The Scripture teaches that much can come from little if the little is truly consecrated to God. There are no little people and no big people in the true spiritual sense, but only consecrated and unconsecrated people. . . . Those who think of themselves as little people in little places, if committed to Christ and living under His Lordship in the whole of life, may, by God's grace, change the flow of our generation.
(Francis Schaeffer, No Little People)
You can mount whatever critique you will of Francis and Edith Schaeffer --- whether dismantling his apologetics or noting their human foibles --- but it is unlikely that you would find anyone who would argue that they were anything but compassionate and loving toward the least regarded of human beings, that they treated everyone the same. Even one of their harshest and most strident critics, their son, Frank Schaeffer, is forced to note their sacrificial love for other people, their compassionate and generous spirit. Frank tells of how his parents were late for a function with many dignitaries because Edith spent time in the Washington, D.C. hotel with the chambermaid, and this was not unusual for either of them, as whoever God placed in their path they regarded as the image of God to them. For this reason (and others) they were habitually late, giving preference to divine over human appointments.
I never met Francis Schaeffer, as he died in 1984, but I did meet Edith at a L'Abri Conference in Rochester, Minnesota in December 1992. I asked her to autograph a copy of L'Abri for me. In characteristic style she took the whole front endflap of the book for an autograph, drawing a picture of the Alps, trees, birds, and flowers, garnishing it a florid signature. More than that, she had regard for me, talked to me, made me feel as if no one else was there while she asked about my visit and my family at home. I felt like a little person at this conference, not able to articulate anything about faith and life as well as the many others there, but after I met her I realized it didn't really matter. I was no longer little. There are no little people.
In meeting several L'Abri Workers and Members (those significantly involved with the Schaeffers, meaning they actually lived and worked in their home), it's apparent that this compassionate love and generous regard for others has been passed on by their teaching and example. I have been fed, housed, and given generous amounts of priceless time by strangers who, when they speak of the Schaeffers, obviously owe them a debt of love, have been forever changed by their example. I have never felt diminished by their presence, nor have they seemed anything but humble. Note that I didn't say they were perfect. To the contrary, their imperfections --- whether Francis's short-temper or moodiness or Edith's high-octane perfectionist tendency --- were on display and a matter of confession. All the dirty laundry, such as it was, was known, much as if they had strung a clothesline across the lawn of Chalet le Meleze with it flapping in the wind.
There was no conspiracy to cover up the sins of Francis and Edith Schaeffer, just a conspiracy of love and regard, of learned compassion, to let "love cover a multitude of sins" (1 Pet. 4:8). To the extent Frank Schaeffer speaks truthfully of his parents, he speaks of things those who knew them were apparently well aware of. They were Christ-like sinners, their lives a practical demonstration of the love and mercy shown them by God. They spent most of their lives in small churches or in a small village. Their ministry had little money, no grand buildings, and little material possessions. And most of the world (and likely more than half of the evangelical world) do not even know they existed.
The more I look at the Schaeffers' lives, the more I listen to others talk about them, and even the more I reflect on the cynicism of their own son, the more regard I have for them. I see their Christ-like example wherever I go. I heard it tonight, watching the recently released movie, "Horton Hears a Who," in Suess's "A person's a person, no matter how small." I don't idolize them. They were just two people living in a little place barely a village, called Huemoz, with lives steeped in the mundane tasks we all have --- the dishes, the meals, the plumbing, and more --- and their time in the limelight a flash in the pan for most. But they were not little, not in a little place or doing little things. And by God's grace neither am I.