Category Archives: Sexual abuse

June 2021 Newsletter

Gary’s turn this month

2020 and 2021 are apparently the years for my books to get published. My 1 Corinthians commentary was just released English by Kerigma, Salem OR. It’s available on Amazon (only $25!) or on Logos Bible Software; the Spanish version is available on Amazon as well.

It was written in the first instance for the Latin American church, and to prepare it I did a lot of talking with Costa Ricans about how it can be applied to daily life. It should be useful for North Americans too. In fact, when people read it in English, they will have the chance to feel what it is like for us in the south, where many, many commentaries are translations of US works, and often include American cultural assumptions on how the Bible should be applied. Some American Christians I know regard their own exposition as “scientific, objective exegesis” and that of others as “culture-bound, subjective eisegesis (= reading our ideas into the text).” I disagree, or, at least I assert that life is more complicated than that. In fact, I have never met anyone- including the face I see in the mirror every morning – who opens the Word, free ideas of “what the Bible should say.”

In addition, writers – or preachers or teachers – do not just study the biblical text; they also “exegete” the audience in order to bridge the gap between God’s Word and God’s people.

In the commentary we go verse by verse through the text, and also give analyses of many key topics: marriage and divorce, the spiritual gifts, Christian leadership, pastoral ministry, poverty and wealth, unity. As an example:

True unity does not live in terror of disagreement, nor does it give up in disgust when disagreement occurs. I say this again: a person who is truly loving and living in unity with the church will at times say hard things, not because it is pleasant to do so, but because it is loving. Unity means that in a sinful world, even godly people will have occasional frictions, even sharp arguments. Unity leaves room for loving disagreement over details and disagreement over major issues. Unity does not seek calm for its own sake, but because that peace is the best way to represent God’s truth.

Spoiler: I should have another book in English being published this year; will announce it when it comes out! It will have an iceberg on the cover.

And a summer 2021 update: Greetings from Pennsylvania!

We were unable to get vaccinated in Costa Rica, so we decided to pop up to the States for a couple of months; and as soon as we flew up, Costa Rica when back on strict shutdown. So, this will be our summer to meet some of our churches and individual reporters, in order to bring them up to date on our work. Our calendar is filling up! Contact Karen at keshogren@gmail.com or call her at 717-413-1764. Meanwhile, we are doing our regular work of teaching and writing in beautiful Lancaster County. We will see many of you over the next weeks.

Our son-in-law Chris, Vik’s husband, just graduated with his master’s degree! Congratulations Chris!

Blessings! Gary and Karen

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April 2021 Newsletter

Thanks to all our supporters!

We are so grateful for you! Every day we are reminded that we could not do this on our own. Your faithful prayers and encouragement and financial support allow us to give our all to the work God has set before us. Missionaries we know have lost a lot of financial support over the past year, but ours has held firm.

This month, Karen shares: I am still amazed how much our ministries have exploded in the last year! Since many organizations are more comfortable with online communication our ability to spread the Gospel and train leaders worldwide is multiplied. For instance, tonight Gary is being interviewed by an organization in Australia, pertaining to his new commentary; his audience crossed 17 time zones. This morning I helped plan the roll-out of WorldVenture’s new child protection policy with coworkers in Spain, Montana, and North Carolina, then Gary and I met with our regional director who lives in Oregon. Tomorrow morning, I will be teaching people from Ecuador, Dominican Republic, Los Angeles (California), Bolivia, and Costa Rica. Next week we will start orienting all WorldVenture missionaries and I will be leading groups worldwide. Without having to travel, we can accomplish more with less effort.

I have just finished teaching the first 2 courses of our new certificate program at ESEPA, training church leaders how to prevent and respond to sexual abuse. It’s been a fascinating opportunity to create something new that is so badly needed in our world today.

Recently I was blessed when Marcela López offered to make me a logo for the ministry.  Our name, Levanta La Voz, means “Raise Your Voice”, taken from Proverbs 31:8-9, where we are instructed to raise our voice to help those who cannot speak for themselves. I believe that not only is it a good reminder every time we read the words, but also it is a great conversation-starter.  You’ll notice it has 3 leaves – one for each way Christians can confront sexual violence: make our churches and homes safe places, provide help and healing to those affected by sexual violence, and spread the word out into our communities.  Lastly, we have the universal broadcast symbol as one more reminder that staying quiet on this issue ALWAYS makes things worse.  I pray that you will help us by raising your voice against sexual violence.

If you work with children or teens, have them in your family, or know anyone in your church that does, I highly recommend a movie: Childhood 2.0. It came out a few months ago and is available free on YouTube and various streaming services. It would be instructive to get groups of parents and church leaders together to watch this prayerfully. Once you have seen it and are prepared, it would be a fascinating conversation-starter to watch with your tweens or teens. It is not a Christian movie, per se, but it is a clear portrayal of the challenges children and teens face today. If we do not understand what they are facing, it will be impossible for us to help them grow unto godliness.

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Gary in a conference! If you would like to see what it is like. Feel free to drop in! The action starts to pick up around 26:00 minutes.
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PRAYER:
* Praise! that our support level is healthy despite the pandemic. 
* Praise! Karen successfully launched her new program and taught two of the courses.

Blessings this month!

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August 2020 Newsletter!

Watch Karen Teach her International Course!

Three times a week, Karen boots up to teach over 100 people. CLICK HERE to catch a glimpse of her in her “studio” (if there are troubles with the “sound”, click the triangle on the upper right). She is saying, ‘So, we are not just saying that we must not abuse our power to abuse others; it is that we have to use our power to protect the vulnerable. As Jeremiah 23 says, Therefore this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says to the shepherds who tend my people: “Because you have scattered my flock and driven them away and have not bestowed care on them, I will bestow punishment on you for the evil you have done,” declares the LORD.’

Karen shares!

Hello from San José, Costa Rica! I am so glad for the opportunity to update you on my ministry. Please forgive the length of this – I think a bit of background will help you comprehend the significance of all the new information!

You may remember that December 2015 Continue reading

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June 2020 Newsletter

Karen shares this month:

To see Karen’s online class, search out “Training Churches to Speak Up” on YouTube. 

I love the old doxology: “Praise God from whom all blessings flow, praise him all creatures here below, praise him above ye heavenly hosts. Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Amen.” Every time I hear it I have beautiful memories of singing it in church as a child accompanied by organ and piano, 50 of us singing it in 4-part harmony before meals while on Chorale tour in college, and singing it a cappella with Grace Bible Fellowship Church short term missions team up in the mountains as the fog cleared to uncover the beautiful Central Valley of Costa Rica as the city lights came on at dusk.

Lately the song has been repeating itself in my mind as I watch God work around me here in San José. After years of work and preparation, in February I began teaching my new course The Church Confronting Sexual Violence. We had 17 adults in our first English cohort, a mix of US missionaries and Costa Ricans, and met here in our home. Just about the time I started to get the hang of everything, exactly half-way through the 8-week course, quarantine changed everybody’s world. Within a couple of weeks, we had figured out Plan B: we were back at it, studying together via live video conference. “Praise God from whom all blessings flow!”

Even while we were finishing up those last 4 weeks, it dawned on me that switching to an online format had truly opened up new possibilities. There were fellow missionaries around the world who wanted to take the course, plus some workers in the US, and some of them had extra free time while they were waiting for quarantine to lift. We opened cohort #2 to start immediately after the first one and have now gotten through the first 5 weeks. Taking the course are adults who work in Russia, Spain, Mozambique, Brazil, Colombia, Honduras, Costa Rica, Ecuador and the USA. “Praise him all creatures here below!”

One of my students shared with us recently about her experience in Honduras. She is fairly new there, so asked someone whether their large church had any type of child safety policy. The question got to the pastor, who replied that they did not have one, and was so troubled by it that he couldn’t sleep. The next morning, he got in touch with their denomination’s leaders to ask if any of their churches had such a policy. They did not, and the denomination’s leaders were so convicted about it that they asked us to please help ALL of them set up a child safety policy as soon as possible! I am still stunned and in awe of how God is clearly moving in the hearts of church leaders here in Central America! “Praise him above ye heavenly host!”

Needless to say, I am already making connections with people who can help translate everything so we can train those church leaders, plus anyone else who will listen! And now while I work, that familiar song of praise is in my heart, tying the old to the new, and my strength is renewed with gratitude that God has finally let me see the first true fruit of years of hard work and uncertainty! “Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost!”

ANNIVERSARY! We praise God too as we celebrate a personal milestone: our 40th wedding anniversary! We were having trouble deciding how to celebrate in quarantine, so our dear missionary friends Nancy and Paul Mauger treated us to a delicious breakfast!

Many blessings this month! Gary and Karen

anniversary breakfast 2020

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Shogrens’ February 2020 Newsletter

Karen shares this month:

Gary’s commentary on Thessalonians was published in Spanish! And he is happy to be back teaching at ESEPA Seminary in San José, Costa Rica after the holiday break, and working on a new book.

1-y-2-Tesalonicenses-b

He’s still working with Wycliffe Associates, helping to edit a new Greek-English dictionary for Bible translations. He loves what he does, so it is a double blessing to be able to serve the Lord doing what he enjoys most! (And from the perspective of a proud wife, I, Karen, think he is exceptionally gifted in this area!).

We have had a lot of family adjustments lately, the most recent one is that Sammy (our 12-year-old “foster son”) and his grandmother Rosi have moved out and are living with her sister and extended family about 3 hours away. They have been with us for 13 years, and we all love each other dearly, so it is a terribly difficult adjustment for everyone. But it was clearly God’s will, so we know it is what is best for all 4 of us. So that leaves the two of us alone, true empty-nesters for the first time since Steve was born 34 years ago. All of you who have been faced with an empty nest know what a huge adjustment THAT is on its own, so we are actually adjusting to 2 major changes at once. Not for the faint of heart! We are putting a lot of effort into how to re-arrange the household and divvy up the chores to keep us both free for the work God has given us to do. It has been a huge challenge but also we are finding unexpected fun in it.

I (Karen) am finally ready to start my new program training church leaders how to combat sexual abuse! It is very exciting and overwhelming! The first cohort will begin Feb 13, 1-4pm US Central time, every Thursday for 8 weeks. It will be a pilot program in English for missionaries here in San José, so that we can work out the kinks before translating everything into Spanish, and so that they can help recruit local churches to take the course beginning mid-year. We know that we are heading deep into enemy territory and he won’t take it lying down. The last 2 years working on this have been filled with obstacles, crises, and other types of spiritual warfare. It is obvious that God has been directing this project from the beginning, so we are trusting his timetable and his provision, and it seems as though God has finally cleared the deck to make way for the project to begin!

We are so deeply grateful for your faithful prayers, encouragement, and financial support! We cannot do this without you, and are very proud to serve God here on your behalf. We praise God for his generous provision through you: we received a number of generous year-end gifts in December and January, which pushed us into the black for the end of the year and allowed us to claim some past expenses. THAT gave us cause for much rejoicing, and means we will have the money for upcoming ministry expenses over the next few months. To God be the glory, GREAT things he has done!

PRAISE AND PRAYER

  1. Protection from spiritual warfare (health, time, distractions, protection)
  2. That God would send the right people to attend Karen’s pilot program, and use them to provide critical feedback for final adjustments
  3. That God would provide someone who is willing to translate a lot of material free of charge
  4. That Karen will have clarity of thought in these last days of writing the course
  5. If you think of it, please pray during each lesson, that God will give Karen clear mental focus, that God’s compassion and love for the helpless will flow freely, that his Spirit will change our hearts, and prepare us and lead us forward in this ministry
  6. That Gary and Karen would persevere in pursuit of new and healthy household routines, that we would keep our sense of humor through any rough patches of adjustment, that we would become an even stronger team in God’s service

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October 2019 Newsletter – Karen shares!

At the moment I have all I need—and more! I am generously supplied with the gifts you sent me with Epaphroditus. They are a sweet-smelling sacrifice that is acceptable and pleasing to God. And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. Now all glory to God our Father forever and ever! Amen. (Philippians 4:18-20, NLT)

With just a few small changes his words are still applicable today for the Shogren family: “We too have all we need – and more! We have been generously supplied with the gifts many of you have sent online or through the mail. They are a sweet-smelling sacrifice that is acceptable and pleasing to God. And this same God who takes care of us will supply all YOUR needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. Now ALL GLORY TO GOD our Father forever and ever!”

Every day there are unlimited reminders of your generous faithfulness: every time we go food shopping or pay our electric bill, it is a testament to God’s faithfulness through you. Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts! Without you we would not be able to focus on our ministries in Costa Rica and elsewhere, training church leaders and missionaries through teaching, mentoring, and writing.

Now there is a new reminder of God’s generous provision at our house – in the garage! Thank you, Rose family, for your over-the-top generous gift of a 2011 Nissan Murano with only 43,000 miles logged on it!

car2

Continue reading

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Christmas 2018

Click Christmas Newsletter 2018 to get the pictures!

Celebrating Home Assignment 2018

We want to thank YOU for a truly amazing home assignment this year! Most of you were able to share your precious time with us, generously opening your hearts, homes, and church. We treasure the hours spent laughing, catching up on family news, sharing, and brainstorming together with you! There are too many church and individuals to name, but you know who you are, and be assured that our time with you was sheer joy for us!

In addition to visiting current supporters, we were able to make new friends, visit new churches, and find new supporters. Welcome to our team! You join a loving and faithful group of brothers and sisters in Christ that spans from New Hampshire to Ohio. We also spent considerable time preparing ourselves for the term ahead, studying, networking, and researching.

We had originally planned to be in the US from January through April but, as he usually does, God had other plans! After sliding through a few self-imposed deadlines, Gary was able to return to Costa Rica on August 19, and Karen followed shortly after. (It was a few months later than we expected, but still 4 months short of the typical one-year furlough).

Thanks for letting us spend time with your churches!

Thank you for the opportunity to serve you!

Thank you for taking such good care of us!

Special thanks to Karen’s brother John for giving us a home all these months!

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October 2018 Newsletter

“We are Back in Costa Rica!”

The rumors are true: Gary returned late August, and Karen a few weeks later! This means that we are now starting our 21st year of ministry in Central America.

Gary is teaching three courses and working away on his new commentary on 1-2 Timothy for Wycliffe Associates. It will be part of a 2-volume work that will be “open-source,” that is, free for anyone to use, download, translate. It is designed to help those who are translating the Bible into the 2700 languages that have none.


Our adoptive grandson Sammy is glad to have us back! He is 11 years old now – and he would be in school this week, except for the fact that there is a general strike for the past three weeks.

Karen just spent time in Honduras, where she was giving her regular conference to Missionary Kids.

 

Thanks so much for helping us to return to the field, ready to go!

Gary is Teaching and Preaching in Spanish again!
Last week I spoke at a tiny local church that is run by our friend Ana Rita. You can get some jumpy video of the service by going to YouTube and entering this address https://youtu.be/LDGg7KPJq6E

Praise and Prayer

  • Pray for Gary to find a publisher for his new book
  • Praise that we have several new donors!
  • And PRAISE that we are back in Costa Rica!

 Many blessings to you! Gary and Karen Shogren

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August 2018 – “Is our Furlough Wrapping Up?”

Our times in the US (besides short visits) are a funny thing: they happen every 3-4 years; they can go as long as 12 months; their start date is always iffy; and the finish date is the most unpredictable of all!

We now have been in Lancaster Country, Pennsylvania, since January, and our hope is to return for the next semester at ESEPA in September.

Since arriving in the States, we have logged many miles through Pennsylvania and three tours through New England.

We have spoken to about 20 church meetings and many small groups Continue reading

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April 2018 Newsletter!

Greetings from SE Pennsylvania!

We are making the most of our Home Assignment (furlough). This is a wonderful time to visit our supporting churches and reconnect with many of you, updating everyone about our teaching ministries. We are highlighting Karen’s new ministry, training Costa Rican church leaders how to handle sexual abuse. In the odd hours, we are also spending time doing writing, research, and networking.

If you’re on furlough, Amish country is a great place to be!

Typically, a missionary couple can expect to spend a full year on furlough, but our situation is unique. We are responsible to care for our foster boy Sammy, and he cannot get a visa to come north with us. It is difficult for him to have us gone even for the four months we have scheduled for this cycle. In fact, in our absence he seems to be trying to set the record for eating Easter Peeps.

We have a lot of ground to cover in the two short months we have left before our planned return to Costa Rica. If you are interested in hearing more about our work, we would love to visit with you over coffee! In particular, we will be in New England from April 6-23. Get in touch with us by email at either keshogren@gmail.com or gsshogren@gmail.com.

Our Schedule
April 7: Karen’s Workshop to be held at Sovereign Grace Church, Boscawen, NH: “The Christian’s Response to Sexual Abuse”
April 8: Living Hope Church, Penacook, NH
April 15: Sovereign Grace, Boscawen, NH
April 22: Perryville, RI
April 27-29: Karen is speaking at Woodlyn’s Women’s Retreat, PA
April 29: Woodlyn Baptist, Woodlyn, PA
May 6: Christ Evangelical Free Church, Lehighton, PA
May 13: Whitehall Bible Fellowship Church, Whitehall, PA
May 20: Lancaster Bible Fellowship, Lancaster, PA

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