Author Archives: Karen Shogren

Member Care!

In any venture the people are its most valuable resource. Wise business leaders know that taking care of their employees will retain those resources and increase productivity. This should come as no surprise, since God tells us that we were designed to live in a mutually supportive community. The “one anothers” of the New Testament tell us help other toward both godliness and kingdom productivity.

For missionaries that gets a bit complicated. We have moved away from our state-side Christian communities, where we had pastors, counselors, Amazon online for Christian resources delivered to our door and friends in our Sunday School class who could help out with meals in a crisis or just an empathetic listening ear. In our host country we may or may not have access to those types of resources. Add to that our unique set of challenges as we must live and work between two worlds, and you have a recipe for missionary melt-down. It happens all too often. Continue reading

April 2014 Update

We still need to raise $973 per month, which will bring us to 100% in all areas: living expenses, work expenses, and remaining debt to the mission. We still have a special gift from Cuba that will go to the person who puts us over the top!
Interested donors can contact WorldVenture by clicking and looking up our name. Click MAKE A COMMITMENT for a regular donation or GIVE NOW for a one-time donation to our Ministry Account.

Prayer Needs:
1. For Sammy, especially his education
2. For Gary as he balances teaching, writing a Spanish-language commentary on Romans, and serving as academic dean.
3. For Karen as she balances teaching Sammy, ESEPA work, and moving her

Blessings! Gary and Karen


Update from Karen

We are working through some major family issues. The most worrisome is that Sammy is having trouble in school, due to behavioral issues that can probably be traced to his early environment. Local public schools lack the supervision and education quality we need, and Costa Rica isn’t very open to homeschooling. We are further pressured by limited resources and time to implement a decision. Please pray for God’s wisdom, strength, and provision.
Then there is my mom’s health. Thelma broke her knee about 2 months ago, and she came to Costa Rica for a month with us during her recovery. Continue reading

2012 for Karen

In the last newsletter I went into detail on this year’s ministry highlights for me.  So instead of a repetitive repeat, this is what I have to say at the end of 2012:

Thank you, thank you, thank you!  My heart is overflowing with thanks these days!  There are so many people to thank regarding so many blessings in our lives!  This is by no means a complete list or in any kind of order, it’s just my best attempt at conveying our gratitude to God (and you) for what He’s done all around us in the last 12 months.

  • Thank you everyone who has taken the time to read our newsletter, pray for us, call or email  us, visit with us, and host us!
  • Thank you everyone who has supported us financially and therefore made every other one of these thank-you’s possible! Continue reading

Go right to the Bible!

I offered to teach my hairdresser how to study the Bible. Her counteroffer: every Thursday she’d close up shop and I’d teach her entire staff! “Now, we’re all from different backgrounds,” she said. “But you’re going to teach about us how to study the Bible for ourselves, not promote a specific denomination, right?”

Next Stop: Ady’s Salon Bible Group. It was a perfect set-up for the Holy Spirit – I would just let the Bible speak for itself. And God has worked! Even the stylists who came to snicker started hanging on every word, learning how to navigate around a Bible, asking and answering questions, taking it seriously. The ones who were already Christians finally had the tools to grow. Christians and non-Christians have started confessing their own sinfulness.

What we do has a fancy name: “inductive Bible study”. You can buy books and even an Inductive Study Bible, but you need only a Bible and writing materials. And the basic are simple: 1. OBSERVATION (what does it say?), 2. INTERPRETATION (what does it mean?); and 3. APPLICATION (what does it mean for my life?).

I was bitten by the Inductive Bible Study bug early on. In high school we took a college-level course, and I was amazed at how much could be learned through diligent use of even the most simple processes and resources. In Bible college, we used the great little book The Joy of Discovery. The material was more in-depth when I took Gary’s course at Biblical Seminary, but the message was the same: God’s Word is full of treasure for those willing to look for it.

Also: A Course at ESEPA. The ball first got rolling last year, when they asked me to teach inductive Bible study. My 20 students ranged from college grads to those who had only elementary school. How would I get them hungry to keep studying after the course? I obviously underestimated the Bible’s power to motivate people!

Karen with a few of the ladies at ESEPA

We started by reading a passage in different Spanish translations. Then they started making their own observations, noticing things they had never seen before. Each time they read the passage, they saw new gems. They were hooked! It was hard to stop the class each week. Before my eyes, they quickly developed a new confidence in God’s Word and a hunger to keep learning from it.

And then, a Bible Study Club. The ESEPA students didn’t want to stop meeting, so we started a weekly club.

Los Guido Bible Study. Every Wednesday, I meet with as many as 10 women in the home of a friend. Los Guido is a “precario”, a shanty-town that has developed into a community. I ride an hour on the bus to reach the house and we meet in the small main room. Every week we laugh and remind one another to go back to rule #1 over and over: “But what does the verse actually say?”

Christmas Bible Study. Several months later, a friend asked if I could teach inductive Bible study in the devotional at her neighborhood Christmas party. Women from all backgrounds, and I had only 45 minutes. Seriously? Well, God provided the opportunity, so there had to be a way. I chose a nice, familiar Christmas passage: Mt 1:18-2:23. I brought a copy of the passage for each person, and lots of brightly colored pens and pencils. I asked everybody to read it over and mark with a bright highlighter all the miracles that appeared. They were to call them out as they found them. Everybody did it, and everybody spoke up! We proceeded to mark other interesting observations as they found them. They were fully engaged, and by the end it only took a few sentences of application for God’s Word to speak directly into each of their lives.

And the Next Bible Study Group…? Why am I telling you all this? Because if I can do it, YOU can do it! I know that many of you have had some training in inductive Bible study, yet you don’t teach it to anyone else. But it’s not difficult! There are a few important principles to keep in mind, and the rest is training ourselves to pay attention, look at it carefully, write down what we learn.

If you have ever studied anything about inductive Bible study, go find your notes, or dig out Joy of Discovery, and refresh your memory. If it’s new to you, it’s not very hard to learn. Start using it, maybe with your family or your coworkers at lunch. I’ve found that folks who would not be receptive to a “Bible Study” have been very receptive to “How to study the Bible”: somehow it sounds less threatening. If you are more of a “helper” than a “leader” you too can do some basic preparation and study along with the others.

That’s my challenge to you – you can’t change lives, but the Word of God can.

Karen’s year, 2011

At the end of the year, I love to be able to look back at what God has done, see the progress He’s made in my life! What a year 2011 has been! I feel like my life has taken a giant leap forward, and yet in doing so, has taken a giant leap back (in a good way).

Let’s see: in 2011, I became a teacher at ESEPA, where I offer courses in Bible and counseling at the certificate level. I started a study group in a hairdresser’s salon, where Christian and non-Christian ladies learn methods of studying the Bible. And finally, I still work with Missionary Kids and their parents, helping them adjust to life on a foreign field.

When we returned to Costa Rica October 2010, after spending some months with the family in the US, it was one of the few times in my life when I felt like I was truly starting over. Continue reading

Update on the Shogren kids, Dec 2011

So what’s new with the younger Shogrens? Plenty! Continue reading

Karen’s ministry to new MKs (missionary kids)

Karen is there, as kids become Missionary Kids

“Transition can be defined as the movement of people from one stage of life to another or from one cultural context to another…Families going overseas experience transition every time they leave or enter a country.” (Families on the Move, Marion Knell, p. 47)

October 17, 2010, San Jose, Costa Rica. After a long absence, I walk into my own house as a stranger. My life and work­­ have just abruptly turned a corner. For the first time in 25 years I am no longer the primary caregiver for any of my children. The nest is empty, my Costa Rica ministries had been taken over by others, and my own home is in disarray.

“Even good changes are stressful, and in multiple transitions there is a lot of disorientation, exhaustion and grief.” (Knell, p. 56)

I have spent the better part of the last 11 years studying transitions and what they do to us. I’ve taught this information to countless missionary families and helped them apply it. I have helped hundreds of children of all ages prepare for future transitions and cry through completed ones. Continue reading

Karen’s New Hat: teacher at ESEPA

"La profesora Karen" prepares her lesson

One of my most vivid memories from my years at Philadelphia Biblical University is Ken Medema’s convicting song, “Moses.” The Chorale performed it multiple times over two years, and Ken Medema himself performed it for us in concert. The first time I heard it, I was fascinated by the way the music explains the words: the basso profundo tone of God’s comands, the scaredy-cat complaints of Moses, the gorgeous harmony of angels singing. Did I mention convicting? Never once did I sing it without God speaking directly to me. After all these year, it is apparently still burned into my brain, because recently I can’t get it out of my mind.

Back in Costa Rica after our extended home assignment, I have been praying that God would give me clear direction about new ministries, and give me the courage to respond with cheerful obedience. Just a friendly warning, both are dangerous prayers!

February 9, 2011. I am sitting in the office of the women’s ministry leader at ESEPA, expecting to be invited to direct short sharing sessions in small groups at several upcoming workshops. The vast majority of my ministry in CR has been in English, with missionary families. I feel totally inadequate to minister in Spanish, especially as a representative of the seminary… Continue reading

The song that Karen couldn’t get out of her head!

As I mention above, one of my most vivid memories from my years at Philadelphia Biblical University is Ken Medema’s convicting song, “Moses.” The Chorale performed it multiple times over two years, and Ken Medema himself performed it for us in concert. Never once did I sing it without God speaking directly to me. After all these year, it is apparently still burned into my brain.

Go here to listen to Ken Medema singing “Moses”: