- For Ben and Steph Shogren, who are expecting their first baby! Steph suffers from acute diabetes and the pregnancy is high risk
- For Cuba! Both Karen and Gary have been invited to teach, and we need to squeeze the trip into a very busy schedule
- For Gary, as he works on his 1 Corinthians project for Wycliffe, and also on Revelation this week in Orlando
- For Karen, as she has many classes to prepare; and for Karen and her team as they give a conference in Honduras in October, for Missionary Kids
- That God will bring us up to 100% support level. We are currently at about 89%
Category Archives: Costa Rica
This week is a busy one for me – I spoke twice at a Christian school Wednesday; then this weekend I have a two-part conference on the same theme: “Can We Trust the New Testament? or Have they changed it throughout the years?” I am showing pictures of New Testament manuscripts and arguing that the text of the New Testament has been marvelously preserved. Here I am testing my material to middle school students.
And here is my Tuesday night class on the General Epistles. These are my advanced Master’s degree students, and they have already taken two years of Greek, usually more. They also happen to be terrific Christian people. In this class, we study the Greek text of Hebrews-Jude, and we also learn how to decipher ancient manuscripts. Let’s begin with Nani, who was assigned two pages of handwritten Greek. Click the manuscript!
And here I am, helping to draw some conclusions: it was a text that dealt with skin diseases (!); it was in Greek; it was written on papyrus; and it used a set of symbols that Christian copyists used but Jewish ones did not. Click on it!
Our conclusion? They were two pages from Leviticus in the Greek version (called the Septuagint), and they had been hand-copied by a Christian in the very early church. (At the beginning of the video clip, by the way, I am pointing here and there and using the word “tape”, which is the same in Spanish as in English – I was complaining that someone had used Scotch tape to hold the pieces together!).
Now why, you may be asking, was it necessary to put hours of time into deciphering and translating this and two other ancient documents?
It’s because the students on the Master’s level are preparing to be teachers, writers, thinkers, conference speakers. And it happens that the Enemy is attacking the authority of the New Testament from several directions: Self-proclaimed scholars make their own new “versions”. University students hear that the Bible has been changed beyond recognition across the centuries. Many question whether the New Testament has authority over our personal ethics.
Latin America needs all sorts of leaders – including those few individuals who have the intellectual depth to explain the New Testament on a technical level. These students will have an impact on how the church proclaims the New Testament over many decades.
Blessings, Gary and Karen
This Month We Hear from Karen!
We are gearing up for a very busy fall of ministry! In addition to the usual ESEPA work, Gary has several conferences to speak at – one on the complex topic of homosexuality in the Bible, another on the topic “Can We Trust in the New Testament?” He will also take trips to Orlando to work on the Wycliffe Associates project, where he will serve as a consultant for translating Hebrews (September) and Revelation (October). In addition, he will be heading the online team on the translation notes for 1 Corinthians. (For information on his Wycliffe work, take a look at the June newsletter on this website).
I (Karen) am working on a new course to teach this fall at ESEPA, as well as writing textbooks in time for the two counseling courses I teach In Oct/Nov.
I am also writing the curriculum for my annual Honduras Missionary Kid retreat in October. We will focus on God’s instructions to renew our mind, and we expect that it will be a VERY practical series of lessons for all of us!
Please pray for me, Karen, about these projects – I find it very difficult to concentrate on writing, and it’s doubly difficult that the final product has to be in Spanish for most of them. I have so much to finish in a short period of time, I ask that God will give me supernatural clarity of thought, plus the supernatural ability to sit still long enough to get those thoughts onto paper!
Blessings, Karen and Gary
PRAISE AND PRAYER
- PRAISE that Sammy is still doing well in school, Scouts, and art class
- For Gary, as he organizes and launches his 1 Corinthians project, beginning on August 12
- For Karen, as she has many classes to prepare
- That God will bring us up to 100% support level
Financial needs for 2015
Our support level now stands around 92%.
You can give us a one-time gift or become a partner through our mission’s website HERE.
Gary’s Blog this Month
Read from Gary’s ongoing sermon series on 1 Thessalonians. This time it is how Paul evangelized and gave us a pattern to follow – he worked day and night.
Two months ago our landlord asked us to leave our house so that he can renovate and sell it. We took that as our cue to think about long term plans.
First, we intend to keep teaching at ESEPA here in San José, as well as online. Gary is full-time, and while Karen is part-time, she has been urged to teach as much as possible in ESEPA’s certificate program. Gary also plans to continue teaching intensive courses in Cuba, plus keep up with his writing. As Karen would say, “Lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise”, there’s no reason to leave CR until retirement age.
That was the easy part! ESEPA wants us, we want to stay, there’s every reason to stay and none to leave.
Karen: And more than ever we have a great sense of urgency. When we first came to Costa Rica in 1998, our aim was to work our way out of a job. That meant training new professors for ESEPA and preparing leaders for the Church. We’ve worked hard towards that goal, and seen a lot of beautiful fruit along those lines! But there’s still SO MUCH to do! So Gary is now serving as Academic Dean and focusing more and more on preparing our Master’s degree students to be our present and future professors.
Gary says: “A picture is worth a thousand words”: here is our roster of professors from last term. The 15 people circled in red, we have helped to train during our time here at ESEPA. Ten others are Latin Americans from other institutions.
But Karen asks: Yes, that’s all fine, but where are we going to live? Well, God has stepped in and we have been offered a wonderful house 2 blocks away, for just a little over $200/month more than we pay now! This dear couple is giving us a BARGAIN the likes of which we never would have even dreamed of. Plus it’s completely and beautifully furnished. We are due to move Valentine’s Day weekend. Pictures to follow!
Prayer requests for 2015
- That Sammy will be ready to return to school next week
- That our move will go well – around Feb 15
- That God will bring us up to 100% support level
Financial needs for 2015
As we noted last month, the rent on our new house will be a few hundred dollars higher than what we are paying now. In addition our health premiums did in December what they always do, rise.
You can give us a one-time gift or become a partner through our mission’s website at www.worldventure.com and search for “Shogrens”.
Many blessings to you! Gary and Karen Shogren, Missionary Professors to Costa Rica and Beyond
Visit us on http://shogrens.com
Gary. I just finished writing a short commentary on Romans for a Latin American audience; it should be published in Spanish within a few months. Another highlight of 2014 was again serving as Academic Dean of ESEPA: beyond teaching I also mentor and direct the other professors, some of whom are teaching for the first time. The most amazing event of the year was participating in the graduation of our first class of seminary students in [a certain Caribbean island nation] – 20 men and women who in addition to their other ministries are already teaching in local Bible colleges across the island. We praise God for our first harvest of homegrown professors!
Karen. Remember how nervous I was nearly 4 years ago when God led me to start teaching at ESEPA? What a joy to look back and see that while I truly have been inadequate to the job of working in people’s hearts, God has kept His promise to use me as His tool. I LOVE teaching God’s Word to women who are hungry to learn! My first lesson to them is always this: “You’re no longer just a student, now you are also a teacher, entrusted to teach this to others.” Over the years I’ve been able to watch them blossom and do just that. Another highlight of my year was when my mom came to visit and became a missionary at 92, helping us run a retreat for missionary kids!
Sammy. After 2½ years with us, Sammy has gone from being a child seriously damaged by the effects of abuse, to a boy who can just enjoy being a kid and playing with his friends in Boy Scouts. He is beyond the single-emotion state (anger), and now demonstrates a warm love for us. The best news of all: he clearly has a relationship with Jesus Christ that guides his actions!
New Partners. For the first time we have WorldVenture missionary partners in Costa Rica! The Foote family and the Mihalkos just finished their year at language school. They are planning to work with Costa Ricans who will go out as missionaries, giving them the training they need to start businesses wherever they land around the globe. What a blessing to build a team with dear friends with whom we can laugh, cry, and above all, stand firm.
Prayer requests for 2015:
- That Sammy will be ready to return to school for the new year beginning in Feb
- That Karen’s arthritis will stabilize
- That we will minister effectively to our WorldVenture team members
- That God will guide our ministry projects for the coming year
- That God will supply our financial needs quickly, so that we can dedicate ourselves more fully to our teaching ministries
Financial needs for 2015. We cannot thank you enough for your faithful support! Your ministry to us has freed us up to teach dozens of students and missionary kids this year. We also send a special thank you to those of you who gave towards our recent trips to Cuba and Honduras. We just learned that we will have to move out of the (rent-controlled) house that we have had since 1998, so our expenses will probably rise. That and due to WorldVenture restructuring its accounting system, we have two more requests: we need several hundred dollars more of monthly support, plus we need $3000 to cover this year’s salary shortfall.
¡Feliz Navidad! Gary and Karen
Gary and Karen have just finished two important trips at the end of September – Karen to teach Missionary Kids in Honduras, and Gary to attend a graduation at the seminary where he occasionally teaches on a “closed” Caribbean island. If you would like to hear the details of Gary’s trip, give us your email address in the Comments section.
We have lost several regular donors and would like to make up for that loss of income before the end of 2014. If you are interested in supporting us for $50 or $100 a month, let us know in the comments section.
In all cases, we will not publish your name and email on this website.
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
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.
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
Four months ago, we still needed to raise $1400 per month before we could return to Costa Rica.
As of today we only need to raise $473 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 HERE. Click MAKE A COMMITMENT for a regular donation, or GIVE NOW for a one-time donation to our Ministry Account.
Thank you to Jim and Diana, Donald and Donna, Susan and Paul, John and Gail, Dave and Amy, Jimmy and Kristal, Reformed Baptist, and several anonymous donors for special gifts!
And Bart and Carole, Joan and George, Roger and LuAnne, Barry and Patti, for new or increased support!