In our last newsletter, we shared about YWAM Bend, Oregon, a one-of-a-kind ministry with a vision calling for equally visionary mission builder volunteers. True to form, the first project accomplished at their location was out of the ordinary, just like the mission builders who showed up to help get the job done.
David and Crystal Cook happened to be in the area in early October of 2014 and volunteered to help set up YWAM Bend’s Mongolian gers (yurts), which would become housing for ministry staff. In the span of four days, David helped spread mulch, set up one ger, disassembled a second one at another location and prepped it for moving. Crystal helped with meal preps and garden gleaning (and David found time to cook some of his famous burgers for the staff as well). With the Cook’s help, the YWAM Bend team was settled in before the snow fell.
YWAM Bend wasn’t the first ministry nor will it be the last to benefit from the Cook’s volunteerism. Along with their son, Michael, and daughter, Amy, the Cooks began their mission-building adventure while visiting friends at YWAM San Francisco six years ago. David, who owned his own construction business, says, “While we were there we noticed so many broken toilets and door hinges and the like. We said we would stay and help and began to get a glimpse of the need out there.”
On their first long-term mission building trip, the Cook family traveled from Seattle to YWAM Orlando in Florida in a truck, living out of a camper on the back. There, David says, “The young staff would tell us about having a heart for Turkey or Africa, but they were at the campus helping with needs like cooking or maintenance instead of going where their hearts were. I wanted to help with those practical things so they could actually get out and do what God was calling them to do.” That’s when the Cooks decided to invest in missions by becoming full-time mission builders. They bought a pull-trailer and hit the road, making, to date, four circuits of the United States, volunteering at numerous YWAM campuses and taking YWAM missions training along the way.
Together, David and Michael worked at general maintenance projects, repairs, roofing and similar tasks. “Michael was my right-hand man,” David says, “as capable if not more so than me. From blenders to cars, he can fix so many things.” Their biggest project was at YWAM Mendocino in California. “The Woodbutcher cabin, their premier cabin from the ’70s,” David says, “was built on a hill. It was made with dowels and pegs; no nails. The foundation was rotting and needed repair, andthere were gaping holes in the deck. The staff had been at a loss as to how to save it. Michael and I spent 2 months jacking it up, tearing out old foundation and building a new one.”
When the Cooks first launched their mission-building lifestyle, Crystal says, “I felt like I was going to be tagging along; that I didn’t have a lot to offer and I would just be seeing what David would do. Friends prayed with us and helped me realize I had something to offer.” She and daughter Amy started working in the campus kitchens serving healthy, good-tasting food. Now, she says, “I get so much appreciation for cooking! People are constantly thanking and complimenting me! And Amy learned and grew so much; I am confident she could take on any YWAM kitchen.” But it’s more than just putting food on the table. Crystal says, “I like being a mom to the staff and teaching them. I’ve worked with several gals, teaching and mentoring them in kitchen and life skills and speaking into their lives spiritually. We adopt the young folks and feel like they are our kids. Some call me Mom, which blesses me because some of them don’t have good families. We love being family for them, pouring into them like parents.”
Although Michael (to be married in June) has now launched into his own YWAM adventure, David, Crystal and Amy continue traveling, enjoying the countryside, history and parks as they mission build campus to campus. What they like most, however, is meeting new people and making friends. “Our world used to be so small and now it is so broad,” they say, “and we haven’t gone international yet! No, we don’t have a home anymore, but we have many, many locations across the United States where we feel at home. We have people who are like family in all those locations.”
The Cooks agree: “There is so much need out there, and God has given His people the skills to meet those needs. Being the ones God uses is more fulfilling than anything we did living the normal North American lifestyle. Not everyone is called to do what we’re doing for a lifetime, but there are probably a lot of people who are called to do it short term. We wish we’d done this sooner, but we figure we have a good thirty years left, so we’ll make good use of it.”
Are you ready to share your time and skills in missions for a season? Looking for ministries you can serve from your RV? Visit our website at www.missionbuilders.org and see all the YWAM ministries around the world who need your help. Apply online today or contact us!
Getting God’s guidance to find the way forward is everyone’s challenge. And when a wrench is thrown in to thwart or slow progress, I wonder if it’s God’s way of challenging me to persevere or re-directing me to another tactic. I tend to look at life and ministry analogous to the glass being half empty as opposed to half full; a positive outlook about the way forward is not natural for me. I generally see what is NOT done and frequently forget to celebrate what HAS been done.
Some 1200 YWAM operating locations in 185 nations could benefit from the helping hands of mission builders like the Cook family (see related article) on a monthly basis. Doing the math (taking into account there are some that have no projects or room for mission builders while there are others that could use 100 at a time) 1200 locations x at least 2 mission builders a month = 2400/month x 12 months = 28,800 mission builders needed per year. That’s a LOT more mission builders than we presently serve!
Where are those volunteers willing to say “Here am I, send me!” to serve alongside YWAMers passionately pursing God to make Him known among the nations, and how does MBI reach them? That’s the question (or wrench) I cannot answer alone, and along with our board of directors, we have not found an affordable solution. How about you? Do you have ideas, strategies or the means to reach the hundreds of thousands it will take? Please let me know if you do, and let’s pray and work together!
MBI SHOULD be celebrating 15 years of ministry (since being relocated to Montana) and for mobilizing, recruiting and placing some 7,500 to 15,000 mission builder volunteers in over 300 YWAM operating locations worldwide. What we ARE celebrating on August 21-23 is the 30th anniversary of our neighbor, YWAM Lakeside (come join us), and the thousands of mission builders like the Cook family who have helped make a way for YWAMers around the world to share the love of Christ with the lost. Now that’s worth celebrating!
Mission Builders International loves missionaries. We value what God accomplishes generation to generation through those who listen for his call with fresh ears. That’s why we’re dedicated to recruiting and sending volunteers to assist global YWAM ministries—ministries with remarkable vision—like YWAM Bend, Oregon. In this two-part series, we’ll not only share YWAM Bend’s unfolding story but also the equally delightful account of the YWAMers-turned-mission builders who intersected with them on a very unusual project.
Apostolic pioneering. That’s a fancy term used to describe how visionary leaders birth and multiply self-supporting, reproducible ministries worldwide. It requires sacrifice, persistence—and a plan.
The staff team at YWAM Bend consists of apostolic pioneers. “Spud” and MaryEsther Hooley and their sons, Zach and Caleb, can trace their family tree back through many generations of agriculture. Having lost everything to crop failure after years of farming in southern Idaho, Spud and MaryEsther took their young sons and embarked on a four-year missions stint in Eastern Europe. As a result, Zach and Caleb—brothers and best friends—found their own missions call. God led the Hooley family through seasons of personal seeking, life-defining YWAM schools and outreaches, and leadership opportunities at YWAM Idaho. These proved to be training grounds for their next step in missions.
During a time of family vision-casting in January of 2012, the Hooleys asked themselves: “What passions do we have and how does God want to use them to fulfill our destiny and build his kingdom?” Their conclusion: “After14 generations in agriculture, 40 years on a potato farm, and 14 years in missions, we believed God had providentially created a foundation for us to marry agriculture and missions.” Pioneering YWAM Bend became the logical answer to their question.
During a year-long, prayer-bathed incubation period for the vision, Spud, MaryEsther and Zach attended YWAM Idaho’s School of Apostolic Pioneering. There, they met Duane and Becky Zingale (and infant daughter Chloe), who joined them wholeheartedly in their vision. In September 2014, after leading a school at YWAM Idaho and building a community center in Mongolia, God opened the doors for the Hooleys and the Zingales to move to Bend and begin establishing foundations for a brand-new ministry.
YWAM Bend’s vision is to “cultivate kingdom culture in every culture,” beginning with the city of Bend, expanding to include America and extending, in particular, to the ethnic peoples of Tibet, Nepal and Mongolia. How will they accomplish their mission? “By modeling the fullness of God’s Presence (Spirit) and God’s Word (Truth) and teaching organic agriculture, appropriate architecture, innovative technologies and renewable energy.” Through these, they seek to provide “physical and spiritual food, shelter, tools, and energy for the nations as an expression of the Father’s love,” because, they remind us, “love looks like something.” Out of their efforts will come communities that are both missional and self-sustaining technologically, ecologically and economically and which are capable of producing leaders who will reproduce that model around the world.
The apostolic vision of YWAM Bend’s pioneering staff is becoming a reality. That means there is plenty of work to be done and abundant opportunities for volunteers to come alongside with practical help (see the Opportunities section in this newsletter for details). Some of the initial projects accomplished at YWAM Bend have been unusual; like setting up two Mongolian gers (more commonly translated as yurts). The gers are now Zach’s and Caleb’s homes, reflecting their love for Mongolia’s people and traditions.
Mission builders David and Chrystal Cook, on their way from one YWAM location to another, stopped off in Bend just in time to help erect the gers before the snow fell. But that’s a story for our next Connections newsletter. Get ready to not only hear about the Cook’s adventure setting up the gers at YWAM Bend, but about their exciting mission-building lifestyle as well. In the meantime, check out www.missionbuilders.org or contact us to find out what volunteer opportunities await you!