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

Our new home church (here in Colombia!)

Introduction

After visiting nine churches in Medellin (some multiple times) over a four-month period, we are very excited to announce that we have found a church, which meets right here on campus!  At least we’ll be able to skip the cramped taxi rides on Sundays.

We are now attending a Lutheran church plant called Misión Evangélica Luterana “Emaus” (from Emmaus of Luke 24:13-15). The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Colombia (http://www.ielco.org) has not made many inroads in this country. Emmaus Church is the only Lutheran church in all of Medellin (a city of 3.5 million people) and only one of twenty local Lutheran churches in Colombia.

Still, we were extremely attracted to the fact that Emmaus is a church plant.  Regular attendance is about 25 people, and compared to many other large and established churches here in Medellin, what is most needed at this time is more human resources (i.e. people who can help establish and grow the church).

Meet the Pastors

We have been privileged in getting to know Atahualpa and Angelica Hernandez, who pastor the Emmaus Church and hail from Bogota, Colombia.

Atahualpa (whose parents named him after the last emperor of the Inca Empire) is a former graduate of the Biblical Seminary of Colombia.  His wife, Angelica currently works part-time as part of the Student Life Department here on campus and is in charge of our kids Sunday School.

They have two small children, Mariana and Sara. Both Atahualpa and Angelica have been extremely gracious in incorporating us into the church and in modeling what it means to be true servants of the Lord.

Answered Prayers?

Both Atahualpa and Angelica shared with us how they had been praying for additional help in extending the gospel here in our barrio (Robledo).  Well, it appears that our arrival, coincides with additional answers to their prayers:

  1. Adi and Hans arrived in January to begin their studies here at the Biblical Seminary of Colombia.  They are sponsored by the Lutheran Church and have agreed to serve as our youth pastors.
  2. A recent half-day activity for the children in our neighborhood has opened the door for Emmaus Church to begin ministering to needy children every Saturday afternoon in a very depressed area of our neighborhood.
  3. The Park Street Church youth group will be coming down in late July to hold an English camp and/or a VBS as part of the church’s evangelistic efforts and to let our neighborhood know about the Lutheran church in their area.

Called to Service

All of the Karakeys have jumped in with both feet.  Gustavo is currently helping on the worship team with guitar and vocals.  Rochelle, Emilio and Caroline are helping to teach an ESL class which meets on Saturdays.  The ELS class has wide appeal (from kids, to youth to adults) and forms part of the church’s service and outreach to this community.

Both Caroline and Emilio are involved in a small youth group.  This group meets twice a month for a teaching and social activity, while Natalie is involved in her Sunday school class encouraging her younger friends.  Hopefully, in the near future, we will help setup a website and Facebook page for the youth group.

A Time of Thanksgiving

We feel extremely blessed to be a part of this church community.

We have always desired a greater integration between our neighborhood, our church and our work in order that we might be able to invest deeply in relationships in a consistent way. It’s what our friend Simon Fowler calls building “social capital” (see the rWorld for details).

Well, that desire is finally being realized right before our eyes.  Our pastors live next door, and most of the church members live within walking distance of the church.

We ask for your prayers for this young and small church as it seeks to make an impact in this low-income area.

Finally, thank you all for your prayers and support that allows us to minister in this wonderful city and country!

All of God’s blessings to you.

Gustavo, Rochelle, Emilio, Caroline and Natalie

Prayer Requests:

  1. Our children are being challenged in their Spanish-speaking school.  Please pray that the Lord gives them encouragement to lift their spirits and strength to study hard.
  2. Gustavo begins teaching a second class (the letters of Paul) on April 10th in addition to his already busy schedule.  Please pray that he is able to keep a balance between work, family, church and PhD.
  3. We are currently at 90% monthly support needs.  We are praying for 15 additional partners for this work.
  4. It is still our desire to purchase a vehicle.  We thank those who have already given towards our car fund.  We have raised $4500 thus far.  Any special donations in the coming months will go towards this expenditure.
  5. Our Weymouth condominium will be going on the market next week.  Please pray that we are successful in selling it by the end of this summer.
  6. Rochelle and Emilio have been beset by various non-serious but annoying illnesses.  Please pray that they are both brought back to full health and soon!

Beginning the New Year with Prayer

Introduction

I love the start of a new year!  Great expectations, new goals…even dreaming is allowed (remember how easy that was as a child?)

Here at the Biblical Seminary of Colombia (BSC) the new year is actually the beginning of a new academic year (our calendar runs from Feb 1 – Nov 15).  We get to welcome new students, to begin our classes in earnest and to commend our work and our expectations to God once again.

Starting the Year With Prayer

At the BSC, a new year also brings staff, administration and professors  together for a time of prayer.  We typically meet for an entire morning, alternating between worship, study and bringing the needs of the seminary before the Lord.

We pray for incoming students, for finances, for all the professors and for each of the departments all of which contribute to making the BSC one of the most important theological institutions in South America.

Our Own Prayer Requests

In the same spirit of commendation and great expectations, we want to share our personal needs with you, so that you can join us in praying in the New Year!

  1. We pray for our children who are beginning a new school year in a Colombian / Spanish-only educational institution.  We opted for this route to aid in their adaptation to the language and culture in Colombia.
  2. We pray for Gustavo’s class preparations and the start of his teaching schedule. What a great privilege to teach so many gifted students in such a setting as the BSC.
  3. We pray for additional monthly supporters as we have only reached 88% of our budgeted goals to this point.  Our missions agency, LAM, accepts monthly donations of any amount on our behalf.
  4. Muchas gracias to everyone who has responded to our request for funds for a car.  We really appreciate it.  Thus far, we have raised 25% of the needed funds.  If you would like to help us with the purchase of a car, you can donate funds through our missions agency.
  5. We pray for all of the students at the BSC who make so many sacrifices to attend, but whose passion and love for God is slowly changing the face of this country, both inside and outside the church.
  6. Please pray for Rochelle as she transitions out of home-schooling mode, begins to take more Spanish lessons, and looks to become involved in ministry either with the BSC or our local church.

We thank you all for partnering with us in prayer for the BSC, our ministry, our family and the people of Colombia.