At MBI, we serve in our roles because we love missions. For staffer Craig Blair, this means going the extra mile and connecting the local church with a nation close to his heart: Russia. Here is just one of Craig’s stories about how volunteers help change lives:
“In July I led a team of American volunteers (including 7 youth and the youth pastor from my local church in Montana) to serve at a church English camp for teens in Volgograd, Russia. God does amazing things each year in the hearts of the campers—many from non-Christian homes.
One young man named Matvey came to camp for the ﬁrst time last summer. The atmosphere of love and honesty impressed him. When he returned in February to interpret for the winter English camp, Matvey became a believer in Jesus as his savior. When we asked Matvey to translate again in July, his mother opposed it. As a Russian Orthodox, she didn’t understand her son’s new faith and wouldn’t pay his way. Still, he found a way to come.
Our Montana youth did a fine job connecting with the Russian teens and being solid witnesses for Christ. Matvey interpreted for our youth pastor’s son, Payton, and the two became best friends. After camp, Payton admitted that he thought his Russian camp experience could never be as good as anything in Montana until he saw that God’s Spirit is at work in peoples’ lives everywhere. He was so happy to be used by God at the camp he said, ‘This was the best trip ever!’
I asked Matvey to share one thing God taught him this summer. He said, ‘God told me I should put him ﬁrst in my life. He broke everything in my mind which used to be more important to me than God.’
After camp, Matvey’s mother struggled with her health and wouldn’t let him spend time with his church friends or go to the meetings. He decided to be a witness to his mother by staying home and helping her, even going to her job on days when she couldn’t go herself. When some of Matvey’s church friends came to help, she was very pleased and said, ‘They really are good people!’ Now he’s able to meet again with his friends.
Matvey told me, ‘Every day I say thank you to God because of you, my lovely family in Christ.’”
For years we’ve stated that YWAM Mission Builders International’s goal is to connect Christian volunteers with Youth With A Mission ministries worldwide, and we have faithfully been doing just that. But while the practical help delivered by thousands of volunteers has made it possible for those ministries to “keep the main thing the main thing,” it is clear that they also need the kind of support that can only be provided by experienced people who understand the unique needs and inner workings of YWAM and who know exactly what it takes to help individual ministries grow, prosper, and effectively deliver on their missions goals from the inside out.
Now, MBI is poised to help meet those needs!
As you know from our previous newsletter, we recently welcomed Ron Brewster (former director of YWAM Lakeside Montana) as MBI’s new director. With Ron at the helm, we’ve enlarged our “tent” to include an expanded staff team and several new-to-us working ministries, each one dedicated to doing whatever it takes to see global YWAM ministries flourish.
MBI is now home to a tactical team of qualified, long-term YWAMers who have first-hand experience not only in volunteer placement but also in leadership development, debriefing, financial and strategic planning, financial stewardship, donor processing, visa and immigration matters, IRS compliance, and more. Seasoned leaders and mentors as well as key staff and organizational resources are now available for YWAM locations seeking to overcome internal challenges and build enduring foundations.
Here is what MBI offers:
SUPPORT AND DEVELOPMENT TO LEADERSHIP TEAMS
- New! Leadership13 (L13) is a small group of experienced leaders that exists to serve YWAM leaders and their teams worldwide. Bringing our combined years of leadership experience and entering into a unique one-year time commitment, L13 seeks to strengthen and enhance the vision, values, and calling of each location by identifying their challenges and helping them develop an effective plan to address them. Whether it’s clarifying vision, developing a team charter, or helping to create strategies and systems that will strengthen the overall ministry, it is our deep desire that, with God’s help, YWAM ministries around the world will not only survive but thrive in all of their efforts to “know God and make Him known.” ~ Gordy McDonald
STAFF AND ORGANIZATIONAL SERVICES (SOS)
- New! L.I.F.T. is designed to help YWAM North America leaders strategically address legal, immigration, financial, and tactical/risk areas. ~ Ron Brewster
- Biblical Financial Coaching provides resources that help missionaries/ministry workers be “good and faithful stewards” of whatever God has provided them. The YWAM Leader’s Financial Toolkit as well as the Personal Financial Coaching and the Steps To Wise Investing Workshop work together to light the way to biblically sound financial stewardship. ~ Stu Sorenson
- Strategic Planning is a ministry-development strategy aimed at helping individuals in their life- and project-planning as well as teams in the areas of ministry planning, team-building, problem-solving, counseling, and improving effectiveness/efficiency. Used primarily for YWAM location staff and students, this planning process has helped over 600 missionaries, largely in Latin America, the U.S., and China. ~ Chip and Sandy Wanner
- New! Debriefing is a week-long ministry time focused on helping YWAM missionaries process times of stress, grief/loss, transition, and injustice. By filtering their circumstances through Scripture, debriefees are able to gain perspective, hear from God, find healing and freedom, extend forgiveness, and move forward renewed and strengthened, confident that Jesus has taken their burdens. ~ Jeanette Brewster
- MBI continues to recruit short-term volunteers, matching them with global ministry opportunities within YWAM. Mission Builder volunteers “lift up the arms” of frontline missionaries through practical, hands-on service. ~ John and Donna Briggs
- MBI RV Associates facilitates volunteer opportunities for those who have re-purposed their retirements and want to use their time and skills to render practical assistance to YWAM missionaries (and other ministries) at RV-ready locations throughout North America. “We serve God through serving others.” ~ Lynn and Jackie Battermann
- Mobile Mechanics helps keep missionaries on the move by providing the expertise of a 35-year veteran mechanic, who brings all the tools and skills needed to get vehicle repairs and maintenance done. This saves money for individual missionaries and missionary organizations, allowing them to put their valuable dollars toward spreading the good news about Jesus Christ. ~ John and Michele Whitlock
- New! After DTS is MBI’s placement process geared specifically toward students who have finished their missions training and are actively looking for their next assignment. MBI is positioned to connect DTS graduates with YWAM locations worldwide, where they can assist as volunteers while exploring where God may have them serve long-term. ~ Ron Brewster
- New! Virtual Volunteers (coming in 2020) MBI’s version of LinkedIn, focuses on attracting skilled volunteers who can offer long-distance help to global YWAM locations. From web design to graphic design to leadership coaching to digital mobilization—and much more—those who may not be able to travel will soon be able to help “make God known” by serving as virtual volunteers. ~ Ron Brewster
- New! Volunteer Teams: Vacation With A Purpose (VWAP) is a one-week volunteer trip designed for families and church teams who want to work alongside full-time missionaries. VWAP volunteers do construction, painting, and landscaping projects on YWAM campuses, helping them steward what God has given them. During the week, participants not only do physical work but also get encouraged and challenged in their faith and walk with God. ~ Andrew Hobby
With all of these new tools in its belt, MBI will continue its legacy as a conduit, offering a full spectrum of services in order to see thriving YWAM ministries knowing God and making him known all over the world.
“MBI provides leadership support, practical resources, and volunteer connections to YWAM locations worldwide. Our goal is to help YWAM locations thrive and be empowered to know God and make him known.”
Some of us remember Ron Brewster as the fresh-faced 17-year-old kid with the spikey mullet arriving at YWAM Lakeside, Montana, in 1987 to enter his Discipleship Training School (DTS). We had no idea Ron would turn out to be a YWAM “lifer” (except for a brief stint as the college and admin pastor of a Foursquare church in Roseburg, Oregon). Nor did we dream he would one day be tapped to direct the YWAM Lakeside campus (2002-2010). What we know for sure now is that Ron was—and very much is—a gifted leader/administrator with a clear eye for making whatever he oversees run like clockwork, while encouraging fellow volunteers to reach their fullest potential in their service to Jesus.
Ron has an extensive resume (forgive us if we brag a little on his behalf) including:
1) A Master’s of Arts in Leadership.
2) A lead position with Leadership13, the coaching/mentoring ministry he co-
founded and dedicated to “developing servant leaders for lasting growth.”
3) One year living with his family of four in Chiang Rai, Thailand, in order to gain
the experience of living overseas and to better identify with and serve
4) Five years as managing director of YWAM San Diego/Baja.
5) A stint as an MBI corporate board member.
6) Current positions with five different YWAM corporate boards.
It all adds up to a high level of vision, dedication, and expertise. Can you see why we were excited when Ron called last December to let us know that, yes, he was now ready to step into an MBI leadership role?
Not only will Ron be taking MBI’s volunteer development ministry to the next level, but he is bringing three significant, intentional service ministries under the YWAM Mission Builders International umbrella, each one designed to be a resource for YWAM locations all over the world.
Perhaps the most noteworthy addition Ron brings to MBI is Jeanette—his wife of 24 years (as they say, “behind every good man…”). Jeanette has her own impressive history of YWAM and ministry experience: A DTS at YWAM Lakeside in 1990 followed by positions that included DTS staff, Schools Registrar, work in or management of various departments, and 12 years as a member of YWAM Lakeside’s leadership council. Her interest in serving others also led her to join the Debriefing ministry long-term, beginning in 2009.
Ron and Jeanette have two treasured “responsibilities”: their nineteen-year-old daughter Meraiah (away at university) and 15-year-old son Sebastian.
We’re pleased to have the Brewster family aboard, and we’re looking forward to the pleasure of seeing MBI grow into fullness and maturity as Ron applies his characteristic enthusiasm and wisdom. Stay tuned (yes, the best is yet to come)!
Without hesitation, I can say I’m excited for Ron Brewster and our new team to come on board with MBI. They’ll take us to new levels of growth, both in recruiting and placing volunteers with YWAM worldwide as well as in pursuing new and different avenues for serving and building the mission.
I may flinch when reminded that I’m no longer “the leader” of MBI, but I’ll continue to enjoy the “new, novel and different” of each day. I look forward to solving problems for someone else (somehow easier than solving my own) while no longer having direct responsibility for leading others.
Life is in constant-change mode, which is hard for those of us who find change and transition to be challenging. It’s certainly true with regard to the current state of our culture, which affects our worldview on politics, policy, and our way of life.
It’s true on a personal level as well for my bride Donna and I as we release the fruits our 18 years with MBI to younger leaders and look ahead with wonder. Our next step is a sabbatical, including a study tour, serving at a YWAM base or two, and a Leadership Development Course as we prepare to return to MBI next summer, ready to take on new roles under Ron’s leadership.
These kinds of things may convey the sense that things are out of control, uncertain, and fear-inducing. But the question for us all—whether the sky is really falling or not—is where are we at?
At the risk of sounding trite, the antidote to fear and uncertainty has been and always will be Jesus.
Life is a never-ending series of beginnings and endings. Jesus is either our guide or merely an acquaintance (if that) along the way. I chose Him to be my guide more than 39 years ago, and I’m still learning to follow Him. I want to know Him, to love more, and to learn about what His concerns and desires are.
What I find is that it really is about how well we love one another—how we think about and treat our neighbor, whether stranger or friend.
This past summer, I was confronted with transition, change, and the finality of life when
I met Steve Peterson on July 7, 2018, at Tillicum Beach State Park on the Oregon coast.
Steve, at 68 years of age, was walking the length of the West Coast—part of his bucket list—before boarding an Amtrak train for Florida’s Disney World, and eventually entering hospice, where he would finish his life’s journey after a recent diagnosis of terminal Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
With no family (he never married) and driving trucks for the past 31 years, his only close friend is a retired Army colonel who is helping him arrange his life’s affairs. His only regret? Not marrying the woman he had opportunity to when he was young.
Was he lonely? “Heck no,” he told me. “Jesus is my constant companion!”
Steve’s journey was not without interruptions, which brought him across my path (or vice versa). All his worldly possessions (his camping gear, backpack, tent, sleeping bag, etc.) were suddenly gone—stolen. Rather than reacting with anger, sadness, or disappointment, and recognizing the time remaining was too short for him to be concerned about it, Steve chose to keep moving forward, trusting Jesus for his daily bread.
As we talked and prayed, I was compelled to give Steve what little cash I had in my pocket to get him his next meal and a little farther along on his journey. God showed up.
Was I skeptical of Steve’s story? Yes, but not enough to second-guess what Jesus would do.
How about you? Are you skeptical about the future? Will you choose, along with me, to trust Jesus to guide and provide, despite inevitable changes and transitions, believing that the best is yet to come?
I’m believing it for MBI; I’m believing it for us.
Indeed—I’ll say it again—the best is yet to come!
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!