High in the Alps of Switzerland is a village called Champrey. It was there that Francis and Edith Schaeffer settled in the years when Europe was recovering from the devastation of W.W.II. Students traveled to Champrey from all over the world. They came to ski and hike in the beautiful mountains surrounding the village. The Shaeffers opened their home to travelers at no cost to offer shelter, meals, tea and conversation. Along with the hospitality they also offered stimulating dialog about Christianity.
In time the skiing and hiking became secondary to the discussion of the great questions of life. Many of the students who came to L’Abri were young people who had been exposed to the attacks of skeptics and agnostics in the great universities of the world. These young people needed a place of shelter and reflection. They needed a retreat so they could advance in their understanding of the world-view to which they were being exposed.
Francis was a Christian teacher and apologist. In other words he was gifted at helping people work through hard questions about the Christian faith. Edith was a homemaker with a gift for hospitality and a writer and communicator in her own right.
The ministry grew until one by one it was necessary to buy additional properties for housing and hospitality. They founded a ministry and called L’Abri. L’Abri means “shelter” in French. Soon students came to L’Abri from around the world to study and dialog about the unique claims of Christianity.
Students who came to L’Abri were often changed for life by the encounter. Truth has the power to do that. But there was something more happening in that Swiss village than indoctrination in truth. There was another factor that had a powerful effect on the students who came there from every corner of the globe. Upon reflection each of them agreed that their study of the truth had a profound influence upon them. Each of them was influenced by the truth of Francis’ teaching, whether it was via live discussion or tape recording.
But the other factor was the warm Christian hospitality served up in generous portions around the fireplace in the various chalets that housed L’Abri. The dynamic working at L’abri was equal parts of powerful truth mixed with warm Christian hospitality. Equal parts love and light.
Millions of people in America and around the world are in the grips of spiritual bondage and in the darkness of spiritual blindness. They need Christian people around them who know how to use a powerful secret weapon that is surprisingly effective in spiritual warfare.
The way a guest at L’Abri once put it; “The L’Abri experience was life-changing, but I’m not sure what had the most influence, it may have been Francis’ teaching or it may have been Edith’s brownies.” That’s the power of Christian hospitality. Paul wrote; “The weapons of our warfare are mighty through God to pull down strongholds.” That includes brownies.
(From Stonebridge Newsletter – Number 38)