Road to a Masters Program

Introduction

It is hard to believe that in a few short months, the Biblical Seminary of Colombia will be in a position to offer one of the few evangelical, accredited masters programs in theology on the Latin American continent.

After years and years of dreaming, we are now in the final stages of having our program approved by the Ministry of Education of Colombia.  And what a program it promises to be.

Program highlights

We will begin by offering a Masters of Biblical Exegesis (with a hope of expanding into other emphases) in partnership with Fuller Theological Seminary in Los Angeles.  The combination of Fuller’s world-class professors and significant on-line Bible and theology resources significantly increases the value of our program for our prospective students.

The program is mostly virtual by design in order to allow anyone on the Spanish-speaking continent to study without leaving their home.  In addition, there will be a core set of two-week intensive courses that will be taught in Medellín.  This is wonderful news for Gustavo as he can be an integral part of the masters faculty even from a distance.

Road to a PhD

The program has been specifically designed for anyone wishing to pursue advanced theological studies in an evangelical context.  Also, because the program’s focus is on languages and advanced exegesis, it is ideally suited to prepare students for eventual PhD studies (the next stage of our dreams here at the BSC).

Latin America desperately needs its own theologians, scholars, writers, professors and leaders who can provide direction and resources for the church and who can engage the broader culture with the gospel in a constructive and prophetic way.  The masters program is another step in preparing this new generation of leaders.

We ask for your prayers as we make our way through the arduous accreditation process.

Virtual, Moving, Anticipation

Going Virtual

Gustavo is teaching a virtual course this semester (the Book of Acts).  Since the virtual program’s inception last year, student enrollment has nearly doubled at the Biblical Seminary of Colombia (BSC).  While teaching virtually has its challenges, the on-line platform is extremely flexible allowing Gustavo to engage with his students through articles, forums, chats and video lectures.  Indeed, he is able to deliver the same quality content that residential students receive but with the added bonus of being within a Web 2.0 environment.

In a remarkable tale of the program’s reach, last year one of our residential students (Joel) met and married another student of Colombian / Swedish decent.  They both moved back to Sweden and Joel had to drop out of the undergraduate theology program.  Well, imagine my surprise to find out that Joel returned to his studies through our virtual program.  It has been a real pleasure to reconnect with Joel, to study the Book of Acts together and to read about how he is contextualizing its lessons within his own European church context.

Going Virtual 2.0

Upon our return to Boston, Gustavo will continue as a professor at the BSC teaching in the seminary’s three virtual programs, supervising student theses (via Skype) and making periodic trips to Medellín to teach intensive and extension courses.  While Gustavo will miss the day-to-day interaction with students, the administration and other professors, there will be no shortage of opportunities to contribute to the seminary’s growth and quality of programs as well as the development of pastors, leaders and missionaries for the Latin American church.

Moving On Up (and Out)

Our plans for a Boston relocation are proceeding smoothly.  We have already pre-sold most of our belongings (only the car, the piano and some china are left).  We will be arriving on June 8th, 2015 with a ton of suitcases where we will need to purchase furniture, a car and setup our home.

Anticipation…

In the madness of returning to Boston, there are still two big outstanding family issues:

1) On March 10th, we will be officially notified about our children’s school acceptances.  Our girls are hoping to attend Boston Trinity Academy in Hyde Park while Emilio is hoping to attend one of the many excellent boarding schools in the New England area.  Please pray that the admission officers show favor on our children and on our family.

2) Please pray for Rochelle as she starts thinking about reentering the job market and as she explores possibilities.

Thank you for your prayers and support.  Please feel free to contact us with any questions regarding our move and Gustavo’s continued full-time commitment to the Biblical Seminary of Colombia via United World Mission.

To start contributing towards our work in Colombia, please visit our partnership page.

logo UWM Logo - 2014 - Color Background

Important Decision

Dear Friends:

We wanted to share some important news with you!

As you know, last November we began seeking a more traditional educational solution for our girls after many years of home-schooling.  Emilio is looking at New England boarding schools for 2015 and does not factor into the equation.  We also realized at the time that we would likely have to relocate since no school in Medellín would validate our girls’ home-school education.

In December, we began earnestly considering a relocation to Bogotá where our girls could enter El Camino Academy’s program and where Gustavo would be a short flight away from the Biblical Seminary of Colombia’s (BSC) Medellín campus.

However, as we prayed and consulted with our church, missions agency and ministry partner over a difficult three-month period, it became clear that our hearts were being pulled in another direction. The girls had increasingly expressed a desire to return to Boston to do life, school and church with their friends.  Our family was experiencing cultural fatigue from having lived overseas for 9+ years.  Rochelle was also eager to return to the place we had called home for two decades and where she could communicate in her native tongue and hopefully reenter the work force.  Finally, we realized that Gustavo could perform his work from virtually any place in the world.

It is for these reasons and many others, that we have made the difficult decision to return to Boston in the summer of 2015.  Our girls will hopefully be attending Boston Trinity Academy in the fall and we hope that Emilio will be entering a boarding school somewhere in New England.  Rochelle will be seeking employment in the Boston area.

As for Gustavo, he will continue as a full-time supported missionary of the United World Mission and as a full-time, off-site professor at the Biblical Seminary of Colombia.  Gustavo will deliver virtual courses for BSC’s undergraduate program and make periodic trips to Medellín to deliver intensive residential courses.  We should mention that several U.S. professors currently have this arrangement with the BSC.

In addition, Gustavo will continue to deliver masters level courses for Gordon Conwell’s Hispanic Ministries division in different Latin American countries.  Finally, upon the completion of his PhD, Gustavo will also be eligible to deliver virtual courses for BSC’s masters program to begin in February, 2016.

We are excited for this next phase of our family and ministerial life and for the joy of being able to return to Boston.  While we will greatly miss living overseas, we are thankful for everything the Lord has taught us with our experience over the years of ministering in Latin America.  In addition, we are heartened by the fact that Gustavo can continue to pursue the important ministry of leadership development and theological education from our home base in Boston.

We covet your prayers during this important transition.  Feel free to write, text or call if you have questions or need more information.

We miss you all and hope to see many of you soon.

Blessings,

Gustavo, Rochelle, Emilio, Caroline and Natalie Karakey

Feliz Navidad 2014

Karakey Kids Christmas Video

Emilio, Caroline and Natalie began instrument lessons about 18 months ago.  Listen to the fruit of their labor.  Emilio arranged the music for the flute and clarinet based off a four-part saxophone music for “Carol of the Bells”.

Sus Amigos en Cristo,

Gustavo, Rochelle, Emilio, Caroline and Natalie Karakey

PSC Youth Missions Trip (2014)

Introduction

The Park Street Youth Missions trip took place in Medellín, Colombia for the third straight year.

There were 15 Boston youth along with four adult leaders on the team who came to serve for 10 days and to strengthen our ministry with the Biblical Seminary of Colombia and the community that surrounds the campus.

Do you speak English?

The PSC youth provided a one-week intensive English Camp to 150 local high school students from the Villa Flora school.  The English director reports that after English camp here students are so much more motivated to learn in their language courses.

During two evenings, the PSC Youth hosted informal get-to-know sessions with students from the English Club where both sets of youth shared more intimately about life and faith.

The official English Camp video is here and captures the incredible time of learning, sharing, forming and renewing friendships.

Other service projects

The PSC Youth group was also involved in other important service projects including:

  1. Building a concrete entryway and chicken coops for the Open Arms Foundation boys farm in a rural part of Colombia.  The Open Arms Foundation boys farm houses, educates and cares for street children from Medellín.
  2. Visit to the Fresh Wind Children’s Center for at-risk children and delivery of small supply of staples to the vulnerable families of children that are served by this center.
  3. Performance of evangelistic skits to 150 students during the ESL camp and to 450 elementary school children from the Villa Flora school.
  4. Painting work project on the Biblical Seminary of Colombia campus.
  5. Door-to-door invitation in the surrounding community to a special service at the Karakey’s church, Comunidad Cristo Rey, during the final weekend of the group’s stay.

Thank you

As a family we wish to thank Park Street Church, Adam Herndon, the PSC Youth Group leader, and the missions board at PSC for sending a team to visit us every year.  We feel very connected to our home church, our kids feel loved and appreciated as they are away from their friends and the work that PSC performs is so valuable to helping us build so many relationships to the surrounding community.

We wish to thank every member of the team as well for their dedication to service, their courage to leave their comfort zone and their love and generosity toward the people they met.

Check out the English Camp official video and the different photo albums to document this very special missions trip for the Karakeys as well as the PSC Youth group.


Presentations at the Villa Flora School

At the Open Arms Boy’s Farm in San Pedro

Weekend Debrief in Guatape

Write brain

Introduction

Work on my doctoral dissertation continues at a steady pace.  I hope to have my program completed sometime in the Summer of 2015.

On September 18th, I will interview before a committee at the London School of Theology (via Skype) where I will present my progress to this point (including my original contribution). If all goes well, I will have permission to submit my final draft with corrections sometime in the coming year. Woo-hoo!

The process of writing a doctoral dissertation has been a wonderful adventure for me. I am still very much interested in my subject matter (see later), I continue to learn a great deal about the Bible and I continue to hone my research skills.

Milestones to a PhD

At the London School of Theology in Great Britian there are three major milestones on the road to a PhD (apart from actually writing a good dissertation). One is the application process whereby you must submit the topic you wish to research upfront. The second occurs about a year later where you are officially accepted into the school’s MPhil program (Masters of Philosophy).

Every PhD student begins as an MPhil student. This is one way to filter through students who have the desire to advance or have the skills to advanced into PhD status.

The third milestone is called the PhD upgrade interview which entails a Skype meeting with my advisor and a committee of professors from the London School of Theology to report on my progress. This is the last step before the school officially declares you a PhD worthy student.

Requirements for a PhD upgrade

Each candidate must present a chapter-by-chapter outline, a working bibliography (to make sure one is interacting with the right scholars), a substantial sample of work, and the most important piece perhaps, a summary of the original contribution. This last part is key. The PhD thesis is predicated on the fact that one is going to make an original contribution to research in the New Testament area.

On September 18th, I will have my PhD upgrade interview via Skype with my advisor (in Boston) and a committee of professors from the London School of Theology (in London). My topic, broadly speaking, is the parallel use of the pastoral image within specific sections of Acts and 1 Peter.

Wish me luck. Say a prayer. After September 18th, it’s PhD or bust!

Gearing up for a masters

Introduction

This week we held a special academic conference at the Biblical Seminary of Colombia (SBC). It was special for two reasons:

1) It drew attention to Colombia’s displaced population (5 million since 1960) as a result of the country’s history of political violence (which is still ongoing).

2) It was a joint conference with Fuller Theological Seminary in Los Angeles and represented the first step toward creating an accredited masters program here at the BSC.

Gearing up for a masters

One of the other important reasons for this conference has to do with SBC’s plans to offer a masters program beginning in 2015. One of the accreditation requirements by the Colombian Ministry of Education for a masters program is that the interested faculties work together on a joint research project and present their findings within an academic setting.

The conference on displacement represents the fruit of a year-long investigation by the SBC and Fuller faculties and the first step in this all-important accreditation process.

Indeed, in all of the Latin American continent, there are only a handful of evangelical, accredited, masters programs. This is not a typo. While there may be many good theology programs in Latin America, without accreditation, a student cannot continue his studies in other theological institutions of higher learning without having to repeat their programs.

In addition, an important goal at the Biblical Seminary of Colombia is to develop theologians and scholars. We affirm this goal whether we speak of preparing pastors for the pulpit, lay leaders for the professional world, missionaries for cross-cultural work or professors to teach in a seminary.

A masters program is a HUGE step in that direction, affording interested undergraduate students an accesible avenue for further scholarship and even preparing some for doctoral studies.

A conference on displacement in Colombia

Introduction

This month we held a special academic conference at the Biblical Seminary of Colombia (SBC). It was special for two reasons:

1) It drew attention to Colombia’s displaced population (5 million since 1960) as a result of the country’s history of political violence (which is still ongoing).

2) It was a joint conference with Fuller Theological Seminary in Los Angeles and represented the first step toward creating an accredited masters program here at the BSC.

A conference on displacement

Colombia ranks in the top 3 countries of the world with the highest internally displaced population. The latest statistics indicate that as many as 5 million people (8% of the population) have had to flee their homes as a result of the country’s historical and ongoing political violence.

The main cause of the displacement is the on-going civil war which has pitted leftist guerrilla forces against government-backed paramilitary groups. These armed groups and their conflict have cut a wide swath of violence, social terrorism, extortion, and human rights abuses across many rural parts of the country forcing its civilian populations (sometimes entire towns) to flee for their safety.

The displaced, who have unjustly and violently lost family, land and personal property typically arrive to the margins of large urban areas, where they lack adequate protection, employment, food, shelter and health care.

The academic conference brought together the disciplines of sociology, psychology and theology plus12 different speakers from both schools to raise awareness, to educate and to discuss the church’s response this multi-faceted and tragic issue affecting so many Colombians. Some of our own SBC students have been the victims of this displacement, so the discussion is not merely academic.

Leadership Seminar

What do you get when you cross a family weekend getaway in the country with a little bit of work to boot? Well you get a couple of dog bites and a leadership training seminar.

Recently, I had the privilege of being the guest speaker for a leadership retreat hosted by Global Transformation Ministries. GTM is a non-profit organization here in Medellín that is planting a church in the southeast section of the city. GTM invited all of their key leaders involved in forming the church to spend a weekend together for worship, praying, planning, relationship building and leadership training.

I spoke on four separate occasions about one of my favorite subjects, leadership. I basically had to condense my undergraduate level course down to a six hour workshop so I only covered the most important points: the primary importance of character, the three biggest moral challenges a leader must confront, leadership models based on the servant and the shepherd of antiquity, the absolute necessity of treating people like gold and lastly, conflict resolution.

The countryside was beautiful, 6 families were represented in the seminar, including mine. All of us were able to stay in one large country villa sharing meals and stories and I was able to invest in a new church plant’s leadership team. Except for the dog bites, the weekend was almost perfect!

 

Leadership seminary 2

Gustavo teaching at a leadership seminar.

Farallones 1

San Bernardo de Los Farrallones

Farallones 2

I think I’ll take my horse to get ice cream.

Leadership seminar 1

A new church plant benefitted greatly from thinking about different church leadership models.

 

Thanksgiving, petitions and dreams

Every Monday morning on campus, in a small corner room at the end of a long, dimly lit hallway, several professors and members of the administration come together for a time of prayer.

In the meeting, one person takes to the grease board to record our “praise reports” as well as “petitions.” On one side, we chronicle answered prayers, the seminary’s success stories and items for which the proper response is thanksgiving to God. On the other side we record our prayer requests.  These are petitions to God for the seminary’s needs and future projects.

I must say that seeing the weekly snapshot of the seminary’s successes, needs and strategic aspirations is quite inspiring.  Thus, I thought I would share aspects of that snapshot with you in order that you might also be inspired to give thanks or say a prayer on our behalf.

We give thanks to the Lord for…

  • Students returning from winter break and time with their families
  • The arrival of two new professors to our staff along with their families
  • The approval of SBC’s university accreditation for 7 more years
  • The Secretary of Education’s renewal of SBC’s extension program
  • For the record number of students to our newly launched (fully accredited) virtual program

 Join us in praying for the following items…

  • Healing and care for a professor whose cancer has returned
  • Our 70th anniversary celebration as a theological institute
  • Two grant proposals to fix a major humidity problem in the library
  • A joint masters program that is being developed between SBC and Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, California
  • Additional scholarships for our students
  • For one of our students’ whose baby was born premature