by Mark Shaw
Peninsula Fellows Director
What has Peninsula Fellows got to do with the Swiss Alps? At first glance, not a lot. Our locality is a little short on snow-covered mountains and cute mountain chalets. But don't be fooled by appearances. Peninsula Fellows is linked by history to the towering peaks of that land of Saint Bernards and ski resorts.
In his book, To Think Christianly: A History of L'Abri, Regent College, and the Christian Study Center Movement Charles Cotherman draws the family tree of the Fellows movement. At the top of the tree is L'Abri, the legendary Swiss-based ministry of Francis and Edith Schaeffer that transformed so many young people in the 1960s and 70s (and still going on today). The idea of L'Abri ("The Shelter") was to provide a safe place for college-age students (and others) to ask tough but honest questions in the context of a learning community that fed them, loved them and prayed for them. Regent College in Vancouver was founded with some of those same elements, as was the Christian Study Center movement. And one of the recent movements inspired by L'Abri? The Fellows Initiative of which Peninsula Fellows is a part. When John Yates founded the Fellows in Falls Church, VA, in the 1990s, he drew inspiration from all the above sources.
So what? One may ask. We are a long way from the Alps, and it's been a long time since the 1970s. This alpine link is vital for two reasons. First, L'Abri, according to Cotherman, is part of the fellows' DNA. This past year its was such great fun to watch Janie Anderson, Rachel Palekas, Allan Samuels, Kathryn Lott, and Kayla Reesey learn together and live together in community with host families. They also practiced the spiritual disciplines of word and prayer together as a group and as part of PCC. The spirit of L'Abri is alive and well and living in Yorktown.
Secondly, and maybe more importantly, Peninsula Fellows is learning to practice a crucial spiritual discipline of the Schaeffers and L'Abri-- persistent, submissive, corporate prayer. In his book, Cotherman identifies the central prayer that shaped L'Abri. It was prayed daily by hundreds. "Lord, bring us the people of your choice."
As we gear up for year two of Peninsula Fellows and are still recruiting recent graduates for the new cohort, this mountain top prayer must become our own. "Lord, for Peninsula Fellows, bring us the people of your choice."
Would you consider spending five minutes a day during June praying that prayer daily with us and for us? Why? Because it will grow your faith even as it will grow mine. Because it will transform Peninsula Fellows in the year ahead. Because, to a watching world, it will bring more glory and fame to our God, the faithful, caring, almighty God who is there for his people, whether on the tidewater of Virginia or in the Alps of Switzerland.