Billy Graham Center

Interviews with Rodrigo Chavarria - Collection 423

[Note: What follows is a description of the documents in this collection which are available for use at BGC Archives in Wheaton, Illinois, USA. The actual documents are not, in most cases, available online, only this description of them. Nor are they available for sale or rent. Some or all of this collection can be borrowed through interlibrary loan. ]

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Table of Contents

Brief Description of This Collection

Title Page and Restrictions

Biography of Rodrigo Chavarria

An Essay on the Contents of the Collection (Scope and Content)

List of Audio Tapes In This Collection

Brief Description.
Oral history interviews in which Chavarria discusses growing up in Costa Rica, how he became a Christian, his development in his Christian life, his theological education in Costa Rica and the United States, relations between Protestants and Catholics in his country, relations between the church and the state, Pentecostalism in Costa Rica, liberation theology, and evangelical institutions in Costa Rica.
Vol: 3 Reels of Audio Tape

Collection 423
[January 25, 2016]
Chavarria, Rodrigo; 1956-2015
Interview; 1989

Audio Tapes


There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.


Full name: Rodrigo Chavarria

Birth date: March 22, 1956
Death date: December 4, 2015

Birth place: San Jose, Costa Rica

Parents: Alberto and Virginia Chavarria

Conversion: April 4, 1982, at a service by Dr. Wilton Nelson

Marital Status: Married Emilia Marin in 1977

Children: oldest Laura, two younger children

Liceo de Costa Rica, San Jose, Costa Rica--graduated 1973
Escuela des Estudios Pastorales, San Jose, Costa Rica--1984
Columbia Bible College, Columbia, SC--
B.A. in Bible-Pastoral Ministries, 1989
Wheaton College Graduate School, Wheaton IL--
M.A. in Theological Studies, 1991 (degree completed after interviews)

1984 Escuela des Estudios Pastorales, San Jose, Costa Rica Secretary
1984-1985 Association of Bible Churches of Costa Rica (AIBC) Administrator
1987 Counselor at the Billy Graham South Carolina Crusade
1990 Founded the Hispanic congegration (Iglesia Del Pubelo) of the Wheaton Bible Church, Wheaton, Illinois
1991-2015 With his wife had a ministry of teaching and evangelsim in Central America

Scope and Content

Rodrigo Chavarria was interviewed by Robert Shuster on November 8 and December 1, 1989, at the Billy Graham Center in Wheaton, Illinois. The time period covered by the interviews is 1956-1989. The boldfaced entries are intended to highlight the topics covered in the interview. Time elapsed in minutes and seconds is recorded to the left of the topics discussed in the interview. The index is keyed to a cassette copy and not to the reel-to-reel original.

Birth in Costa Rica, family, nominal Catholic background, state of Catholicism in Costa Rica; memories of priests from high school, gospel seen through change in other students' lives, visit to Baptist church, national image of Christianity, Catholic beliefs and reactions to Christianity, Christian friends, temporary positive influence of Catholic weekend retreat; priorities during high school years, desire to be a doctor, money difficulties leading to studies in accounting; meeting his wife Emilia, Christian background of wife's family, marital difficulties because of his lifestyle, wife's conversion, their decision to have a child to try to help the marriage, only external changes; beginning to attend church with his wife, guilt about smoking problem, conversion at service by Dr. Wilton Nelson, freedom from cigarettes given by God; loss of good job at Seagram's, six months unemployed; God's use of work problems to soften his heart, Assemblies of God church members visiting his house, unable to answer his difficult questions; attraction to friendliness at wife's church, public ashamedness about conversion, respect for Victor Monterroso causing a desire to be a pastor; living a conscious Christian life, reaction of family, fruitless attempts to witness to them; evangelism by example instead of words, unsaved friends asking for prayer, importance of friendship evangelism.

Sharing the gospel at an undesirable job, changes in life because of salvation; love for the Bible and training, classes at the Escuela des Estudios Pastorales (ESEPA) run by the Association of Bible Churches, working at the institute, promotion to administrative position, unable to commit to extended time of work because God's will was not clear, work with church problems; decision to study in the States, departure on faith, impact of previous work with churches to prepare his heart for future ministry, certain calling to return to Costa Rica; study in U.S. to prepare to combat liberation theology, problems with Seminario Biblico Latino-Americano, false teachings and cults in Costa Rica, importance and growth of ESEPA, nondenominational emphasis of the seminary; impressions of Columbia Bible College, molding people rather than just teaching minds.

Association of Bible Churches (AIBC) begun as a part of the Latin America Mission, then given independence, problems caused by new freedom, lack of pastors; start of ESEPA seminary (School of Pastoral Studies) to provide national pastors, nondenominational emphasis of seminary, attraction and influence of radical theologies; need at ESEPA for theology to answer difficult questions; growth of international missions, strategic position of Costa Rica for Latin American missions; history of take-over of Seminario Biblico by liberation theologians, description of liberation theology as a political reaction, its appeal to the poor; nondenominational character of AIBC, persecution of churches in Costa Rica by Catholics; unity of evangelical church in Costa Rica caused by Catholic persecution, Costa Rica Evangelical Alliance; continuing dependence on foreign missionaries, Dr. William Brown, John Hoffman, others; growing number of national church leaders; economic distribution of evangelicals in Costa Rica, conflicts between poor uneducated pastors and rich educated converts; unity of Costa Rican church, denominationalism in America; Good Will Caravans providing important social services but not emphasizing the gospel enough; need for prayer for Costa Rican church.


The materials for this collection were received by the Center in November and December 1989 from Rodrigo Chavarria.

Accession 89-118, 89-126
May 11, 1995
Mark Congdon
Paul A. Ericksen

Accession 89-118, 89-126
Type of material: Audio Tapes

The following items are located in the AUDIO TAPE FILE:

T1 - Reel-to-reel, 3-3/4 ips speed, approximately 67 minutes. One side. Interview with Rodrigo Chavarria by Robert Shuster, November 8, 1989. Discussion of childhood, Catholic church in Costa Rica, marriage, conversion, Christian growth, desire to be a pastor, evangelism to friends and family.

T2 - Reel-to-reel, 3-3/4 ips speed, approximately 27 minutes. One side. Continuation of interview on T1. Discussion of Escuela des Estudios Pastorales (ESEPA), Association of Bible Churches of Costa Rica (AIBC), Seminario Biblico Latino-Americano, decision to study in the United States, Columbia Bible College.

T3 - Reel-to-reel, 3-3/4 ips speed, approximately 61 minutes. One side. Interview with Rodrigo Chavarria by Robert Shuster, December 1, 1989. Discussion of origin of AIBC and ESEPA, theological problems in Costa Rica, Catholic persecution of evangelical churches, Costa Rica Evangelical Alliance, Good Will Caravans, unity of Costa Rican church.

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