Canadians Stuart and Barclee Huggins and their son Lincoln set off on a round-the-world mission-building trip in January of 2020. Although the pandemic cut their time short, their time of service still made an impact. Here is their story:
“Stuart and I had heard of YWAM, and we stumbled upon MBI ten years ago while researching the organization. We both come from families that have done mission work, and we’ve both spent time in third-world countries. MBI would allow us to explore the world and serve simultaneously using our gifts and talents.
“Our first reaction was excitement! We decided to sell our house and do back-to-back volunteering in a ‘go big or go home’ way.
“The first thing we looked for were locations that accepted families. Secondly, we looked at places that could benefit specifically from Stuart’s trade skills. Stuart is a very skilled mechanical engineer, and we wanted him to be able to use his gifts for God’s glory. I would spend time with Lincoln and help with whatever practical tasks I could. Thirdly, we set a goal of going to as many locations around the world as possible.
“Our original plan was to travel for eight months to eight different countries, staying about three weeks at each location. We quickly learned that we needed to remain flexible. Our wonderful MBI representative, Jeanette, had to make some adjustments to allow us to apply for eight locations at once, but she made it work. Having someone available to answer all your questions and concerns is what makes MBI so unique!
“We served at YWAM St. Lucia in the Caribbean, YWAM Heredia in Costa Rica, and YWAM Village South Africa. We were excited every time we got to a new country. In each location, we were picked up at the airport by a YWAM staff member. It was helpful and welcoming to be met by those with whom we would be staying. It gave us a chance to get to know them and ask questions about what the next few weeks would be like, and it allowed them to get to know us as well.
“At the first two locations, we lived with the YWAM staff and volunteers, working and serving together. We shared every aspect of life. There was no real difference between staff, students, or MBI volunteers because everyone was there for the same purpose: to serve God and others.
“Our son Lincoln benefited in exactly the way we wanted him to. The experience opened his young eyes to see first-hand the different cultures, religions, and poverty levels that he doesn’t see in Canada. At each location, Lincoln had jobs he could help with, ministries he could be involved with, or classes he could attend. He was excited to meet and ‘help’ people. In St. Lucia, Lincoln helped with the homeless program, amongst other things. He loved feeding the homeless; it was by far his favorite ministry. When we spent a few days at Hunt South Africa, Lincoln did everything Stuart did around the ranch.
“Our goal was to serve the missionaries in practical tasks so they could continue their work. We wanted to encourage and help them towards their goals and plans, to let them know they’re supported and loved. The YWAM staff and volunteers always made it clear how just seeing us there encouraged them!
“After this experience, we will likely never be able to travel ‘normally’ again. And we don’t want to! We want our future travel to involve serving others. Volunteering with MBI is the perfect partnership for that. It is a great organization with plenty of opportunities to serve God and others.”
Change, crisis, injustice, loss, feeling stuck. Everyone experiences these at some point in life, including missionaries. Because MBI’s goal is to help YWAM missionaries thrive, we offer spiritual debriefing to assist them in making sense of the things that happen in life and in mission service. Jeanette Brewster has worked with over 100 missionaries and heads MBI’s debriefing ministry.
“Jesus came alongside two disciples on the Emmaus Road on the morning of his resurrection,” Jeanette says. “He asked them what they were talking about. Distraught, they shared the story of Jesus’ crucifixion and how their hope seemed lost. Jesus listened, and as they invited him in, he gave them the revelation and perspective necessary for them to understand that he was alive and had done just what he said he would do. Debriefing is having someone come alongside us the way Jesus did to facilitate, listen, ask questions, and help us gain biblical perspective, a change of heart, and a renewed passion.
“As Christians we know the answer is the cross and the gospel,” Jeanette says. “Debriefing is simply a facilitative process that helps people see through the fog of hurt, disappointment, unforgiveness, and discouragement. It’s an opportunity to be refilled, a time to retreat and make space in our lives to hear what God has to speak to us and our situation. Here are some testimonies:
‘The beautiful, gentle five-day process helped me walk through each situation. I ultimately realized how much I’d been trying to carry myself. I feel like I have a new pathway for working through difficult situations.’
‘I really felt stuck and unsure of how to move forward in several areas of my life and ministry. By the end of the week, I felt a total shift and freedom.’
“Debriefees come in weighed down,” Jeanette concludes. “By the end of the week, they walk away much lighter because they’ve recognized that the cross not only carries and covers their sin, but also their burdens, shame, guilt, and pain. The Holy Spirit is enabled to do years of counseling within this one week. It’s simply a matter of aside setting time to listen.”
“Buildings preach,” says architect Ross Lackey. He believes that intentional architectural design can effectively promote everything from community values to religion.
After he and his family stepped into training and missions at YWAM Lakeside Montana in the fall of 2012, Ross spent seven years as architectural director of the nonprofit architectural firm 100 Fold Studio. He trained young architects to provide design services to charitable organizations around the world.
What Ross couldn’t get out of his mind, however, is the need frontline YWAM missionaries have for efficient spaces where they can do the work of training and discipleship effectually. He says, “YWAM ministries deserve places that support their efforts as part of God’s redemptive work in the world.”
So in May of this year, Ross aligned his brand new ministry, Partner Architects, with MBI, because they share a common goal: so others may thrive. MBI provides a conduit for an expanded expression of Ross’s vision.
“Partner Architects’ motto—Design for Missionaries, by Missionaries—clarifies that we serve missionaries from the shared place of being missionaries ourselves. We don’t come into a project with a different goal or set of values in play. When you can trust that your architect is making decisions based on a shared goal of seeing lives transformed by the gospel, your architect becomes a partner.”
Ross actively invites Christian professionals to see and use their gifts and talents not merely as a vocation, but also as a platform that can be used for eternal purposes. “Once they hear that they can be part of something bigger and farther-reaching,” he says, “they go from ‘my money matters’ to ‘my life matters.’ It’s a big step.
“In the end,” Ross concludes, “our success is not a pretty building, but rather how Christ is having a real impact on people’s lives.”
MBI’s newest ministry, Leadership 13 (L13) came into existence in 2010 when colleagues Ron Brewster and Dawn Masucci and I felt compelled to combine our years of leadership experience and expertise into a concerted effort to respond to a cry for help from a number of the promising young leaders serving within Youth With a Mission. Those leaders were being called upon to shape this rapidly growing, international, interdenominational movement of Christians called to bring the whole gospel to the whole world.
Though each of us desired to see YWAM succeed at the macro level, with all of its myriad of expressions, we shared an even more pressing passion to see this current generation of leaders adequately equipped to face the challenges of successfully stewarding their respective ministry locations. Having invested 30-plus years of service at the senior leadership level in one location, it was and is our firm conviction that any lasting leadership legacy can only be accomplished when those “to whom much has been given” graciously acknowledge and respond to the second half of this biblical mandate that “much is required.”
L13 was forged in the fire of finding ways to pass on our life lessons and expertise in any way God might want to use them for the benefit of YWAM leaders. The end goal was to see the advancement of the kingdom of God globally.
Since embracing that call 9 years ago, it has been our privilege to have assisted in training and coaching leaders in approximately 16 YWAM operating locations from the U.S. and Canada to far flung regions such as Cambodia, Taiwan, Costa Rica, and Barbados. Though some of the leaders we have had the privilege of serving are mature and experienced, the much larger percentage have been young, inexperienced , and, in some locations, first generation Christians.
These God-called, amazing servants find themselves responsible for some of the most innovative ministry expressions we have ever seen, ranging from the foundational YWAM Discipleship Training School (DTS) to numerous other secondary expressions such as the School of Biblical Studies (SBS) and School of Community Development, just to name a couple. Because 2 of the 18 foundational values of YWAM are about being “visionary” and doing “new things in new ways,” there is no end to the creative ventures we have observed as these ministries explore how they can more effectively take the age-old gospel message and contextualize it to reach the cultures to which God has called them.
The gospel is going forward to some of the least-reached areas of the world through creative approaches that include everything from very sophisticated English/computer education programs to AIDS orphan homes to micro business enterprise (designed not only to provide income streams for the local ministry but do so in a way that serves to generate financial support for full-time, indigenous workers). The challenge is that, in many cases, their remarkable effectiveness has become a double-edged sword. The accelerated growth these ministries are experiencing has outstripped the leaders’ knowledge and expertise as to how to keep the ministry healthy, thriving, and appropriately funded. These are wonderful challenges, but these leaders are often ill-equipped to navigate them.
This is exactly the point at which L13 discovered that our year-long approach of coming along side these ministries has borne good fruit. Our expertise joined with their energy and desire to lead well has produced a winning combination. The tools we’re able to give them through our on-site visits as well as Skype coaching and mentoring has proven to be very effective in equipping them with understanding in areas such as organizational dynamics, healthy systems, and strong staff development. Coupled with our core value and commitment toward “developing servant leaders for lasting growth,” L13 not only encourages the leaders we serve but arms them with the confidence necessary to lead those whom God has placed in their charge so that the entire ministry can learn to walk in the footsteps of our great servant leader and master, Jesus Christ.
Since its inception, L13 has been blessed beyond measure to add four more players to the team, Jason Howard, Lane Lackey, Veronica VanSchuylenburg and occasionally John Briggs. Each brings with them a skill set that has broadened L13’s ability to help in even more areas.
Just over a year ago, L13 was delighted and blessed to be invited to make Mission Builders International its permanent home. When the opportunity first presented itself, it almost seemed like a no-brainer. The call of MBI, “So Others May Thrive,” seemed like a hand-in-glove fit with all that L13 desired to accomplish.
Even though it seemed obvious, however, the final decision to join forces was only made after a great deal of prayer by all of those involved as well as a serious discussion with the wise and godly board of directors that serves MBI. At the end of the process, all were in hearty agreement that to add L13 to the MBI family was a match made in heaven. MBI’s call to the larger Mission as opposed to any one location is a call that we share together.
As the times we live in become increasingly uncertain, we invite you to join your prayers with ours that MBI and L13 will find ever-widening circles of influence where our passion, “So Others May Thrive,” can be expressed in and through our Mission and ultimately to the ends of the earth.
Is there life after a YWAM Discipleship Training School? Yes! YWAM DTS graduate Deborah S. is now a veteran Mission Builder, putting her missions training into action in whole new ways. She has already volunteered at YWAM campuses in four states—Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, and California—with more in the queue.
“It’s a blessing to hold up the arms of people in ministry and be mutually encouraged by those we serve,” Deborah says. “Volunteers are needed all over, and I never would have imagined that I’d have so many opportunities to minister while doing ‘logistical work’ for YWAM campuses!
“I am especially attracted to campuses with schools,” she says, “because my DTS was life-changing, and I wanted to contribute to the learning experiences of the students.
“My biggest blessing was ministering to staff, students, and strangers at each location. God has given me a lot of spiritual gifts with which I was able to bless other people. I witnessed to a Buddhist while I was cleaning a bathroom in Colorado Springs. I encouraged an artist to start painting images for God. I prayed with staff persons for direction, future spouses, illnesses, and financial provision (one received $600 that very day!). I helped DTS students identify their spiritual gifts and led them to emotional healing. And I prayed with folks at churches I visited for their various needs.
Teaching writing to homeschool students at YWAM Cimarron, CO.
“With so many young people in YWAM, the age and experience of older adults is a blessing. However, I have met Mission Builder volunteers fresh out of high school as well. If you have done a DTS and want to explore options to come on staff somewhere, MBI lets you check out various locations to see if they would be a good fit. If you’ve never done a DTS but are interested in missions, mission building may help you find a good location with a program that fits your needs.
“Serving in MBI makes you part of God’s plan to build His kingdom,” Deborah concludes. “It lets you travel, meet new people, and invest in lives and ministries in a way that just may change an entire city, nation, or generation.
“What are you waiting for? If God’s calling you to step out, then do it! You’ll be stretched beyond your perceived limitations, but the rewards are well worth the time, sweat, tears, travel, prayers, and whatever else the Lord requires of you.”
Deborah’s advice for those interested in volunteering:
- Be willing to do whatever is asked of you.
- Be flexible and don’t be afraid to serve outside your comfort zone!
- Do your work “as unto the Lord” (Colossians 3:23-24). That makes it not only an act of love and service to the YWAMers and students, but an act of worship to God.
- Give yourself time to connect with the people.
- Go with a servant heart rather than expecting special treatment or recognition.
- Get involved as much as you can with what’s happening on campus.
- Allow yourself some alone time. There’s always something to do, but you need to recharge.
- It’s helpful to have your own vehicle so you can enjoy sight-seeing.
- Travel light! Most of us don’t need as much as we think we do.
- Build a support base before you go so that you are receiving the financial and prayer support needed to sustain your work.
Whether you’d like to serve individually, with your family, or as a group, MBI can help match you to short term volunteer opportunities to serve the Great Commission close to home or internationally.
For years we’ve stated that YWAM Mission Builders International’s goal is to connect Christian volunteers with Youth With A Mission ministries worldwide, and we have faithfully been doing just that. But while the practical help delivered by thousands of volunteers has made it possible for those ministries to “keep the main thing the main thing,” it is clear that they also need the kind of support that can only be provided by experienced people who understand the unique needs and inner workings of YWAM and who know exactly what it takes to help individual ministries grow, prosper, and effectively deliver on their missions goals from the inside out.
Now, MBI is poised to help meet those needs!
As you know from our previous newsletter, we recently welcomed Ron Brewster (former director of YWAM Lakeside Montana) as MBI’s new director. With Ron at the helm, we’ve enlarged our “tent” to include an expanded staff team and several new-to-us working ministries, each one dedicated to doing whatever it takes to see global YWAM ministries flourish.
MBI is now home to a tactical team of qualified, long-term YWAMers who have first-hand experience not only in volunteer placement but also in leadership development, debriefing, financial and strategic planning, financial stewardship, donor processing, visa and immigration matters, IRS compliance, and more. Seasoned leaders and mentors as well as key staff and organizational resources are now available for YWAM locations seeking to overcome internal challenges and build enduring foundations.
Here is what MBI offers:
SUPPORT AND DEVELOPMENT TO LEADERSHIP TEAMS
- New! Leadership13 (L13) is a small group of experienced leaders that exists to serve YWAM leaders and their teams worldwide. Bringing our combined years of leadership experience and entering into a unique one-year time commitment, L13 seeks to strengthen and enhance the vision, values, and calling of each location by identifying their challenges and helping them develop an effective plan to address them. Whether it’s clarifying vision, developing a team charter, or helping to create strategies and systems that will strengthen the overall ministry, it is our deep desire that, with God’s help, YWAM ministries around the world will not only survive but thrive in all of their efforts to “know God and make Him known.” ~ Gordy McDonald
STAFF AND ORGANIZATIONAL SERVICES (SOS)
- New! L.I.F.T. is designed to help YWAM North America leaders strategically address legal, immigration, financial, and tactical/risk areas. ~ Ron Brewster
- Biblical Financial Coaching provides resources that help missionaries/ministry workers be “good and faithful stewards” of whatever God has provided them. The YWAM Leader’s Financial Toolkit as well as the Personal Financial Coaching and the Steps To Wise Investing Workshop work together to light the way to biblically sound financial stewardship. ~ Stu Sorenson
- Strategic Planning is a ministry-development strategy aimed at helping individuals in their life- and project-planning as well as teams in the areas of ministry planning, team-building, problem-solving, counseling, and improving effectiveness/efficiency. Used primarily for YWAM location staff and students, this planning process has helped over 600 missionaries, largely in Latin America, the U.S., and China. ~ Chip and Sandy Wanner
- New! Debriefing is a week-long ministry time focused on helping YWAM missionaries process times of stress, grief/loss, transition, and injustice. By filtering their circumstances through Scripture, debriefees are able to gain perspective, hear from God, find healing and freedom, extend forgiveness, and move forward renewed and strengthened, confident that Jesus has taken their burdens. ~ Jeanette Brewster
- MBI continues to recruit short-term volunteers, matching them with global ministry opportunities within YWAM. Mission Builder volunteers “lift up the arms” of frontline missionaries through practical, hands-on service. ~ John and Donna Briggs
- MBI RV Associates facilitates volunteer opportunities for those who have re-purposed their retirements and want to use their time and skills to render practical assistance to YWAM missionaries (and other ministries) at RV-ready locations throughout North America. “We serve God through serving others.” ~ Lynn and Jackie Battermann
- Mobile Mechanics helps keep missionaries on the move by providing the expertise of a 35-year veteran mechanic, who brings all the tools and skills needed to get vehicle repairs and maintenance done. This saves money for individual missionaries and missionary organizations, allowing them to put their valuable dollars toward spreading the good news about Jesus Christ. ~ John and Michele Whitlock
- New! After DTS is MBI’s placement process geared specifically toward students who have finished their missions training and are actively looking for their next assignment. MBI is positioned to connect DTS graduates with YWAM locations worldwide, where they can assist as volunteers while exploring where God may have them serve long-term. ~ Ron Brewster
- New! Virtual Volunteers (coming in 2020) MBI’s version of LinkedIn, focuses on attracting skilled volunteers who can offer long-distance help to global YWAM locations. From web design to graphic design to leadership coaching to digital mobilization—and much more—those who may not be able to travel will soon be able to help “make God known” by serving as virtual volunteers. ~ Ron Brewster
- New! Volunteer Teams: Vacation With A Purpose (VWAP) is a one-week volunteer trip designed for families and church teams who want to work alongside full-time missionaries. VWAP volunteers do construction, painting, and landscaping projects on YWAM campuses, helping them steward what God has given them. During the week, participants not only do physical work but also get encouraged and challenged in their faith and walk with God. ~ Andrew Hobby
With all of these new tools in its belt, MBI will continue its legacy as a conduit, offering a full spectrum of services in order to see thriving YWAM ministries knowing God and making him known all over the world.
“MBI provides leadership support, practical resources, and volunteer connections to YWAM locations worldwide. Our goal is to help YWAM locations thrive and be empowered to know God and make him known.”