University News

Science Prof Experiences Spiritual Renewal in Chile

Posted: February 15, 2024

For the past 14 years, Karen McReynolds, Lead Science Professor at HIU, has been teaching students about the wonders of God’s creation. In the Fall of 2023, her lifelong desire to travel to Chile became a reality when Karen was granted a 3-month sabbatical from the classroom, which opened the door for her to partner with A Rocha International, an international family of Christian conservation organizations.

McReynolds spent much of her time at Casa Retoño, a retreat center run by women. Located on the western slope of the Andes in South Central Chile. With approximately 1000 acres of farm and forest, Retoño provides environmental education for children, supports conservation efforts, and engages in Earth care. Karen focused on immersing herself in the experience, participating in the day-to-day operations, and exchanging ideas about ecology, ecosystems, conservation, and Christian stewardship of natural resources.

She joined Retoño on various projects, including a “Conversatorio” in Santiago for believers. Karen opened the event with a presentation (in Spanish) on Why Christians Don’t Need to be Afraid of Science. Her husband, Mark, who joined her for the last six weeks of her trip, also presented a keynote. Together, they spent time working on a science textbook they are co-writing for Classical Academic Press.

During her time in Chile, McReynolds spent much time investigating the intersection of Christianity and science. She broadened her perspective by embracing the culture and community, speaking at several local churches, and making meaningful connections. Karen also participated 2 meetings of the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students (IFES) at the University of La Frontera in Temuco.

Karen and Mark visited a variety of ecosystems, including Torres Del Paine National Park in Patagonia, the Straits of Magellan, and the Atacama Desert. “It was an absolute celebration of the diversity of God’s creation,” she remarked.

She reflects on the experience as a time of deep spiritual renewal, saying she has “never been more aware of God’s presence.”

Karen says that she returned from her sabbatical deeply refreshed, with a new perspective and much broader context for what she teaches at HIU. She is excited to share her experiences with her students.

“International experience is so valuable: it expands my understanding and connection with the global body of Christ,” McReynolds shared. “I am so grateful to Hope for this amazing opportunity!”