Review: L’Abri

Rating: ★★★★★

Author: Edith Schaeffer, co-founder of L’Abri, American missionary to Switzerland with her husband, Francis Schaeffer, and their three children. Edith and Francis Schaeffer spent several years serving the Presbyterian church in Missouri and in writing children’s materials as missionaries before they stumbled into a mission to reach Europe’s intelligentsia, which became their full-time vocation and lifelong focus. Edith’s books are very different in tone from those of her husband—but they are at least as good, if not better.

Overview:

L’Abri is the personal faith journey of Edith and Francis Schaeffer, as narrated by Edith. (I hope she doesn’t mind being on a first-name basis, since there are a lot of published Schaeffers.) Like all the great classics of inspirational biography—like God’s Smuggler, Francke’s autobiography, or Pierson’s biography of Müller—the entire narrative turns on specific moments of answered prayer and scriptural guidance. Clearly, God guided the Schaeffers to leave church leadership in Missouri and embark on an innovative and eclectic mission to the travelers and students of Switzerland. At first, they were in Switzerland as Presbyterian missionaries who also wrote children’s ministry materials; later, their mission gained focus as God guided them to establish themselves in Huemoz, which was a hot spot for young travelers.

Meat:

There are many moments of supernatural guidance in L’Abri. Sometimes, one feels that the Schaeffers knew that God would answer their prayers, without a shadow of a doubt. At other times, our narrator doesn’t seem so sure, but God still answers and proves his faithfulness.

Overall, this is one of the most inspirational biographies that I have ever read, and it is also fast-moving and easy to read. I would recommend it to anyone.

Bones:

As I mentioned in my review of Edith’s book, Affliction, Affliction and L’Abri are two books that should ideally be read in sequence. The story of L’Abri may come off as overly optimistic and polished; Christians in times of affliction may feel inspired, but wonder, “is it really so easy?” Affliction balances that by narrating many of the difficulties and challenges to Edith’s faith that came up during her years at L’Abri, and how she and Francis grew in their faith both in spite of and because of those difficulties.

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