MBI helps frontline YWAM missionaries thrive in their work by offering valuable services, perhaps none as unique and timely as that of its newest ministry service: Mission 91.
J.T. Pharr and Matthew Praetzel founded Mission 91 as a professional YWAM missionary team offering consulting, training, and ministry best practices in situational awareness, de-escalation, and risk mitigation. Mission 91 also offers a four-month, biblically centered training program to instruct missionary members and church staff in crisis mitigation, enhancing property security, emergency preparedness, and how to be a source of refuge in their communities.
J.T. says: “Ministries and missionaries recognize that traditional security models are not conducive to ministry context. They need help establishing eﬀective security measures without compromising their eﬀectiveness in ministry. Mission 91 is the perfect avenue for utilizing the skill sets of those with a call to prepare others. Through this program, the body of Christ will become better equipped to walk boldly into stressful situations with high awareness and readiness.”
“Jesus was the most situationally aware person ever,” says Matthew. “He modeled how we can impact the people on the fringes of society by noticing them and speaking into their situation, whether they’re victims of injustice, perpetrators of crises, or simply individuals who feel left out. Mission 91 training enables Christians to be Jesus to people amid their worst days or decisions.”
“Our vision for Mission 91 from the beginning,” J.T. and Matthew conclude, “has been to help ministries worldwide thrive in crisis-related incidents and environments. MBI allows us the space and resources to do exactly that. Our unique backgrounds provide something new to MBI, and we look forward to helping expand the reach of this awesome ministry. The team at MBI has the kind of quality people we wish to surround ourselves with. We couldn’t be more pleased with the opportunity to work with this community.”
(Photo: J.T. Pharr, Luke Smith, Matthew Praetzel)
On Monday, June 20, 2022, dear friend and mission builder Frank Castles Jr. passed away unexpectedly in Lakeside, MT. He was doing what he loved to do: giving his time and skills to kingdom work.
“Frank and his wife, Relda, wandered into the MBI office and our hearts over 20 years ago. Their hunger to pursue the things of God as they neared retirement opened opportunities for service that took them around the world and down the street in whichever neighborhood they lived. With Southern hospitality and the warmest “Howdy, y’all!” Frank endeared himself to others in his workplace as a professional engineer and to us as a member of MBI’s board of directors.
“Relentless, whether he offered his help or insisted on having fun together, Frank modeled Jesus with a Southern drawl. Those who knew him came to know his family and learned that Frank lived life large as “Big Daddy” to his children and their children.
“God gives us ‘suddenlies’ in our lives that can surprise and change our course of direction in an instant. Frank’s sudden passing reminds me more than ever to take the time to say “I love y’all” each day to those around me because we don’t know the day or the hour of our last breath—or theirs.
“Frank gave of his time and talents to bless others, even to his very last moment on earth. He “just showed up” to help us 20-plus years ago, and he was gone an instant later (gratefully, it was a long, 20-year instant). Frank loved Jesus, and it’s obvious Jesus loved him—suddenly.
“I will miss Frank’s deep, resonant voice reciting the Shabbat prayer with his Southern accent: ‘Blessed are You, Eternal God, Sovereign of the universe. You hallow us with your commandments and command us to kindle the lights of Shabbat. Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech haolam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’zivanu l’hadlik ner shel Shabbat.’
“I pray you are blessed with a friend like Frank Castles in your circle of influence—with or without the Southern touch. Shalom, y’all.” —John Briggs
“Frank was one of the most gentle, fun-loving, hard-working, friendly guys I have known. He graciously gave his time, talent, and treasure to MBI. Through his hard work and diligence, Frank pushed our Mission Lodge project to a place where we can now go on to the next stage. He will be missed greatly, not just because of his talents and contributions, but because of who he was.” —Ron Brewster, MBI co-director
“Frank spent the last month of his life investing in what God is doing through MBI. With a lifetime of experience as a civil engineer and hands-on knowledge of the MBI utility system, he applied his skills and talents to the civil construction work for the new MBI Mission Lodge project. He was able to mobilize and direct teams to begin clearing the site, moving dirt, and installing sewer lines. On any given day, you could find him calling volunteers, ordering materials, placing stakes around the site, and sharing his knowledge with all those around him. His work has laid a foundation that the future of MBI will rest on.” —Ross Lackey, Partner Architects
Excerpted from Frank’s obituary:
“Born December 31, 1946, in Starkville, Mississippi, Frank was an avid Mississippi State fan. He served overseas as a Navy Seabee during the Vietnam War. After returning to the States, Frank enrolled in Mississippi State University, earning a B.S. degree in Civil Engineering. He owned a civil engineering firm in both Tupelo and Saltillo, MS, before serving as the associate city engineer for Kalispell for several years. After retiring from his Kalispell position, Frank and his beloved wife, Relda, moved back to Mississippi to be closer to family.
“A loving family man, Frank was known affectionately as Big Daddy. He was strong in his Christian faith, passing those values to his family along with his love for the outdoors and fishing. He and Relda enjoyed life to the fullest, making many trips back to Montana and Israel, where they volunteered their skills and shared their faith and spiritual gifts, resulting in countless adventures, wonderful memories, and lifetime friendships.
“Memorials can be made to Mission Builders International at PO Box 406, Lakeside, MT 59922, www.missionbuilders.org/ donate or Fields of Wheat, PO Box 729, Middlefield, OH 44062.”
Lack of knowledge can complicate missions. Missions service is about more than just preaching the gospel, feeding the hungry, or rescuing refugees. Today’s missionaries must also navigate travel, technology, and global connectedness—and the complex laws that govern them. Know-how is critical to success.
MBI offers a unique professional and contextualized service called LIFT (legal, immigration, financial, tactical) to help YWAM missionaries crush the “big rocks” that sometimes hinder ministry. LIFT workshops allow YWAM leaders and staff to work through issues with experts via training, discussion, and one-on-one consultations. LIFT’s topical training ranges broadly from corporate bylaws and worker visas to financial planning and facilities security.
In February this year, MBI offered a LIFT workshop at the YWAM San Antonio Del Mar campus in Mexico. Nearly sixty leaders and staff representing over thirty-five US YWAM campuses attended the three-day event to hear from experienced YWAM leaders and MBI’s network of lawyers and professionals.
Husband and wife lawyer team, Allen and Julie Anjo (Office of General Counsel at YWAM’s UofN in Kona) taught on nonprofits, child protection, mandated reporting, religious worker visas, data privacy, and constitutional protections for nonprofits. “These legal considerations,” they say, “form a basis for legal protections that allow the ministries to focus on their calling to the Great Commission. As lawyers called first to missions, we use our skills, experience, and expertise to help ministries and missionaries set up strong legal foundations so they can succeed in their calling and not worry about possible compliance issues or lawsuits.”
After the LIFT workshop, YWAM participants said: “What an incredible resource! Every base should attend!” “I learned so much exceptional information, much of which I didn’t know.” “I loved having a place where we could get this information and knowing where to look in the future.”
As YWAM ministries worldwide do whatever it takes to reach the world, MBI continues to provide the tools they need to thrive through opportunities like LIFT.
Since 1960, YWAM missionaries have continued reaching out to this broken world spiritually and practically. They bring health and healing through hands-on mercy ministries and interrupt human trafficking via rescue and education. They strategically distribute Bibles to help end Bible poverty. And they’re training yet another generation of believers to share the good news of Jesus Christ. As YWAMers continue to make God known to the least, the last, and the lost, Mission Builders International is there to support them.
For instance, YWAM Cambodia strives to transform Cambodia’s history from one of “killing fields” to “living fields,” believing God for One Nation in One Generation. As a result, five hundred Cambodians now attend YWAM Cambodia’s ten church plants, and a thousand youth recently joined the soccer league hosted on their campus. MBI is helping YWAM Cambodia in tangible ways to realize its vision by sending volunteers, helping with training and equipping their leaders, debriefing their staff, providing professional architectural services, and more.
MBI remains committed to providing YWAM campuses with the services and practical help they need to stay healthy and fulfill their callings long-term. Now, we’re taking our commitment to a higher level. Planning is underway to build MBI’s Mission Lodge hospitality center to engage YWAM missionaries, volunteers, students, and visitors more fully.
The vision took root when YWAM Lakeside Montana gifted its prime one-acre piece of property to MBI in 2004. In 2019, MBI expanded its ministry by adding new services like Leadership13, LIFT, Partner Architects, Debriefing, and more. Today, the time is right to make the Mission Lodge a reality.
MBI co-director Dawn Masucci says: “Part of our vision for the Mission Lodge is to create a welcoming place where YWAM missionaries can come to be refreshed, retooled, and re-sent, so they may continue to ‘know God and make Him known.’ We’ve envisioned a well-designed building dedicated to the Lord that increases our capacity for hospitality, collaboration, training, communication, and recruiting.
“We also see a place to create more awareness about MBI and YWAM as we engage students and show hospitality to their families and friends. The 1000+ visitors who pass through YWAM Lakeside and visit the Mission Lodge every year will gain a clear understanding of what MBI does and leave inspired to find their unique opportunity to reach the world by helping international YWAM locations.
“Our vision for the Mission Lodge, with its wooded location and beautiful views, also embodies a place of restoration and replenishment for those experiencing a rough season in ministry. Frontline YWAM missionaries will come to be debriefed by professionally trained debriefing staff. Leaders who may feel tired and bruised will receive encouragement, skilled mentoring, and fellowship, returning to the field with renewed faith that they can, indeed, take on giants.”
MBI’s Ross Lackey of Partner Architects created a master plan for the one-acre site, designing the 16,000 square foot building and preparing for construction. The Lodge’s interior will include twenty guest rooms and a caretaker’s suite, a full kitchen, a large conference room, a commons area, a reception area for hospitality, and an MBI office area with desk spaces and meeting rooms to accommodate thirty staff. The exterior design features a drive-through covered entry and twenty dedicated parking spaces.
Site preparation begins this spring, with foundation completion projected for early 2023. Construction will start soon after. Our faith goal is to have the building “dried in” by the winter of 2023, then debt-free and ready for service by the end of 2024.
Winston Churchill said, “We shape our buildings; thereafter, they shape us.” The Mission Lodge’s purpose, design, functionality, and beauty increase MBI’s ability to shape lives by helping YWAM missionaries—and the people they serve worldwide—to thrive.
We are sad to report the passing of a great friend, mentor, and servant’s servant to his new residence in Jesus’s arms. Lynn Battermann was the consummate friend to all who knew him. His love of Jesus translated into practical service around the world and here at home.
Lynn’s energy was relentless. His enthusiasm for making Jesus known was constant. Profoundly affected by his years as a professional engineer in places like the wilds of Alaska and the deserts of Saudi Arabia, Lynn offered his gifts and talents freely through YWAM’s Mission Builders International for the past 30 years, including creating MBI’s RV Associates ministry and serving on MBI’s board of directors up until his passing.
Wherever Lynn and Jacky, his bride of 62 years, traveled, there was laughter and always thirst for adventure. Those adventures led Lynn and Jacky to share an endless repertoire of stories of God’s provision, God’s miracles, and more God stories than the average person can recount.
While we have to say goodbye for now, we can also say with all our hearts, “Love ya buddy!” We’ll see you again someday.
— John Briggs
Many students of YWAM’s Discipleship Training School graduate with a desire to serve full-time in the mission, and YWAM campuses worldwide need people just like them to achieve their mission goals and thrive. MBI brings these two dynamic groups together through our After DTS program.
DTS graduates can now explore opportunities and locations through volunteer placement, allowing them to experience a variety of service opportunities, places, cultures, and causes. Graduates may learn new skills, encounter new people groups, fall in love with a ministry vision, find their “tribe” of like-minded missionaries, and more! They volunteer at global locations, build lasting relationships, and find their best fit for long-term service. MBI makes easy what used to be laborious and time-consuming.
Dawn Mekunwattana from Thailand did her DTS in the spring of 2011 at YWAM Lakeside and knew she wanted to join their staff someday. She spent time mission building on campus between the secondary schools she attended after her basic training. She says:
“My mission building experience gave me a snapshot into the behind-the-scenes life of missionary members on campus and helped to solidify my desire to serve full-time in Montana. I loved the Mission Builder community! We had our meetings and times of connection and prayer outside of the regular base meetings, and I loved connecting with all the people who would come through for those short seasons to serve and bless others. Mission building also grew my confidence—I could serve and work in many capacities! It’s been ten years since I did my DTS and six years since I last worked as a mission builder. Now, I’m finally here as a full-time missionary member!”
DTS graduates like Daniel, Fabio, Presley, and others have utilized the After DTS program to explore the exciting ways and places available to them to serve within YWAM as they’ve fulfilled God’s call on their lives.
Are you a DTS graduate with a passion for moving to the next step of service? Apply at www.missionbuilders.org to volunteer with After DTS and discover your next step!