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.”
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.”
“Buildings preach,” says architect Ross Lackey. He believes that intentional architectural design can effectively promote everything from community values to religion.
After 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.
“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.”
Mission builder volunteers are a do-whatever-it-takes kind of people. They’re learners who aren’t afraid of new places or different cultures. They fit in almost anywhere; ready to tackle whatever work they’re handed. They love stepping into the relational and spiritual life of the campus they serve, often building life-long friendships with missionaries and other volunteers alike. Mission builders are the stuff real help is made of, which is why they’re first class world-changers.
These are just some of the reasons why Mission Builders International is proud to continue connecting as many Christian volunteers as possible with frontline YWAM missions the world over. And Ken and Arlene W. are just the kind of service-hearted people we’re talking about. Here, in their own words, is their story:
“We didn’t know what to expect when we stepped off the plane in San Diego in March. But we did know that God had put it in our hearts to have a ‘different’ kind of vacation this time—a vacation that would be more about serving him and others than about being served. We had heard about Mission Builders, an arm of Youth With A Mission, from some friends of ours. After researching several opportunities on the internet and spending some time in prayer, we both felt a peace about serving in Mexico at the YWAM San Antonio del Mar campus.
“Upon our arrival, we were overwhelmed (in a good way) by the welcome we received and the friendliness of those involved in various programs there. YWAM San Antonio del Mar is a big and busy place. There are many ministries that flow out of this base. So aside from completing our daily tasks, such as food preparation and serving, washing dishes or cleaning toilets and mopping floors, we were also invited to join teams doing outreach in Tijuana and other nearby locations.
Homes of Hope project.
“This was like a dream come true for both of us. Early morning visits to a local orphanage to make breakfast for the children and visiting a local school with the library bus gave us insight into the lives of many Mexican children. We also had the opportunity to share with men in an addiction recovery center and a homeless shelter. Going for a prayer walk through the red light district of Tijuana and joining the team members who had started a program for children and mothers in another needy area of the city were definite highlights and real eye-openers as to how people live outside the resort areas of this well-known vacation destination. We felt privileged to join in with three different teams to build houses for needy families through the Homes of Hope program. Our hearts broke as we began to see these people through God’s eyes and with HIS heart. “I haven’t even touched on the blessing it was to fellowship and worship and pursue God’s heart with like-minded people from all over the world! All in all, by the end of our stay, we had fallen in love with the place and the people. As they say, ‘We have been spoiled for the ordinary’! We went to give but received so much more in return. Now we look forward to the next adventure that God has for us.”
Does Ken and Arlene’s story resonate with you? Perhaps you, too, would like to take a vacation of a different kind. We guarantee your life will be changed while you’re busy helping to bring positive change to other’s lives.
If you can see yourself serving, visit the Mission Builders International website at www.missionbuilders.org and search the “Where to Go” tab for possibilities (just look at how many!). Then click on Contact Us to request a link to the application process.
We’d like to welcome you to our growing Mission Builder volunteer family!
Mission Builders International has had one job to do since 1996: recruit volunteers to come alongside YWAM missionaries around the globe and assist them with their practical needs. Each year, hundreds of people bring their skills and strengths to jobs ranging from construction to teaching to auto maintenance to cooking. There’s always plenty to do on YWAM campuses, and volunteers can help for as little as two weeks or up to three months, allowing for easy-in, easy-out service.
The downside? The need for more people—of all ages—to see what’s going on in missions and catch the vision. There are so many ways to be involved!
When it comes to volunteering, nothing beats teamwork. By concentrating and organizing the labor, time and abilities of multiple people, projects get done in record time. Veteran mission builders Lynn and Jacky Battermann, Pat and Thelma Lewis and Lynne and Len Benson are masters of the team concept. They recruit friends, family, churches and fellow RVers to band together and travel from one location to another to get things done fast. As a result, missionaries get past logistical needs and on with the core work of their missions calling.
Adoption is another win-win between missionaries and volunteers. Some mission builders love to serve at numerous locations so they may enjoy a variety of cultures, friendships and travels. Others find a single campus they fall in love with, embracing it as a gathering of like-minded friends and making it the recipient of their ongoing service. Master electrician Phil Sauer, for instance, has become a trusted co-laborer and campus-development advisor to YWAM Chapala and YWAM Mazatlan in Mexico. Here in Montana, MBI depends on Jim and Joy McGatlin, who show up for busy summer months to serve as enthusiastic hosts and to manage the campus grounds.
The next wave of mission builders is rising from the millennial generation. Millennials are known for seeking meaningful ways to invest in their communities and the world. Because they naturally gravitate toward influential service and teamwork, they’re well-suited for volunteerism. Give them an opportunity to work as part of a fun, productive team that makes a difference, and they’ll make things happen. Offer a millennial a wide selection of service opportunities, and they’re quick to embrace multiple locations, as did Kristen Hinton (featured in MBI’s Connections, “God’s Fantastic Idea,” Fall 2016).
The world is accessible to those whose hearts beat for volunteer service. The only hindrance to realizing their dream is not knowing where their opportunities lie. MBI is a gateway to global possibilities, and we’re working hard to get the word out.
If you (or someone you know) have been searching for a just-right opportunity, whether it’s your first time to volunteer or you’re a veteran, MBI has what you’re looking for. Visit our website at www.missionbuilders.org and click on the Where to Go tab. Once you’ve found your “sweet spot,” go to our Contact Us page and fill out your application.
You’re halfway there, and a world of service is within your reach!