory and For Beauty – Creativity and the Christian’, have gone out in the mail, and we pray that they will reach the right people, and that those who come will be enriched and encouraged in their understanding of the gospel and how it affects every area of life.

As we move through this term and look ahead to the conference, our prayer continues to be that the Spirit of God would be accomplishing His work in our lives, and in the lives of those He brings here. We ask that you would join us in this prayer.


With gratitude,


August, 2017

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end;

they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

“The LORD is my portion,” says my soul,“therefore I will hope in him.”

The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.

It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.

It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth.” Lam 3:22-27

Dear Friends of Rochester L’Abri,

It has been an unexpected, strange and rather hard Summer for Jock and I. Just before the Summer term started, a number of students who were booked in cancelled, one by one. Half joking, I expressed the thought “I wonder if something is about to happen?” Well it did! On June 2nd I went in for a routine laparoscopic day-surgery, but unbeknownst to the doctors, my bowel was accidentally perforated. Instead of recovering quickly, I got much worse and 2 days later I was rushed into surgery with my organs shutting down. Thankfully the damage was discovered and repaired. But, after a few further complications, it was 3 days in ICU and over 2 weeks in a regular ward before I finally made it home to begin the slow road to full recovery.

It was a frightening and difficult time for both of us, but Jock was almost always by my side, my advocate and mainstay. I had many wonderful people care and pray for me, and family, friends and Church surrounded me with love and support. Now, after 2 months (and a few more side issues) I am finally regaining my strength. Remarkably, just as I left hospital and Jock was a little more free, the students slowly started to arrive again, and after 5 weeks the main house had every bed filled. Wonderfully, Mercy, Billy and Taylor filled the gap of having me out of action and now, as we start the second Summer term, they are filling in for me once again.

Even though things were difficult, God’s hand was very evident to all of us in so many ways. The suffering was not an experience of His absence, rather it was the opposite. The above verses from Lamentations were written in the midst of greater suffering, but the suffering was truly and deeply felt at the very same time as His faithfulness. I can say sincerely that I found this to be true myself. Christ is able to empathise and be present in the midst of this dark world; we are not alone.

At L’Abri we frequently hear of terrible stories of suffering and we all experience hardship in one way or another, some more than others. We also live in a diverse Christian culture, where some believe in deliverance, victory, health and wealth or, on the other hand, some believe this life is nothing but strife and suffering to be endured as martyrs. People frequently arrive confused by suffering, having doubts about God’s goodness in allowing it, and feeling His absence in the midst of it.

All suffering is to be met with compassion and kindness, but we must not stop there. The Bible makes clear that this will be a fallen world until Christ’s coming, and doing good will likely attract Satan’s unwanted attention. But Christ has not left us alone, and ministers to us through His Spirit, often through the love of others. I admit that I have had days of frustration, anger and grief and these emotions have been appropriate; but as I try to remember all the love and kindness and provision, I am also comforted and can give thanks. Life is not simplistic, easy or straight forward. We can’t always understand the “WHY?!”, but we can know that Christ has suffered worse for our salvation, and is companionate and understands. In a perfectionist society, there is always opportunity to talk about the Fall. It is suffering that is often the coalface of the Gospel and where Christ can be found to be most relevant and real. Love and Mercy are found here.

During this same time, a superb lecture on the problem of Physician-assisted Suicide and Euthanasia was given to a large gathering of Mayo Christian doctors by Henk Reitsema, our colleague from Dutch L’Abri. Jock had invited him out earlier, and as he is a dear friend he was also a balm for both of us. Jock was encouraged that a very large group also heard Henk speak in the Twin Cities, and a local group of doctors have formed a working group to fight Minnesota’s attempts to legalise the practice here. Please pray for their wisdom and success.  Death is not our choice in the face of suffering, as God always says “Choose Life”! Instead, as believers we are to give love and compassion and relief.

We have just welcomed new students and the new term carries on. We are thankful for so many provisions, but are aware of our frailties and our absolute need to depend on the Lord. There is much to be thankful for and on the other hand there is much to pray for. Dependence on God is our calling and prayer is how we begin to live that out. Thank you for walking this journey with us,

With deep gratitude,

May, 2017

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your  faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.                                                                                                                                              Romans 12:3-8

Dear Friends,

For much of this year we have been working slowly together through the book of Romans, and now our Pastor, Chris Harper, is working through the book at church as well. I feel that this wonderful book of the bible is fathomless in its depths and I never tire from its study.  Here the Gospel is set out in all its glory and the message of Grace is given, both for the Jew and the Gentile. Then at Chapter 12 comes the ‘Therefore’. Romans 12:1&2 was very significant in my own story as I was struggling to understand God’s will. The phrase ‘the renewing of the mind’ set my own mind on going to L’Abri. My plan was to spend 4 weeks in Switzerland, but on arrival I found that I had come ‘home’. The path of the minds renewal is, Lord willing, still carrying on.

What is striking me in our current study is the fruit of the Gospel - the unity and diversity of the body. We hear a lot about unity, and rightly so, as it is often so illusive - but with unity also comes diversity, which together makes the highest calling. In our finite, human frame we are tempted to find unity in like-minded, economically similar, similarly dressed, politically uniform communities. Unity seems easier when we find ourselves alongside those we find most comfortable. But the message of Romans is one of unity with the other, the Jew and Greek together; an unthinkable reality in a deeply divided context.

As we see today, the Middle East is again in the headlines and we know that the lines are still deeply drawn. But the gospel is for all people, for all times.  Jesus’s greatest condemnation was for the proud, self righteous Pharisees, who looked down from lofty heights, thanking God that they were not like ‘them’.   I know that it is always a temptation to feel comfort in the thought that I think I know my stuff and am doing it right. The Word quickly dispels my smugness. If I sit under it and I am convicted by the need to think of myself with ‘sober judgement’, I am then led to see my insufficiency, and to see the other and to move closer to the kind of love that lets in the other as my brother and sister in Christ, without whom I cannot rightly function.

Those of us who work at L’Abri are no more important than the butcher, the baker, the sales assistant or the fast-food restaurant employee. We who call on Christ are all equal, with different callings, different roles, and a diversity of appearance. The Schaeffers always understood that the workers of L’Abri were part of a much bigger picture. L’Abri is made up of faithful prayers, givers and those who come, bound together in Christ who enables us all. There is always an open door to whoever God sends, be it doctors, scientists, single mothers, the disabled, broken hearted or addicted. Each one of us is a part of what makes up ‘L’Abri’, and more importantly the wider Church.

God has blessed us with wonderful community and we recently experienced that at the Members Meeting in England. It was a rich time of coming together and encouragement. We do have much in common and we were glad to be able to encourage each other. I was particularly glad to see Alessandra from the Brazilian L’Abri. She was between chemotherapy and radiation for cancer and catching up in person was a relief after praying from a distance. Please do pray for her as the radiation becomes more difficult on her already weakened body. All our branches were represented, from every continent. We do indeed feel richly blessed, and these times together are often a foretaste of the final great reunion.

The longest existing prayer group for L’Abri has been in Australia, and my mother was a part of it until her passing last year. They also need prayer as three of them have passed in the last year and Helen Campbell, it’s founder, is now very frail in her 90’s. She has been a great prayer warrior for many and I count it a privilege to call her friend, but she needs our prayers for these days. Edith Schaeffer used to say that old age is not for the faint-hearted and it is a reality that we will all face, if we are blessed with long life. Speaking of life, we would also value prayers for an upcoming lecture at the Mayo Clinic by Henk Reitsema, our friend and colleague from the Dutch L’Abri. He is addressing the issue of Euthanasia, which is crucial given the growing pressure for physician-assisted suicide in Minnesota.

We have also just returned from three weeks in Missouri for our Spring Retreat, and enjoyed a lovely theme weekend with Mark Ryan from the Francis Schaeffer Institute, looking at the ‘Benedictine Option’. This spring has seen nothing but rain, with terrible floods just down the road from us in Missouri and now flash floods here in Minnesota. We are hoping to dry out soon but that day is feeling far off. This weekend we will receive our first Summer Term students, but we would appreciate prayer for health as we are all struggling at the moment with ‘something’.

We do so appreciate that we are not alone in this work and that we are blessed with so many supporters and encouragers. Each one is playing a part in this little work on a hill in Rochester. Do let us know your news too, as we share together in this Body that Christ himself reigns over.

With much gratitude,

In Him,


March, 2017

“But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.”
                    2 Peter 3

Dear Friends,

As we begin the month of March, we are amazed at how quickly this year is moving. We have already done a lot, with the January St. Louis Retreat and the February Conference now under our belts. Both these events went well. The January Retreat in Missouri offers a respite from the worst of the Minnesota winter and was well attended, with a number of longer term supporters of the ministry visiting to see the good progress on the building project. Mort and Jenny Whitman, who studied with the Schaeffer’s in the 70’s and attended our very first Retreat 15 years ago, and Debra Holt, who studied at Swiss L’Abri in the 80’s, returned for a wonderful reunion and reminder of God’s faithfulness over the years. The Rochester Conference was back in the Mayo Civic Center again this year and we had just under 500 folk come out to hear some 46 talks by 20 speakers – a real winter feast! The weather was good and everything went smoothly. Even the disappointment of Os Guinness cancelling due to laryngitis did not dampen the enthusiastic appreciation of all that was on offer. It was also very good to see the speakers gaining such a lot from their time together. Please pray for Jock as he is already trying to work out dates and location for next year with rising costs making this increasingly challenging.

Now, we are in the midst of our first student term of the year, and today I just said goodbye to a young family from Duluth who were here for 10 days. We are always praying for more students, but sometimes being a smaller branch allows those that God sends to really soak up their time here and find a home away from home. The family have a 2month and 3yr old and the mother has come back to faith recently, and is looking for help and guidance to bring her family to the same place. Little Charlie filled the house with enthusiasm and is very much at home here - this is their 3rd visit and another is planned later this Summer. The dad’s willingness to come and be engaged is a great encouragement to us all and we covet your prayers for them. We have more students coming and going this term but we do pray for more longer-term students.

Next month, Jock and I will be travelling to England for the annual Members Meetings. It is always a full and wonderful time with our colleagues, and we are privileged to be a part of it, but we would appreciate prayers for my health which is acting up and makes travel more challenging. Thankfully we have a great team here, with Billy Hastings coming on staff this Summer and Mercy running the main house so wonderfully, and Taylor ending his helper time in April after 6 months with us. We are feeling very encouraged by all of God’s provision but pray for wisdom in how best to use our time and energy with all he has brought our way. Of course, there are always challenges, with our snow-plow truck on its last legs, keeping up the grounds and properties, and keeping things developing in Missouri as well. Humanly we are keenly aware of our finiteness, but we know that God is a kind presence with us daily, and we look for His enabling, guidance and wisdom, aware of our sin, weakness and limitations.

Without this supernatural reality being a part of the here and now, this work would be in vain. As we sit together on Mondays in the family room praying, I am keenly aware of His presence over time, hearing and answering our prayers, again and again. It is easy to want all the promises of the bible realised here and now. I am often impatient, but God reminds me that He is patient and that the transformation I long for takes time. Where I want to rush forward, He often says wait; where I want to see things change quickly, I am reminded that He is patient with us and His work takes time. Being well into my 50’s now does help, as the perspective of more years enables me to see things from a larger perspective, but only God has the eternal perspective and he graciously tells us what we have to look forward to. Good things do indeed come with patience and I continue to look to Him to transform my stubbornly impatient heart bit by bit by the power of His Spirit.  All around us we use technologies that have immediacy as their goal, but when I walk daily through the woods, and watch the familiar rhythms of the natural world, I find a healthier pace in my mind and start to recognised the Creator’s hand all around, as I slow down my mind and take time to see.

Spring is now pushing out the Winter, with waves of warmth from the South pushing against the cold North wind. Some days, the warmth and sunshine win out - only to see the pushback, with snow blanketing the woods once again. Spring is a time of transition, but we know that the warmth will be a sure thing by the beginning of June. The birds are already making their way North again and Mercy, being a local birder, can tell us exactly who is making which call. The deer have lost their antlers and we await the birth of the new fauns. We do not see the Summer yet, but we wait with hope, enjoying the signs of what is to come.

The signposts of the coming of our Lord and King are there as well. The swings and roundabouts of history are playing out, but the final outcome is sure. The foretaste of Spring is already here, and so we persevere with hope, knowing that we wait at the ready, despite the setbacks of sin and suffering, sure that the Son is on his way. Come Lord come!

With many thanks,

Alison McGregor

January, 2017

Dear Friends,

With 2016 in the history books, and this year already racing along, it seems a good time for a more newsy Prayer Letter. The past year has been fuller than usual, with a lot of travel and a number of milestones, but if I had to sum it up in a phrase, that would have to be ‘The Lord Provides’. His faithfulness to this small work has been remarkable, and Alison and I have been deeply thankful – it has been a real demonstration of the God who is really there.

We started the year, as always, with the February Conference, for the first time at the Civic Center after over 20 years at the Kahler Hotel. The change of venues was quite complicated and worrying but it ended up working wonderfully, with a great turnout and a wonderful group of speakers. All the logistics fell into place.

Our dear colleague Tabby left in the Spring to get married, leaving a big hole after three and a half years of wonderful service – and along came Mercy, our first Minnesotan-born worker and a perfect fit for this branch. We have also been blessed by a larger than usual group of long-term helpers, creating a dynamic team in the L’Abri House to welcome our students.

Our long student terms up here in Rochester and our shorter Retreats outside St Louis have all gone well, with a wonderful diversity of folk flowing through our doors. A substantial gift has allowed us to mostly complete the Retreat Center in Missouri and it is looking better than we could have hoped for, high on a hill overlooking a beautiful wooded valley (check it out on Facebook under ‘Ebenezer Retreat Center’).

In Rochester, after years of living right on the edge financially, we are so thankful that this year we had no cuts and I could actually approach the end of each month without too much anxiety. In fact, a kind and generous bequest has allowed us to dare dream of doing some building up here. We would love to add a double-garage with a small unit above to properly house our vehicles and also allow suitable space for another worker. We would still need a good deal more than we have, but it’s a start – and we can pray that if God wills, we would have enough for the rest.

This year Alison and I celebrated our 30th year of marriage, more grateful than ever that the Lord brought us together, I got back to South Africa after 25 years to visit extended family, and Alison was able to say farewell to her dear mother in Australia as she ended her journey. This Godly woman was a stalwart prayer warrior for L’Abri and was able to face death with such hope and confidence that the sadness of grief was totally transcended for the whole family.

For 15 years I have been pressing my physician friends at Mayo about the need for a Christian Medical Association at the Clinic. At the beginning of the year we took the bull by the horns and finally launched one- and now we have over 90 Physicians signed up, a strong source of funding, a great steering committee and a very successful Inaugural Banquet behind us. Already we have a full schedule of activities lined up for this coming year – all of which has way exceeded our expectations and again we can only see God’s faithful hand!

God’s provision is what gives us confidence looking forward. These highlights do not mean there were no lowlights, struggles, setbacks, or failures – such is life in a fallen world - but God’s provision is real, and because of it we can dare to go on – even ‘from strength to strength’.

Right now we are in the midst of preparing for our next Rochester L’Abri Conference on February 3rd and 4th. With this being the 500th year since the Protestant Reformation, I really wanted to have a dual theme – the importance of the recovery of the Authority of Scripture, and the power of God’s Word to transform cultures. One flows from the other – and both were clearly evidenced in the flow of Western history that followed the Reformation. There is a great deal of revisionism about the impact of the Reformation, even in Evangelical circles, and so it is critical that we not lose sight of its central lessons. When Jeremiah says “Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the Lord (Ch17:5) he is exhorting us to trust God not Man, and that means we need to put all human authority, whether located in the Church or in the State, under the authority of his Word. And when we allow the Light of the Word to illuminate all of life, then it truly becomes a Word of Life, transforming everything. The Reformers were far from perfect, but they got this priority of the Word right – and almost everything that we can call good in Western civilization flowed from that – the dignity of Man and his labor, the rule of Law, our fundamental equality and the call to compassion – the list goes on and on.

Right now, there is anxiety throughout the West. The trajectory set at the Enlightenment - to build on the basis of human reason, guided by intellectual elites, studiously secular and utopianistic – with a vision of a globalized and integrated world - is being increasingly rejected. From Brexit to Trump, this new World Order is being challenged and dismantled. But what is to replace it? To replace the veiled authoritarianism of the ‘nanny state’ with the blunt authoritarianism of Putinesque popularism is no solution, however cathartic it may be to upend the self-righteous ‘caretakers’ of our modern culture.

This past year, we re-watched Dr. Schaeffer’s classic documentary series How Should We Then Live. Despite its dated style, it remains masterful in its sweep and insight and remarkably prophetic. He predicted the increasingly coercive nature of secular-humanist society and its loss of civil and religious freedoms. But he also predicted that when moral relativism so undermines the social fabric, the resulting sense of chaos would cause people to look for a strong man to restore order. Unless a society is anchored in the absolutes of God’s Word, it has no other option but to absolutize itself - and ruling elites, of one sort or another, must inevitably rise. When Samuel Rutherford sought to limit the power of the monarch in Lex Rex, he never sought to simply exchange the rule of the King with the rule of man-made laws – for where is the protection in that? No, the ‘Lex’ he turned to was God’s Law, revealed in Scripture. This is where they turned at the Reformation – and this is where we must turn now. When God’s Word is the bedrock, then all human authority is tempered, and we have a stable foundation for human freedom and human flourishing and we can resist the powers that be – whether they reflect a globalized internationalism or an isolationist nationalism.

Jeremiah concludes But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream. Jeremiah 17:7,8

Yours in Christ,

Jock McGregor

October, 2016

The grass withers and the flowers fade beneath the breath of the Lord. And so it is with people. The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever”.    Is 40:7-8

Dear Praying Family,

It has been awhile since our last update. Summer has passed in a blur of activity, and I find myself surprised to be experiencing already the familiar signs of Fall – the chilly nights, the changing colors of the trees and the change in the position of the sun. It’s interesting how things like the way the sun is shining will bring thoughts and memories to mind. For me, the angle of the sun calls to mind the seasonal rhythms of the farm, and the tasks that were specific to fall – harvest, and preparation for the winter.

I came to L’Abri for the first time last spring. Working on my family’s organic dairy farm provided unending activity and responsibility, but no time for working through the questions and confusions that were simmering in the back of my mind. My family had been attending the Rochester L’Abri conferences for some years, and I found myself attracted to the L’Abri philosophy and teaching, and their commitment to engaging with people where they’re at - and providing reasonable answers for difficult questions. So when circumstances allowed for me to leave the farm, I took the opportunity to spend a term at the Rochester L’Abri. I ended up returning as a helper, and then spent a term at the English L’Abri, before returning to Rochester to join the worker team.

Now my first summer here is behind me, and as I look back I am filled with gratitude that the Lord brought me here in the first place and is now allowing me to work here. I am so grateful for Jock and Alison’s encouragement and patience as I learn and grow.

As I mentioned before, this past summer has been quite a blur. After a slow start to our first summer term, we ended with a good number of students, who brought much fun and laughter to this place. Most of them had been here before (though they were new faces to me) but it was encouraging to me to see how they were refreshed by their time here.

We spent two weeks working at Ebenezer in July, and made good progress in several areas. Our helper Hannah finished staining and coating all the doors and windows, and Billy and I learned how to hang drywall! Hannah’s boyfriend Brandon joined us there and contributed his professional dry-walling and construction skills, which was a wonderful blessing. It is quite exciting to watch the building being completed, one room at a time!

Our second summer term started off with a good group, and we were very busy for the month of August. There was a lot of coming and going, with people staying only for a weekend or a few days. It  can be a challenge, both for us and for the longer term students, to have so much coming and going, but in spite of that fact, we were blessed and enriched by their presence, and they seemed to really benefit from even a short time here.

It amazes and encourages me to watch how God continues to send the people of His choice, and how He continues to give us the resources to provide this shelter for them. Please pray for our students – several who came this summer have ongoing struggles with destructive thinking patterns. It is so painful to see them suffer because of the lies that have become habitual beliefs. They desperately need to be able to understand, and learn to walk in, the truth of who they are in Christ.

This past term we watched Francis Schaeffer’s How Shall We Then Live series for our Friday-night lectures. As Dr. Schaeffer described the progression of civilizations and philosophies through the course of time, I was struck with how Scripture continues to be the one authority that stands, even as over and over throughout history, nations and philosophies rise and fall. It provides the only solid framework for making sense of the world around us. And, while it is truthful about our desperate condition, it provides the only real hope of a cure for this brokenness and sin. Yet people continue to look to new philosophies, new technologies, new politicians, to fix the brokenness we see all around us! My prayer is that here at L’Abri we could continue to point people to Christ and that they could see the joy and security and stability that comes from obeying the truth, and trusting the loving Father who has revealed the truth to us.

Jock is busy as usual, balancing the demands of this branch with his many other responsibilities. This summer he has been involved with starting a Rochester CMDA chapter for the Mayo Clinic medical faculty. The inaugural ceremonies were just this past week, and he was encouraged by a very enthusiastic response from the medical community!

We have been blessed with a very good helper team this term – Billy from Kansas City and Taylor from St. Louis - and they plan to stay on until the end of the year. Jock has been happy to have their help for practical projects around the property, but they have also contributed delicious meals and help to provide a warm welcome for those who come.

We have another new member here at Rochester L’Abri, who makes it his job to love everyone who comes through the door – Jock and Alison’s new dog Cocoa! He is a sweet, affectionate Springer spaniel, found through a spaniel rescue program. His life has never been better, and he brings Alison (and the students) so much joy.

Please continue to pray for health and strength for both Jock and Alison. And I would appreciate prayer as I find my feet here. I am so very grateful to be here, and for the ways the Lord is using this job to grow me in areas I have never explored. 

We are so grateful for each of you who are committed to praying for this work.  Prayer is the most important part of this work, because if the Lord is not in this work we truly have nothing to offer. So thank you for being part of the work here in such an important way!

In Christ,
Mercy Winnes

July, 2016
‘...the tender mercy of our God,
    by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
to shine on those living in darkness
    and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the path of peace.” Luke 1:76-79

Dear Praying Family,
We are deeply thankful for the beauty of this place that God has given to L’Abri. It is a privilege to live and work here and we are reminded of that when new people come and see it for the first time. Watching them light up as they come in to the main living room and see the beauty of the view is a joy.  Just today I was there and watched a dark stormy cloud in the distance while the city was bathed in bright sunshine, and highlighted by the dark grey backdrop. I then walked back to our house past the blooming bee balm, through the rich lush green of the woods and stopped to watch the 2 latest baby fawn suckling together from their mother, while she calmly watched me with doe eyes. The world is full of wonder!
Light breaking in is at the heart of the Christian life and calling and we see, by his great mercy, evidences of it all around if we have eyes to see.  I was just enjoying looking at the photos of Tim and Tabby Hogue’s wedding and it was a joy to see the bliss on their faces. It is a privilege to celebrate the joining of the lives of these two godly young people and to know that they are surrounded by loving supportive families. A lovely picture that is a foretaste of the union that awaits us all with Christ in heaven.
We often see this light as we open our door to those God sends us. We witnessed the baptism last week of an Indian man who had been with us in the Spring and returned before heading back home. He was able to clearly articulate all that he had learned while with us and wanted to formalise his faith before returning to his non-Christian family. Please do pray for him, that he would go from strength to strength and find a good church home.
We also had the pleasure of having Doug Groothuis, professor of Philosophy at Denver Seminary, here for a week and he gave 2 excellent Friday lectures as well as contributing with many interesting discussions. We were not too full, so he enjoyed the quiet and beauty of the property and it seemed to be just what he needed. He also needs our prayer as his wife Becky struggles with illness - please pray that they find the support that they need as they navigate the challenges of serious ill health.
Today I was talking with a young man from California over the kitchen table as we chopped vegetables, and he raised, with great sincerity, questions about God’s goodness and sovereignty in the face of great personal suffering. His integrity was profound, as were his questions and it was moving to discuss in a real life way the goodness of God, even in the face of our own struggles. Honest answers for honest questions are not theoretical debates but personal wrestling while taking God at his Word in an achingly fallen world. L’Abri provides a very real context to work out our understanding of Truth in a personal way.
We have more folk arriving today and our prayer is that God would use this place in the lives of those he sends. We have been studying the L’Abri Statements as a new team and I have been struck again by the centrality of the Schaeffer’s desire to have L’Abri demonstrate the reality of God’s Truth, his ‘light’, and that a restored relationship with him and each other should be at its heart.  It is hard to feel adequate to this task, but as we reflect on His holiness at work in us we hold, with wonder and faith, to his promises. Light and darkness are an ever present reality of life in the ‘already and not yet’. As we press on to spread the light, please pray with us so that we can make this a place where Truth and reality may be found.
We are enjoying having 3 lovely young fit and able folk to help us this term as our helpers Hannah and Billy along with Mercy fill the place with fresh enthusiasm. Mercy is bringing her organic influence and we are eating eggs and butter from her families organic farm as well as free-range pork that was cut up here and now fills the freezer. 
There is so very much to be thankful for,  we are glad that we were able to pay for a replacement HVAC system after it failed, but the practical needs quickly mount up with all that needs to be done to keep the place in good order. Jock is often seen with a chainsaw taking care of dead trees as well as in the office for long hours doing finances. Please pray for him as he juggles many demands on his time. Please pray too for safety, health, wisdom and strength.  Above all, please pray that God would send the people of his choice and that he would enable us to hold out light into this dark world.
In Him

April, 2016

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot…” Eccl. 3:1-2

Dear friends,

Spring comes by fits and starts in Minnesota. Two weeks ago it was a balmy 60 degrees outside, and I was driving around town with my windows down. Then a big snowstorm hit only a week later, and we were blanketed with 13 inches of snow! Of course, a few days later, the snow had melted, and now it’s sunny and in the high 50s outside, with birds singing in the trees and a few little blue flowers poking their heads up outside the big picture window in the living room.
I was sitting in one of those green chairs by the window nearly five years ago with Jock, asking him how I could go about becoming a L’Abri worker. I had graduated from Westminster Seminary and had dreams of working at L’Abri, and though I felt God had prepared me for the work, landing a position on staff was by no means certain. But a year and a half later, I was back at Rochester L’Abri as a worker! God had answered my prayers!

We have just wrapped up the March term – my final term as a worker. My time working for L’Abri has been filled with both joys and sorrows – I have enjoyed getting to participate in the lifestyle of ministry and hospitality at L’Abri (where else would I get to host creative high teas twice a month and experiment with international themes, like a Moroccan-inspired high tea that involved turning the living room into a Bedouin tent, playing Arabic music, and serving chickpea and raisin-studded Moroccan chicken stew?) I met many wonderful people who came through as students, and had the privilege of walking with them through their heartaches and triumphs. I was enriched by thoughtful lectures from speakers on Friday evenings, and saw God provide for L’Abri and for our students in ways that were wonderful and sometimes surprising.

But living in community with strangers is not always an easy task, and I certainly learned more about my own and others’ selfishness and weakness and the ways that sin keeps us from loving one another freely.  I saw and grieved how failures inside and outside of the church had wrecked individuals’ lives, saw how addiction can grab hold of people and slowly destroy them, and how abuse can leave its victims with a lifetime’s worth of emotional and psychological scars. To live with people and really get to know them is good, and real, but certainly not painless.  The reality of the fall can sometimes weigh heavily as one realizes that sin and evil are real, and that healing and change take time, perseverance, and dependence on the Lord and His Spirit. Yet seeing God’s healing take place in others brings joy, and it was always a happy occasion when we received letters from former students speaking of how their time at L’Abri made a real and positive difference in their lives.

Now, three and a half years since I arrived at Rochester L’Abri, the Lord has brought me to another bend in the road. As the writer of Eccelsiastes puts it, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” In 2012 it was time for me to come as a helper and then to become a worker at the Rochester L’Abri branch. Now it is time for me to leave this place that has been my home and my workplace and to go and begin another home in another place, with a godly and kind man at my side whom I love and am very thankful for!

Tim and I will be married in June in my home state of Florida, following which we will move to Los Angeles to begin a new life together! I am very excited to be starting life as a married couple, which I expect to be filled with new happinesses and also new challenges. But God is faithful, and just as he has provided for me in the past few years, so I am also looking forward to seeing how he provides in the future!

L’Abri will always hold a special place in my heart, and my prayers are with Jock and Alison as they will be entering into a time of transition. I’m thankful for the way that the Lord has provided several people to help them, including Mercy Winnes, who will come on staff as a worker and will join them through the April retreat and the upcoming summer terms. Please uphold them in your prayers, and do pray for me and Tim as well as we will soon be beginning married life together!

I think what stands out most in my mind as I think of L’Abri is that it has been a place of healing and renewal for so many, myself included. The healing rhythms of a regular schedule, the care exhibited for students through practical things like a home-cooked meal, kind and truthful words, and artfully arranged flowers, have much to do with this, although primarily I think what helps is that at L’Abri one finds compassion, and one sees the God of all compassion at work in the workers and the students. Francis Schaeffer once wrote, “Biblical orthodoxy without compassion is surely the ugliest thing in the world.” This is true, but I believe the reverse is also true, that biblical orthodoxy with compassion is one of the most beautiful things in the world. My prayer is that the Lord will continue to work a heart of compassion, as well as commitment to biblical truth, in me and Tim as we begin a new life together, and in Jock, Alison, and Mercy, as they minister to those who come as students to L’Abri. And in this, as in all things, may God be glorified, now and always.
Yours in Christ,
Tabby Yang

February, 2016

Dear Friends,

As I write, we are being cloaked in a thick white blanket that has silenced the outside world. Billions of unique snowflakes have covered everything in a cold white fluffy wool.  Just yesterday it was warmer and we were entertained by a ‘gang’ of 6 young deer on the front lawn exploring, head to head, the rope swing with their mouths, while by the garage there were 4 large turkeys strutting their stuff. How we laughed when they charged at the deer, sending them off! Who knew they were such bullies?

We are privileged to live on this beautiful oasis here in the city of Rochester and we are happy to be welcoming folk from across the country here next week for the annual L’Abri Conference ‘Finding Truth’. You can find out more about it at . Once again we have many fine speakers. Please pray that the snow will be held at bay next weekend and all travel will go smoothly, and pray also that the truth will be spread and honored and that the ripples would go out into a world that is losing its way.

We are just north of Iowa and the political waves of this election season were felt strongly up here - and while there is much to be encouraged by, there is also much that is far from the foundation of ‘In God We Trust’. With ‘wars and rumors of wars’, the temptation is to trust in our own strength, jettisoning principles for the ideal of safety. The challenge of living in the tension between freedom and justice, unity and individuality, prosperity and generosity can only be met by rooting all these things in the person of God himself and living by the truth of his word. Our prayer is that this conference will engender open discussion, encouragement and the challenge to grow and learn.

This last Christmas I was overjoyed to have my 2 sisters join us from Australia, and was relieved that snow fell right before Christmas so that they could have their first white Christmas. Times with family are a rare and special treat for us and we all had a wonderful time. We also were encouraged by the progress at Ebenezer Retreat Center in MO, with the external siding being completed. We are thankful too, to have received multiple applications to take Tabby’s position and we are seriously considering taking on 2 people. We like to joke that it will take 2 to replace Tabby. Seriously though, we would appreciate prayer for this decision, as it will involve an increase in salaries when we are only just scraping by. Jock and I are not getting any younger and we do feel the need to share more of the load.

We would also appreciate prayer for the students who are coming to L’Abri with significant addiction issues. We are seeing these problems escalating across a broad spectrum of the culture. There are several that have left here that we maintain a relationship with and we would appreciate prayers for them and for wisdom for us. We are living in a broken world, and Christ was most concerned for the broken. As we endeavor to be salt and light, we ask that the Lord would continue to send the people of his choice and to provide us with the practical and spiritual resources to help. What we lack in strength or wisdom, God promises to provide, ‘sufficient for the day’.

With thankfulness in Christ,
Alison McGregor
November, 2015

Dear Friends,
It is hard to believe our last Prayer Letter was in July. Definitely time for a newsy update, but also testimony to just how busy this Summer and Fall has been. The summer months are always a bigger draw to our students and our long, two-month student terms are a wonderful blur of students coming and going, intense one-on-one tutorials, endless discussion meals and lots of outdoor work on our property. Thankfully, we had wonderful helpers. Hannah Hodge, who followed us home from the January Retreat in St Louis, came originally for just two weeks, but L'Abri opened up new doors of hope after years of philosophical despair, and she decided to spend the summer, blessing us with marvelous meals and very useful painting skills. Tim Hogue, from California, was also a great help (when he was not swooning around Tabby - but more on that later). In fact, we got a good number of summer projects done, clearing buckthorn in the woods, restoring the path between the houses, repairing and painting the garage and finally repairing the main sewer outlet (Thanks Tim!).
But the Fall has been no less busy, starting with a very full Fall Retreat at the Ebenezer Retreat Center outside St. Louis, where some 14 folk came through. And then our fourth St. Louis L'Abri Conference, this time held on the campus of Covenant Seminary. Turnout was somewhat disappointing but the content was excellent and well worth putting on. Development at Ebenezer continued with a two-week working Retreat in the Summer and more construction in the Fall. All the windows are now in and all the indoor framing is complete. I finally finished the external soffits and so, as I write the contractors are putting on the siding. Contractors will continue the work through the winter and we hope to complete the building by the Spring, which will then allow further ministry in that area.
Right now we are in our Fall term back in Rochester with a small but stimulating group of students, including the group that John and Day Hodges bring up every year. Their Center for Western Studies is an excellent gap-year program for developing a Christian world view. Our Fall helper, Mercy, is a local lass who grew up on an organic dairy farm nearby, and we were able to enjoy a wonderful excursion and home-cooked lunch at her farm.
I was very excited to finally get the brochure out for next year's Rochester L’Abri Conference in February. The theme will be "Apologetics in a Secular Age" with speakers like Nancy Pearcey, Douglas Groothuis, Greg Jesson, Andrew Fellows, Bruce Little, AJ Poelarends, Ron Lutjens and many other L'Abri workers and regulars speaking. This year we will not be at the Kahler Hotel, as they have sadly priced us out, so after 20 years we will be in a new venue - the Mayo Civic Center. There will be adjustments but many advantages and we will be able to keep the Conference affordable. You can download the brochure at Hope to see you there!
But our greatest news comes with the very recent announcement of the engagement of Tabby! Tim Hogue hails from California and is a doctoral student in Ancient Near East Language and Culture. He is a lovely, Godly young man and we could not be happier for Tabby. She is, of course, happily busy with wedding plans and they plan to marry in late June in Florida. Happy as we all are, this does also of course mean that Tabby will be leaving us in March. After three very good years working together this will not just be a very sad parting, but also a massive adjustment for our small branch. Over the years we have seen God provide us with a string of remarkably wonderful colleagues, so we are not panicking, but it does warrant concentrated prayer.
Thank you for your support and prayer over the years,
Yours in Christ,
Jock McGregor

Thoughts after Paris

Recent events have shocked us all. With the Middle East continuing to degenerate into chaos, human depravity in the shape of ruthless terrorists, and human misery in the shape of desperate refugees, are spreading further and further abroad, and the Western world is reeling under the challenge. What should be clear by now is that military solutions or political solutions can take us only so far – what we are dealing with appears to go much deeper.

The religious and ideological radicalism that is driving all this is not, I believe, primarily rooted in unemployment, depressed social conditions or political alienation. Yes, living under autocratic governments or struggling with lack of opportunity does generate deep discontent, and the various popular movements around the Arab Spring are certainly testimony to that. But what we are facing in radical Islamic extremism is an alternate vision of this world and how we are to live in it. It is as ideological as it is religious and it is captivating growing numbers of radicalized young people. It is a set of ideas about what is wrong with the West and what is right about a very narrow form of Islam. It is a worldview.  As long as we view it as rooted in bad social or political conditions rather than dangerous and wrong-headed ideas, we will underestimate it.

Ideas have consequences – and very bad ideas have very bad consequences. What possesses well-educated people to strap on suicide vests and kill themselves? What possess them to do it in a way that slaughters as many innocents as possible? This is not just anger or resentment, but deeply held conviction, and commitment to a deeply perverse view of the world. That is why the role of the internet and social media has been so important in amplifying this radical vision. It is the perfect media to propagate poisonous ideas – free from rebuttal. Until the West realizes that this is an ideological struggle, a battle of ideas, it will have very little hope of stemming the tide.

But here we face another challenge. How can the West possibly engage in this conflict of worldviews, when it is so deeply ambivalent about its own vision? Yes, Western values of Freedom, Democracy and Human Rights are still widely popular and much cherished, but the West has long since lost confidence that these can be rooted in anything deeper than the whim of the populace at any particular moment.  And, to the degree that the West still reflects a coherent worldview, it appears to be little more than a self-indulgent Humanism resting on a stark and barren Materialism, and who has the conviction to fight for that?
Never has it been more important for the West to reclaim its true heritage, to recognize the true roots of these values and principles that are being so sorely contested. Without a doubt, it is the Biblical worldview of Christianity that has most shaped the West and made it largely a force for good in this world. No fair history of the West can fail to acknowledge the seminal ideas that Christianity contributed in shaping our culture. Yes, the West has been far from perfect and the Church has too often been complicit in that, but from the scientific method to the rule of law, from human rights to free enterprise, from universities to hospitals, so much of what has been Good and True in the West is the fruit of Christian thinkers and Christian thought. Unless it stands on this strong foundation, I cannot see the West prevailing in this battle.

But, there is something far more important at stake here than the survival of the West. We may have forgotten our heritage, but our enemies have not. It is not out of simplistic ignorance that these Jihadists refer to us as the 'Christian' West or ‘Crusaders’. They know that their real adversary is not Western Liberal Democracy, nor indeed even Israel, but Christianity itself. And what is at stake is not one political system over another, one culture versus another, but what is at stake is the Glory of God and the well-being of all Mankind. The real question is, what worldview, what vision of life, is ultimately true and good and life-giving? In Scripture, the Almighty God himself has given us Light – and in Jesus Christ He has given us Life. Whatever the West may choose to do in the face of this new evil, we know what we must do! Scripture makes it clear…

“For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ…”
2 Cor 10:3-5

July,  2015

“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. This is why it is said:
“Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  
    Ephesians 5: 8-20
Dear Friends,

We are living in ‘interesting times’. There has been much in the news that is discouraging, from the Supreme Court rulings, shootings of marines in Chattanooga, to the deaths of African Americans in Church, and now the sale of aborted baby body parts. The question ‘What in the world?’ rings from our hearts, but in our grief and anger we should not be surprised – “because the days are evil”- Eph 5:16. As I have been praying and reading, I have been reminded that we are in the midst of a world where there is both light and darkness, grief and hope, sin and redemption. The God of Heaven and Earth is at work in us and this world, he is patient and just, there are times of judgment and times of forgiveness, and though we see things that are dark in this world, we should also see the good, truth and beauty and be giving thanks. We are always called to “Live as children of light.”

In this work we are often exposed to many dark things in the lives of those who come. Horrific stories, terrible sin and profound brokenness, are often shared in the one-on-one moment as trust is gained. Along with this darkness and tears we also see light, hope and love and this complexity stretches us personally as we struggle to be wise with the trust that is given. We know that we are not equal to the task and we share in these struggles ourselves, but our hope is not in our own strength but in the strength of Him to whom we are working to bring people to. We need your prayer for the Holy Spirit to always be at work in our midst so that we will live in all goodness, righteousness and truth. We are so thankful that we can look back and see so many answers to prayer and evidence of his activity, including the generosity of many, but we cannot be complacent. Paul reminds us in Eph 5:20 to be thankful in everything and we pray that even in the face of dark things, we will not lose sight of the goodness of God and to always have thankful hearts.

This last Summer term was a full and busy time. We had 33 adults and 4 children come through, some staying the whole term, but most for a shorter time with much coming and going. The last few weeks of term saw all the beds full and term ended with a bang, literally, as we had an open house for the 4th of July fireworks. 50 people came, many for the first time and the point where we have the best view in town was looking lovely. Jock has done a lot of clearing and we now have a 180 degree view of Rochester and the surrounding countryside. It provided front row seats for the city fireworks which were let off a few blocks away. We are privileged to have such a beautiful property but it does take quite a lot of maintenance. Mason Hodges was a great help with this for 6 months but do pray for him as he has returned to Chattanooga. Emily Hoffman was another helper who we had known in England as a child. She did a great job with a lovely attitude but also needs prayer as she returns to many challenges. We also were privileged to have Andy and Lindsay Patton for a few weeks helping out, before they returned to be workers in England. They will be a great addition to the team there.

All in all there were 5 couples and 2 with children this term and it was good to have some mature folk as well as babies in the mix. Though we love being busy and full and we have much to be thankful for, we are tired. I have been taking this month to rest and recuperate, Tabby is on vacation, but Jock has carried on working on the Ebenezer lodge in Missouri. He is experiencing the overload of fruitfulness, with many responsibilities in L’Abri and our local Church. I am thankful to be able to get him away on vacation for a few days later this month.

We are surrounded by beauty, we are not hungry, we are not persecuted and we receive much love. For supper I have been eating fresh warm tomatoes and kale from the garden with lovely eggs from the chickens. We are surrounded by wildlife here in the city (some more welcome than others) and the gardens are overflowing with bee balm flowers, full of bees and hummingbirds. We are privileged and we pray that on the 31st of July when we open again that we will be rested, well and ready to receive a new group into our homes. Please pray that we will have more non-Christians, as this culture needs the gospel so dearly, pray that we would have wisdom and strength, that the practical needs will be met and above all, that the Spirit would be at work in our midst.

Yours, with love and thanks
Alison McGregor

May,  2015

 “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.”  1 Corinthians 13:1-3

Dear friends,

It’s May in Minnesota, and the weather is finally starting to warm up a little. The bluebells and daffodils have faded now, but the peonies and irises will soon be bursting into bloom. So far, we’ve seen no signs of baby deer, but given the numbers of deer that treat the L’Abri property as their private sanctuary, it’s likely we’ll see some frolicking across the lawn in the future.

We are a week into our first Summer Term, and so far things have been going smoothly. We are very well supplied with helpers, as Mason has been with us since January, and Emily has come from England to be with us for the term. Also, Andy and Lindsey Patton, whom Jock and Alison met at the Missouri retreats years ago, are here helping us out for a few weeks before they head off to England to be workers at the L’Abri in Greatham. It’s been lovely to get to spend some time with them before they head off across the pond. Several of our students are wrestling with questions of calling and identity – “Who am I?” “What should I be doing with my life?” and “Where is God in the midst of the difficulties and suffering I experience?” are big questions to be thinking through, and though there are good answers, working those answers out practically in a satisfying way requires hard work and perseverance.

Last month, we held a well attended two week retreat down in Missouri, which was lovely with all the dogwoods and redbud trees in bloom. We had a number of repeat visitors as well as several new faces; people really seemed to appreciate having a place to get away from the grind and the pressures of their daily lives and talk through their questions. We were also happy to see the rest of the windows going in to the Retreat Center building as construction now finally moves towards completion.

In the midst of the work here, I have been thinking through what we should be communicating to those who come to L’Abri. One of the things that prompted Dr. Schaeffer’s early struggle with doubt and questions when he was in Switzerland was the lack of love he observed among members of the church. And undoubtedly, Love is a key component of Jesus’ and the apostles’ teachings – love not in a sappy, sentimental sense, but love that is robust, comprehensive, and genuinely concerned for the good of the other. I have been thinking lately about how real love grows when we cease to be overly preoccupied with ourselves, neither puffed up with pride nor wallowing in self-deprecation, but instead charitable in the way that we view ourselves and others, recognizing that we are flawed and broken sinners, but also made in the image of God and deeply valued and loved by Him. True love is also grounded in truth. Francis Schaeffer often spoke of “true truth” – his way of emphasizing that Christianity is built upon something solid, real, and universal, something grounded in reality.
In continuing the work of L’Abri, our hope is that those who come will experience a love that is firmly grounded in reality, and that they will be able to find a sense of lasting value as they come to the One who has loved us with an everlasting love.
Yours in Christ,
Tabby Yang

March, 2015

“I will praise you, O LORD, with all my heart; before the "gods" I will sing your praise.  I will bow down toward your holy temple and will praise your name for your love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word.” Psalm 138
Dear Friends,
Once again here in Rochester we are starting a new term. This year already seems full as we have the January St. Louis Retreat and the February Conference behind us and we are now welcoming new people through the door. We have a few folk from all over, bringing a diversity of questions, but all are asking “what should I do with my life”? As L’Abri offers a much needed space for reflection and growth, please pray that they learn and grow under the Lord’s direction and that they would put their full trust in Him.
February is Conference Month for us and this year we enjoyed another wonderful time of fellowship with colleagues and like-minded folk and were able to share their teaching with 470 people. The weather here was wonderful and everything went very smoothly. As Jock wrote to thank the speakers he said ”Thank you all for your contributions and the truly excellent job you all did - not only in the high quality of the teaching but also in the wonderfully engaging spirit you all demonstrated. One of our first-time attendees commented that she was overwhelmed to meet so many really, genuinely 'good' people all at once. In our increasingly coarse and conflicted culture this simple human kindness really stands out. And of course many, many commented on the outstanding quality and pertinence of your teaching. The subjects were serious and sobering but folk were never left without hope. There was great appreciation also for the wonderful Hymn Sing that Tabby and John Hodges arranged - and that really helped us focus on our singular consolation in this darkening world”. Through all this we have had wonderful help with Mason and Hannah who came up with us after the Retreat. They have filled the main house with music, laughter, and hard work and have been an encouragement to us all, especially Tabby who is glad to have some more youthful company. Our Retreat also went very well in January and we were mostly full for the two weeks. It is a busier, intense student time there, as we pack a lot into a short time, but it is always encouraging for us all. Jock also fitted in some more work on the building with the students often joining in.
In regard to this building work, I am very happy to say that our big news and greatest encouragement to report is that, after a long and very circuitous series of events, we have now received enough money to probably finish the Retreat Center. A very large gift has come in, in a fashion that is very much like the L’Abri story itself. We are deeply encouraged and relieved; God’s timing and provision has left us in awe and we cannot praise and thank him enough. It is all only just sinking in, but we are now getting ready to make all the small and large decisions needed rather rapidly, where until now it has been a long and slow process for many years. Our prayer is that the Retreat Center will be used for extending the ministry of Rochester L’Abri into the St. Louis area; for the use of existing like-minded ministries in the St. Louis area and also to provide a future for the L’Abri Retreats. This wonderful story itself is a testimony to the present reality of an active, faithful, and loving God who does answer prayer.
We do pray that the joy of this moment strengthens us all in a world that is full of hard things, as well as joys. With the realities, expressed so clearly at the Conference, of the continued attacks on the value of life and dignity, and as we hear the gut-wrenching news from the Middle East, and then troubling stories of racial tensions closer to home, our prayer is that this confirmation of the present gracious involvement of God into His world would keep us persevering for all that lies ahead.
With many thanks for your support and love in Him,
Alison McGregor

February 2015

“I love the LORD, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live.”     Psalm 116:1-2
Dear friends,
Now that we're in the thick of winter, outside the weather is cold and snowy, but here in the L'Abri house we are warm, well fed, and thankful for God's faithfulness, made tangibly manifest through a full retreat in Missouri last month and the provision of two very capable helpers.  In December, Jock and Alison and I enjoyed time away with our respective families in Virginia and Florida, following which we went down to the retreat center in Steelville to host our annual January L'Abri Retreat. We had a number of new faces at the retreat, as well as several “repeat customers”, and it ended up being a wonderful time of fellowship, discussion, studying the Word, and going for walks to enjoy the beauty of creation. For our guests, it was a welcome time of respite from the pressures of their daily lives, for which they were very thankful! The work of L'Abri is not always easy, but it is wonderful to see God using it to benefit those he brings to us.
Additionally, after our November term where we did not have any help, it has been a great answer to prayer that the Lord has provided us with Mason Hodges and Hannah Hodge (no relation to one another) to help us with some of the practical aspects of the work. When not serenading us on his guitar, Mason, son of long-time friends of L'Abri John and Day Hodges, has been hard at work shoveling snow and helping us with some home improvement projects, while Hannah's culinary gifts and cleaning prowess have been a boon to Alison and myself!
February is a busy time as we gear up for this year's conference and work out all the logistical details for that. We would ask that you pray that the Lord brings the people of His choice and that the Conference will bless and edify all those who attend. We will be dealing with some pretty heavy-hitting issues – how to live as believers in a world in which abortion, euthanasia, and surveillance are increasingly common. Please pray for wisdom for our speakers and that conference attendees might come away thinking seriously about these issues and how we can actively address them, but also feeling a strong sense of confidence in the Father's loving and sovereign working out of his purposes in this world.
Recently I have been reading Edith Schaeffer's book, The Life of Prayer, and one thing she says which I think is particularly relevant to the issues the conference will be addressing is: “God's fighting for us does not exclude the responsibility for battle both in the area of strategy and in equipment. Trusting God completely in prayer, believing that He is able to do all things, does not remove the need to pray for His strength in our weakness and then to do, to take action in His strength to accomplish what He has prepared us to do! We are to do what He is unfolding for us to do, fulfilling what God is giving us strength to do, acknowledging that it is His strength and not ours. It is a truly active passivity, not a false whining humbleness that says, 'I can't do anything; I'm too weak.'”
Please pray that we might have strength to do that which the Lord has set before us, to labor for justice and mercy while at the same time fully depending on Him and His strength. We are thankful to serve a God in whose wisdom, power, and love we can have absolute confidence!
Yours in Christ,
Tabby Yang

December 2014

“Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”        Luke 2:10-12
Dear Friends,
This year finds Thanksgiving and Christmas both a heartbeat away from each other and it is as though we are packing too many good things into a small package of time. We just finished celebrating Thanksgiving together with JoEllen (Borgos) and Miguel Park and their kids and today the first advent candle was lit at church.  It is fitting as thanksgiving and joy do go together as we remember this time in history in the Middle East over 2000 years ago. Into this momentous time God, the Creator of the Universe, came as we all did, into a human family in the form of a human child. The Alpha and Omega, angels singing in the heavens, and a baby in an animal trough, greatness and humility bound together. This is a great mystery yet also a great hope for us as we wrestle with things too big for us with frail hearts and minds.
Here in Rochester L’Abri, we are ending the year with a deep sense of thankfulness for all the Lord’s provision. We are humbled and grateful for the many answers to prayer, knowing it is not because of anything we have earned, but because he is merciful. These are such an encouragement as much of the Christian life involves waiting, but as we wait we are not alone, we have the Spirit to comfort, guide and teach us patience. Just as the Israelites waited for the long expected Messiah, we are waiting for his return in triumph, but until that day his Spirit is a generous treasure that we carry in cracked hearts and as we plod with feet of clay, with one eye on the skies.
As the year draws to an end we inevitably have our minds on the February Conference as well.  The speakers are all lined up and we are anticipating a fascinating two days.  By now you should have received the Feb 2015 ‘Defending Life and Liberty in a Brave New World’ conference brochure and again you can register online or by mail. All the information is at
Looking back though, this has been a busy and full year, with an added conference and 3 retreats in St. Louis, and many students as well as church activities. Tabby plays the piano in many of the services, and Jock has been busy with elder responsibilities in our growing church. The Ebenezer Lodge where we do the retreats now sleeps 8 comfortably and has seen much progress, with Jock doing much of the work along with volunteers. The goal is to have a place to house the retreats as well as to be available to groups in St. Louis. As I write Jock is headed to the UK for the annual L’Abri trustees meetings where the international work will be discussed. Fruitfulness brings business though, and we would appreciate prayer for all that we juggle.
Our most significant need is for help to do all that needs to be done. Logan was a great asset to Jock with his many skills in repairs, building and cooking, and we feel his leaving keenly. We also need more help with the meals, as Tabby and I have been carrying the meal load. We are thankful for all that we did get done with the students this year, and for their kind and willing attitudes. We have had folk from various demographics, ages and nationalities including a Russian and a Taiwanese this week, all making for a fascinating diversity of experience. Recently John and Day Hodges came with their students from the Centre for Western Studies, and we had a lovely time together, including a night out at Garrison Keillor’s Prairie Home Companion live show in Rochester. It was a great show and we now feel more truly Minnesotan.
As we look back on this year there are a number of folk that come to mind that are still struggling with addiction and health issues. Please pray for those who have come and gone and are still far from where they need to be; we cannot mention them by name but they would appreciate your prayers.
This Christmas we will rest and enjoy time with family, Tabby in Florida and the McGregors in Virginia with Jock’s sister. We pray that this Christmas, together with all Christians, we would remember with wonder the Christ child whose meekness and majesty brings light to the world.
Yours in Christ,
Alison McGregor

October, 2014

“Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits – who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”           - Psalm 103:2-5

Dear Friends,

In this season we have much to be thankful for, not least of which is the arrival of an unexpected and very generous gift from the parent of a previous student, who graciously donated a large sum of money to cover the cost of replacing the roof of the L’Abri house, which was badly in need of repair. It was wonderful to see how God provided, in his timing and his way, in response to our prayers, as the roof had been getting more and more weathered and had just begun to leak a little before this much-needed gift arrived!

We had a good second summer term; our group of students were serious about their studies, and it was lovely to see them growing in knowledge and insight and benefiting from their time here. As we had a number of guys staying with us, Jock was able to complete some projects around the property, like staining the deck and also painting some of the siding on the McGregors’ house. My sister Julia and a good friend of mine from college were able to come visit near the beginning of August, and it was lovely to see both of them. Julia is a professional cellist, and she and I had the opportunity to play a short concert for the students, which was a lot of fun.   

Toward the end of the term, I was able to give my first in-house lecture since becoming a worker. I presented on the topic of a biblical doctrine of Scripture, drawing from Kevin DeYoung’s book Taking God at His Word.  After preparing for the lecture and realizing how much work had to go into it, I must say I am much more appreciative of the lecturers who come in on Friday nights to present on various topics! I am thankful that the students seemed to enjoy my talk and were able to glean something helpful out of it. What people think about the Bible and its authority can be a hotly debated topic, but it is certainly a very important one in our day, and many students come to L’Abri with questions surrounding this issue.

We’ve been pleased with the Friday lecture series this term, which was generally well attended. Our speakers covered a wide range of topics, from a Christian perspective on organic farming, to global movements of Muslims to Christ, to an update on the pro-life movement in Minnesota.

Now that the term has ended, we have a few days to catch up on administrative work and rest a little before going down to Missouri to host our two-week Fall Retreat at the Ebenezer Retreat Center outside of St. Louis. At the end of the two weeks, we will be putting on a one-day conference at Westminster Christian Academy in St. Louis, essentially a shorter version of the February conference we held in Rochester earlier this year. Please pray that a good number of people will register in the coming weeks. We have had some registrations come in already, but would love for there to be a fuller turn-out.

In the midst of the good news, there have been some sobering reminders of what it means to live in a fallen world; several people I knew from growing up in my church in Florida have experienced devastating and unexpected losses recently, and I am reminded that in the face of loss and sorrow there is a real longing and ache for the permanent joy, peace, love, and fellowship we will experience only in heaven. We long for the day when God will wipe away all our tears, when we will see Him face to face and no longer deal with the struggles of living in a world broken by sin and its consequences. But in the mean time, the Lord comforts us with the assurance that as He has not spared his own Son but gave Him up on our behalf, therefore will he not graciously provide for us all that we need? So we walk by faith, trusting that He is with us, that He knows us, loves us, and is for us.

We are thankful for the very real, practical examples of His care we have experienced at the Rochester L’Abri this term. Please pray that we will walk more deeply trusting him and being bold to share His truth and love with those the Lord sends us.

Yours in Christ,
Tabby Yang   

July, 2014 

"So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. .......... These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ."    -   Colossians 2:6-8,17

Like many who come to L'Abri, I grew up in a Christian family and with many Christian traditions. While many were good, some were not and when they became legalistic my rebellious nature swung the other way. But at L'Abri I found a reality that I had been looking for, not based on tradition but on Christ. And now, many years later we also long to welcome those who are looking for ultimate reality, even if they are not aware of it.

There is much in this world that is unreal it seems to me, when so much emphasis is placed on image rather than substance, on impressions rather than actualities. Virtual reality, 'reality TV', Twitter, Facebook and the list could go on - all these things rob our daily life of long and thoughtful conversation, substitute real relationship with passing connection. Disconnection can be a way of life that we are too distracted to notice. The church too can sadly feel unreal at times, when struggles and challenges are hidden behind a façade of clichéd looks and pleasantries. Relationships can be superficial at church, just as in social media and we need to not have a blind eye to our own practice of unreality. It is easy to rely on the legalistic practice of tradition rather than the living God. In all aspects of life we can become captive to 'deceptive philosophy and human tradition' if our actions are left unconsidered in the light of Christ's life. Schaeffer too felt this at one time, as he writes of his 'attic experience' in True Spirituality:

"Gradually, however, a problem came to me – the problem of reality. This had two parts: first, it seemed to me that among many of those who held the orthodox position, one saw little reality in the things that the Bible so clearly says should be the result of Christianity. Second, it gradually grew on me that my own reality was less than it had been in the early days after I had become a Christian. I realized that in honesty I had to go back and rethink my whole position."

Then in 'Two Contents, Two Realities'; "It is the central things of the Word of God which make Christianity Christianity. These we must hold tenaciously, and, even when it is costly for us and even when we must cry, we must maintain that there is not only an antithesis of truth, but an antithesis that is observable in practice. Out of a loyalty to the infinite-personal God who is there and who has spoken in Scripture, and out of compassion for our own young people and others, we who are evangelicals dare not take a halfway position concerning truth or the practice of truth."

At L'Abri when people come to stay we find that they are often disconnected from the present time and space and the people around them. We are always fighting the battle to get them to disconnect from their smartphones and to be present in the community, and though this is a challenge we find that the longing for reality is still there and deeply felt. Without Christ reality is often illusory, it is logically so. Yet with him we can engage reality, with clear vision, honesty, courage and truth. Truth and reality must go together otherwise things become meaningless. In a fallen world this is our challenge to keep checking to make sure that we are connected to Christ and His reality, His Truth.

Our times of prayer together on a Monday are often a good time for this as we share, reflect on a scripture, and come into the presence of God as a community. We often hear of answers to prayer, but we also are called to forebear when we need to wait patiently as well as groan with longing. A few weeks ago we experienced a rather dramatic answer to prayer as Jock mentioned that we were going to have to take a large pay cut for June and then after the meeting went to check the mail and found a check that covered our expenses and meant we could be paid in full. God’s timing reminds us clearly of his active, engaged reality. There are also things that we are still praying for, such as the ability to do much needed but expensive building repairs. We are also longing for change in the hearts and minds of students who have spent some time with us and are still yet to acknowledge Christ as Lord. Having strangers in our homes is a joy and a challenge, and we are recouping from a challenging term. Numbers were lower than normal but many of the few we had staying had significant issues. We are thankful though to have had Mark and Terri Ryan (from the Francis Schaeffer Institute) stay for a week at the end of term and for a great 4th of July celebration on the property as we had at least 30 come for s'mores and watching the Rochester fireworks from our fabulous viewpoint which I recently landscaped. Jock has done a great deal in preparation for the Feb. conference and will announce the theme soon. We also have a good line-up for the Friday lecture series for the term starting in August and we are thankful all the interest there has been for these.

Please do pray for us all to have the courage to live in the light of Reality, being honest about all that is truly good and beautiful, and honest about our sinful, weak and insufficient behaviour, bodies and minds. It is only in Christ that we have hope, but it is a hope that is real, and true.
Let me close with this further reminder from F.A.S;

 "There are indeed many reasons why we should go on living, and the largest one is that God really is there, He really does exist, and He made us for Himself.  Knowing that He is there, and therefore that we do not live in a silent universe, changes everything. To know that we can speak and that there is Someone who will answer fills the vacuum of life that would otherwise be present. And then, when we realize His love for us as individuals - that Christ really did die for us as individuals, for us personally - life is entirely different.

It is wonderful to know that because He is infinite, He can care for us as though no one else was present in the universe.  Because He is infinite, He never gets confused.  And as Jesus so beautifully put it, the Good Shepherd knows His sheep by name."

With love from,
Alison McGregor

May, 2014

"For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people.  It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good."
- Titus 2: 11-14

Dear Friends,

I wish you could have a soundtrack along with this letter, as I am sitting outside listening to the birds loud songs of joy that Spring has finally arrived in Minnesota. This has been a long hard winter and everybody is ready for some warmth in this fifth month of the year. I often feel that this place would be perfect were it not for the weather - but no place gets to be exactly what we long for, not in the 'not yet' time in which we live. The bird song carries with it the longing we all feel as we wait, with glimpses of glory being a foretaste of all that is to come. Even the chickens at my feet are looking for something more, with each tasty morsel only increasing their desire.

In a few days we will be once again opening our doors for another 2 month Summer Term. It is good to be back home and in the old routine, as the last month has been very busy - with going to England for the Members Meeting in Greatham and then after returning, heading to Missouri for our St Louis Spring Retreat and more work on the retreat center. Returning home on the 9 hour car ride I was reflecting on what lay ahead and how so much is dependent on how the Lord leads and provides. Going down the freeway, hurtling forward while sitting still, I realized that it is similar to traveling into an unknown future - time rushing forward even if we just sit and reflect. With time we do not know what lies ahead and we look, hoping to get a glimpse of what will unfold, aware of many things on our hearts and our complete dependence on our God who is in the driving seat of time and history.

We would ask you to pray for the students that are coming this term, as a number have quite serious issues with histories of addiction. In L'Abri we are finding this to be a growing problem for the folk who come and we spent time discussing this issue at the meetings in England. Just this week the increase in drug addiction was addressed in the headlines of the local paper, as cheap heroin is flooding into the cities and is the drug of choice after prescription painkillers. Users are often kids from the mainstream, upper-middle class, and these folk are making their way to L'Abri . We are on a steep learning curve and as we have prayed that the Lord would send the people of his choice we are trying to serve these folk with love, wisdom and a great deal of supernatural dependence. Can I ask you to pray specifically for us in this? For protection, wisdom and strength. Only the Grace of God is sufficient for these young folk and we pray that they will turn from self-destruction and enter into the hope that only Christ can offer.

We have also been waiting on several things in the 'pipeline' that would help the work significantly into the future and we are so aware of our needs and the gap in our resources, both physically and financially. These things are somewhat out of our control and we are waiting on the way forward to open. If we look back 'down the road' we see that God in His grace has already provided us with so much over the years and so we trust that this place of dependence is a good place to be and we are also very thankful that we have so much to share. The property may need repair in places but hopefully our homes are warm with love and care and the presence of God himself. The beauty of the woods, the wonderful view downtown, the birds and myriad creatures around, are all balm for the soul of those he brings and we, along with the birds, sing our thanks.

Please pray with us, that as we meet each week on Monday to pray with the students, that they themselves would see  real, practical answers to prayer, for themselves and for L'Abri and in so doing learn that we do indeed have a God who truly hears and answers prayers. We constantly need the reminder to keep God in the 'driving seat', asking him for leading and direction as we endeavor together with the students to act faithfully, with obedience to the life he has called us to.

With thanks in Christ,
Alison McGregor

March, 2014

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us."     2 Corinthians 4:7-9

Dear friends,
As I sit writing this letter, it’s a beautiful sunny day in Minnesota, and outside, everything is blanketed in white after a blizzard last week that dumped 10 inches of snow and knocked out power in a number of places around town. We’re thankful the blizzard came Thursday and not over the weekend of the conference, although bad weather in other parts of the country that weekend did make traveling for some of our speakers and attendees difficult.
We experienced a number of “bumps in the road” in the week leading up to the conference, as one of our scheduled speakers, Doug Groothuis, wrote saying he would not be able to come, due to his wife’s poor health, and several other speakers experienced delays in their travel plans due to snow on the east coast. Additionally, the Wednesday before the conference, the septic system at the L’Abri house backed up and flooded part of the basement, which meant that in the midst of last-minute conference preparations, Jock and our helper Logan were wading around downstairs in their boots, cleaning up the mess.
Thankfully, despite the craziness, the Lord nevertheless blessed us with several dozen more attendees than last year, and many commented on how much they had enjoyed and been edified by the talks and the fellowship. One attendee expressed this well when she wrote, “In spite of weather, changed plans, and hundreds of details unknown to most of us, it seems like truth was spoken, relationships grew, and I think/hope God’s kingdom was honored and built.”
We were happy to have a few new additions to the group of conference speakers this year, including Dr. Zack Eswine,  author of Sensing Jesus: Life and Ministry as a Human Being, and senior pastor at Riverside Church in Webster Groves, Missouri, and also Ellis Potter, a former worker at Swiss L’Abri, whose new book, Three Theories of Everything, was much appreciated by conference attendees. In addition, Dr. Bill Edgar, professor of apologetics at Westminster Theological Seminary, gave a plenary and several workshops, and performed a lovely jazz concert on Friday evening, along with a number of other talented musicians, including the wonderful jazz vocalist Ruth Naomi Floyd.
Jock and Alison and I enjoyed seeing a number of familiar faces over the weekend. I was especially glad to see my friends Phillip Johnston and Laura Neef, who were helpers with me during my time at English L’Abri. Phillip recently spent six months as a short-term worker at Southborough L’Abri.
Our spring term will start up in less than a week, and we have a small group of students booked in so far. Please pray that they will benefit from their time here, and that the Lord will give us wisdom to know how to help them.  I find that one of the challenges as a worker is to find a balance between expending oneself on behalf of the students while also making time for personal rest and reflection. It’s important to avoid being overly self-protective, while at the same time not shouldering more than one can carry. Thank you all for your prayers and support as we engage in this work; it is encouraging to know that we are not alone, and that in addition to a Savior who knows and cares for us, we have a network of brothers and sisters in Christ who are interceding before Him on our behalf.

Yours in Christ,
Tabby Yang

January, 2014                                                                                                             

Dear Friends,
"And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ"        Philippians 1:6
With a new year before us, I thought a more 'newsy' prayer letter might be in order.
Last year was a very full year, and one in which God graciously re-affirmed that what he had begun in Rochester L'Abri, He clearly wants to continue.
Some of you may remember that the previous few years had seen a drop in the numbers of those coming to L'Abri  (probably a 'lag effect' of the economic downturn and increasing student debt) but last year saw us return to good student numbers - the greatest number ever, in fact! And whilst L'Abri has always been a ministry of small things committed to serving the 'one's and two's' that God sends, and it has never been about numbers - yet, to see this beautiful property buzzing and the continued interest in folk seeking out our small shelter, is enormously encouraging for the future. God can use us yet!
2013 also saw God's continued provision. Foremost, in our delightful colleague Tabby Yang. She has been with us over a year now and has filled the L'Abri house with her quiet, gentle spirit and her beautifully creative presence. Students love her sense of fun and her ready ear - not to mention her delicious cooking. Good colleagues to help shoulder the burdens of L'Abri ministry are priceless - but it is good also to see young folk growing in their delight and love of this precious ministry. Finances were also much better last year - still bumping along - but not as nerve-wracking as the previous year. In this respect, our supporters (you very much included) are an ever-present and tangible part of this work.
One of the highlights of the year was our annual February Conference. The theme (the equal dignity of all people) was highly relevant and our speakers did a terrific job tying everything together and leading us wisely and Biblicaly through the minefields of diversity, race, gender and (most topically) sexual-orientation. Once again, we reprised this Conference in the Fall down in St. Louis and, although numbers were disappointing, it had a wonderful impact on those who came (a good number of Gays included). Ann Mobley's workshop on 'When someone you love is Gay' was especially helpful and I'm delighted that her book "If I Tell You I'm Gay, Will You Still Love Me?" has now been published (available through Amazon). With 'Gay Marriage' now the latest 'civil rights' issue, it has never been more important for Christians to speak into this issue with clarity, with conviction and with compassion.
2013 had its low moments too. Dear Mrs. Schaeffer ended her race in April and left a huge hole in our hearts and in this ministry. Thankfully, her example lives on and we were very grateful for the beautiful Memorial service in her honor. Alison's MS continues to provide a daily challenge - but one she bears with grace and spiritual maturity and one that provides a wonderful example to many of our students who have to struggle with illness and suffering. Thankfully she continues to be able to contribute fully to the ministry and even a bout with breast cancer at the end of the year was happily resolved. Of course, we do rely a great deal on good helpers, especially when these medical issues weigh heavily, and here too the Lord marvelously provided - especially during Alison's Radiation treatment, where a string of very able young gals made all the difference.
And so with thankful hearts we look forward to what 2014 will bring.
The February conference is looming, the brochures are out and the speakers are preparing. Over the past year many of us in L'Abri have re-visited Dr. Schaeffer's seminal work "True Spirituality" and then, when I heard that Bill Edgar had just written a book on Dr. Schaeffer's sprituality, I knew what the theme should be. So, on Feb 14 & 15, we will gather at the Kahler Grand Hotel in Rochester to hear some 20 speakers on the topic "To Walk Humbly with your God: True Spirituality in an Age of Counterfeits". The full brochure can be downloaded at and this year we are pleased to offer on-line registration and payment by credit-card. Although this costs a little more, many people have already signed up in this more convenient fashion. Even if you cannot come, do put the word out as I think we will have another great Conference this year.
We are also looking forward to another good year of ministry in the St. Louis area. Construction of the Ebenezer Retreat Centre continues slowly as funds allow, and has now reached the stage where we can host our L'Abri Retreats there, since the North wing of the building is finished and has enough space for us to function well enough. Thus last year we held three Retreats there and will do so again this year. These L'Abri Retreats are an extension of the Rochester work and enable us to give a 'taste' of L'Abri to those in the St. Louis region during the times when things are slower here in Rochester. Our many friends at Covenant Seminary and the Francis Schaeffer Institute are valuable co-workers in this aspect of our L'Abri work and we usually see one or two of them during a typical Retreat. Needless to say, with Larry & Nancy now living in St. Louis we can now also count on their support in these activities. They both played a key role in organizing the last St. Louis Conference and Larry's construction skills have already been well used on the Retreat Centre!
For the rest, there will be our usual student terms up here in Rochester (the dates are on the website), the regular Friday night lectures, the Tuesday evening film discussions and then the never-ending stream of guests, helpers, former students, and others from the local area that always seem to keep our home life full even during the 'breaks'. All of which, though small and 'bitty', God seems more than able to use for His Glory and towards the 'completion' of that good work he is doing in us and in the lives of those he sends.
Thank you for your faithful and generous support in all this.
Yours in Christ,
Jock McGregor

October, 2013

Whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”   Gal.6:8,9
Dear Friends,
Life here at L'Abri has provided a rare moment of space for catch up as we regroup and prepare for our November term. The August/September term feels a long time ago, but it was a wonderful time of encouragement that I would like to share.  We had a good number of students, some for the whole term as well as two Swiss and a Moldavian, along with folk from all over the country. We felt in particular the hand of God orchestrating the folk who came as they were a real blessing to each other. Many were musical and impromptu singing was often heard along with jamming and sharing compositions. The Spirit was at work with the timing and teaching and all left having tasted the reality of a good God. I personally felt this as well, as I was having to undergo radiation for very early stage breast cancer. We had two very mature, experienced helpers who filled in cooking my meals, as well as serving with sweet spirits and willing hearts. This was a great encouragement to us as humanly the term seemed before time to be very daunting but it was in reality a blessing. I remember fondly the last evening of term in my kitchen as all the remaining students jumped in to do the dishes together and sang a song which had become the anthem for the term. Such love and laughter filled our home and I felt as though it was Jock and I who were receiving abundantly from those we were serving. There was little time at the end of term before Jock, Tabby, Liz and Logan headed down to the Ebenezer Retreat Centre in Missouri to run a 2 week L'Abri Retreat.  As Tabby and Liz cooked, Logan used his building experience to help Jock with moving the building along. Students came and responded to their time with great encouragement. As soon as it was over it was time for the second L'Abri Conference in St. Louis, which was a repeat of many of the February conference talks. It went very well, helping those that came but the numbers were a little disappointing. Larry and Nancy helped with many aspects using their years of experience and it was lovely to have that continuity.
Meanwhile I was carrying on with my seven weeks of radiation treatment here, being providentially cared for by a student, Naomi who stayed on and became a great blessing to me. She found the time a real help for herself too as she was able to concentrate on her studies. It does feel as though these last few months have been a vivid experience of receiving as well as giving. Often I think that I should chose between the two but the Lord has us live in a more active tension. It seems as though the healthy dynamic is one where we are both giving and receiving, living with open hands. Rather than being depleted and left empty, (which is what I always fear) the Lord provides with "streams of living water" and I am reminded again and again that rather that holding on tight in fear of losing I need to hold out my hands always open to receiving, holding loosely to the need to be self protective. God's Grace is a real practical reality that is not limited and is to be shared. Just when I feel that I have nothing to give, he gives generously and these last months have been a true blessing in a challenging time. Thankfully, in regard to the cancer, I have a great long term prognosis (98%) and hopefully I can now put this treatment all behind me.
As we look forward to the November term we are anticipating very full houses with 14-16 coming in the first 2 weeks. Logan will stay on as a helper and Liz will help part time as well. We honestly don't know how we will manage but we feel a sense of the Lord's faithfulness in providing. He doesn't always give us what we want but He provides sufficient for the day and we know that we are safe in His hands. We would appreciate prayer for the giving to this branch as funds are very low. Please pray that new folk would join the regular donor community and for Jock as he is frequently having to juggle and many larger expenses have been put off for years.  Jock should attend the Trustees meeting early December and will need to buy a ticket soon.
We would also appreciate prayer for a number of former students, whom we have gotten to know well, who are in vulnerable situations and are not doing well. We have an ongoing relationship with folk who are needing help to break free of unhelpful situations and behaviours.  They need prayer for the supernatural activity of God to change what humanly seems impossible. Thankfully our hope is not bound by human limitations. And also, do please pray for the November term. We have such a diversity of students coming and humanly it seems unlikely that they would get along, but God always shows us that he knows what he is doing and the diversity of age, experience and issues is one of the very things that makes this community work.
We do thank you for your prayers; this is still very much a community that carries on the Schaeffers' principles of faith. The supernatural is real, and prayer makes a difference and as the students witness this we pray that both their faith as well as ours would increase.
With very many thanks from us all,

August, 2013

Dear Friends,

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,  not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”  -  Phil. 2:3-4

As I write this prayer letter to you, I feel very thankful for the way the Lord has opened the door for me to serve as a worker at Rochester L’Abri, something I believe He laid on my heart to do after being very much blessed, encouraged, and challenged myself, as a student and then helper at L’Abri. I grew up reading some of Francis Schaeffer’s books, and knew that L’Abri existed, but had no personal desire to visit until five years ago, when a friend told me about her experience as a student at Swiss L’Abri. The concept of a Christian community that spent time discussing big ideas, that wasn’t afraid of people’s questions, and that sought to live out Paul’s admonition to “rejoice with those who rejoice, and mourn with those who mourn,” was very appealing to me. I quickly booked a ticket to the Netherlands, and spent 10 wonderful days at the Dutch L’Abri in Eck en Wiel. I loved the fact that what I found there were Christians who were engaging with culture and with questions about God and the meaning of life. The people I met were thoughtful, caring, and a lot of fun, and the warmth and kindness that I experienced was just what I needed at the time – so much so that I found myself in tears on the plane on my way back to the States.

Three years later, having finished a masters degree in biblical counseling at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, I flew out to the Rochester L’Abri to ask Jock McGregor how I could go about becoming a L’Abri worker and whether he thought it might be a good fit for me. Today I am eight months into life as a L’Abri worker here in Rochester, and have really enjoyed it overall, although it is not without its challenges. One of the struggles that I experience is expressed well by the verse in Philippians that I opened with, which encourages us as believers to “in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.” This is so counter to the culture we find ourselves in, a culture in which self-promotion and selfish ambition are par for the course. And I think it is a real challenge to take Paul’s admonition to heart and practice living in a way that truly values others, seeing them as creatures made in the image of God and worthy of dignity, respect, and love, no matter how different they may be from ourselves. It requires a daily dying to the self, which is not easy, and done only by surrendering our wills before the Lord.  And we need many reminders that our way is not always best (and even if in some cases it is, all we have is by the grace of God and therefore not something to boast about).

I have been thinking about this recently, both as I’ve been interacting with students and as I’ve been reading Edith Schaeffer’s book What is a Family? I think Mrs. Schaeffer and Dr. Schaeffer had a wonderful vision of how we ought to treat one another, given that we are human beings made in God’s image, and how we could encourage love, continuity in relationship, creativity, and thoughtfulness in how we interact with one another.

To that end, I think our students this term are doing well in cultivating such a spirit among the small group we have gathered in our late summer term.  They are asking good questions about such topics as the goodness of God, the Bible as God’s Word, and the relationship between living life as pilgrims and sojourners in the world, yet also putting down roots and contributing something to the culture and the economy of the world that we live in. I have been encouraged to see how among a group that comes from varying backgrounds and experiences, the students are finding ways to care for and support each other. Please pray that the Lord will meet them in the places where they have experienced hurt, broken trust, and other struggles.

Alison has experienced some set-backs in her health recently, but we are thankful for the good care she has available to her at the Mayo Clinic, and also for able helpers like Liz, Sarah, and Heather.  Jock continues to be busy tending with the practical details of caring for the property, as well as planning for future L’Abri conferences, serving in the local church, and organizing our Friday evening lecture series. We had a good visit earlier this month from Dr. David O’Hara, a philosophy professor at Augustana College in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He gave some very good lectures on the Epicurean and Stoic philosophies that were common in the Apostle Paul’s day, and relayed how the impact of some of those philosophical ideas is still being felt in our culture today. He also showed how the Apostle Paul subtly engages with some of those ideas in his epistles, particularly the letter to the church in Philippi. I am grateful for Christians like him who are engaging with philosophy at a high level and who can help us understand how ideas really do have consequences.

Jock and Alison and I are very thankful as well for your faithful prayers and support, without which this work could not continue. Please pray that God will help us to be faithful to Him and will increase our love for the Lord Jesus and for the students who walk through our doors.

Yours in Christ,
July, 2013

Dear Friends,

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
Lam. 3:22-23

The first summer term is over and it feels a relief to come up again for air. 2 months makes for a long term for us as we have just a small team. We ended term with a very full house with many coming and going. There was such a diversity of people including some non-Christians for which we were thankful. I am fortunate in that I now get to be at home resting, but Jock, Tabby and Liz are in Missouri heading up another working retreat on the farm. Various folk have joined them to help and progress is being made. They return early next week when hopefully they will get to rest some as well.
After a long and very rainy Spring we are finally able to enjoy the outdoors and nature seems to be reacting with joy. I am sitting on the deck and baby chickadees, house finches and nuthatches are hopping around, while a few young squirrels, bunnies and chipmunks romp around the lawn. Recently our Friday night lecture was interrupted by cavorting twin fawns on the front lawn (daily visitors) and then again as a racoon climbed up the bird feeder with difficulty. This is a beautiful property, especially in July and nature provides such a wonderful, tangible taste of the goodness of our creator. The students are now better able to enjoy the view as we have opened out the point and now have good views of Rochester from the house. God is indeed good, providing for our needs this year with good numbers of students and Jock has been able to pay the bills at the end of each month. I have been able to cook fewer meals thanks to our wonderful helper Liz and am now doing more of the tutoring, which has been needed with a full house.
We do frequently feel inadequate for all that needs to be done, but particularly for meeting the students in ways would take away the scales and help them to have a substantial and tangible taste of the reality of God. It is a comfort to know that no degree of human talent or winsomeness is effective without the work of the Spirit and that he willingly uses the weak things of the world to accomplish his purposes. Many of the students come with heavy burdens and painful stories and we long for them to experience the love and comfort that Christ extends, it is good to know that even a simple cup of water can be sufficient for a thirsty soul and that is something we can offer. Please pray with us that we would be responsive to the Spirit's leading in meeting the needs of these folk - that we would not give in to a feeling of helplessness. We cannot solve all of people's problems but we can love and care for them and give them a safe space in which to come to God.
We are encouraged by our church, they are a wonderfully supportive body and often help us with practical needs. Someone has offered to pay for the truck repair while another has gone to Missouri with a truckload of furniture to help Jock. This Sunday we are thrilled to be moving into our lovely new church building; our pastor Chris Harper has been preaching the Gospel of Grace each Sunday and the church is growing rapidly. Jock is currently on the session, which keeps him busy but also connected. We also appreciate the faithful support of many around the country that give regularly and are as much a part of God's work here as we are. We are all members of a body, each part is essential as we follow Christ's lead as the head. Please pray that we will stay close to him; listening, following and obeying in the large things and the small, knowing our part to play. Jock is carrying many responsibilities both in the wider international L'Abri work, here in this branch, in our church and in Missouri, please pray for the strength and help he needs with juggling so many things. I would appreciate prayer for my health as I am dealing with non-MS related challenges and am having many medical appointments. This is tiring but I am glad to be receiving such high quality care at the Mayo Clinic, it still amazes me that this is where I get all my medical treatment. Tabby has been keeping a lovely atmosphere in the house with fresh flowers and her high teas have different themes and are wonderfully creative. Please pray for her encouragement as it is never easy to be a single worker and she is overseeing many responsibilities in the main house.        
“The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him;
it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.”
Lam. 3:25-26
With many thanks,
Alison McGregor

May, 2013   

Dear Friends,
“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,
Alison McGregor

March, 2013

Dear Friends,

“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,

January, 2013

“…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

Dear Friends,

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,

November, 2012

“Do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with your God.” Mic 6:8

Dear Friends,

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 )

“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” Rom 12:12

With many thanks,

September, 2012

Dear Friends,

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,
Jock McGregor

August, 2012

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”   2 Cor 12:9

Dear Friends,

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,
Jock McGregor

June, 2012

Dear Friends,

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.

Much Love,
B.J. Roland for L’Abri

May, 2012

"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

Dear Friends,

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
Jock McGregor

March, 2012

“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

Dear friends,
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,
Alison McGregor

December, 2011

Dear Friends,
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  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

November, 2011

Dear Friends,

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,
Jock McGregor

P.S. Download the brochure for the 2012 Rochester L’Abri Conference (Feb. 10&11) at

September, 2011

Dear Friends,

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

August, 2011

Dear friends,

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,
Alison McGregor

December, 2010

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 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


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,

L’Abri Fellowship Rochester
1465 12th Ave. NE
Rochester, MN 55906-4383

(507) 285-5081