Canadians Stuart and Barclee Huggins and their son Lincoln set off on a round-the-world mission-building trip in January of 2020. Although the pandemic cut their time short, their time of service still made an impact. Here is their story:
“Stuart and I had heard of YWAM, and we stumbled upon MBI ten years ago while researching the organization. We both come from families that have done mission work, and we’ve both spent time in third-world countries. MBI would allow us to explore the world and serve simultaneously using our gifts and talents.
“Our first reaction was excitement! We decided to sell our house and do back-to-back volunteering in a ‘go big or go home’ way.
“The first thing we looked for were locations that accepted families. Secondly, we looked at places that could benefit specifically from Stuart’s trade skills. Stuart is a very skilled mechanical engineer, and we wanted him to be able to use his gifts for God’s glory. I would spend time with Lincoln and help with whatever practical tasks I could. Thirdly, we set a goal of going to as many locations around the world as possible.
“Our original plan was to travel for eight months to eight different countries, staying about three weeks at each location. We quickly learned that we needed to remain flexible. Our wonderful MBI representative, Jeanette, had to make some adjustments to allow us to apply for eight locations at once, but she made it work. Having someone available to answer all your questions and concerns is what makes MBI so unique!
“We served at YWAM St. Lucia in the Caribbean, YWAM Heredia in Costa Rica, and YWAM Village South Africa. We were excited every time we got to a new country. In each location, we were picked up at the airport by a YWAM staff member. It was helpful and welcoming to be met by those with whom we would be staying. It gave us a chance to get to know them and ask questions about what the next few weeks would be like, and it allowed them to get to know us as well.
“At the first two locations, we lived with the YWAM staff and volunteers, working and serving together. We shared every aspect of life. There was no real difference between staff, students, or MBI volunteers because everyone was there for the same purpose: to serve God and others.
“Our son Lincoln benefited in exactly the way we wanted him to. The experience opened his young eyes to see first-hand the different cultures, religions, and poverty levels that he doesn’t see in Canada. At each location, Lincoln had jobs he could help with, ministries he could be involved with, or classes he could attend. He was excited to meet and ‘help’ people. In St. Lucia, Lincoln helped with the homeless program, amongst other things. He loved feeding the homeless; it was by far his favorite ministry. When we spent a few days at Hunt South Africa, Lincoln did everything Stuart did around the ranch.
“Our goal was to serve the missionaries in practical tasks so they could continue their work. We wanted to encourage and help them towards their goals and plans, to let them know they’re supported and loved. The YWAM staff and volunteers always made it clear how just seeing us there encouraged them!
“After this experience, we will likely never be able to travel ‘normally’ again. And we don’t want to! We want our future travel to involve serving others. Volunteering with MBI is the perfect partnership for that. It is a great organization with plenty of opportunities to serve God and others.”
MBI’s newest ministry, Leadership 13 (L13) came into existence in 2010 when colleagues Ron Brewster and Dawn Masucci and I felt compelled to combine our years of leadership experience and expertise into a concerted effort to respond to a cry for help from a number of the promising young leaders serving within Youth With a Mission. Those leaders were being called upon to shape this rapidly growing, international, interdenominational movement of Christians called to bring the whole gospel to the whole world.
Though each of us desired to see YWAM succeed at the macro level, with all of its myriad of expressions, we shared an even more pressing passion to see this current generation of leaders adequately equipped to face the challenges of successfully stewarding their respective ministry locations. Having invested 30-plus years of service at the senior leadership level in one location, it was and is our firm conviction that any lasting leadership legacy can only be accomplished when those “to whom much has been given” graciously acknowledge and respond to the second half of this biblical mandate that “much is required.”
L13 was forged in the fire of finding ways to pass on our life lessons and expertise in any way God might want to use them for the benefit of YWAM leaders. The end goal was to see the advancement of the kingdom of God globally.
Since embracing that call 9 years ago, it has been our privilege to have assisted in training and coaching leaders in approximately 16 YWAM operating locations from the U.S. and Canada to far flung regions such as Cambodia, Taiwan, Costa Rica, and Barbados. Though some of the leaders we have had the privilege of serving are mature and experienced, the much larger percentage have been young, inexperienced , and, in some locations, first generation Christians.
These God-called, amazing servants find themselves responsible for some of the most innovative ministry expressions we have ever seen, ranging from the foundational YWAM Discipleship Training School (DTS) to numerous other secondary expressions such as the School of Biblical Studies (SBS) and School of Community Development, just to name a couple. Because 2 of the 18 foundational values of YWAM are about being “visionary” and doing “new things in new ways,” there is no end to the creative ventures we have observed as these ministries explore how they can more effectively take the age-old gospel message and contextualize it to reach the cultures to which God has called them.
The gospel is going forward to some of the least-reached areas of the world through creative approaches that include everything from very sophisticated English/computer education programs to AIDS orphan homes to micro business enterprise (designed not only to provide income streams for the local ministry but do so in a way that serves to generate financial support for full-time, indigenous workers). The challenge is that, in many cases, their remarkable effectiveness has become a double-edged sword. The accelerated growth these ministries are experiencing has outstripped the leaders’ knowledge and expertise as to how to keep the ministry healthy, thriving, and appropriately funded. These are wonderful challenges, but these leaders are often ill-equipped to navigate them.
This is exactly the point at which L13 discovered that our year-long approach of coming along side these ministries has borne good fruit. Our expertise joined with their energy and desire to lead well has produced a winning combination. The tools we’re able to give them through our on-site visits as well as Skype coaching and mentoring has proven to be very effective in equipping them with understanding in areas such as organizational dynamics, healthy systems, and strong staff development. Coupled with our core value and commitment toward “developing servant leaders for lasting growth,” L13 not only encourages the leaders we serve but arms them with the confidence necessary to lead those whom God has placed in their charge so that the entire ministry can learn to walk in the footsteps of our great servant leader and master, Jesus Christ.
Since its inception, L13 has been blessed beyond measure to add four more players to the team, Jason Howard, Lane Lackey, Veronica VanSchuylenburg and occasionally John Briggs. Each brings with them a skill set that has broadened L13’s ability to help in even more areas.
Just over a year ago, L13 was delighted and blessed to be invited to make Mission Builders International its permanent home. When the opportunity first presented itself, it almost seemed like a no-brainer. The call of MBI, “So Others May Thrive,” seemed like a hand-in-glove fit with all that L13 desired to accomplish.
Even though it seemed obvious, however, the final decision to join forces was only made after a great deal of prayer by all of those involved as well as a serious discussion with the wise and godly board of directors that serves MBI. At the end of the process, all were in hearty agreement that to add L13 to the MBI family was a match made in heaven. MBI’s call to the larger Mission as opposed to any one location is a call that we share together.
As the times we live in become increasingly uncertain, we invite you to join your prayers with ours that MBI and L13 will find ever-widening circles of influence where our passion, “So Others May Thrive,” can be expressed in and through our Mission and ultimately to the ends of the earth.
If you’re familiar with Mission Builders International, you’ll know we send hands-on help to YWAM ministries all over the globe by recruiting and placing volunteers. You’ll also know those volunteers come in all ages, sizes, skills and abilities and are passionate about serving Jesus. Each one has their own particular motivation for serving, whether the location is near or far. Here are just a handful of the reasons they go. Perhaps they’ll inspire you to go!
To prove that no one is too old to work for God.
“Remind yourself that you are never too old to make a difference and have a purpose,” said one elderly woman, who volunteered at YWAM Salem, OR. “We’re never too old to work for God. I’m 73. As long as God keeps me going, I’m planning on doing His work.” Mary, another 73-year-old, served at YWAM Ozarks, AR. She wrote: “Most of the students are in their early 20s, but all [of them] talked to me and shared their stories when asked. Their genuine, faith-filled, humble attitudes but normal young dress and actions so inspired me! They really appreciated everything I did to help. I left rejoicing, so encouraged for our younger generations.”
To mentor students, staff, and locals with their skills and know-how.
Retirees Brian and Karen volunteered at YWAM Montana Lakeside. Brian taught carpentry, built cabinets for kitchen units and worked on a local Habitat for Humanity project. “A life skill like carpentry is a valuable outreach tool as well as being useable around the world,” Brian said. Karen added, “He was immensely proud of the young men he trained and absolutely loved teaching them.” Karen worked as the front desk receptionist, but occasionally slipped on the title of Mom or Grandma, “blessing students and staff with prayer time and long conversations.” They said their time “was refreshing and recharged our spiritual batteries.”
To indulge a special passion or life-celebration.
Lynne, a regular mission builder (along with her husband Len) said: “I LOVE to travel! By connecting with MBI, not only do I get to travel anywhere in the world, but I get to travel with a purpose, connecting with and supporting missionaries wherever I go. Where will we go next? It doesn’t really matter, the possibilities are endless, and we know God has our course already planned.”
One lady wrote: “My husband and I volunteered for two weeks with Mission Builders at YWAM Amsterdam. It was a highlight of our two-month retirement celebration trip to Europe. We were warmly greeted . . . made to feel like valued members of the team . . . told several times how much they appreciated having people our age there, and of course, they were very thankful for the work we did. We’ll definitely explore volunteering at other YWAM campuses.”
To offer their individual skills, abilities and gifts.
Mission building is “a chance to use the gifts that you possess to help further the gospel message,” Michele wrote. “From cooking to computer programming, and gardening to construction, there are so many ways to help. My husband John is a mechanic, and I am an avid gardener and cook. We’ve served all around the U.S. and are so glad we can be a part of mission work without having to go to a seminary for training! We just serve using the gifts and skills we already have.”
Manoela F. from Brazil said: “I’m almost 22, an industrial engineering student and intern worker at Bosch, Brazil. I got vacation from work and college to be a Mission Builder in YWAM San Jose, Costa Rica. I understood a calling from God saying I needed to go someplace not so close and make the people feel loved through things I like to do; for example, playing soccer. As a Mission Builder, I could help in hospitality, I could help in the kitchen to cook for the base, I could play soccer again. I could help the Homes of Hope and the Metro Ministries, too, and join some of the DTS soccer classes.”
To do something they’ve never done before (and take their families with them).
Linda wrote to say: “My family (she, her husband and three kids ages 12, 7, and 5) had an amazing time watching God work through our time at Cowboys With A Mission in Meteetse, WY. We had odd jobs around the base, from cleaning out the cows’ water tub to helping build a house for staff to looking for a rattlesnake that bit three horses early one morning. Mission builders with an open mind and a willingness to fall in where needed will greatly benefit this campus. The directors blessed our family by allowing us to be a part of the CWAM family!”
To broaden their horizons and better their lives.
Swiss couple Kurt and Edith volunteered at YWAM Muizenburg, South Africa. They wanted to improve their English but got so much more. Edith said: “It broadened my horizons to see so many other cultures. It was our first time in an English-speaking country. It was interesting and a challenge. Friendly students, full of passion, were thankful to have older volunteers on campus.”
Mission Builder volunteer Casey said: “Seeing how the Lord is working outside of the U.S. was really eye-opening. My wife and I had a life-changing experience while we were helping out. We’re currently praying about joining YWAM full time; they’re mobilizing today’s youth for Christ’s mission!”
One young volunteer, who served at YWAM Guadalajara, Mexico, said: “I got to learn more Spanish and was able to touch many peoples’ lives with the love of Jesus. I felt so useful! All my gifts in teaching, music, and audio engineering were used. It was a life-changing experience. The Mexican culture was devoid of materialism and the driven-ness I constantly feel while living in the big city here in America. So when I returned home, all that ‘stuff’ hit me like a wave. But now that I’m back in the swing of things, I can see how my experience serving the peoples of Guadalajara, Ixtlahuacan, Chapala, and Ajijic will help me to live better while I’m here in the States. I have a much broader perspective on life—one I don’t believe I could have without physically going outside America.”
As you read through these testimonies, you may have seen your desires mirrored back to you and had an aha! moment. If that happened, remember, there’s room for you to give of your time and energy for the kingdom of God, and MBI can help you find just the right place to do it. Check out the possibilities and fill out an application today at www.MissionBuilders.org!