Recently I had opportunity to reflect on my hippie days in the 60s and 70s, and especially the life-shaping time for Marilyn and me at L’Abri Fellowship in Switzerland. L’Abri was the home of Francis and Edith Schaeffer. (January 30 being Francis Schaeffer’s 100th birthday is all the more reason to relate the following.)
This reflection came in two parts. First, I had the privilege of teaching at the original YWAM base, Chalet-a-Gobet. This center, situated in the hills above Lausanne, Switzerland, was the birthplace of YWAM, founded by Loren and Darlene Cunningham in the late 1960’s. I recall Francis Schaeffer, Udo Middleman, and Os Guinness occasionally traveling there from L’Abri to lecture.
I spent last week at Chalet-a-Gobet teaching in Jim Steir’s Leadership Training School. We had 22 students from eight or nine countries, including five African nations. What a wonderful week of lecture, small-group discussion, and question and answer sessions. It was so reminiscent of our time at L’Abri.
On the wall of Chalet-a-Gobet was a photo of Darlene and Loren Cunningham and the first DTS. I looked at the picture and wondered, Did I really look like that at one time? But immediately I realized, No, I didn’t. The YWAMers in the picture were relatively clean cut. All the young men, my contemporaries, were wearing ties. My own appearance in the 60s and 70s was very different.
This brings me to the second part of the reflection mentioned above.
This morning I was graphically reminded of my appearance 40+ years ago when I received a link to a series of pictures taken while Marilyn and I were at L’Abri. The link came from a dear friend, Messianic Rabbi Hylan Slobodkin. The young people in the pictures are very different from the clean cut YWAMers of the same era. L’Abri was populated by free-spirits wandering the world, looking for truth. “Hippies,” they were called.
The story of how God worked in my life includes two early milestones. The first is my trip to Mexico City as a 19-year-old college student. I saw poverty for the first time and my heart was broken. This began my life-long journey of contributing to the ending of poverty.
The second event took place a few years later when Marilyn and I were students at L’Abri. One snowy February evening over dinner our host, Udo Middleman, looked at me and said, “You know Darrow, Christianity is true, even if you do not believe it!”
That question haunted me for two sleepless nights. I finally realized what he was saying: “Christianity is true, even if you do not believe it, because God exists. It is true to reality.” In that moment I came to understand that I had a born-again heart but an atheistic mind. I needed to be born again, again. This time my mind needed to be born again. I needed to function from a Biblical worldview.
My life has been built at the intersection of worldview and poverty. The poverty milestone came from my trip to Mexico; the worldview milestone view from my time as a Christian hippie at L’Abri.
Our present lives are always born in past seasons.
– Darrow Miller