Mission builder volunteers are a do-whatever-it-takes kind of people. They’re learners who aren’t afraid of new places or different cultures. They fit in almost anywhere; ready to tackle whatever work they’re handed. They love stepping into the relational and spiritual life of the campus they serve, often building life-long friendships with missionaries and other volunteers alike. Mission builders are the stuff real help is made of, which is why they’re first class world-changers.
These are just some of the reasons why Mission Builders International is proud to continue connecting as many Christian volunteers as possible with frontline YWAM missions the world over. And Ken and Arlene W. are just the kind of service-hearted people we’re talking about. Here, in their own words, is their story:
“We didn’t know what to expect when we stepped off the plane in San Diego in March. But we did know that God had put it in our hearts to have a ‘different’ kind of vacation this time—a vacation that would be more about serving him and others than about being served. We had heard about Mission Builders, an arm of Youth With A Mission, from some friends of ours. After researching several opportunities on the internet and spending some time in prayer, we both felt a peace about serving in Mexico at the YWAM San Antonio del Mar campus.
“Upon our arrival, we were overwhelmed (in a good way) by the welcome we received and the friendliness of those involved in various programs there. YWAM San Antonio del Mar is a big and busy place. There are many ministries that flow out of this base. So aside from completing our daily tasks, such as food preparation and serving, washing dishes or cleaning toilets and mopping floors, we were also invited to join teams doing outreach in Tijuana and other nearby locations.
Homes of Hope project.
“This was like a dream come true for both of us. Early morning visits to a local orphanage to make breakfast for the children and visiting a local school with the library bus gave us insight into the lives of many Mexican children. We also had the opportunity to share with men in an addiction recovery center and a homeless shelter. Going for a prayer walk through the red light district of Tijuana and joining the team members who had started a program for children and mothers in another needy area of the city were definite highlights and real eye-openers as to how people live outside the resort areas of this well-known vacation destination. We felt privileged to join in with three different teams to build houses for needy families through the Homes of Hope program. Our hearts broke as we began to see these people through God’s eyes and with HIS heart. “I haven’t even touched on the blessing it was to fellowship and worship and pursue God’s heart with like-minded people from all over the world! All in all, by the end of our stay, we had fallen in love with the place and the people. As they say, ‘We have been spoiled for the ordinary’! We went to give but received so much more in return. Now we look forward to the next adventure that God has for us.”
Does Ken and Arlene’s story resonate with you? Perhaps you, too, would like to take a vacation of a different kind. We guarantee your life will be changed while you’re busy helping to bring positive change to other’s lives.
If you can see yourself serving, visit the Mission Builders International website at www.missionbuilders.org and search the “Where to Go” tab for possibilities (just look at how many!). Then click on Contact Us to request a link to the application process.
We’d like to welcome you to our growing Mission Builder volunteer family!
MBI has fully launched its new online application system for connecting volunteers to Youth With A Mission locations around the world! Get set to serve at the YWAM location of your choice by following these simple steps:
- New to MBI’s volunteer program? Go to our website at www.missionbuilders.org and click on Contact Us. Fill out your name, email address and the last four digits of your phone number to create your own unique and personal contact record. Choose a username and password that will be easy for you to remember. When the message box pops up, let us know you’re ready to start the application process by clicking the Volunteer Application button, and we’ll send you an application link. (For couples, both the husband and wife must create their own individual contact records as well as complete separate applications.)
- Open the application link and fill out the form, including your references’ contact information, which will follow. Submit your application. Once your references have been returned to us, your application will be complete. You’ll then receive a message from us inviting you to choose your location. Your application and references will be sent to that location for consideration. Once you’re accepted, you’ll then confirm the details of your travel plans.
Important: Each individual applicant must supply two references. Simply provide and submit your references’ email addresses, and the reference forms will be sent to them automatically. The forms are quick and easy to fill out and may be completed on any device — smart phone, tablet or computer. (Incomplete references or inaccurate email addresses are the most common causes for application hold-ups!)
- Are you a veteran Mission Builder volunteer? If you filed an application with us prior to the launch of our new system in 2016, you’ll need to update your information and provide new, current references. Simply go to our website, click on Contact Us and follow the initial prompts to verify your information. When the message box pops up, let us know you’re ready to update your information and we’ll get you started!
- Once you’ve submitted or updated your application and requested references, you may check your application status anytime by logging into the Volunteer’s Site found in the Quick Links at the bottom of any page in our website.
That’s it! You’re now able to change and update your information at any time and volunteer at locations of your choosing without having to fill out new applications or request new references. Everything you need is stored and ready to send for your next Mission Builder adventure! We remain available to answer any questions you may have. Welcome aboard!
by Amy Lindstrom
I remember looking in my husband’s eyes as we sat across from one another at a local restaurant. I had called a meeting. I had a lot on my mind.
I was fighting my way through the sadness of an empty nest, looking for new meaning and purpose. I knew I needed more and I wanted to “finish well.” I had deep fear that my last productive decades would be spent going out for lunch with friends, sharing photos of grand babies, scrap-booking and reading an occasional book. It wouldn’t be enough.
“Give me a few more years,” Paul said. So I did. I waited a few more years, finding more meaning than I’d anticipated. I finished a master’s degree in Christian counseling ministry. I was involved in mentoring younger women and mothers, counseling, praying, leading small groups, teaching. Still, I knew there was more. I wasn’t sure exactly what it was going to look like or how it would happen, but my soul longed for adventure, depth, more of Jesus and a community of others that longed for the same things.
Finally, God intervened and some rearranging began to happen in our lives. Some was good, some was difficult. Paul submitted to the changes, remembering the agreement he made across the table that winter day.
It was time for an adventure with Jesus. Depth, growth, challenge, pain, revelation, surrender; all of these were part of the MBI Crossroads DTS we participated in during the spring of 2014. Not even two years ago! Amazing, considering all that has happened since then. It was as if the waters of labor broke and the real me was birthed from a struggle I didn’t understand at the time.
Like many of you, I knew there was more in me than the world would want me to believe; more than what I saw so many in my generation settling for. I knew all of the experiences, failures, pain, loving and sacrifice I’d lived through was training that made me fit for a work that was somehow holy.
Holy is defined as: consecrated to God; set apart for the service of God. I knew the coming decades of my life were to be set apart in a way that was different from those now past. Motherhood and teaching had been services that were sacred in their own particular ways. But, I knew something was waiting that was different.
Looking back at the past 24 months, I find it amazing to see what the Lord has done with the days and weeks and months now in my rearview mirror. I’m blessed to have seen many of my life-long dreams reach their fullness. Some I had even protected from utterance in my prayers. There have been times when I was filled with doubt and painfully stretched, but the adventure I began in my Crossroads DTS has become a whirlwind of adventure, growth and delightful surprises.
Last January, I traveled to Mazatlan, Mexico, where I was a mission builder for 10 days. I went there in a desperate attempt to remind myself that God was working on a plan, ordering my steps, and there was something else to come after my CDTS. I went with small expectations, not knowing what would happen, just willing to serve in a warm and beautiful place. What happened was immeasurably more than all I asked or imagined (Ephesians 3:20). I worked in hospitality and housekeeping, something I knew a little about. But the Lord gave me grace and favor, opening doors so I could also use my education and experience to lead a time of intercession and minister to staff and students through prayer, counseling and teaching. Those younger than me sought my wisdom, knowledge and friendship. They welcomed me as a valuable blessing to their community. This was the encouragement I needed to expand my YWAM training in order to use my experience in counseling ministry to bless YWAMers.
In April of 2015, I attended a secondary school in Kona, Hawaii: Foundations of Counseling Ministry. This has opened further doors for me to use my master’s degree in YWAM. I completed three months of outreach over the fall and winter, ministering in Scandinavia and campuses in my home state of Wisconsin. Paul and I traveled to Mazatlan, Mexico, again where I taught, ministered, counseled and participated in local outreach. He assisted with campus projects and helped build a house with Homes of Hope. In future months, I will continue teaching, counseling and ministering to those who long to expand the kingdom but are hindered by the pain and wounds of life.
This is what I have learned since my adventure with YWAM began:
- Although the Y in YWAM stands for youth, the younger generation is hungry for the wisdom and experience that my generation has to give. Having lacked a God-like love as children, many still crave the care and nurture of those older than themselves; spiritual mothers and fathers to accept, mentor and cheer. God is a God of the generations. He desires to join the generations together in bonds of love and unity. Yes, they really want us, need us, and we are still part of the story!
- There is a real community available to us; a big family that loves us as we are and welcomes the chance to do life with us. There is a belonging that is unique to the Body of Christ, where we are able to transcend differences in cultures, colors, languages, age and gender. Yes, there is a community where we can belong!
- God is challenging my generation to surrender the selfishness of a retirement focused on pleasure; to use the blessings of our age and resources to benefit the kingdom. Yes, we really have much more to give than we realize!
- It is never too late to heal, find purpose, dream dreams, discover what else is inside of us. God has never stopped dreaming dreams for us and he has not forgotten the things he has whispered into our hearts, the promises he has made. Yes, he is faithful to finish what he started in each of us (Philippians 1:6)!
- God knows us. He knows exactly what we bring to his kingdom and the best place to set us. He knows every detail of our joys, talents, knowledge, and if we follow, he will place us exactly where we can most brightly shine for him. That may be behind a bulldozer, in a kitchen, playing with orphans, painting a sign or praying with the brokenhearted. He alone knows where we fit and the time of our arrival. Yes, we can trust him!
Be encouraged today! The Father is not finished with me or you. Perhaps, like myself, you can find YOUR place with YWAM and MBI. Perhaps you, too, will begin with a Crossroads Discipleship Training School. God may have another road for you to travel. But I am certain that however the Father chooses to do it, there is still meaningful purpose and growth awaiting you. Change and adventure are both exhilarating and terrifying at times. But to me, the alternative is even more frightening. God is good, trustworthy and faithful. Lean into ALL that he has for you.
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.
Click here to apply online
In our last newsletter, we shared about YWAM Bend, Oregon, a one-of-a-kind ministry with a vision calling for equally visionary mission builder volunteers. True to form, the first project accomplished at their location was out of the ordinary, just like the mission builders who showed up to help get the job done.
David and Crystal Cook happened to be in the area in early October of 2014 and volunteered to help set up YWAM Bend’s Mongolian gers (yurts), which would become housing for ministry staff. In the span of four days, David helped spread mulch, set up one ger, disassembled a second one at another location and prepped it for moving. Crystal helped with meal preps and garden gleaning (and David found time to cook some of his famous burgers for the staff as well). With the Cook’s help, the YWAM Bend team was settled in before the snow fell.
YWAM Bend wasn’t the first ministry nor will it be the last to benefit from the Cook’s volunteerism. Along with their son, Michael, and daughter, Amy, the Cooks began their mission-building adventure while visiting friends at YWAM San Francisco six years ago. David, who owned his own construction business, says, “While we were there we noticed so many broken toilets and door hinges and the like. We said we would stay and help and began to get a glimpse of the need out there.”
On their first long-term mission building trip, the Cook family traveled from Seattle to YWAM Orlando in Florida in a truck, living out of a camper on the back. There, David says, “The young staff would tell us about having a heart for Turkey or Africa, but they were at the campus helping with needs like cooking or maintenance instead of going where their hearts were. I wanted to help with those practical things so they could actually get out and do what God was calling them to do.” That’s when the Cooks decided to invest in missions by becoming full-time mission builders. They bought a pull-trailer and hit the road, making, to date, four circuits of the United States, volunteering at numerous YWAM campuses and taking YWAM missions training along the way.
Together, David and Michael worked at general maintenance projects, repairs, roofing and similar tasks. “Michael was my right-hand man,” David says, “as capable if not more so than me. From blenders to cars, he can fix so many things.” Their biggest project was at YWAM Mendocino in California. “The Woodbutcher cabin, their premier cabin from the ’70s,” David says, “was built on a hill. It was made with dowels and pegs; no nails. The foundation was rotting and needed repair, andthere were gaping holes in the deck. The staff had been at a loss as to how to save it. Michael and I spent 2 months jacking it up, tearing out old foundation and building a new one.”
When the Cooks first launched their mission-building lifestyle, Crystal says, “I felt like I was going to be tagging along; that I didn’t have a lot to offer and I would just be seeing what David would do. Friends prayed with us and helped me realize I had something to offer.” She and daughter Amy started working in the campus kitchens serving healthy, good-tasting food. Now, she says, “I get so much appreciation for cooking! People are constantly thanking and complimenting me! And Amy learned and grew so much; I am confident she could take on any YWAM kitchen.” But it’s more than just putting food on the table. Crystal says, “I like being a mom to the staff and teaching them. I’ve worked with several gals, teaching and mentoring them in kitchen and life skills and speaking into their lives spiritually. We adopt the young folks and feel like they are our kids. Some call me Mom, which blesses me because some of them don’t have good families. We love being family for them, pouring into them like parents.”
Although Michael (to be married in June) has now launched into his own YWAM adventure, David, Crystal and Amy continue traveling, enjoying the countryside, history and parks as they mission build campus to campus. What they like most, however, is meeting new people and making friends. “Our world used to be so small and now it is so broad,” they say, “and we haven’t gone international yet! No, we don’t have a home anymore, but we have many, many locations across the United States where we feel at home. We have people who are like family in all those locations.”
The Cooks agree: “There is so much need out there, and God has given His people the skills to meet those needs. Being the ones God uses is more fulfilling than anything we did living the normal North American lifestyle. Not everyone is called to do what we’re doing for a lifetime, but there are probably a lot of people who are called to do it short term. We wish we’d done this sooner, but we figure we have a good thirty years left, so we’ll make good use of it.”
Are you ready to share your time and skills in missions for a season? Looking for ministries you can serve from your RV? Visit our website at www.missionbuilders.org and see all the YWAM ministries around the world who need your help. Apply online today or contact us!