A License to Serve: Designing Thriving Missions Communities

A License to Serve: Designing Thriving Missions Communities

YWAM campuses and missionaries worldwide flourish when they have the practical and professional resources necessary to stay focused on their ministries’ core work. Providing those resources is at the heart of what MBI does—so others may thrive.

Partner Architects is one of the professional resources MBI offers. They provide architectural “design for missionaries, by missionaries,” working with ministries in under-served locations “to create places that support God’s redemptive work in the world.”

Partner Architects’ door is open to professional architects who share their vision. In September 2023, they welcomed Garrett Morrison.

Garrett knew he was different from the time he was in the sixth grade. A math assignment triggered his lifelong desire to become an architect, and he organized his high school studies accordingly. Then, in Garrett’s junior year, the Lord threw him a curve ball, calling him to be a missionary. At the time, Garrett had no idea how architecture and missions fit together, so he laid down his vision for architecture to become a missionary with YWAM.

Garrett served for nearly a decade with YWAM Montana-Lakeside (along with his wife Sarah and their four children). He spent the latter half of those years with the independent architectural ministry 100 Fold Studio. Those years of training set him on a path to becoming a licensed architect, and after a year of university, he joined a firm in Washington state, taking the opportunity to complete licensure through work experience.

“All in all, it took a decade of training and testing, and by God’s grace, I passed my final exam and became a licensed architect in 2023,” Garrett says. “Soon after, the Lord called me to take a new step and work with MBI’s Partner Architects.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to come alongside missionaries as a professional resource in architectural design, to journey in faith together, ‘lifting their arms’ by undertaking the project design process that could otherwise overwhelm the work of the ministry.

“We’ve heard the horror stories of ministries held back by their current facilities due to lack of resources—unsafe, unfit buildings that neither serve the vision nor communicate the gospel to the community in a way that helps them to flourish. As missionaries ourselves, we share and understand the values and challenges of our missionary clients. We have a unique capacity to speak the same language and help them fulfill the mission and vision God has called them to.” (Photo: Garrett Morrison, center)

After joining Partner Architects, Garrett began designing the new YWAM UofN campus in Pailin, Cambodia (one of the many ministry sites that grew out of the YWAM Battambang campus). Garrett says, “UofN Pailin is exciting because it represents the multiplication of the gospel and the mission within the country that moves YWAM Cambodia closer to the fulfillment of their vision of reaching ‘one nation in one generation.'”

Garrett recently returned from Cambodia, where he visited UofN Pailin and Freedom’s Promise, a ministry currently constructing an 18-classroom school building that will open in 2025. Partner provided a campus masterplan and design for the school, which will significantly increase the ministry’s capacity to impact communities with the gospel and eradicate human trafficking in Cambodia.

Garrett and the Partner Architects team spent a week in late April at YWAM Mazatlán in Mexico. The Mazatlán team plans to grow the campus to house and train 3000 missionaries yearly to reach Mexico and other nations with the gospel.

“For two days,” Garrett says, “the Partner Architects team listened to the Mazatlán leaders and staff members describe their vision and values. We helped them define their measures of success, the campus aesthetics they desire, and the program requirements necessary to meet their mission needs. At the end of more than twelve hours of meetings, as we reported back from our notes what we heard, the hospitality coordinator exclaimed, ‘I think you have captured our heart perfectly!’

“We have a current project in the Gambia in West Africa, where we are helping to design a new YWAM campus in the country’s center. We’re also working with a church project in Samoa and a pastor-training and church-planting ministry in the Middle East.”

Garrett concludes, “Partner Architects could use more licensed architects. We’re praying for two more licensed individuals to join our Montana team. There is a lot of work ahead, and it is thrilling to be a part of it and to have the ability to use our gifts and talents to serve missionaries and the gospel!”

For more information, visit www.partnerarchitects.org.

 

Partner Architects

Partner Architects

“Buildings preach,” says architect Ross Lackey. He believes that intentional architectural design can effectively promote everything from community values to religion.

Ross and Laney Lackey and familyAfter 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.

Ross Lackey, Partner Architects“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.”