Ben and Nickaela Keyes
Ben and Nickaela are members of TCC’s congregation and have been working with L’Abri for 9 years.
What is your ministry?
L’Abri is a place where we try to take all genuine questions seriously. Our foundational belief is that Christianity as found in the Bible is true, and that belief is based on more than a “leap of faith.” We believe that questions and problems about God and life can be discussed rationally and answers sought without having to conclude “blindly” to “take it all on faith.”
What is your role in that ministry?
Nickaela and Ben are both L’Abri ‘workers’ which means they live at L’Abri permanently and offer hospitality to the people that show up on their doorstep. Every staff member at L’Abri does a little bit of everything. We tutor students in their studies, lead prayer meetings, give lectures, prepare meals, coordinate group discussions and organize work crews.
What religious groups do you serve?
We serve mostly people from Christian backgrounds, many of whom are uncertain about what they believe. Some students come to give the Christian faith ‘one more look’ before leaving it. Frequently we have people come who are not Christians at all. We seldom have people who profess other faiths. This is not by design (they would be welcome). We try to respond to whoever God sends us..
What age groups do you serve?
We welcome all people from age 18 up.
What is the country and location of your ministry?
We are located in Southborough, but people come to us from all over the country and from other countries as well. Our prayer is that God would use us to impact our local area to a greater extent.
Briefly describe your current ministry.
L’Abri is a Christian intentional community and study center. L’Abri staff live permanently on the property and our students come and live with us for up to 3 months at a time (we call these blocks ‘terms’ although they do not correspond exactly to school semesters). Our students work for half of the day and study for half of the day. Work consists of practical tasks that make the community life possible; splitting wood, hanging laundry, cleaning, gardening, helping prepare the next meal. Course of study at L’Abri varies depending on the student’s interests and concerns (common topics are: how can God be good when evil is rampant in the world? How can we learn to forgive? How do we seek God’s guidance for our vocations? Is scripture trustworthy? Is the God of the Bible even real? How do we think as Christians about the arts? Are Christian sexual ethics realistic in this day and age? Etc.…). The range of topics is very broad.
In everything we try to present and live out the Christian world-view; yet we are opposed to ‘indoctrinating’ our students with our particular views. Many of our students are sick of being indoctrinated and many of them have questions that have not been dealt with adequately in their churches. Along these lines, students find L’Abri to be unique in its encouragement of open discussion (meal discussions are a crucial part of our work). Our goal is to learn from one another and to instill in one another a hunger for every aspect of God’s Truth.
Nickaela and I have been directors of this branch for just over a year. We have various administrative responsibilities, but much of our work is the same as other staff: teaching, tutoring, organizing work, cooing meals etc.
Tell us one brief story of how God is working in peoples’ lives through your ministry.
There is a man (we’ll call him Mike) that has come to many of our Friday lectures. He has also been a student with us for a brief time, and has even been a guest lecturer for us on three occasions. He is an engineer and lives in Connecticut, but he is a 2nd generation Nigerian. For years the L’Abri Ideas Library (our international online database of lectures) has been a resource to Mike and has helped him to think thoughtfully and biblically about the world around him. In part inspired by L’Abri’s emphasis on discussion he and some friends started a weekly gathering in his home. A meal is served and then a topic is raised for discussion (one resent topic: what does friendship mean in an age of social media?). Over the last 5 years this has grown and has become a thriving tradition in his city; an event which attracts people from a diversity of religious and non-religious backgrounds. It has been an encouragement to see God using our ministry to strengthen Mike’s ministry and vice versa
List specific goals you had for the past year and describe the degree to which they were reached
- More connections with neighbors. This is always our prayer. This December will mark the 2nd year we will be hosting a large art sale for local artists. This has been a wonderful time to connect with local people who have always been curious about the house and what goes on here. We had many God conversations last year and are looking forward to it again.
- Theme weekend events- We recently had a theme weekend on the Reformation. The lectures were on the life and thought of Martin Luther, John Calvin’s commitment to refugees in Geneva, and how Luther’s own marriage helped to change the churches later view of marriage.
- We have almost completed repairs on our back porch, but not quite.
Please update your children’s (thru High School) activities, school / college plans, ages (birth dates), etc.
Ellie and Abby are 10 years old and in 4th grade. They are enjoying the Imago School (classical Christian school in Maynard MA). Noah is 6 and is in the 1st grade at Imago. Everyone seems to be thriving! We can all be found at TCC most Sundays!