Hi There, I’m Kathryn

 

Hi there, I’m Kathryn, or as I am called here in Costa Rica, Catalina.

I am a photographer, artist, writer, bookworm, and serious coffee snob. I am a bit obsessed with beach cruiser bicycles (always with a basket!), extra large sunhats, fresh pineapple, and Taco Tuesdays.

Most importantly though, I am the new communications/media coordinator for ReachGlobal Latin America/Caribbean, and will be curating this blog for the next few years, so I thought I’d take a moment to introduce myself.

I am a Southern California girl raised in the mountains of Colorado, with an insatiable desire to travel and explore new places. Because of this, I have gotten to see many parts of the world, and live in some interesting places, my favorite being a remote village in the Alaskan bush for two years. My education is in art, with a degree in music first and photography second. My photography degree had an emphasis in photojournalism and documentary work, with the purpose of working in the non-profit world. I had the privilege of working in depth with an inner city Christian school in Denver for several years, helping them with their fundraising and awareness efforts by making short videos and doing expansive photographic stories.

My heart is to tell God’s stories around the world, and I am over the moon that I get to do that here in this region.

I will be based out of Costa Rica for the next few years, making my way around Latin America and the Caribbean, telling the stories of our teams, ministries, and partner churches along the way. You can expect an abundance of photos and videos here on the blog, as well as the grand narrative of how God is building His church in this part of the world. I look forward to learning, sharing, and hearing from you as well!

My other passion is teaching art to people who are walking through trauma or just need a safe space to open up and make beautiful things. Art journaling is my specialty, which is really just “mess making with a purpose” as I like to call it. It has been a wonder and privilege to watch the Lord transform hearts and open up closed off spaces during art classes over the years. If you are interested in learning a bit more about this, you can read my blog post here.

My heart and vision for this blog is to be a space for connection, for stories, and for community. We can all use updates on each other’s ministries, but storytelling is so much more than just reporting the news. We get to all be a part of this Kingdom work, whether we are in Latin American countries or somewhere completely different and participating by prayer and giving. This blog has been, and will continue to be a place where we can go to see the stories that God is writing in His church, and the ways we are connected to one another in the body.

If you are interested in learning more of my story, please visit my personal blog over at www.kathrynbronnblog.com. I can’t wait to walk this journey and see where God leads us as a Division and the Body of Christ over these next few years! ¡Pura vida!

Calling Young Adults! [Summer Apex Missions]

Combine your passion to serve in cross-cultural missions with our passion for developing future mission leaders.

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From June 19-August 4, 2017, ReachGlobal is sending out teams of young adults (college age and post-grads) to locations around the world as part of our Apex mission program. Apex teams will integrate into the local ReachGlobal teams, serving alongside our missionaries while receiving training and equipping for future mission and ministry success.

Let us invest in you while you invest in the cities and countries that we call home.

Find out more about how you can serve this summer in:

Applications are due by April 2017 — however, the programs are first-come, first-serve and may fill up sooner. If God is calling you to go deeper into missions, don’t miss your opportunity to be part of His greater story in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Taking Bytes of the Bible

ProMETA delivers seminary courses online

For Latin American church leaders like Hernan Aguilar, the online education revolution has delivered something that was once out of their reach: a top-shelf theological education.

Hernan is a member of Vida Abundante Del Sur Church in Desamparados, Costa Rica. He leads a discipleship program of 200 people within his church of 700 members, on top of his full-time job as a field representative for a large Christian non-profit.

As a father, husband, career man, church board member and discipleship leader, Hernan (like thousands of other Latin American pastors) has little time for seminary classes, let alone the money or the means to travel to them.

However, with ProMETA (the Spanish acronym for “Accessible Master’s Programs in Theological Education”), Hernan has been able to take seminary classes without sacrificing the other responsibilities in his life.

“ProMETA for me was God’s answer to prayer,” Hernan says.

Sharp students, accessible courses

ProMETA is an online, non-profit seminary program started in 2006 by ReachGlobal – after six years of testing. Based in San Jose, Costa Rica, ProMETA offers flexible and accessible Biblical training to Latin American leaders, all in Spanish, though additional materials are available in English and Portuguese. 

A full 60-hour master’s degree curriculum costs about $4,200. Students can earn a master’s degree either in contextualized biblical theology or Christian leadership.

ProMETA currently has 109 students from 19 countries (incoming students must have a college degree). The average student age is 42, and many are professionals who come with a master’s degree or even a Ph.D. Many students also work as pastors, either full-time or in addition to other full-time careers such as engineering or medicine.

However, most have no formal Bible training — and it’s the Bible training they really want, says Ted, ProMETA’s Academic Dean.

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“You’re talking about people very thirsty for learning more. So they’re sharp people with a lot of motivation.”

— Ted, ProMETA academic dean

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“They’re in ministry – this isn’t preparation for ministry,” Ted says. “So they are looking for answers, they’re looking for ways to improve their ministry, deepen their knowledge and skills.

“You’re talking about people very thirsty for learning more. So they’re sharp people with a lot of motivation. That makes it a wonderful learning experience – for the teachers, above all.”

Education made relevant 

A typical ProMETA class might have 10 students from four or five different countries connected through the class forums and, often, live discussions over Skype. Through its online forums and discussions, ProMETA wants to make theological education both flexible and available for Latin American leaders like Hernan, says Keith, ProMETA’s director.

“We are targeting the Hernans of Latin America that can take principles and craft something … that is relevant to their culture and totally biblical,” Keith says.

Hernan, 44, has been attending ProMETA classes since 2010 and has completed about 40 percent of his theology degree coursework. His goal is to pass on what he’s learned as a ProMETA student to other leaders in his church. His hope is to increase the number of people in the church’s discipleship program from 200 to 560 – 80 percent of the church.

Along with Vida Abudante del Sur’s pastor and other leaders, Hernan developed all of the discipleship material from scratch. The discipleship program teaches basic theology and doctrine of Christianity, leadership, and other key ministry values—for example, excellence, discipline and friendship.

Hernan leads the committee that produces the materials, and he then assists in teaching the leaders within the program who go on to teach their own private groups. That kind of vision and initiative exemplifies what ProMETA tries to instill, according to Keith.

“The advantage that Hernan has is he’s writing it as a Latin American and he knows how to contextualize it,” Keith says. “The way he writes it, the examples that he uses, the words — they all connect with the new believers, whereas a missionary would be totally oblivious to all of that. So that produces more effective disciples.”

Hernan, who has not yet finished the program, says he is enjoying his education and the professors so far. He has found the program rigorous and relevant to Latin American culture.

“I have developed skills and knowledge and ambition as a leader — ambition that all of our members of the church become disciples,” Hernan says. “The program has helped me to serve better in my church.”

And that really is the motivation behind what ProMETA does.

“We’ve got a very strong feeling and desire to equip those people who are in a position to make the biggest impact on their region so that there’s a strong ripple effect from these folks,” Ted says. “They’re capable of teaching other people already. We just want to make them effective in that.”

PRAY 

  • For students’ lives, ministries, and nations to be transformed as a result of their studies with ProMETA.
  • That ProMETA will find new ways to make the school accessible to a wider audience of Christian leaders in the region.
  • That ProMETA will find new sources of long-term funding for its programs.
  • That ProMETA will attract and retain students who can train others in solid theology and practice.
  • For the health and growth of churches that ProMETA students lead and minister in.
  • That God would widen the positive influence of ProMETA students and their churches so that the gospel of Jesus can penetrate more and more communities.

LEARN MORE

See a photo gallery about one area of ReachGlobal’s work in Costa Rica.

Read more about ReachGlobal’s work in Latin America.

GIVE

If you’d like to support the development of ProMETA courses, go here.
If you’d like to support the ProMETA scholarship fund, go here.

Missionary Pulse: The Cabécar

Living the Gospel Within Another Culture

After a 24-hour trip in the mountains of Costa Rica, Brian Duggan was exhausted.

The arduous journey was worth it, though. He had witnessed something beautiful that day—the singing and dancing of Cabécar Christians.

The Cabécar are one of six distinct indigenous groups native to Costa Rica. They live scattered in remote mountainous regions within protected reservations—so distant from one another that it may take a day’s hike over difficult terrain to visit a neighbor. Growing bananas, creating hand-woven baskets and hammocks and doing day labor outside the reserves are their simple means of survival.

Cabécar people typically have little in the way of education or economic opportunity. They often speak quietly to outsiders with downcast eyes, as if they are inferior to other Costa Ricans.

Transformed through worship

However, when it comes to worship, the Cabécar are anything but quiet. Their voices transform into loud praying and singing the moment they begin to worship, creating songs in their native tongue.

Since the Cabécar people are so scattered, church is not a weekly event for them. Instead, they gather together once a month for an all-night celebration of singing, praying, preaching, dancing and eating.

It was a Saturday afternoon in May when Duggan found himself in one of these raucous services. Meeting in a small building with a dirt floor and planks for pews, the church asked Duggan to speak that evening. He kept his message short and to the point.

“Because I have been in so many churches of all kinds throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, I can encourage them with a simple truth: We are all one family and equal before the cross,” Brian says. “I bring them greetings from sister churches who are similar in many ways.

“Though geographically distant, with different languages and cultures, understanding that they have brothers and sisters in Christ who are worshipping along with them is a great source of encouragement.”

Traveling home

Following the service, which ended at 2 a.m. Sunday, Brian began his long journey home.

After walking for two hours down the mountain in the dark, Duggan and his group were covered in mud. They finally made it back to their creaky 4WD truck and drove for four hours over bumpy gravel roads to the capital city of San José.

Just before collapsing into his bed at 7 that morning, Duggan turned his thoughts to the Cabécar believers.

“They have learned to live the Gospel in the context of their own culture,” he says. “It is not an imported worship, but a heartfelt and natural expression of the grace we have received.

“Thanks to the provision of our supporters, I have been honored to be able to visit, encourage and share with churches all over this region of the world how they are God’s choice for the growth of His kingdom.”

© 2012 EFCA. All rights reserved. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bringing Jesus to the Party

Missionaries weave gospel into every facet of life in Mexico City

During their time in Spain, EFCA ReachGlobal missionaries Joshua and Naomi were forced to rethink two critical issues: How the church multiplies itself, and how the gospel gets spread.

Now that Joshua is ReachGlobal’s city team leader in Mexico City, he and his wife are employing the lessons they learned in Western Europe in a new setting. Tops on that list: Think small, and go where nonbelievers go.

The latter conviction got put to the test recently when Joshua and Naomi were invited to a posada (Christmas party) by a friend that Naomi met at their kids’ school. They ran the idea by some Christian friends — some said go, some weren’t so sure. Thinking back to the many parties they threw and attended with non-Christian friends in Spain, the choice was pretty simple.

“We want to be where non-Christians are,” Joshua says. “So we decided to go and see what happens.”

‘What would you do differently?’

Smith PartyAt the party, the women gathered around a table, the men around a bar. While the other men drank copious amounts of tequila, rum and whiskey, the conversation turned from alcohol to the apocalypse.

“Hey, do you think the world’s going to end in 2012?” one man asked Joshua.

“I don’t think so, but if the world were to end tomorrow, what would you do differently?” Joshua replied.

And so the stage was set. The man replied in a different vein, about if he were to die, what he would leave for his family.

When it was Joshua’s turn to answer, he said, ideally, he wouldn’t change anything, because he was already trying to live every part of his life in light of the gospel. That led right into his testimony of how God saved him from thoughts of suicide as a 15-year-old, his time in Spain as a missionary, and his reasons for coming to Mexico.

The result? A half-hour group conversation about the nature of the gospel. That conversation never would have happened if Joshua and Naomi had been too shy or aloof to attend a party everyone knew was going to involve a lot of alcohol.

“Now these people have a better understanding of the gospel,” Joshua says. “Now I have a relationship with a group of men I would have never met before.”

And from that, Naomi already has had one of the women at the party and a couple of her friends over to their house, and Joshua has plans to meet one of the men, who gave Joshua his business card at the end of the night.

Connecting the dots

In his job as team leader, Joshua is responsible to train, equip and teach other people in ministry. But his job also involves strategy — in the case of the posada, just being intentional about possible gospel-sharing opportunities. “I’m going to show up because these people matter, and if God wants to give me the opportunity, I’m going to be ready for it.”

It’s all part of what Joshua and Naomi think of as a progressive connect-the-dots gospel picture that they try to draw for people through their relationships with them.

“When you bring the gospel to bear in all of life, what you’re doing is creating those dots,” Joshua says. “When I talk about the relationship of the gospel to my children, to my marriage, to suffering, to crime, to politics, to authority structure — whatever it is — when we talk about how the gospel applies to those areas, we may not get the whole thing in it, but what we’re doing is giving people the dots.

“Through daily life, over time, those dots begin to take shape, and the Holy Spirit puts them together, and suddenly they have a pretty full understanding of what the gospel’s really about.”

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CONNECT

mexico@efca.org

View “A New Day” — a short video about the ReachGlobal ministry in Mexico City.

SERVE

Bring a short-term team to Mexico City. Or contact us about serving long-term as part of the Mexico City Team.

PRAY
  • For new relationships with nonbelievers to be opened up to every member of the Mexico City team this week.
  • For the team’s boldness in sharing the gospel with nonbelievers there.
  • For the ministry of Joshua and Naomi’s small group — that it would grow to include new believers and greater outreach to the city.
GIVE

Make an online donation to the Mexico City general ministry fund.

SHARE

Missionary Pulse: Being The New Kid

As a parent, it’s painful to see your children struggle.

“While it’s a tough pill to swallow, it is a valuable life experience for the kids to know how it feels to be on the wrong side of discrimination and bullying,” says Sue, EFCA ReachGlobal missionary in Costa Rica, referring to the challenges her three young children have faced in school.

“Hopefully, it will instill in them a compassion for others who are of a different race, culture, or economic or social status. It’s not the kind of lesson you hope your kids experience; but, at the same time, we are grateful that God has given them the perseverance to power through their struggles.”

When Sue and her husband, Dan, decided to leave behind friends, family and a comfortable income in Missouri to move their family to Costa Rica in December 2009, they did not make the decision lightly. Nor did they flippantly decide to send their children — Emma, Caleb, and Isaac — to bilingual schools this past February.

“It was a difficult decision to pull the kids out of Sojourn Academy, the missionary kids’ school where they studied during our first year in Costa Rica,” Sue says.  “However, we wanted the kids to have a better opportunity to engage in the Costa Rican culture, learn Spanish more fluently, and meet more kids who actually call Costa Rica home. So many of the students at Sojourn Academy are only here for a few months to, at most, one year, and we wanted our children to feel they had more stable, long-term classmates and friends.”

The transition has been hardest on 9-year-old Emma. As the oldest, she has the clearest memories of life and school in the States.

“Emma has shed many tears during the last school year,” says Sue. “Tears over new challenges, friends she misses both from Missouri and Sojourn Academy, and the desire to return to life back in the States.  But after many months of ups and downs, she finally has found a place in her new school and has made some solid friendships. Not to mention, she is excelling both socially and academically.”

“Emma has found her groove in after school activities, including art and gymnastics clubs,” Dan adds. “She seems to be naturally drawn to other international students, who understand her experiences as the new kid from a different country.”

Caleb, 6, has embraced the favorite Costa Rican pastime, soccer. Isaac, 4, has settled into the only home he really remembers — after all, he arrived in Costa Rica as a 2-year-old.

At the end of November, the three completed their first full school year at their new schools.

“We’re happy to put this first roller coaster year behind us,” Sue admits. The children will start next school year in February with improved Spanish, established friendships and a deeper understanding of their new culture.

“Thankfully, the difficulties are not something Emma, Caleb and Isaac have allowed to define their overall school experience.”

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Missionary Pulse is a column dedicated to reflections directly from the ReachGlobal Latin America missionaries on the field. See archives.

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CONNECT

latinamerica@efca.org

SERVE

Contact us to find out how you can serve in Costa Rica — individually or with a team — or consider opportunities to teach missionary kids.

PRAY
  • For Emma, Caleb, Isaac and all the missionary kids who face new challenges as new students in a different culture.
  • That God would use the difficult times to strengthen families and draw them closer to Him.
SHARE