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 use 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.”
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.”
Change is coming to Mission Builders International, bringing with it the excitement and challenges that accompany beginnings, endings, firsts, and lasts. As MBI grows and embraces change—welcoming new people and a fresh round of related ministries—we celebrate that change even as we continue doing what we’ve always done: recruiting and sending volunteers to help YWAM locations globally.
During this season of transition, we’ve come to a particular ending: MBI will no longer be partnering with YWAM Lakeside in hosting the Crossroads Discipleship Training School (but take heart—the CDTS will resume at YWAM Lakeside in 2020). To close this chapter, we’d like to share a handful stories from the graduates of the 2018 school. We love what God has done in and through them, and we know you will too!
“God is asking me to come on staff with the YWAM Puerto Vallarta team. I believe the CDTS has prepared me, because I am the most confident in who I am in Christ that I have been in my entire life. I know who He is, I know who I am in Him, and I want to make Him known. I’ve faced difficult things, I’ve worked with so many different people, I’ve moved into places where I knew no one, and I am ready and excited to take the next steps God is calling me to take.” ~ Jay J.
“My most significant experience was finding out that the voice I would hear or the prompting [I felt] really was the Holy Spirit speaking to me. That helped me greatly.” ~ Lynn C.
“The teaching on grace has changed my way of thinking, because I had lived so many years trying to please God in order to earn salvation.” ~ Mandi W.
“To my delight, I never felt unwelcomed by anyone because of my age. Both in the training and outreach stage, I felt very much welcomed and embraced, and that age was not at all significant to the ministry.” ~ Mike D.
“The first church we went to [in Puerto Vallarta] I asked the Lord, ‘What would you have me do?’ He said, ‘Sit down.’ I did, and He brought a five-year-old to me to sit on my lap. She was looking for a safe place. Thank you Lord! It was me!” ~ Laura W.
“At one of my low points in Mexico, when I was feeling inadequate about speaking with people, I was praying in the Catholic Church of the Square in Bucerias. I heard very distinctly: ‘I called you to be faithful, not successful.’ I left that place feeling God had met me in my time of need and that what I was doing was acceptable to Him.” ~ Kate D.
“I believe God is asking me to go further into missions with YWAM and has prepared me for what is next for me. I am putting my whole life in God’s hands; He has never failed me yet. My favorite verse is Isaiah 6:8: ‘And I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Here am I; send me.’ This is what I pray: Here are my feet Lord; I will go where you send me.” ~ Jules M.
This final CDTS produced fruit that will last, maturing into richer relationships with the Father and good works for his kingdom. What more could we ask for? Thank you Lord for new beginnings and happy endings!
Everyone loves a good report. At Mission Builders International, we love hearing about our volunteers’ experiences serving alongside global YWAM ministries. The connection between Mission Builders and missionaries is more than just about the value of the work that’s accomplished; it’s also about the rich insights and relationships that result when people work together for kingdom purposes.
David H., who serves with MBI’s RV Associates, blessed us with the following two-week snapshot of his time of service at YWAM Orlando in Florida. We’d like to share his infectious joy and encourage you to find out for yourselves what God has in store for those who offer their time and skills. David wrote:
“A lot has happened in the last couple of weeks. Events below are just some of the highlights.
More Mission Builders!
This morning the dining hall is filled with Mission Builders! About fifty Amish from Pennsylvania arrived over the weekend. Men, women, young and old! Many of them have been here before, several times.
After breakfast, the projects planned for the week are announced and the volunteers join the group where they feel led: replacing a roof on a house, building the deck on the dining hall, pool house rehab, cutting and clearing trees in the upper camp grounds. The tree cutting turns up a little shy on people, so I get asked to help with the chain saw work. Not a problem. It will be some good exercise for me, and the project I’m working on is not urgent.
An Observation on Christian Unity.
Throughout the week, as I work on the various jobs, I get to know several of the Amish: Jim, Lewis, Marcus, Lester, Mary Jane and others. They are hardworking people. They may dress and talk differently, but they have good hearts, and many times I catch a glimpse of Jesus in them, and I know they are my brothers and sisters in the Lord. This is very interesting, because YWAMers and Amish/Mennonites must be at opposite ends of the Christian spectrum, at least in outward appearances. YWAMers are quite free and open in their worship and style of dress, the Amish/Mennonites quite conservative.
I am coming more and more to the opinion that unity among Christians will not come about by some new doctrine or theology, but rather by the individual followers of Christ discovering their brothers and sisters as they work side by side pursuing the kingdom work the Father has called us to do!
There is something about doing those things I know the Lord has called me to do. In that step of faith, new revelation takes place in my heart, and I begin to see with the eyes of my heart (my spiritual eyes) a new and broader perspective on the kingdom of God. A realization that my perspective of God has been too small. That I am a part of a family of God much bigger than I ever thought. How else can YWAMers and Amish come together in common effort and worship? Wow! Just a small glimpse of the kingdom of heaven!
Returning DTS Students!
More new faces are showing up at the base and great excitement is in the air! DTS (Discipleship Training School) students who studied here in the fall have been on “outreach” for the last two months. They are now finishing their program and are beginning to return. They will be arriving today and through the weekend, totaling about 80 students and staff who have been in Haiti, Europe, the Middle East and Asia. They will have some incredible stories. There will be a graduation for that class in a week or two. The next two weeks will be very exciting with all the stories.
The dining hall is pretty full with people; still many Amish and Mennonite Mission Builders here to finish up the deck. Most all the students who had been on outreach have now returned, and they are sharing the dining hall also as a central gathering place. The returning students, together with the Mission Builders, are making for a pretty busy place. All meals are now being served in the Arena, since the dining hall is too small!
Speaking in Code
Morning worship is full of people. It’s a good thing they don’t use chairs for our worship services; it’s standing room only this morning! Lots of hugs going around with the returning students. The singing is enthusiastic with all the excitement in the air. Worship ends with a few announcements. One of the leaders asks: “Raise your hand if you were in a country where you could not speak the name of Jesus or in a place where you had to speak in code.” Hands all over the room go up! I am amazed.
The Dead Baby
One evening a few days ago, some of the staff felt called to just go out to the community and seek the Holy Spirit’s lead in finding someone who might be in need. One of the young ladies ended up at Target, and once there, felt led to go to the baby clothes section—a little odd since the YWAMer was not married and had no children. At the baby section, she found a very pregnant mother who seemed troubled. She engaged her in talk. The young mother soon broke down and, with tears flowing down her cheeks, said, “My baby is dead. I haven’t felt anything for three weeks, and now the doctor has said the baby will be stillborn.” She asked the mother if she would like prayer. As the YWAMer prayed, the mother started sobbing and laughing; the baby had started kicking and the mom got all excited. “I can feel the baby! Here, feel it, feel the baby kicking!” They exchanged contact info, and the next day at the doctor’s office they found the heart beat right away and found everything normal with the baby!
Tuesday Evening Service
The enthusiastic singing of the returning students seems like it will bring the house down. The message: “Think Long.” What you do today will be the stories you’ll tell your grandchildren. Think about what kind of legacy you will leave.”
Ready to leave a legacy? The door to global volunteer opportunities is wide open. Contact us at www.missionbuilders.org and fill out your volunteer application today. Be sure to check out MBI’s RV Associates if “home” is wherever your RV takes you.
Each summer, I look forward to serving the youth ministry of the Christ the Savior Church in Volgograd, Russia, by helping with their summer English Camp. Our team is very international, including English-speaking volunteers from Africa and the United States, who serve with the Russian team from local churches. For the third time, I was the coordinator for the U.S. team and helped to create the English lesson books for the camp, applying what I’ve learned through YWAM’s TESOL program.
The goal of the camp is not only to give Russian teenagers an opportunity to practice their English with native English speakers but also to introduce them to God’s love and grace, found through faith in Jesus Christ. The majority of kids coming to the camp are non-believers, while many of the teenagers serving as helpers are believers and came to faith in Christ at previous summer camps. It’s always exciting to observe them growing and maturing in Christ year after year.
This year some kids who were in the process of seeking God or showing some interest were invited to serve as translators. One young translator, named Tikhon, still believed he was a scientific atheist. The teacher he was helping, Stan, wondered how this arrangement was going to work and started to pray for him. Little did Tikhon realize God had a plan to work on his heart this summer.
It started with two of the Christian girls, Anya and Yulia, who were also helpers at the camp. They knew Tikhon was an atheist, but they were determined to challenge his thinking about God. One afternoon they sat and talked with him about Creation in the Bible, shared their testimonies and did their best to explain the gospel to him. They were so focused on their conversation with Tikhon they didn’t realize several other kids around them were also listening with rapt attention.
The next day, Tikhon found an opportunity to ask Nuper, one of the American men, if they could talk for a while. Nuper was more than happy to take some time. As they sat by the river, Tikhon shared about all the things he’d just learned about the Bible from the girls. After thinking about it all, he began to realize he was wrong about God and Creation.
“What should I do?” Tikhon asked. Nuper challenged him to put his faith in Christ through prayer, and they stopped and prayed together. “Now what should I do?” he asked. Nuper said, “Go tell someone what you have just done.” Later, Tikhon met again with Stan and told him about the decision he’d made. “He was so happy,” Stan said, “you could just see the difference in Tikhon’s face.”
This is just one example of what God did this summer through our team of volunteers. Through Stan’s prayers, Anya and Yulia’s testimonies and Nuper’s sensitivity to the Holy Spirit, Tikhon is now a child of God. Even the kids who listened intently as Anya and Yulia shared with Tikhon were changed by what they heard.
There was such an atmosphere of God’s love and grace at the camp! I praise God for the many other hearts that were touched by the gospel. ~ Craig Blair
Craig works with Volunteer Development at Mission Builders International. He returns yearly to Russia (where he lived and served for eight years with Campus Crusade) as a coordinator and volunteer for the English Camp.