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!

Serving in Rio Azul

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“At the end of 2013, my husband and I were invited to serve as leaders in a Costa Rican church restart in a nearby slum, Rio Azul. We had prayed for years that God would open doors so that we could participate on just such a team and were blown away by God’s goodness to provide such a wonderful opportunity. Since accepting the position, we now regularly teach, serve on the worship team, co-lead the Sunday school, preach, lead a Bible study, teach music and English classes and serve in a variety of other ways.”

Dave and Angie Ziel are ReachGlobal missionaries serving in San José, Costa Rica, since November 2011. Learn more about their life and ministry on their blog, Ziels in LA.

 

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.

Compassion for the Destitute in San Jose

ReachGlobal reaches poor through clinic partnership

Some people in Costa Rica can easily afford health care. Others, like Maria*, can only hope and pray for it.

Temporarily without her usual domestic-help jobs, Maria, a sweet middle-aged Nicaraguan woman, lives with 16 other family members under the same roof in the La Carpio slum of San Jose, Costa Rica.

On the main street, run-down houses are crammed together and look as though they could fall apart at any moment. You can smell the pollution in the air congesting your lungs. The garbage that lies on the streets and sidewalks is embedded in the cracks.

Responding to the influx of war refugees from Nicaragua, Christ for the City International founded Clínica Cristiana more than 15 years ago. They seek to provide basic medical and dental services to people like Maria who struggle to thrive day-to-day.

“I feel good about the way they have attended me here,” Maria says. “They always attend me well when I come. It is a way of surviving around here. If this clinic wasn’t around I don’t know what we’d do.”

Volunteers at the clinic also realize the greater need for spiritual healing of the heart: ReachGlobal missionaries Cathi and Melanie pray for a distraught patient whose newly discovered medical problem may go untreated because of family lack of funds for basic care.

Maria’s world

Without the security of a monthly paycheck and legal documents, basic health care is very difficult to find.

This specific clinic, however, is helpful to the people of La Carpio because those without insurance can see a dentist or a nurse without paying a price that’s probably too expensive. Even the seemingly affordable $8 Pap test, for example, proves too steep for many patients. In such cases, it is not unusual for one of the volunteers to cover the cost.

Their overarching goal is compassion: to extend a helping hand while meeting people’s physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.

“They try to give back a little love through the medical appointments,” Maria says. “They don’t just give us this, though, as they also give us occasional talks about the Word of God.”

Cathi’s passion

Cathi, a registered nurse who partners with Clínica Cristiana, has been volunteering on Tuesdays and Fridays for the past four years.

After the initial adjustment in moving to Costa Rica, Cathi struggled to find her purpose—outside of caring for her family. In the midst of frustrated tears one day, she begged God for direction. The very next day a doctor from the clinic called, asking Cathi if she would be interested in joining their ministry.

Although shock gripped her heart as she entered the slum that first day, the women’s need for accurate information and good health care has drawn her back week after week.

“I’d say that I have a deeper appreciation for the plight of women everywhere. Just seeing how we can meet their needs—their spiritual needs as well as their emotional needs, just by being here for women who have no social support of any sort.”

Serving women in the clinic has revived Cathi’s passion for ministering to the sick and brokenhearted.

“I think there’s always room for some kind of holistic health care,” Cathi says. “I think wherever any mission agency goes, we need to address the whole person—not just the physical but the spiritual and emotional aspect. That can be done anywhere in the world, but it takes people.”

*Name has been changed to protect patient’s confidentiality.

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CONNECT
PRAY
  • For Cathi and staff as they serve the community of La Carpio, an area of occasional tension and unrest.
  • That the clinic will find a gynecologist experienced with colposcopy and other gynecological procedures.
GIVE

The clinic is always in need of receiving blankets for newborns. It also has continual demand for 0-3 month t-shirts and hats for newborns. Contact Cathi to donate these items.

SHARE

 

Mission Beyond Borders

Costa Rican urban church team prepares to take compassion to New Orleans

Obstacle. The word is all too familiar to youth pastor Edgar Brenes and the members of his low-income Costa Rican church. Serving others around the world wouldn’t seem a high priority.

Edgar attends the Centro International de Avivamiento Church, which is just outside San Jose. It is filled with first-generation Christians from broken homes. Edgar and the rest of the 500-member congregation have not seen much outside of their own barrios (neighborhoods).

On June 30, all of that will change.

For the first time in the church’s ten-year history, seven youth members and two adults plan to take a trip to the United States. They’re going to New Orleans, where they will spend mornings attending Challenge, the bi-annual EFCA youth conference, and afternoons participating in outreach to a city continuing to recover from the 2005 Hurricane Katrina.

Youth member Rebecca Gonzalez, 20, says the team is excited to serve in a different country. “We can learn a lot from you [North Americans] and you can learn a lot from us. We would like to serve… We are not going just to travel.”

The journey

Setting this journey into motion has not been easy. In order for the team to go, members have had to apply for their passports and receive approval for tourist visas to the United States. Although the team is being sponsored by a partnering EFCA church, Church at Charlotte, members still have had to raise about $500 each. For the youth living in this underprivileged area of San Diego de Tres Rios, $500 is a seemingly impossible task.

Team member Ronald Chavarria, 20, says many team members are still in school, so they knew that paying for the trip would not be easy. Nevertheless, the team has been diligently holding car washes, garage sales, and selling lunches after church. Other church members have donated clothing to be sold at a rummage sale, with the funds going into the common pool for the trip.

Not only has preparing for this trip to the States been a financial challenge, but for many team members it also has been a mental challenge. Ronald notes that numerous people from the community, and even some from his own church family, have discouraged the trip out of jealousy. He can recall countless times that someone has said the team would not make it—that it is too expensive; too far; too unrealistic. But Ronald’s smile is contagious when he confirms that all those who doubted have been proved wrong.

“Since it’s the first time the youth from this church are traveling, it is a gift that is not coming from the church or the church in Charlotte, but from God,” says Ronald. The team believes that because this trip is a gift from God, no amount of jealousy inside or outside of the church can stand in the way.

Edgar says the team is ready. The youth have gone through a long process of hard work and they have prepared for the trip through prayer, Bible study and meditation.

“A personal expectation is to be able to convey what God has given us here — to transmit it there,” says Edgar, 37. “A passion for God; a love for people that need Christ. And my heart’s desire is multiplication… and to put into practice here all the things that we learn over there. I have high hopes for this group to learn and share with youth from other churches and countries.”

This passion for God and love for others is evident in the team and its church. Each new individual is welcomed in as a family member; no matter what their circumstances, their background, or their previous beliefs. This love and compassion is now being exported to New Orleans—literally.

“I think as children of God, when someone goes through something worse than us, God puts His words in our mouth, mainly in our heart, and makes us able to make other people see,” says team member Ana Guillen, 19. “Maybe we’ll feel the pain that they feel. Although we’re not going through the same pain, we might still be able to help.”

How can you help?

“The most important thing that this team needs right now is prayer,” says Melissa, a ReachGlobal missionary in Costa Rica who will be traveling with the group. “We’re trusting God to do much more than we can ask or imagine – like it says in Ephesians 3:20. We pray for safe travel and team unity, but we are praying for bigger things, too. That God would change the lives of our team members, stretching them and their faith. That they would see just how big the God they serve is. That He would help us cross cultural barriers to minister to those in need of His love in New Orleans. That this would be the first of many opportunities for Latinos to cross borders as missionaries to the world.”

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CONNECT

latinamerica@efca.org

PRAY
  • For the Costa Rican team as they travel to the United States — that God would use them to touch the lives of the people in New Orleans and that their own lives would be changed through the experience.
  • That the impact of this trip resounds well beyond the ten days of travel and service.
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Video: Costa Rica: ‘Because We Love Him’

The evangelical church is growing in Costa Rica, and it needs more leaders to shepherd the flock and serve their brothers and sisters. ReachGlobal is coming alongside Costa Ricans from all walks of life — pastors, lay leaders, business people, youth — to help them reach their country with the life-transforming power of the gospel.

ReachGlobal loves the people of Costa Rica. How can you love the people of Costa Rica?

Having trouble viewing the video? See it on YouTube or Vimeo.

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“Because We Love Him” is part of the Moving Latin America Pictures project. It is the second of five videos produced by a short-term mission team of videographers to capture the essence of the ministry and the needs on the field. Please stay tuned as we post a new video each week for the next three weeks.

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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.

PRAY
  • For the people of Costa Rica — that they would be transformed by the life-giving power of the gospel of Christ.
  • That God would raise up workers for the harvest in San Jose and throughout Costa Rica. Pray to see how He might be calling you.
GIVE

Make an online donation to the ministry in Costa Rica.

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