MBI helps frontline YWAM missionaries thrive in their work by offering valuable services, perhaps none as unique and timely as that of its newest ministry service: Mission 91.
J.T. Pharr and Matthew Praetzel founded Mission 91 as a professional YWAM missionary team offering consulting, training, and ministry best practices in situational awareness, de-escalation, and risk mitigation. Mission 91 also offers a four-month, biblically centered training program to instruct missionary members and church staff in crisis mitigation, enhancing property security, emergency preparedness, and how to be a source of refuge in their communities.
J.T. says: “Ministries and missionaries recognize that traditional security models are not conducive to ministry context. They need help establishing eﬀective security measures without compromising their eﬀectiveness in ministry. Mission 91 is the perfect avenue for utilizing the skill sets of those with a call to prepare others. Through this program, the body of Christ will become better equipped to walk boldly into stressful situations with high awareness and readiness.”
“Jesus was the most situationally aware person ever,” says Matthew. “He modeled how we can impact the people on the fringes of society by noticing them and speaking into their situation, whether they’re victims of injustice, perpetrators of crises, or simply individuals who feel left out. Mission 91 training enables Christians to be Jesus to people amid their worst days or decisions.”
“Our vision for Mission 91 from the beginning,” J.T. and Matthew conclude, “has been to help ministries worldwide thrive in crisis-related incidents and environments. MBI allows us the space and resources to do exactly that. Our unique backgrounds provide something new to MBI, and we look forward to helping expand the reach of this awesome ministry. The team at MBI has the kind of quality people we wish to surround ourselves with. We couldn’t be more pleased with the opportunity to work with this community.”
(Photo: J.T. Pharr, Luke Smith, Matthew Praetzel)
On Monday, June 20, 2022, dear friend and mission builder Frank Castles Jr. passed away unexpectedly in Lakeside, MT. He was doing what he loved to do: giving his time and skills to kingdom work.
“Frank and his wife, Relda, wandered into the MBI office and our hearts over 20 years ago. Their hunger to pursue the things of God as they neared retirement opened opportunities for service that took them around the world and down the street in whichever neighborhood they lived. With Southern hospitality and the warmest “Howdy, y’all!” Frank endeared himself to others in his workplace as a professional engineer and to us as a member of MBI’s board of directors.
“Relentless, whether he offered his help or insisted on having fun together, Frank modeled Jesus with a Southern drawl. Those who knew him came to know his family and learned that Frank lived life large as “Big Daddy” to his children and their children.
“God gives us ‘suddenlies’ in our lives that can surprise and change our course of direction in an instant. Frank’s sudden passing reminds me more than ever to take the time to say “I love y’all” each day to those around me because we don’t know the day or the hour of our last breath—or theirs.
“Frank gave of his time and talents to bless others, even to his very last moment on earth. He “just showed up” to help us 20-plus years ago, and he was gone an instant later (gratefully, it was a long, 20-year instant). Frank loved Jesus, and it’s obvious Jesus loved him—suddenly.
“I will miss Frank’s deep, resonant voice reciting the Shabbat prayer with his Southern accent: ‘Blessed are You, Eternal God, Sovereign of the universe. You hallow us with your commandments and command us to kindle the lights of Shabbat. Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech haolam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’zivanu l’hadlik ner shel Shabbat.’
“I pray you are blessed with a friend like Frank Castles in your circle of influence—with or without the Southern touch. Shalom, y’all.” —John Briggs
“Frank was one of the most gentle, fun-loving, hard-working, friendly guys I have known. He graciously gave his time, talent, and treasure to MBI. Through his hard work and diligence, Frank pushed our Mission Lodge project to a place where we can now go on to the next stage. He will be missed greatly, not just because of his talents and contributions, but because of who he was.” —Ron Brewster, MBI co-director
“Frank spent the last month of his life investing in what God is doing through MBI. With a lifetime of experience as a civil engineer and hands-on knowledge of the MBI utility system, he applied his skills and talents to the civil construction work for the new MBI Mission Lodge project. He was able to mobilize and direct teams to begin clearing the site, moving dirt, and installing sewer lines. On any given day, you could find him calling volunteers, ordering materials, placing stakes around the site, and sharing his knowledge with all those around him. His work has laid a foundation that the future of MBI will rest on.” —Ross Lackey, Partner Architects
Excerpted from Frank’s obituary:
“Born December 31, 1946, in Starkville, Mississippi, Frank was an avid Mississippi State fan. He served overseas as a Navy Seabee during the Vietnam War. After returning to the States, Frank enrolled in Mississippi State University, earning a B.S. degree in Civil Engineering. He owned a civil engineering firm in both Tupelo and Saltillo, MS, before serving as the associate city engineer for Kalispell for several years. After retiring from his Kalispell position, Frank and his beloved wife, Relda, moved back to Mississippi to be closer to family.
“A loving family man, Frank was known affectionately as Big Daddy. He was strong in his Christian faith, passing those values to his family along with his love for the outdoors and fishing. He and Relda enjoyed life to the fullest, making many trips back to Montana and Israel, where they volunteered their skills and shared their faith and spiritual gifts, resulting in countless adventures, wonderful memories, and lifetime friendships.
“Memorials can be made to Mission Builders International at PO Box 406, Lakeside, MT 59922, www.missionbuilders.org/ donate or Fields of Wheat, PO Box 729, Middlefield, OH 44062.”
Since 1960, YWAM missionaries have continued reaching out to this broken world spiritually and practically. They bring health and healing through hands-on mercy ministries and interrupt human trafficking via rescue and education. They strategically distribute Bibles to help end Bible poverty. And they’re training yet another generation of believers to share the good news of Jesus Christ. As YWAMers continue to make God known to the least, the last, and the lost, Mission Builders International is there to support them.
For instance, YWAM Cambodia strives to transform Cambodia’s history from one of “killing fields” to “living fields,” believing God for One Nation in One Generation. As a result, five hundred Cambodians now attend YWAM Cambodia’s ten church plants, and a thousand youth recently joined the soccer league hosted on their campus. MBI is helping YWAM Cambodia in tangible ways to realize its vision by sending volunteers, helping with training and equipping their leaders, debriefing their staff, providing professional architectural services, and more.
MBI remains committed to providing YWAM campuses with the services and practical help they need to stay healthy and fulfill their callings long-term. Now, we’re taking our commitment to a higher level. Planning is underway to build MBI’s Mission Lodge hospitality center to engage YWAM missionaries, volunteers, students, and visitors more fully.
The vision took root when YWAM Lakeside Montana gifted its prime one-acre piece of property to MBI in 2004. In 2019, MBI expanded its ministry by adding new services like Leadership13, LIFT, Partner Architects, Debriefing, and more. Today, the time is right to make the Mission Lodge a reality.
MBI co-director Dawn Masucci says: “Part of our vision for the Mission Lodge is to create a welcoming place where YWAM missionaries can come to be refreshed, retooled, and re-sent, so they may continue to ‘know God and make Him known.’ We’ve envisioned a well-designed building dedicated to the Lord that increases our capacity for hospitality, collaboration, training, communication, and recruiting.
“We also see a place to create more awareness about MBI and YWAM as we engage students and show hospitality to their families and friends. The 1000+ visitors who pass through YWAM Lakeside and visit the Mission Lodge every year will gain a clear understanding of what MBI does and leave inspired to find their unique opportunity to reach the world by helping international YWAM locations.
“Our vision for the Mission Lodge, with its wooded location and beautiful views, also embodies a place of restoration and replenishment for those experiencing a rough season in ministry. Frontline YWAM missionaries will come to be debriefed by professionally trained debriefing staff. Leaders who may feel tired and bruised will receive encouragement, skilled mentoring, and fellowship, returning to the field with renewed faith that they can, indeed, take on giants.”
MBI’s Ross Lackey of Partner Architects created a master plan for the one-acre site, designing the 16,000 square foot building and preparing for construction. The Lodge’s interior will include twenty guest rooms and a caretaker’s suite, a full kitchen, a large conference room, a commons area, a reception area for hospitality, and an MBI office area with desk spaces and meeting rooms to accommodate thirty staff. The exterior design features a drive-through covered entry and twenty dedicated parking spaces.
Site preparation begins this spring, with foundation completion projected for early 2023. Construction will start soon after. Our faith goal is to have the building “dried in” by the winter of 2023, then debt-free and ready for service by the end of 2024.
Winston Churchill said, “We shape our buildings; thereafter, they shape us.” The Mission Lodge’s purpose, design, functionality, and beauty increase MBI’s ability to shape lives by helping YWAM missionaries—and the people they serve worldwide—to thrive.
Mission Builders International’s staff team is rich in its collective experience and perfectly suited for helping worldwide YWAM ministries to thrive. Team member Dawn Masucci brings finely-tuned teaching and leadership skills to the table. She acquired her expertise during the four years she worked with YWAM in Hong Kong and the nearly thirty years she and her husband Mark served in leadership at YWAM Lakeside Montana.
Dawn is MBI’s co-executive director and takes oversight for its service ministries and home base staff members. She makes sure that staff members’ needs are met and that each individual remains healthy and fruitful in their ministry roles.
Dawn is a team player and cheerleader by nature. She loves to see people become all God intends them to be. So it comes as no surprise that Dawn’s responsibilities at MBI’s home office closely parallel what she does as point person and team player with MBI’s Leadership 13 ministry.
“I enjoy working in the area of team dynamics and organizational health,” Dawn says. “My sweet spot is creating vulnerable moments that bring people together, providing an atmosphere where people can learn and grow. I try to make way for these learning experiences through teaching, facilitating, and coaching.
“My life verse is 1 Corinthians 12. I love to see people understand who they are, what part of the body they represent, and how they can ‘play nice’ in the context of the larger body. It’s gratifying when you see the lights come on! Once individuals understand how to integrate their gifts into their ministry’s team dynamic, they are better able to participate in building cohesive, successful relationships.”
Dawn concludes, “We tend to get busy working in the ministry. But sometimes we have to stop and work on the ministry and its team if we want to go forward and be truly healthy and productive.”
Whether Dawn is applying her skills at MBI or other YWAM locations, she helps ministries succeed in their larger visions by keeping their members healthy proportionally. When a ministry knows how to care for its staff, it is sure to thrive.
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.”