Category Archives: seminario

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

June 2014 Newsletter

What are you waiting for?

Scenario A, the nightly news: the anchor asks a question of the on-location reporter. We wait. The reporter stares blankly for a second. Finally he nods and begins to respond.

Scenario B, the Mission Field: a Costa Rican asks a question of professor Gary or Karen. There is a “hang-time” of ½ to 2 seconds, a blank look. They then react and give a response.

The speed of light isn't fast enough!

The speed of light isn’t fast enough!

What causes A? The anchor’s words go up to a satellite, maybe bounce over to another satellite or two, and then down to the reporter. The question travels only (only!) at the speed of light. Then his answer travels back the same route. Very quick, but not instantaneous – at the very least it’s 1/3 of a second either direction and it’s noticeable.

And what causes B? Well, that’s a bit more complicated! Here are two options:

Missing Spanish Word: “Gary, this pastor told me that ____ is ___ the church. What do you think?” Amazing how a sentence falls apart when the subject and the verb are Missing in Action. Continue reading

February 2014 update!

Gary is serving a year’s term as Academic Dean of ESEPA, planning the courses and working with the professors so that we give the best training possible. To start the new academic year, he spoke how we serve as models or patterns for our students (see a similar article of his here).

Karen’s mother broke her kneecap, and so Karen went to Philly and brought Thelma here to live with us during her recuperation.

Young Sammy has started school at Sojourn Academy, where our four kids attended; it’s just a few blocks from the house.

** Special Prayer Requests **

One: Gary was asked to write a short commentary on Romans and because of circumstances, to turn it in within a few months. He has preached and taught much of Romans and published a few articles on the letter, but this means that he will have to write at top speed.

Two: we now have two new families from our mission working in Costa Rica, and we need God’s grace now more than ever as they go through their first year. Pray for our new team!

Three: Karen was recently asked to prepare a missionary kid retreat in Costa Rica at the end of the month, for 15 children, ages 1-17. God has been good and provided workers, so pray for Karen as she writes and plans the program. Please pray for Karen’s mom Thelma, that she will enjoy her time here with us in CR, and that her body will quickly heal and gain strength

October 7 Update!

Gary: I spent most of September crossing back and forth the length of a certain Caribbean island. [click Leave a Comment, above, if you want us to send you more details] Imagine traveling to from New York to Chicago and returning, and mainly on bad country roads. I got in touch with 20 of the our seminary students.

These students are the island’s future Bible College professors. One leader tells me: They need to finish up, because I am counting on them to teach our Bible college courses in September 2014. I assure him that it’s doable, if they apply themselves to it. Their final projects are an investigation of how the Bible speaks to their local problems: Continue reading

September update!

When Jesus wanted His disciples to remember something, He often tied the lesson to something familiar that they would encounter often. The most obvious example is the Lord’s Supper, where He used the most common food elements of the day to remind them of His sacrifice on the cross. Surely that was no accident. From then on, at every meal, the bread would remind them of that time of horrible pain and grief, followed by unimaginable joy at the resurrection. They’d never be able to eat a meal again without those events being uppermost in their minds!

Let’s follow the Master Teacher’s example. In many people’s minds, Costa Rica is synonymous with coffee. It certainly is for Costa Rican nationals: coffee has been their #1 cash crop export for decades, making it an integral part of the economy and everyday life. And the rest of the world? Those who know excellent coffee look for Tarrazú, a special one grown only in Costa Rica: “in November 2012, [Costa Rican] Tarrazú Geisha coffee became the most expensive coffee sold by Starbucks…online customers were able to buy 0.5 lb packs at a price of US$40 each and it was sold out in less than 24 hours.”

What does this have to do with Gary and Karen Shogren, missionaries to Costa Rica? Plenty! For almost all of you, coffee plays an important part in your day. I’m praying that God will use your daily coffee to remind you of us, our need for prayer and our need for financial partners. Continue reading

August Update!

Since January our support level has risen from 59% to around 82%, and unofficially we might be in the upper 80s%. This is very good progress, and God has been very kind, blessing us with a generous team.

Our goal is to be in San José for Thanksgiving Dinner. Why? Because two new missionary families are just now moving to Costa Rica for the first time; look up the Mihalkos and the Footes on http://www.worldventure.com. We have been walking step by step with them as they decided that God was calling them to be missionaries. We want the Shogrens, Mihalkos and Footes to meet around the turkey in November.

To accomplish our goal, we still need to raise hundreds of dollars a month.
We would be happy to visit your church, or even your family or your small group; just leave a COMMENT below; we are very low pressure and won’t twist your arm!

Karen says: I’m having my other hip replaced on Aug 12 at Physicians Care Surgical Hospital in Royersford. In 6 weeks it just may be the first time in many years that I can walk normally! We have reactivated our CaringBridge page HERE.

Gary says: I’m probably on my way to a certain island nation for some weeks; if anyone wants more details, they can email me. Please pray that I get a visa and that I will be up to a demanding schedule while there.

And young Sammy says by Skype, Grandpa, ¿cuándo regresará? When will you be back? By God´s grace, we hope within a few months.

Will you buy banana bread to send a boy to school?

bread_banana_500They came to our gate in the rain, a mother and her son of about 14. She was selling home-made banana bread. We see them every couple of weeks and buy large pieces from her for 50 cents each.

She also asked if we had any used men’s shoes for her son, Continue reading

How has our ministry expanded?

Gary has a new role, helping prepare a generation of Bible professors in a certain nation (you have to come hear us to get the details). He is now mentoring masters degree students through their final projects, a 75-page thesis in which they apply the Bible to their local needs. He also is in charge of making sure they get library material they need to do scholarly research.

Karen will be working more closely with our denomination, the Bible Fellowship Church. The BFC has a special department for caring for its missionaries and their families. Karen will help to prepare their missionary kids (MKs) for life overseas.

Still needed for us to return to the field: 78 people to commit to give $50/month

In the car Sundays, between ministry presentations, the talk naturally turns to ministry and fundraising. Presenting our ministry is a joy we wouldn’t want to miss:
1. We get to meet new and interesting people (this week at two new churches for us, Redeemer BFC in the morning and Franconia Reformed Baptist at night).
2. We “happen” to run into and catch up with old friends with whom we’d lost touch.
3. We get to encourage young people that serving God is always worth the sacrifice.
4. We stay focused. There are so many things we COULD be doing, that we have to work through, what  we SHOULD be doing. As we put into words why we do what we do, it puts the spotlight on our priorities.
5. We enjoy traveling, since we can spend some time together as a couple. Since we were newlyweds, we’ve analyzed everything from “How was my sermon/bible study/presentation?” to future ministry strategies. It helps us stay united in direction.

Please pray: Do you have Christian friends who might be interested to hear about our ministries and our financial needs? We’re still free  weekdays in April.

Who we are, what we do

Karen and Gary

Karen and Gary

As missionaries in Costa Rica for the last 15 years, Gary and Karen Shogren have been following the Great Commission in strategic ways. In San José they train energetic Latin American leaders who will lead the church and spread the Gospel into nations where Americans cannot easily go. Second, they provide ongoing theological education online for those far-flung Spanish-speaking missionaries. Third, in many places they strengthen the next generation of missionaries (missionary kids) emotionally and spiritually. As a couple they are strategically placed & uniquely qualified to equip tomorrow’s leaders.

Gary’s PhD in New Testament Exegesis plus 25 years of experience as New Testament professor on 3 continents prepare him to continue teaching at the Evangelical Seminary for Pastoral Studies (ESEPA) in San José, Costa Rica. Now there is another exciting new opportunity for him on the horizon [we cannot post the details publically]. Gary’s training, experience, skills and location allow him to meet this need in a way others cannot.

Now that Karen also teaches at ESEPA, the Shogrens are even more of a bargain: 2 professors for the price of one! Her specialty is teaching correct Bible study methods to women without much formal education. In that context 2 Timothy 2:2b provides the greatest challenge: “Teach these great truths to trustworthy people who are able to pass them on to others.” Karen’s other ministry track has involved serving in member care and orientation for missionary families since 2000. Many missionary kids’ (MKs) go to the field with little cross-cultural training; they are at risk spiritually and their families might have to return to the US. We have found that an ounce of prevention in this area can prevent the waste of lives, time, and money. Karen’s background in biblical counseling uniquely qualifies her to provide Scriptural solutions to this new challenge in the missions community.

We are in Media PA for some months and would love to present our work to your church, small group or in your home. We can present it in English or in Spanish. LEAVE A COMMENT in the space below and we’ll be in touch.

February 2013 update!

We need to stay in the US for a while to do more fundraising. Starting in January we had to take a large pay cut due to the economic slowdown, skyrocketing health insurance costs, and new ministry expenses. 

Contact us to visit your home, your small group Bible study or your church! garyshog@gmail.com

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