Jake Bakker and Jeison Rodriguez graduated from universities in two different countries, but they both had questions about what God was calling them to do and what role faith could play in their daily lives.
They found a way to explore their callings through Resonate Global Mission’s Cohort in Central America, a yearlong experience for young adults from Central America and North America to serve in a local grassroots ministry, live in community, and engage in deep spiritual formation.
Graduating from Redeemer University College in Ancaster, Ont., with a business degree, Bakker wondered how he could pair his business skills with international development. He also wondered what role his faith should play in his career.
“It was really important for me coming out of (university) to understand how my faith connects with what I do,” Bakker said.
He joined Resonate’s Cohort in Central America, where he lived and served with people from across Latin America, including several refugee families, at Resonate partner Casa Adobe. He also volunteered at a school for teenage boys, many of whom are part of a foster care system, live in poverty, shoulder family strife, and struggle with behavioral problems.
“I think I’ve seen transformation, but I’ve been transformed the most,” Bakker said. “I was changed a lot by being in another country, and the people I lived and worked with shaped me profoundly.”
Through Bakker’s experience in Cohort, God called him to serve in Costa Rica for another year. He’ll be returning as a Resonate missionary working at Casa Adobe, focusing specifically on starting youth programs in the community to prevent violence and connecting local churches with refugees.
He said the Cohort not only showed him what he wanted to do in life, but how to do it. “Vocation is about what you do and who you are,” he said.
“(Cohort) was like rediscovering my identity and my faith,” said Jeison Rodriguez— “rediscovering who I am (and) what I’m doing in this time of life.”
Rodriguez joined Cohort after graduating from Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica with a degree in economics. As he searched for finance jobs, he had a lot of questions about the role faith played in his profession. He said many people in Costa Rica view faith and work separately. “I wanted something more,” said Rodriguez, “to have an experience with people in the communities.”
Rodriguez served alongside and roomed with Bakker at Casa Adobe. He also served at his alma mater. Through Cohort, he learned how to share the gospel in a new way. He became friends with someone by teaching a guitar class and having conversations about faith with him.
“I don’t want to see him … as an object that needs to be evangelized, but instead as a friend,” Rodriguez said. “I’m very happy to know (him), and I pray for him and his relationship with God.”
He’s not sure what his career will look like after Cohort, but he said the past year has been a time to discover new gifts and passions. Rodriguez knows he wants to continue sharing the gospel in Central America and living incarnationally, he said, “just as Jesus came to our world and walked among people.”