At MBI, we serve in our roles because we love missions. For staffer Craig Blair, this means going the extra mile and connecting the local church with a nation close to his heart: Russia. Here is just one of Craig’s stories about how volunteers help change lives:
“In July I led a team of American volunteers (including 7 youth and the youth pastor from my local church in Montana) to serve at a church English camp for teens in Volgograd, Russia. God does amazing things each year in the hearts of the campers—many from non-Christian homes.
One young man named Matvey came to camp for the ﬁrst time last summer. The atmosphere of love and honesty impressed him. When he returned in February to interpret for the winter English camp, Matvey became a believer in Jesus as his savior. When we asked Matvey to translate again in July, his mother opposed it. As a Russian Orthodox, she didn’t understand her son’s new faith and wouldn’t pay his way. Still, he found a way to come.
Our Montana youth did a fine job connecting with the Russian teens and being solid witnesses for Christ. Matvey interpreted for our youth pastor’s son, Payton, and the two became best friends. After camp, Payton admitted that he thought his Russian camp experience could never be as good as anything in Montana until he saw that God’s Spirit is at work in peoples’ lives everywhere. He was so happy to be used by God at the camp he said, ‘This was the best trip ever!’
I asked Matvey to share one thing God taught him this summer. He said, ‘God told me I should put him ﬁrst in my life. He broke everything in my mind which used to be more important to me than God.’
After camp, Matvey’s mother struggled with her health and wouldn’t let him spend time with his church friends or go to the meetings. He decided to be a witness to his mother by staying home and helping her, even going to her job on days when she couldn’t go herself. When some of Matvey’s church friends came to help, she was very pleased and said, ‘They really are good people!’ Now he’s able to meet again with his friends.
Matvey told me, ‘Every day I say thank you to God because of you, my lovely family in Christ.’”
Every evening for the past several months, I would put the kids to bed and cozy up with my Chromebook and start searching. I researched places around the entire world. Looked at everything from medical missions in Africa to hockey camps for Jesus in Russia. I sent emails galore and received few responses.
Then, I finally came across something that seemed promising. A program through Youth With A Mission (YWAM) called Mission Builders International. They recruit short-term volunteers and match them with global ministry opportunities within Youth With A Mission. Mission Builder volunteers “lift up the arms” of frontline missionaries through practical, hands-on service.
This sounded absolutely perfect!
After discovering Mission Builders, my routine changed a bit. I would find myself looking at all of the YWAM campuses throughout the world, searching for one that could use our help and was willing and able to take kids too.
In my search, I came across the website for the YWAM St. Croix campus and read the following:
“We get it! We have five families on base and ten kids under the age of eleven. We understand the unique situations that families face, but we also see the unique gift that it can be to your family. One of the greatest things that you can do for your child is to expose them to another culture while they are learning more about God and how to serve others. It helps to change/form worldviews that are priceless. Kids learn by doing, and short-term missions is a way to teach them about serving, loving others, and God’s heart for the nations in a way that your kids will never forget. It is also a great opportunity to bond as a family as you work together without all the distractions that you face at home. This is also a good first time opportunity as we are a U.S. territory. If you are willing to take a “leap of faith,” we are willing to help you discover missions with your family!”
I sent them an email to double-check that they allow really little kids (some ministries have a minimum age of 6 or older) and what the cost would be to stay for two weeks. Someone sent me answers the very next day!
After months of praying and preliminary planning (time off from work, finances, etc.), we purchased 4 plane tickets to St. Croix! I am beyond excited and so incredibly nervous all at the same time.
My pride keeps telling me I should wait until after everything is completely said and done before telling what we’re doing. That way, if the entire trip is a horrendous disaster, nobody would be the wiser! But . . . being a Christian does not mean living a perfect storybook life. It means trying your best to live this life making a difference for eternity. — Jayme with Cory, Conner and Jenna
Mission Builders International’s job is to connect potential volunteers of every age and ability with worldwide service opportunities. God uses everyday people—like Phill and Pat S.—to accomplish extraordinary things in missions. As with many volunteers, Phill and Pat have discovered that serving has the added value of enlarging not only their circle of friends and family but their world. For them, retirement has become an exciting jumping-off point to a whole new life. Listen to what they have to say about their volunteer lifestyle:
“We have just returned from YWAM Berlin. It was the trip of a lifetime for many reasons, and we want to thank Mission Builders International for putting us in touch with them. Before we go to serve, we always pray that we will be encouragers, examples and servants. We saw God answer this prayer over and over during our month stay at YWAM Berlin.
“We served alongside Len and Lynne Benson. They are great traveling companions and work partners. The four of us complement each other and click as a team in every way.
“God used four very ordinary people to impart hope on several levels, and there is not a greater joy! The staff and students, in turn, poured blessing after blessing into our lives. YWAM Berlin will forever live in our hearts. We were so deeply touched by them as they thanked us over and over again. They sent us off with a special blessing as they gathered around and prayed for us at the end of our time with them. We have gained friends and ‘grandchildren’ as we continue to keep in touch. The students and several staff are currently serving in South Africa on outreach. We are blessed to have the joy of praying for them, and seeing God at work in their lives equals joy!
“We have served more than 20 times at various YWAM campuses. We always say there is nothing spiritual about dry walling, tiling, painting, electric, cooking and so on, but there is great spiritual value in making it possible for young people to be discipled to go into all the world to share the gospel. Of course, we can’t go everywhere, but we can go where God leads.
“If the Lord tarries and our health continues, we hope we can continue to invest in the lives of young people. We love encouraging the staff so that they, in turn, can spend their time teaching the Word and preparing others to serve. There is no greater retirement! And there is no greater joy than to impart hope to those who might be on the verge of becoming weary in well-doing.
“Thank you for connecting us with YWAM Berlin!”
Whether you are retired and young at heart, in the middle of raising your family or fresh out of high school and taking a gap year before college, volunteering is a great way to expand your world while making a difference. See where in the world a mission-building adventure might take you. Visit us at: www.missionbuilders.org.
“Dropping chocolate chips on cookie batter is taking longer than it should because I’m gazing out the window at the mountains. It’s October 31st and winter is closing in here at YWAM Cimarron, Colorado. My husband Dean and I, in our role as Mission Builders, have just spent the last week helping the staff prepare for a remote, high mountain winter. Dean has been hauling wood for the various buildings and doing maintenance, while I’ve spent all week in the kitchen preparing food for the freezer…and whipping up daily sweet treats for the hard-working folks here.
It’s always a delight to spend time at this well-kept facility. But way more than that, it’s so heartwarming to see the way the staff here is so intentional about making a difference in the world. They’ve all done outreaches to bring hope and help to hurting people in many rough places.
“Being part of the ministry of Mission Builders International is a richly rewarding way of living as we vividly see hope for the future happening before our very eyes.” — Dean and Molly K.
Where would you like to serve? Visit us at www.missionbuilders.org to find your opportunity.
I just got back from Spain recently. God has done so much I want to share, but for now I will tell some of the highlights.
As seems to be His way, God was showing up before I even got there. Sitting in the Paris airport waiting for the next flight, freezing because the air conditioning was way too low, I noticed a couple of men across from me. One was older, thin and obviously much colder than me. I had a blanket in my backpack so I pulled it out and offered it to him. It happens that he is an elder traveling with the pastor of his church in Africa. We talked until their flight left, simply enjoying how God brings His family together from around the world. A brother with blanket from America meeting a cold brother from Africa in France = life with Jesus!
Where I saw God at work the most is in the people I was there to serve, and what an amazing time! They were all there at a pivotal time in their lives training to pioneer the gospel in some of the hardest nations. My part was to provide them healthy meals so they have time and energy to focus on their part.
I also had the privilege of joining the class for a week in a location where we lived with Muslim families for the cultural experience. The family I stayed with lives in a 6′ by 14′ foot room; husband and wife, son and two daughters. While they don’t have much, they are one of the most loving families I have ever met. The amazing thing is that they had been previously exposed to the gospel and Jesus is showing Himself to them. The wife told us, “I have been praying to Mohammed and Jesus, but Jesus is the one who answers me!”
When Pat and Thelma Lewis of Wenatchee, WA, arrived in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, they were surprised and delighted to learn the only way to get to their village destination involved United Nations transport. It was one more remarkable experience to add to their four-month mission building adventure. Shoulder to shoulder with Pakistani peacekeeping soldiers, the Lewises arrived in Minembwe by helicopter to assist missionary friends for two weeks at the village’s primary school and fledgling University of Eben’ezer.
Nearly 300 students attend the two schools, many of them walking an hour or more one way for the privilege. Pat spoke to the students about MBI’s role as a Christian volunteer agency, and together, using a curriculum designed in part by the university’s teachers, he and Thelma taught English classes to “very bright” children in the primary school. Thelma also instructed college students in basics of dental hygiene and created diagrams for use in future classes. “Older village women,” she noted, “reveal a thin, black line of gum tissue when they smile—the result of brushing with coal.”
The Lewises also helped with local projects. “God really used these opportunities to give back to communities wherever we went,” they said. “People in the Congo have nothing. Their provision is whatever they can raise, and their dependence on God is much greater than we could even comprehend. As Americans, our norm far exceeds their wildest dreams. Congolese men talk about survival, not retirement. So Westerners coming to give of themselves and help was the biggest gift these villagers could imagine.”
Even the Pakistani soldiers responded to the Lewis’s good will volunteerism. “They took us in like their own,” Pat says. “We worked hard right alongside them and they alongside us to help in Minembwe.”
While their time was short due to transport schedules, Pat and Thelma know they contributed in significant ways to transformation in the Congo.
All over the world, there are possibilities for helping to change lives just as the Lewises have done—one act of service at a time.
Visit us at www.missionbuilders.org and find your unique opportunity.
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