“I sure miss you!”
Canceling travel plans to come alongside and encourage co-workers in YWAM locations around the world; postponing weddings here at home; delaying celebrations of close friends recently passed into Heaven; avoiding those currently too sick to be seen by anyone; not gathering for weekly worship—all our plans are off for the foreseeable future.
Perhaps what hits the heart most is when your children or grandchildren tear up and say, “When can I see you again?”
We are no longer in control of our coming and going, our calendar, our income, our gathering of friends for fellowship and worship—even our outreach and touching others in the name of Jesus—all for fear of spreading an invisible enemy that has the power to threaten the very lives of those we love and long to be with. We all contend with disappointment and delay.
We choose to be grateful for the down time here in Montana—even though we are on our phones or computers more than ever. Our “suffering” is hollow compared to the real suffering of the persecuted Church around the world—and those without Jesus suffer even more. It is for the love of Jesus we continue serving—so others may thrive—and so that the whole world may know Him. That’s why your prayers are so valuable to us!
While our recent newsletter highlights what MBI does when things are reasonably normal, the present crisis is a missionary moment of marshaling faith over fear. Rather than focus on what we cannot do and cannot have, however, we choose to continue to reach out, to be generous, to connect with friends, co-workers, and family in new and old ways using the tools we have in our hands: computers, keyboards, telephones, teleconferencing apps, pen, and paper. We are not giving up.
But the essential tool in our arsenal is prayer, in the name of Jesus. Our MBI team is actively praying for you, for your family, for your connections throughout this season.
Eventually, this crisis will pass. Meanwhile, we pray you can enjoy a new, more profound richness of fellowship with the One who promised never to leave or forsake you. His persecution, crucifixion, and resurrection remind us that the best is yet to come!
Have a blessed Easter in Jesus,
The MBI team: Ron, Jeanette, John, Donna, Brad, Dawn, Gordy, Craig, Lane, Jason, Reba, Andrew, Becky, Greg, Jan, and our team of MBI field staff and board of directors.
I have had friends, family, supporters, and fellow YWAM coworkers ask ‘why MBI?’
When I was a young base leader in my early thirties at YWAM Lakeside, MT, I was faced with many challenges. Not enough people to help accomplish the vision. Not enough resources to realize our goals. More leadership development needed in my personal life. There were always projects and needs that required extra help and expertise, and God often provided those things through Mission Builder volunteers.
When YWAM Lakeside was given a motel that was located a mile away, we had to set the three massive, incoming sections of the hotel on foundations. God brought a team of volunteers to help, and now the Bayshore is a gracious home to students and visitors. When we discovered that one of our twenty-seven houses was sinking into the ground, we had to demolish half of it and figure out how to rebuild in such a way that it would not sink again. A visitor “happened” to be walking through, saw our dilemma, and said, “I can help you solve the problem you have with this house sinking.” He volunteered, and 13 years later, the house is still standing.
These stories might not seem like much to some (and we have many stories of God bringing volunteers at just the right time), but to me, as the campus director, those volunteers were like water to a person thirsting in the desert.
It’s now been three months since I became the director of MBI. We have a great team working hard to continue the legacy of volunteer placement that MBI is known for as well as adding new vision. We’re stretching to reach goals connected to our expanded focus of seeing YWAM locations thrive through increased volunteer placement, leadership support,and staff and organizational services.
Beginning with volunteer placement, we have prayerfully and in faith set a goal to grow from recruiting and sending 500 volunteers yearly to 3,000. How? We have to tap into new pools of potential volunteers, so for the next six to nine months, we’ll be focusing on recruiting:
• Volunteer teams: Families, couples, and singles may serve as a group at a YWAM location, assisting with specific projects. In turn, they’ll be deeply and personally impacted through what we call a “mutually transformative experience.” One expression of the volunteer team concept that we want to multiply to other YWAM locations is a program called Vacation With A Purpose (VWAP), which has helped transform the YWAM Lakeside campus over the years.
• Discipleship Training School students: Many graduates of the DTS program are excited about missions but not sure what God is calling them to next. We now offer those students a platform (called After DTS) through missionbuilders.org where they may volunteer and discover where God may be calling them to serve long-term.
In our next newsletter, we’ll expand on MBI’s newest areas of focus: leadership support and staff and organizational services. We believe that with MBI’s new three-pronged approach we can more effectively help build the mission.
Why MBI? So others may thrive.
P.S. Watch for our new newsletter design, coming this summer!
Without hesitation, I can say I’m excited for Ron Brewster and our new team to come on board with MBI. They’ll take us to new levels of growth, both in recruiting and placing volunteers with YWAM worldwide as well as in pursuing new and different avenues for serving and building the mission.
I may flinch when reminded that I’m no longer “the leader” of MBI, but I’ll continue to enjoy the “new, novel and different” of each day. I look forward to solving problems for someone else (somehow easier than solving my own) while no longer having direct responsibility for leading others.
Life is in constant-change mode, which is hard for those of us who find change and transition to be challenging. It’s certainly true with regard to the current state of our culture, which affects our worldview on politics, policy, and our way of life.
It’s true on a personal level as well for my bride Donna and I as we release the fruits our 18 years with MBI to younger leaders and look ahead with wonder. Our next step is a sabbatical, including a study tour, serving at a YWAM base or two, and a Leadership Development Course as we prepare to return to MBI next summer, ready to take on new roles under Ron’s leadership.
These kinds of things may convey the sense that things are out of control, uncertain, and fear-inducing. But the question for us all—whether the sky is really falling or not—is where are we at?
At the risk of sounding trite, the antidote to fear and uncertainty has been and always will be Jesus.
Life is a never-ending series of beginnings and endings. Jesus is either our guide or merely an acquaintance (if that) along the way. I chose Him to be my guide more than 39 years ago, and I’m still learning to follow Him. I want to know Him, to love more, and to learn about what His concerns and desires are.
What I find is that it really is about how well we love one another—how we think about and treat our neighbor, whether stranger or friend.
This past summer, I was confronted with transition, change, and the finality of life when
I met Steve Peterson on July 7, 2018, at Tillicum Beach State Park on the Oregon coast.
Steve, at 68 years of age, was walking the length of the West Coast—part of his bucket list—before boarding an Amtrak train for Florida’s Disney World, and eventually entering hospice, where he would finish his life’s journey after a recent diagnosis of terminal Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
With no family (he never married) and driving trucks for the past 31 years, his only close friend is a retired Army colonel who is helping him arrange his life’s affairs. His only regret? Not marrying the woman he had opportunity to when he was young.
Was he lonely? “Heck no,” he told me. “Jesus is my constant companion!”
Steve’s journey was not without interruptions, which brought him across my path (or vice versa). All his worldly possessions (his camping gear, backpack, tent, sleeping bag, etc.) were suddenly gone—stolen. Rather than reacting with anger, sadness, or disappointment, and recognizing the time remaining was too short for him to be concerned about it, Steve chose to keep moving forward, trusting Jesus for his daily bread.
As we talked and prayed, I was compelled to give Steve what little cash I had in my pocket to get him his next meal and a little farther along on his journey. God showed up.
Was I skeptical of Steve’s story? Yes, but not enough to second-guess what Jesus would do.
How about you? Are you skeptical about the future? Will you choose, along with me, to trust Jesus to guide and provide, despite inevitable changes and transitions, believing that the best is yet to come?
I’m believing it for MBI; I’m believing it for us.
Indeed—I’ll say it again—the best is yet to come!
On the many occasions I walk through SeaTac International Airport, I generally enjoy joining the more than 46 million passengers heading somewhere through its gates each year for fun, for family, for reunions, for work, for weddings, for funerals, for service, for missions, for calling, for destiny. Walking through an airport means I’m heading somewhere for some (hopefully good) reason.
While I have a general disdain for early morning or overnight red-eye flights, I usually enjoy the journey, meeting new people and watching for those to whom the LORD might introduce me. Traveling means a change of location—even if temporarily. I enjoy the “new, novel, and different” that travel rewards its participants with and count it God’s mercy to have traveled reasonably safely these past 34 years in YWAM.
John and Donna Briggs – 2002
Perhaps travel is part of the reason Donna and I willingly tethered ourselves to an office in Montana for 18 years, helping thousands of Christians connect with worldwide missions, with the perk of joining them when we could.
At the same time, we have prayed and patiently waited for God to release His younger leader(s) in order to pass on the leadership of MBI with the charge to take it to the next level. Gratefully, God has answered those prayers with the return of Ron Brewster, a long-time personal friend, former director of YWAM Montana, current administrator of YWAM San Diego/Baja, and former member of MBI’s board of directors. Ron, his bride Jeanette, and a growing team of co-workers are scheduled to join MBI’s day-to-day team by January 2019.
Serving alongside YWAM ministries in more than 185 nations lends itself to change, and not just in location. We constantly take the risk of introducing volunteers to young, often inexperienced, often carefree, and occasionally undisciplined YWAM co-workers around the world. Volunteers are often willing to overlook some of those traits to discover and enjoy God’s appointment. And despite the frustrations, YWAMers—youth in general—help keep us young with the shared passion and goal of knowing God and making Him known. Keeping our focus on Jesus and not the foibles of imperfect people (we include ourselves in that description) has increased our love for the mission and missionaries of YWAM. It helps, of course, to be stubbornly called to serve alongside those who may not always recognize or appreciate the help MBI offers.
Sustaining and growing a ministry like MBI cannot be accomplished alone. In fact, over 80 friends and co-workers have labored together at one time or another over the past 18 years, guiding us with their wisdom from either a board of directors position or as day-to-day team members providing the practical service to get the job of recruitment and placement done. In addition, hundreds of prayer partners and financial supporters have provided their time and treasures to impact missions worldwide through MBI. As a result, it’s conservatively estimated that over 20,000 volunteers have served alongside hundreds of YWAM missionaries and ministries since July 2000 (including countless thousands more since MBI’s concept was formed in 1978).
Donna and I are especially appreciative of the help and support of tenacious co-laborers like Becky Hefty, who has researched, written, edited, and posted countless articles about the people, places, and opportunities for service that have helped communicate MBI beyond our borders. And of course, MBI is built around connections to friends like you, made possible by database programmers David McQuoid and, more recently, Greg Griffin, working in the background. But at the core of MBI for the past 18 years have been faithful partners on our board of directors, like Lynn and Jacky Battermann and Dean and Molly Ketchum. They have, like so many others, selflessly given time, talent, and treasure to follow Jesus wherever He leads.
I’ll conclude by starting at the beginning of my journey with MBI: Sitting in an office in early 2000, I met Don McGalliard, a former board member and mission builder volunteer who traveled to Colorado Springs from his home in Oregon specifically to meet with and encourage me to assume the leadership role of the ministry. His kindness and generosity helped re-launch MBI that day. This past month, the outcome of his generosity showed up on our doorstep in the form of a young missionary from Nepal. She was testifying that Don’s compassion and generosity as a mission builder volunteer—giving himself in a labor of love to help build a training center in Kathmandu—directly impacted her family. As a result, she responded to the call of missions in service to Jesus, which brought her to Montana and the opportunity to personally say thank you to the ministry and the people behind her calling. That thank you is also meant for those who have helped MBI directly, as well as those who have volunteered through the years.
And now it’s my turn. On behalf of Donna and our team, thank you to all of you for the years of Connections. The best is yet to come!
The concept of MBI—connecting Christians with frontline missions—is entering its 40th year.
Let that sink in for a moment, if you will.
Behind that seemingly simple statement are thousands upon thousands of connections between volunteers and their friends in missions who have responded to the same call: “Who shall go for us?” (Isaiah 6:8)
MBI has served as the bridge for countless connections, not just of lifelong friendships but connections of eternal value: revealing the God Who knows us well to those who did not know Him.
Over the years, MBI’s story has not changed much. The locations and the characters (MBI’s ageless volunteers from around the world) who respond to the call make up new angles and opportunities to our story. However, the central theme is still the same: connecting Christians to frontline missions, co-laboring with YWAMers around the world to know God and to make Him known. And it has worked – very well.
Despite my occasional George Bailey moments in which I question if “it’s a wonderful life,” I can honestly answer: “It truly is.” When I consider the hundreds of personal friends who have grown with us over the years and those who have come to a loving relationship with Jesus Christ as their Savior, I can exuberantly say, “Yes, I want to finish this race well!”
My bride Donna and I are also entering into and celebrating our 40th year of marital bliss and thirty-three years as YWAM missionaries. We’ve been privileged to raise our family of three children, who now have families of their own, and God has provided a way for us to serve Him by serving others.
And now, 2018 is a year of new changes ahead for us personally and for MBI as we make room for new avenues of service. Stay tuned for details. We’re REALLY excited about what the LORD has in store for us and for you!
Forest fires rage in the West. Hurricanes batter Texas, Florida and the Carribean. Earthquakes shake cities. Nuclear war threatens nations worldwide. Economic, social and hot-button political issues stymie our government. Life is challenging to say the least!
Gratefully, God is neither surprised nor daunted by the seemingly endless outpouring of doom and gloom. Instead, He reminds those of us who are willing to take time to watch, listen and walk with Him to see glimmers of hope wherever we choose to look. “This is what the Lord says: ‘Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, ‘We will not walk in it’” (Jeremiah 6:16).
Are you still standing and asking but not moving—yet?
Then let MBI help you get moving to where the Lord may want you to be!
Whether you serve alongside MBI team members in places like South Africa, Tanzania or Russia or take yourself to some of the 1200 operating locations where Youth With A Mission currently resides, there’s rest for your soul in serving others!
This past year, we’ve reported on developments with our new database, developed by MBI team member, Greg Griffin, and the way it would revolutionize your ability to quickly and easily volunteer at YWAM locations of your choice—all online. While there have been a few bumps in the road and a few bugs to work out (which early users helped us overcome with patience and understanding), we’re pleased to invite you to come walk with us! If you tried it earlier and found it challenging, we invite you to please try again.
Join us, walk with us, and watch what God is doing in the lives we’re privileged to serve. There’s rest to be found along with plenty of work to do.
Have a blessed Fall season,