In Costa Rica, a group of young adults from North America and Central America sits in a circle discussing the day’s events. They are joined by Jim DeBorst, who shares insights gained as a long-term missionary there. The Cohort of Missioners program is underway.
The cohort, whose name intentionally suggests images of people being banded together, connects young adults to other people who are considering service with missions. While participating in the year-long program, participants also learn how to best serve the “least, lost, and last” in their host community.
“We saw that there were many young adults with a passion for justice and integral mission,” said Joel Huyser, director for transformational networks for Christian Reformed World Missions. “However, we also saw that there were very few ‘jobs’ for these young people in traditional roles in missions and development agencies.”
Right now, there are four cohort locations available, all in Central America: Guatemala, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and El Salvador.
“Our assumption,” Huyser explained, “was that some of these young adults might spend the rest of their lives serving cross-culturally in another country while others would be returning home after one or two years.”
One of the unique features of the Cohort of Missioners is that it includes young adults from both North and Central America.
Guissell Brenes, a missioner who was born in Nicaragua, spent much of her time as a missioner in Costa Rica talking and listening to the people who lived in the surrounding community. Many of the people struggle with drug and alcohol addictions.
“I have heard of experiences from people in this community that have been super difficult for them,” Brenes said.
Missioners spend time receiving theological training, visiting other cohort locations, and assisting in youth events. But the members of the cohort stressed that their biggest take-aways from the trip did not come from the “doing” part of their experience but from observing.
“This experience is about being humble enough to say that there’s something to learn from another context,” said Rachel Beveridge. “It’s not about being self-sacrificing or gaining great experience for a résumé.”
As the first three people to leave the cohort after living there for more than a year, Brenes, Beveridge, and Kelsey Davies plan to continue their service in Central America. Davies will serve in Nicaragua and Beveridge in El Salvador, both as partner missionaries. Brenes returned to her home country to offer her experience at the cohort location in Leon, Nicaragua.
“We have begun to see ourselves as global Christians,” said Beveridge. “Yes, we will have different passports, and that means something, but we also have an allegiance to a bigger Kingdom. And being able to explore that is really empowering.”
If you know someone who would like to be involved in the Cohort of Missioners, please contact Lisa Sochacki.