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June 2022 Newsletter

Karen: “I will never look at kazoos the same way again!”


Perhaps a bit of background on that one!

March and April were extremely busy for my ministry. One conferences after another, presenting material on all sorts of subjects and age level. .

When that combined with the involved spiritual warfare, travel, lack of time to regroup between events  – and most of our belongings still in boxes – it was an extraordinarily stressful time that left me feeling isolated, exhausted and disoriented.

Then came my last event, the spring women’s retreat of Woodlyn Baptist Church at Camp Sankanak. I didn’t have much to do except to give a very short ministry update and to be a small group leader. The 4 of us in our group enjoyed lively discussions comparing Bible passages in various translations and applying them to our lives.  Soon we all felt so comfortable together that one woman shared some personal concerns. The rest of us rallied around her with prayers and offers of help and it was a special time of ministry. It wasn’t until later that it dawned on each of us how perfectly suited that particular group of women had been to help our sister. It was a group so perfectly put together that only God could have done it. And that got us thinking.

Usually small groups are pre-organized. But this time it had been different: each small group leader was given a differently colored kazoo ahead of time (my kazoo was red).

During our first large group meeting everybody else picked a kazoo from a large bag without looking or understanding the significance of the different colors. The colored kazoos assigned us to groups. But obviously, it was God who grouped us together. So God used a bag full of kazoos to make sure we were all in the right place at the right time to be his voice and arms so he could love and help one of his precious daughters.

We will never look at kazoos the same way again. We will never look at God the same way again. Praise him!
 
Welcome to new newsletter friends from:
Faith BFC Harleysville women’s retreat
Woodlyn Baptist Church women’s retreat
North Chester Baptist Church
 
Upcoming Presentation:
June 12—Tasker Street Missionary Baptist Church morning service, 9am at 2010 Tasker Street, Philadelphia, PA, or online https://www.facebook.com/TSMBC2
 
Prayer Requests

  • Household focus: Finish and move into Karen’s home office, finish unpacking and organizing
  • Karen’s ministry focus: website and social media presence for recruiting new students
  • Gary’s ministry focus: doing the final edit of the SUN Old Testament for the deaf non-reader; giving ESEPA courses.

In April, all of the WorldVenture missionaries from the Americas got together in Orlando. A milestone, after years of COVID!


Blessings,
 

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Extra, extra February newsletter!

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FEBRUARY 2022 NEWSLETTER

This month we will catch up on three of Gary’s ministries.

One: Authoring a Catechism for the Deaf and Deafblind

I have now finished two years of work on the SUN Bible for Wycliffe Associates. This is a Bible translation for the Deaf and the Deafblind, written in an entirely new language that the blind can read with their fingers. The whole Bible is available, and one last step is that in 2022 I will be going through the entire Old Testament one more time, to make sure of its “consistency” – that is, the same symbol is used the same way every time. So far, I have done Genesis, half of Numbers, Ecclesiastes, and Jonah.

We have other materials too – for example, we now offer “Our Daily Bread” in SUN!

Plus: last summer I had one of those “Aha!” moments. It occurred to me that, since SUN is such a simplified code language, it would be an ideal medium for a CATECHISM, a short-cut to learning Basic Christianity. The deaf can see/the deafblind will read with their fingers, and they can even memorize them and write them back to their teacher.

Now, back in 1969, when I was preparing for baptism, we memorized a catechism. For those who haven’t used one, it traditionally has a question-and-answer format. Here we are, just after being baptized.

Continue reading

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EXTRA, EXTRA! SHOGRENS SPECIAL NEWSLETTER

Hello friends,We have some news for you that just can’t wait until our scheduled newsletter!

For some time, we have been asking for God’s guidance about when would be the right time to relocate back to the US and continue our missionary work from there. Now it’s obvious that God’s answer is NOW. We will permanently return to the Philadelphia area on November 15.

Please click here to see a VIDEO (click the link) that explains our decision in more detail, and we are also including the script of the video below.

We want to emphasize that:

We are not retiring.

We are not changing jobs.

We are not changing what we do,

But we are changing where we do it.

We will still be missionaries, supported by you, the churches and individuals that have been behind us financially and spiritually all this time.

We will continue to work full-time: we’ll both still teach at ESEPA Seminary (virtually, still, because of COVID), Gary will continue to write and to work on the SUN Bible translation for Wycliffe Associates, and Karen will continue to develop her ministry Levanta La Voz.

We have a few requests:

From here on, send all mail to our new address: 49 Germantown Avenue, Christiana, PA, 17509.

Please consider giving a special donation towards our moving expenses. As you might imagine, this will be a very costly transition. If God puts it on your heart to do so, you can donate through WorldVenture in several ways:

  • Send a check payable to WorldVenture, 20 Inverness Place, Englewood CO 80112. If you send a check, please do NOT write our name on the subject line of the check, but instead include a small note indicating that your donation is intended for the work of Gary and Karen Shogren, number 4000-055, as well as your own contact information.
  • OR Make a donation online at www.WorldVenture.com. Click on the following buttons beginning on the first page: How to Give, under Support World Venture click Give Now, select an amount, click Next, click on Select a Worker or Project, scroll down the list to find and click on our account 4000-055 Gary and Karen Shogren, click Next, and fill out the remainder of the form and information.
  • If you have any questions, please contact WorldVenture directly at 720-283-2000 or Giving@WorldVenture.com


Please pray that God will continue to smooth our way as we continue working full-time. Many blessings, Gary and Karen

VIDEO TRANSCRIPT:

When we first talked about moving to Costa Rica, we emphasized that we were not changing what we were doing (Gary was teaching in a seminary, and Karen was homeschooling the kids), but we were changing our location. Long before online education, there was more of a need for seminary professors outside the US, and God led us to work at ESEPA seminary in San José, Costa Rica.We have been serving there, face-to-face since 1998. During that time, Karen too joined the faculty and started an entirely new ministry training church leaders about the prevention and intervention of sexual abuse.

We have the same important message for you now, 23 years later: we are not changing what we do, but we are again changing the location from which we will do it. We are moving back to the United States, and will both continue teaching overseas, online, full-time.There are a variety of reasons why this is the smart decision:

Online education is becoming the norm worldwide – it reaches people far beyond what was possible in-person, it is cost-effective, and it is efficient

We now have been working exclusively online for a year and a half, and it has proven to be a game-changer for both of us, expanding our ministry scope and efficiency in ways we never could have imagined.

Gary is now doing all his teaching online, also conferences, as well as his writing and Bible translation work with Wycliffe AssociatesKaren’s work with her ministry Levanta La Voz has been exclusively online, and that allows people to be involved from all over the world

COVID is still a significant threat to in-person communication, and will continue to be so for quite some time, especially in underdeveloped countries

Costa Rica’s incidence of COVID is still very high and the new variant is now present. 1 in 10 Costa Ricans have had COVID.

We have been in quarantine for a year and a half. It does not look like that will change in the medium term.

Our living expenses will be cheaper for us back in the US, making it easier to maintain full missionary support during this time of economic uncertainty.

Our employers are convinced that allowing us to work from the US will be a benefit to everyone. WorldVenture (our mission agency) and ESEPA Seminary (the organization to whom we are seconded) have given us the go-ahead to move back to the US and continue working with them.

We will be in Costa Rica until Nov 15.

From then on, we will continue to work full-time from Pennsylvania, training Costa Rican church leaders and leaders in all other countries of the world, writing resources for them, and being involved in the Bible translation efforts of Wycliffe Associates. With both of us continuing to work full-time, we expect that God will use us to have an even greater impact on the world in the future!

To sum up:

We are not retiring! Just relocating.

We look to be financed by our donors for the long-term.

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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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