Simply put, Mrs. Schaeffer was a remarkable woman. She lived in a turbulent time and ministered to thousands alongside her talented husband. The daughter of Chinese missionaries, Edith met Francis at a church event on a summer Sunday evening in 1932. From that day forward they were partners in both life and ministry.
Books have been written about Francis, a man who was brave and bold. I was always particularly impressed with his devotion to protect the unborn innocents. He challenged the liberal theologians of his day, namely those who suggested that man, not God, was the measure of all things.
But what of his other half? There is so much to share about this hero of the faith, but here are six things that a colleague of mine recently shared with me that I think you should know about the late Edith Schaeffer:
1. Edith devoted herself to her family. She once wrote, “How precious a thing is the human family. Is it not worth some sacrifice in time, energy, safety, discomfort, work? Does anything come forth without work?" Among other things, she described the family as a birthplace of creativity, a shelter through life’s storm, a place of education and a museum of memories.
2. Edith was a champion of hospitality, working hard to make the L’Abri Fellowship, co-founded by her and Francis, a place of respite, where people could go to consider Christian ideas, ask questions and receive hospitality. She regularly wrote letters to friends of L’Abri and had guests from around the world join her for weekly Sunday evening “High Tea.”
3. Edith encouraged creative, artistic expression in her children. She said, “Each person has, I believe, some talent which is unfulfilled in some hidden area of his being – a talent which could be expressed and developed.” Edith spent lots of time showing her children beauty in art, music and stories. In his own tribute, Edith’s son recalled “the many hours my mother had read so many wonderful books to me out loud. She was such a glorious reader.”
4. Edith actively refreshed the lost art of homemaking. She encouraged Christian wives to make meal times about more than just serving and eating food, but something like the “feeling of painting a picture or writing a symphony.” She wrote, “There needs to be a homemaker exercising some measure of skill, imagination, creativity, desire to fulfill needs and give pleasure to others in the family.” Edith’s son said his mom served every meal he ever ate at home as a child with candles and flowers on the table and made “the simplest family time an event.”
5. Edith was a kind and gentle mother. She once wrote, “Children are meant to understand compassion and comfort because they have received compassion and comfort – and this should be in the family setting. A family should be a place where comfort is experienced and understood, so that the people are prepared to give comfort to others.”
6. Edith was a prayer warrior. In her book, The Life of Prayer, she wrote, "Prayer is a very personal and private communication with God, pouring out our repentance and sorrow for sin, it is also to be a constant connection with God, an unbroken communication, a means of receiving assurance as to how to go on in this next hour in our work, and our means of receiving guidance. Prayer is also to be our means of receiving sufficient grace and strength to do what we are being guided to do."
Her son tells a touching story of their last words together:
“Mom understood me and tried to speak when I said my last ‘I love you.’ I knew what she was trying to say. It’s the phrase she spoke most to me over my 60 year journey on this earth so far. I answered her thought, and I said, ‘Thank you, I know you love me and I love you too Mom.’ The day before Mom died my last words to her were ‘I want you to know your prayers for your family have been answered. I credit every moment of joy to your prayers.’”
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