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.

 

Debriefing: A Simple Matter of Listening

Debriefing: A Simple Matter of Listening

Change, crisis, injustice, loss, feeling stuck. Everyone experiences these at some point in life, including missionaries. Because MBI’s goal is to help YWAM missionaries thrive, we offer spiritual debriefing to assist them in making sense of the things that happen in life and in mission service. Jeanette Brewster has worked with over 100 missionaries and heads MBI’s debriefing ministry.

“Jesus came alongside two disciples on the Emmaus Road on the morning of his resurrection,” Jeanette says. “He asked them what they were talking about. Distraught, they shared the story of Jesus’ crucifixion and how their hope seemed lost. Jesus listened, and as they invited him in, he gave them the revelation and perspective necessary for them to understand that he was alive and had done just what he said he would do. Debriefing is having someone come alongside us the way Jesus did to facilitate, listen, ask questions, and help us gain biblical perspective, a change of heart, and a renewed passion.

“As Christians we know the answer is the cross and the gospel,” Jeanette says. “Debriefing is simply a facilitative process that helps people see through the fog of hurt, disappointment, unforgiveness, and discouragement. It’s an opportunity to be refilled, a time to retreat and make space in our lives to hear what God has to speak to us and our situation. Here are some testimonies:

‘The beautiful, gentle five-day process helped me walk through each situation. I ultimately realized how much I’d been trying to carry myself. I feel like I have a new pathway for working through difficult situations.’

‘I really felt stuck and unsure of how to move forward in several areas of my life and ministry. By the end of the week, I felt a total shift and freedom.’

“Debriefees come in weighed down,” Jeanette concludes. “By the end of the week, they walk away much lighter because they’ve recognized that the cross not only carries and covers their sin, but also their burdens, shame, guilt, and pain. The Holy Spirit is enabled to do years of counseling within this one week. It’s simply a matter of aside setting time to listen.”

 

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.”

Leadership 13: When Expertise Meets Energy

Leadership 13: When Expertise Meets Energy

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.

~Gordy McDonald

 

MBI Team Member Craig Blair: The Happiest Place on Earth

MBI Team Member Craig Blair: The Happiest Place on Earth

“English camp is the happiest place on earth! Coming here, you find yourself in a completely different world. You forget about your problems, you meet amazing, unique and sincere people. There is an absolutely indescribable atmosphere. This camp greatly influenced me and my life, and I am extremely grateful to the organizers and the camp team for such a place. May God bless you all!”  – Ksenia Lysenko, camper

Words like these were heard over and over again on the last day of the English camp as kids from each lesson group got up in front of all the other campers to share their impressions of the week.

One young man, Yury, seemed to talk non-stop about his love for Jesus and wanted to tell everyone he met. One day, Yury asked me why his friends don’t want to hear the gospel when he tries to tell them about Jesus. I encouraged him to keep trusting God to work in the hearts of his friends. Our part is to tell them about Jesus, pray for them and love them with God’s love, but only God can change their hearts. He was very encouraged to realize that it is all in God’s hands.

In all, three kids put their trust in Christ during the camp and five more kids have started going to church. More than 50 kids came to the first youth meeting after the camp, and they continue to be in touch with the camp leaders. Just this past weekend, the Volgograd church gathered again for a special baptism of 7 young people.

Pray for more fruit to be harvested in the coming months!

Craig Blair serves as volunteer development staff at MBI and continues to be an integral part of the yearly Christian English camp held just outside of Volgograd, Russia.