Francis A. Schaeffer (1912-1984) had written no books or popular articles in those early years.1 He made no broadcasts or tape-recorded messages in his early ministry.2 Yet by the end of the decade Schaeffer's remote chalet had become a place of refuge for young people searching for answers to life's deepest and most troubling questions. This phenomenon would come to be known world-wide as “L'Abri” (French for “the shelter”).
Rev. Louis Gifford Parkhurst, Jr., who served the Schaeffers as their pastor in the last years of Dr. Schaeffer's life, describes L'Abri's beginning:
L'Abri began in a very real way with Priscilla [Schaeffer's daughter] on the weekend of May 6, 1955. She brought home from college a girl who had many questions, and so began the flow of people. L'Abri came to be a spiritual “shelter” for people with real and honest questions. God's hand was so obviously in the work that Dr. Schaeffer courageously wrote his mission board on June 5 and resigned. He asked that all salary be cut off immediately, and he told of the beginning of L'Abri Fellowship. The Schaeffers had had the reality of the existence of God demonstrated to them in real ways up to that point, and L'Abri was begun simply from a desire “to demonstrate the existence of God by our lives and our work.” 3From this humble beginning Schaeffer's work began to grow and to attract attention. In the late 1960s Schaeffer began to speak at American colleges like Wheaton in 1967 and, later, at Westminster Seminary. By the end of the decade and the beginning of the next Schaeffer was speaking at Harvard (1968), Princeton (1972) and Yale (1973) as well as some prestigious universities in Europe and Asia.4 It was during this same period that Schaeffer began to publish his lectures in book form.