The Emerging Leaders’ Cohort (ELC) is a two-year discipleship program developed to walk alongside, encourage, and engage leadership skills in young adults 16-29. These cohorts are divided by age; individuals 16-20 years old serve as Connectors, and individuals 21-29 years old serve as Trailblazers. For ELC 2022-2024, we are blessed to have a beautifully diverse cohort of young adults. We have individuals from across the United States, from New Jersey to Texas, to Puerto Rico. We also have a few members serving as Missionary Children or Missionary Kids (MK). Each young adult brings a different kind of richness and experiences in their interactions with their cohort members.
I could continue to write about all the different activities and meetings ELC has and how balancing time zones and work/school schedules seems impossible at times. Instead, I want you to hear from two of the ELC members who are also serving as MKs. In reading their stories, I want to highlight the importance of community—the importance of community for young adults in a world that is ever-changing, ever-challenging, and ever-diverse. No one can walk the journey of life alone; below are examples of how the Emerging Leaders’ Cohort works to be that support and partner for these chapters in these young adults’ lives. The first story comes from Ricky Smith, who serves as a Connector and an MK with his parents. The second story comes from Nora Kalkman, who currently serves as an MK and an ELC Trailblazer.
My name is Ricky Smith, and I am a missionary kid (MK) participating in the Emerging Leader Cohorts (ELC) from 2022 to 2024. After attending one of the International Ministries (IM) Racial Justice Prayer Vigils, Rev. Sandra Dorsainvil extended an invitation to be a part of a new program called the Emerging Leader Cohorts, organized for youth and young adults to grow in their faith. I saw it as a way to gain more insight into the worldviews of other youth from the United States. Little did I know that it would be so much more. The leaders and cohort members have been so open and encouraging.
The activities, meditations, discussions, and prayers have peeled away the surface level of my faith to produce an impact on how I interact with my neighbors today. I believe that everyone has the power and ability to produce a change in their situation. They don’t need someone to come to do it for them if they are shown how to enact change effectively and then supported as they follow through with that change. I see now that support looks different for everyone. For one person, it is a hug. For another, it is a conversation to invoke thought. The spectrum is endless. As I continue my time with ELC, I will strive to build stronger connections with my cohort members, new and old, and gain more insight as to how to best move forward in our ever-changing society. This is so much more than what I initially expected, and I am a better person for it.
(This section is in Spanish. If you happen to have your English translater turned on your computer, it will be viewed as a duplicate)
Como MK, estoy muy emocionada de ser parte del Emerging Leaders Cohort. Aunque he estado viviendo en un ambiente intercultural misionero con mis papás en Europa desde que tenía cinco meses, ELC me permitirá descubrir misiones desde una perspectiva más allá a la que estoy acostumbrada, estando en conversación con gente afín y de mi edad. Estoy emocionada de participar en diálogos y caminar junto a otros jóvenes en nuestra fe, y descubrir cómo podemos servir a nuestras comunidades de la mejor manera, en cualquier lugar del mundo que nos encontremos.
Descubrí a ELC a través de la vigilia de oración que Ministerios Internacionales organizó el otoño pasado. Sandra Dorsainvil me invitó a considerar la posibilidad de unirme a ELC. Estaba muy interesada, pero desafortunadamente en ese tiempo no se alinearon las cosas. A finales de la primavera pasada mis papás, Nora y Pieter Kalkman, dirigieron de nuevo mi atención a ELC. Mientras me estaba preparando para presentar mi tesis del Bachillerato, tuve una conversación con Nicole por Zoom, y después de dos horas, me urgía aplicar.
Lo que me atrae a ELC son las oportunidades que da para conectarse con otros y desarrollarse como seguidores de Cristo en un enfoque general y a través de misiones en particular. En los últimos años he participado en varios proyectos que animan a jóvenes a crecer en sus vidas espirituales. Proyectos como iLead en California (un programa de discipulado y liderazgo organizado por ABCOFLASH) y Project:Vienna en Austria (un programa de un año sabático que consiste en un internado en una iglesia multicultural, clases de teología, y discipulado organizado por la Unión Bautista Austriaca y apoyado por la Federación Bautista Europea). Estas invaluables experiencias me enseñaron el gran significado de programas como Emerging Leaders Cohort que valoran el crecimiento en comunidad. Anticipo explorar mi llamado, desarrollar mis dones espirituales, y explorar misiones aún más dentro de una comunidad íntima con gente apasionada por Cristo.
Nora Elisabet es Mexicana-Holandesa y se crió en Praga, República Checa. Ahora esta sirviendo como Trailblazer de ELC en Holanda.
As an MK, I am thrilled to be a part of the Emerging Leaders Cohort. Though I’ve been living in cross-cultural mission settings since I was five-months old with my parents in Europe, ELC will allow me to explore missions from a perspective beyond those I am familiar with while being in conversation with like-minded people my age. I am very excited to share in discussions and walk alongside fellow young people in our faith journeys and discovering how we can best support the communities we find ourselves in, wherever in the world that may be.
I found out about ELC through participating in International Ministries’ online Prayer Vigil last fall. Afterwards, I was invited by Sandra Dorsainvil to explore the possibility of joining ELC. Though I was very interested, the timing, unfortunately, did not line up. However, at the end of this past Spring, I was once again invited to consider ELC through my parents, Nora and Pieter Kalkman. As I was preparing to present my Bachelor thesis, I came into conversation with Nicole, and after two delightful hours on zoom, I was itching to apply.
What drew me to ELC were the opportunities it gives to connect with others and develop as followers of Jesus in general and through the lens of missions in particular. In the past few years, I have been a part of several faith-based programs encouraging young people to grow in their spiritual life, including iLead in California (a discipleship and student leadership program organized by ABCOFLASH) and Project: Vienna in Austria (a gap year program consisting of an inter-cultural church internship, theology classes, and discipleship practice organized by the Austrian Baptist Union and supported by the European Baptist Federation). These enriching experiences have taught me the significance of programs such as the Emerging Leaders Cohort, which value growth in community. I am particularly looking forward to exploring my call, develop spiritual gifts, and further explore mission in a close-knit community with people who share a passion for Christ.
Nora Elisabet is Dutch-Mexican and grew up in Prague, Czech Republic. She is currently serving as an ELC Trailblazer in the Netherlands.
The journey for these two young adults as ELC members has just begun, and we thank God for the impact it is already having on their lives, their faith, relationships with others, and the lenses through which they serve. The road ahead will be full of joys, laughter, twists, turns, and challenges. But through this ELC community, these young adults do not have to walk this path alone, finding and having the support to embrace the road that God has set before them to become strong leaders and servants of God.