Edith Schaeffer (1914 – 2013)

Wife of Francis Schaeffer, mother to the many who visited L'Abri

My parents were among the many young people who spent time at L’Abri. I will leave it to my mother to fill in the details: I think I have told you before of my first encounter with Edith Schaeffer, but I would like to do so again. It was the summer of 1972 and John and I were enroute to Toronto, via Geneva, after several weeks in Florence. We decided to travel into the mountains and visit L’Abri on our way home. We were barely converted, and were already trying to sort out various systems of theology. This seemed a good opportunity to investigate the Reformed alternative.
Edith Schaeffer (nee Seville) has gone to be with the Lord at the age of 98. She was born on November 3, 1914 in Wenzhou, China, the child of missionaries associated with China Inland Missions. As a young adult she attended Beaver College in Glenside, Pennsylvania and it was there that she met Francis Schaeffer. The two were married in 1935. Francis subsequently attended Westminster Theological Seminary and went on to pastorates in Pennsylvania and Missouri.

In 1948 the Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions sent the Schaeffers to Switzerland as missionaries. In 1955, after identifying significant disagreements with IBPFM and subsequently withdrawing from that organization, they decided to simply open up their home and make it available as a place to demonstrate God’s love and provide a forum for discussing God and the meaning of life. They called it L’Abri after the French word for “shelter.” By the mid-1950’s up to 30 people each week were visiting.

Edith had an integral role in maintaining the home and mentoring those who visited. She wrote or co-wrote twenty books, including Affliction, a book on suffering, and the autobiographical The Tapestry: the Life and Times of Francis and Edith Schaeffer, each of which received the Gold Medallion Award from the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (in 1979 and 1982 respectively).

My parents were among the many young people who spent time at L’Abri. I will leave it to my mother to fill in the details.

I think I have told you before of my first encounter with Edith Schaeffer, but I would like to do so again. It was the summer of 1972 and John and I were enroute to Toronto, via Geneva, after several weeks in Florence. We decided to travel into the mountains and visit L’Abri on our way home. We were barely converted, and were already trying to sort out various systems of theology. This seemed a good opportunity to investigate the Reformed alternative.

We traveled up the mountain and got off the bus right in front of the Schaeffers’ door. Within a few minutes, Edith had introduced herself to us, and invited us to Sunday lunch. I was amazed that she had time for us, that she truly seemed interested in us in the brief minutes we had with her. But she truly won my heart with the following little incident.

Read More