Blessed (Ashrei) is the one whose delight is in the teachings of the Lord...That person is like a tree planted by streams of water..." Psalm 1:1-3
We seek to foster the connection between spiritual formation and community action in the places where transformation is most needed, providing practical resources to individuals and communities, in order to cultivate a life with God.
In keeping with the life of Christ, Ashrei is working to courageously live the balance between action and contemplation. The basis of our belief is that as friends in Latin America become more Christ-like, their immediate surroundings and relationships will be blessed. The spirituality of friendship is our greatest joy in the presence of the Holy Spirit. At the heart of Ashrei, you will find inspiring friendships that bring gold-like value that makes service to others and life flourish. The friends of Latin America are entering into a change of life that will echo for generations in their families and in this part of the world.
The mission of the Institute for Spiritual Formation in Latin America is to train apprentices of Jesus, attracting them to the Trinitarian life of the kingdom of God and training them towards obedience to the teaching of Jesus.
We support living in friendship with God and with others under his guidance in the Kingdom.
1. Train people in the theology and practice of Christian spiritual formation.
2. Provide contemplative Christian spiritual direction
3. Empower people in their mission of life under the vision of God
In a world of pure complaint and pride, we instill the discipline, courage, and toughness of Jesus. We cultivate physical, mental, and spiritual toughness for the sake of our mission. We embrace sacrifice and suffering as qualities of Jesus.
We believe that transformation in the world and in ourselves begins with learning to pray. We embrace silence, solitude and contemplative disciplines.
We seek to love without discriminating against anyone, as Jesus taught us – to love our enemies and “the least of these” especially. We embrace the poor, marginalized and unloved and show respect to every human being as created in the image of God.
Always ready to be a welcoming presence – it’s our way of life.
We exist for the sake of the cause for which Christ died – the Kingdom of God. We live our lives in the world for the sake of reconciliation and healing of the wounds around us – we are ministers of Shalom (integral peace in all directions). We embrace the call to step out of our comfort zone and into places of darkness.
We believe that God’s mission in the world is the creation of a new community, not just changing individuals. So we seek to learn to live with our brothers and sisters and put their needs above our own needs. We know that we cannot live this life alone.
We think this should be fun as we look for the Kingdom-coming every day, and that our joy is not determined by our circumstances. We cultivate gratitude and hope for the future.
We are constantly vigilant in ruthlessly eliminating all expressions of religious elitism or superiority in ourselves. We know that even in our best moments we are “unprofitable servants” – Luke 17.10 (we have done nothing but do our duty).
James and Erin Henderson
Founders and Directors
James and Erin Henderson have lived in and formed part of missional communities in Mexico City for 18 years with their two children, Kate and Caleb. As a family, through multi-generational interaction, they have been deeply shaped by a spirituality of friendship with their dear Mexican and Latin American friends.
Much of James and Erin’s time at the moment in Mexico is given to convening and encouraging intentional learning communities of spiritual formation. In 2015 they co-founded Ashrei Center for Spiritual Formation.
Erin has a bachelor’s degree in Social Work and is a certified facilitator of Strategies for Trauma Awareness and Resilience (STAR) from the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding at Eastern Mennonite University.
James has a bachelor’s degree in Latin American studies, a master’s degree in global leadership, is an alumnus of the Renovaré Institute for Christian Spiritual Formation, and holds a doctorate from Fuller Theological Seminary Doctor of Ministry in Spiritual Direction.
Daniel and Karly Napier have been married for 24 years and have served in a number of pastoral and academic settings throughout the US, Canada, and Croatia. They also participated in the first Ashrei cohort in Mexico City. Most recently, their service has been in Greece, where they’ve lived with their daughters since 2018.
They aim to integrate spiritual formation into ministerial training and everyday life, especially among the middle eastern refugees who are turning to Jesus in Europe.
Karly serves in diverse ways – gathering prayer groups, counseling weary mission workers, helping refugees develop language skills, and generally bringing compassionate cheer into her community. She is the glue that holds their family and the local work together. Daniel focuses more on the training and development portion of the work – developing content for retreats and publications, guest teaching in various universities and spiritual formation programs, and mentoring a handful people in Jesus’ way.
He is currently guiding a retreat-based apprenticeship in the philosophy of Jesus. Daniel has pursued advanced degrees in the New Testament, the history of philosophy, and the history of theology. In 2010, he earned his Ph.D. from the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam. He is the author of En Route to the Confessions: The Roots and Development of Augustine’s Philosophical Anthropology (Leuven: Peeters, 2013). Currently, Daniel is working on a series of shorter, more accessible, books focused on Jesus’ vision and method for human transformation within the Kingdom of God.
Daniel and Karly Napier
Omar and Tana Palafox
Nora is a member of the Religious Jesus and Mary congregation. She serves as a spiritual director giving the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola throughout Latin America.She conducts eight and thirty day retreats each year. Nora holds four masters’ degrees. These are in Systematic Theology, Professional Formation and Ontological Coaching, Spiritual Theology, and Ignatian Spirituality. She leads Ashrei’s program that offers the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises, as well as training Spiritual Companions to accompany others.
Director of Ignatian Spirituality
Leonor Rojas Arellano
Communications, Project Manager, Strategic Planning
Leonor Rojas Arellano lives in Quintana Roo, Mexico. Currently much of her time is devoted to restoring a community garden at her local Corpus Christi Church parish – this contemplative space initiative builds a community where neighbors bring simple gifts of flowers, fruit trees, and plants. Along with her gestures of generosity is her voluntary hard work that is resulting in a truly sacred space. Along with Leonor’s vision and spiritual passion, her community is shaping a space where children can play, youth can come together, and everyone can pray. Leonor also offers her rich organizational and communication skills to bless and bring synergy to the Ashrei spiritual formation learning community and its Center for Listening and Accompaniment.
Leonor has a degree in Industrial Pharmaceutical Chemist and is certified in Executive Coaching, Creative Learning, Mental Dynamics and is an External Trainer Agent certified by the STPS.
She also has certification in Negotiation, High Impact Communication and Strategic Planning- skills that today she puts at the service of God. She recently graduated from Ashrei’s Pioneer
Cohort spiritual formation program. She is currently responsible for the communication area ofASHREI. Leonor has been married to Dan for 21 years and has two beautiful teenage daughters,
Ximena and Paola.