Tag Archives: missions

One of Gary’s “Other Ministries”

Let’s label this ministry as: “Hi homeless friend! Would you like some breakfast?”

On Saturday, I (Gary) go to the local grocer and buy a kilo of local farmer’s cheese and a couple of loaves of bread and big bottles of iced tea. Then I make up sandwiches for 20 or 25 people, gather paper cups, 2-3 New Testaments in a simplified version, maybe some clothes.

On the street around 7am, I leave the car in a parking lot and head out with a jammed-full backpack. I take safety precautions, but since I go out early, most of them are still docile after their Saturday night. The street people migrate from one spot to another, so they aren’t necessarily where I last left them. It takes a second for the brain to register, That pile of rags is a man; that cardboard box is someone’s house.

Homeless person in San José, archive photo


(NOTE: I used to take a few pictures with people, but now do not; I wonder whether I would be dehumanizing people more than necessary if I took “here- am-being-generous!” selfies)

Wherever I see a cluster of people I stop and ask, Would you like some breakfast? I used to ask, “Are you hungry?”, but I switched my phrasing Continue reading

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June 2017 Newsletter

Gary in the Mideast!

I (Gary) just got back from a tour along with Oreland Presbyterian, in which we began at Cairo and traced the entire route of the Exodus, through the Sinai, into Jordan, before visiting the main sites in Israel. This was my first time to visit any of these three countries, and I have pictures and memories that will take me months to unravel.

At the site of the Temple of Jerusalem

If I had to condense the trip down to a few striking places:

The “Garden Tomb” – This site might be the tomb where they buried Jesus. But since the evidence for it is very slim, I didn’t think I would enjoy it much. Was I wrong! In fact, the site is owned and run by a group of British Christians Continue reading

June 2016 Newsletter!

Let’s study the Evangelio de Marcos (Gospel of Mark)!

One of Gary’s courses this term is a study of Mark. Every Wednesday morning at 8am, they spend three hours on this wonderful book.

One big focus is “Who is Jesus Christ?” From the very first verse (“The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God”) to the account of his death (the centurion: “Surely this was the Son of God!”) the students trace how Jesus is God’s unique Son, who rocks the world by healing the sick, telling demons what to do, and even – gasp! – taking it on himself to forgive the sins they had committed against God. Besides doing their own analysis of Mark’s “christology,” the students have two other projects: talking to a youth group about the person of Jesus, and talking to a non-Christian about who Jesus claimed to be. This class is heavy on studying, but also doing and telling.

In the gospels, Jesus is Continue reading

April 2015 Newsletter

On Friday, our community San Francisco de Dos Ríos celebrated its annual Passion Play. To my surprise, while “Jesus” hung on the cross (tied in this version, not nailed; see picture below) a literal earthquake shook the ground beneath our feet.

Then over the weekend I listened to Bach’s St. Matthew’s Passion, which reminds us that at Jesus’ death, “the curtain of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom. And the earth was filled with quaking”. The way to God was opened, and the power of the grave was nullified.

All because of a cross.

The Romans regarded “cross” as one of the worst curse-words in their language. Their darkest obscenity was “I in malam maximam crucem!” which roughly translates to “Go and get really badly crucified!” It was a shocking profanity. Yet this curse of Jesus has become for us the way of salvation.

As Bach went on to write: “Ah, Golgotha, hapless Golgotha! The Lord of Glory must wretchedly perish here; the blessing and salvation of the world is placed on the cross like a curse. From the Creator of heaven and earth, earth and air shall be taken away. The guiltless must die here guilty. That strikes deep into my soul! Ah, Golgotha, hapless Golgotha!”

Take away the cross and we might as well dismiss the preachers; call the missionaries back home; tuck the Bible back on the Ancient Literature section of the library; turn Sunday School into playtime. But no! “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” And for those of us who were called to believe in the gospel, “Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God.” (see 1 Cor 1).

We can draw a direct line between the cross of Christ and our work in San Francisco de Dos Ríos. May all God’s children enjoy that same clarity!

(I invite you to read my sermon on the shame of the cross at http://openoureyeslord.com)

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June 2013 Update!

It was great to see our friends at Tasker Street, Covenant in Bath, PA, Whitehall BFC, Calvary Protestant, Friendship Baptist, Oreland EPC, Mount Hope, Lehigh Baptist, Chestnut Hill Baptist, Living Hope, Sovereign Grace, Oasis Church, Bible Fellowship Church in Quinehaug, Connecticut, Christ Evangelical Free in Lehighton, the Bible Fellowship Annual Meeting and the Bible Fellowship Missionary Conference, 14 churches and 2 conferences within the space of 8 weeks!

Thanks for your new commitment to finance our work: Blaine, Nate, John and Debby, Kimberlee, Karen K, Phil and Marty, Robyn, Andy and Cel, Lloyd, Ruth and Ron, Ted and Audrey, Arlene, Sister Johnson, Deb C., Jenn Florin, Perryville, Steve and Phyllis, Redeemer BFC. And thanks for your continued support, Deb S.

COME HEAR THE SHOGRENS! There are things we can share in person which we cannot post on our website.

We are currently in New Mexico, visiting Tim and Ariel. We will be traveling across the country, so if you or your group want to hear us speak over the next 2 weeks, respond to this message right away!

Everyone wants to know when we are due to return to Costa Rica. The answer is simple: as soon as we raise all of our money! God knows the specific date, and we are aiming for a time frame. Gary will be teaching the next ESEPA semester online, and Karen has already said she’s unavailable for her two summer courses, which gives us flexibility until this fall. However we both hope to be able to return by the middle of September.

So far we still need to raise about 2400/month.

** For those of you who are keeping track of our financial progress: our finances are complicated, we’ve lost another church, it’s taken us all these months to compile all of our budget needs. We’re seriously praying that this is the FINAL gross figure, and there will be no more losses to recoup!

Gary and Karen share at Tasker Street Baptist, S. Philly

Gary and Karen share at Tasker Street Baptist, S. Philly

What does Spanish matter?

A cabinetmaker needs a professional router.
A programmer needs plenty of RAM.
A chef needs a serious mixer.
A missionary teacher needs a second language. For the missionary, language is the principal tool for doing ministry.

What are we trying to communicate when we use Spanish?

  • that we are here for the long term.
  • that we were serious about working in their culture.
  • that we want to speak about God in their “lengua del corazón” (language of the heart).

In Costa Rica, the central social event is to sit and enjoy a “cafecito” (a bit of coffee) with friends. Continue reading