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August 2021 Newsletter

Gary’s turn this month.

We have seen many, many of you in the past few months! We popped up to Pennsylvania in April to get vaccinated and see the family, and decided we should make the rounds of some of our supporting churches. There were only so many Sundays, so we are sorry we didn’t see all of you: you will be at the top of the list for next time!

For those we did not see: all summer I have been preaching on the Two Great Commandments – to love God and to love our neighbor. My sense has been that while the church always pledges allegiance to those two priorities, we often get diverted into other crusades.

You can watch our missionary update and read my whole sermon HERE (https://openoureyeslord.com/2021/08/01/the-two-greatest-commandments-do-we-really-believe-that-the-bible-got-it-right-luke-1025-42/).

A portion:

People who tell you or even imply by their tone of voice that before doing the First and the Second you need to, that before Loving God with all your being some other box must be checked, to create a political or family or cultural or social environment and THEN we can begin to do Commandment One and Two, is telling Jesus he got it wrong. He or she is like the man who is plowing the field and keeps looking back over his shoulder. It doesn’t matter if you zig left or zag right, you’ll be plowing a crooked row. And the apostles agree on this: look at Romans, 1 Peter, 1 John, and even Revelation: the church of Ephesus was perfect except for this: they had lost their first love; and Jesus said he would snuff out their candle for that one error.

The Good Samaritan

The Good Samaritan demonstrates his love for his neighbor

No, Commandment One, Commandment Two are correctly labeled and in the right  order: Love for God – by developing intimacy with God (which would require a whole series of sermons) – concrete steps to know him intimately, spend time with him, learn his ways; for the first commandment is to love Him with  all your being – can you begin to find and help your neighbor. Love your neighbor as yourself – spend  time with them, learn about them, put yourself in their shoes, and love them as God  does. Jesus did both commandments perfectly, and it sent him to the cross. And both these commandments we do in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and only through the power of the Holy Spirit who teaches us to love.

I realized that not everyone was up to date on my work with Wycliffe Associates. I am the final editor through the entire Old Testament in a new symbol-language Bible for the deaf-and-blind and the deaf illiterate. (My final exam was to translate Jonah 1 into SUN). The SUN Bible New Testament is already available, and the Old Testament will be out as soon as possible. HERE is a full description (https://www.mnnonline.org/news/symbolic-universal-notation-a-new-way-to-reach-the-deaf-and-blind/). And you can take a look here (https://bibleineverylanguage.org/processes/sun/) and you can download a book to see what it looks like (actually, for the deaf-blind, feels like – they read it with their fingers!).

Blessings this month! Gary and Karen

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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 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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Who are Gary and Karen Shogren?

We are WorldVenture missionaries to Costa Rica. Gary is professor of New Testament at Seminario ESEPA and is a blogger and author. Karen teaches at ESEPA and also specializes in sexual abuse and the church. They have four adult children who live in the USA.

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February 2018 newsletter, part 1

Greetings from Lancaster County!

First of all: If you use Facebook, please visit us at Shogrens in Costa Rica, and click to follow us for regular updates.

Karen writes: We are here in the US until sometime in May for a short home assignment. We have urgent and exciting projects awaiting us in Costa Rica, so we are in a bit more of a hurry than usual to raise the money we need to return: $1850 per month.

Visiting Calvary Protestant on Long Island

What does that mean?

Since we do not take a salary from any of the people we serve, our monthly living expenses all come from donations to our sending board, WorldVenture. We have to raise every penny for all of our expenses: salary, health insurance, Social Security contribution, ministry expenses, etc. Sometimes our donations come from churches, but number-wise, most of them come from individuals.

Would you consider becoming one of those individuals who supports us with a regular month gift? If 18 people would sign up to give $100 a month on our behalf, and one would sign up to give $50 a month, we would have reached our goal!

You would be a tangible part of Team Shogren, and we would be working side-by-side with you, serving our Lord in Costa Rica.

We would love to meet with you personally to share the vision with you! If you would like to share a cup of coffee with us at a shop near your home, please just email Karen to set it up: keshogren@gmail.com

Blessings! Gary and Karen

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February 2018 newsletter, part 2

Gary’s Blog This Month

Every time we are in the USA, we are reminded that everyone is busy, busy! But there is no excuse for not reading the Bible. Enjoy Gary’s short article, “No Time for Bible Reading?” It is located on openoureyeslord.com, just click here, “No Time for Bible Reading?

Prayer Requests

  • Karen is busy doing research and holding meetings to explore a new ministry
  • Dr. Vikky Shogren has just graduated with her degree from Arcadia in physical therapy and passed her board exams!

Financial needs for 2018

You can give us a one-time gift or become a partner through our worldventure.com, click HERE.

Many blessings to you! Gary and Karen Shogren

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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

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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

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Gary’s new (very part-time) ministry – June 2015 Newsletter

What if you had to learn, let’s say, Romanian if you wanted to read the Bible?

Gary says: I have long admired the work of Bible translators, as they do the hard work of taking the Scriptures to the 1.3 billion who do not have the whole Word of God in their own – not in someone else’s – language.

I have just been offered a chance to lend a hand to this process (visit https://unfoldingword.org/). I am now working some hours a week to write a handbook that will help translators around the world. It’s called Door 43, named after Colossians 4:3 – “pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word” (Now, wasn’t that easier than read it in Romanian? “Rugaţi-vă totodată şi pentru noi, ca Dumnezeu să ne deschidă o uşă pentru Cuvânt”).

This handbook will then be translated into 50 languages that are used all around the world. And from those 50 “Portal Languages” (e.g., English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Mandarin Chinese, Russian, Vietnamese, etc.) it will be possible to translate the Bible into every single language and dialect in the world. In theory, 100% coverage.

To give an example, we know that in Mexico people speak Spanish, right? But did you know that the government recognizes 68 other indigenous languages? That means that plenty of people cannot hear or read the Bible in their first language, and the Bible forever remains a “foreign” book.

So what will happen is this: Christian leaders in Mexico who speak both languages will use an app on their tablets, and bit by bit translate the Bible from Spanish into their own local dialect.

It is amazing that in the 21st century, people in remote areas, without electricity or telephones can start translating the Bibles into their own languages, using kits that donors have supplied (click here).

Wycliffe Associates just tried an experiment: they set up 13 native speakers in a remote area of Asia – and working in 12-hour shifts, they were able to translate half the New Testament in just a month.

We have nine people on our committee, and we are working on Acts. Our task is to go carefully over the text, and to write Translation Notes that will help people in the field to render the Bible accurately. For example, in Acts 16:31, Paul says “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, and your house.” We have a note about the word “house” – we remind translators that it doesn’t mean the physical building where people live, but rather the people who lived with the Philippian jailor – his extended family, workers, and servants. Now no-one will make the mistake of having the Bible say that “your hut can be born-again”!

Here are two notes that I wrote for Acts 20:7 – On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul spoke to the believers. He was planning to leave the next days, so he kept speaking until midnight. 8 There were many lamps in the upper room where we had come together.

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This project will run for 3-5 years, and has the potential of reaching every language on earth, and within a much abbreviated period of time. In fact, they will be flying me to their center in Orlando on June 20, where I will work with a team to write the Romans material in just a week.

Everything we do as missionaries to Costa Rica is aimed toward one goal: “Y este evangelio del reino se predicará en todo el mundo como testimonio a todas las naciones, y entonces vendrá el fin.” – Oops! That’s the Spanish of Matthew 24:14. Better say it in English! “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”

Please pray for this new open door! Blessings this month, Gary and Karen

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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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