“I sure miss you!”
Canceling travel plans to come alongside and encourage co-workers in YWAM locations around the world; postponing weddings here at home; delaying celebrations of close friends recently passed into Heaven; avoiding those currently too sick to be seen by anyone; not gathering for weekly worship—all our plans are off for the foreseeable future.
Perhaps what hits the heart most is when your children or grandchildren tear up and say, “When can I see you again?”
We are no longer in control of our coming and going, our calendar, our income, our gathering of friends for fellowship and worship—even our outreach and touching others in the name of Jesus—all for fear of spreading an invisible enemy that has the power to threaten the very lives of those we love and long to be with. We all contend with disappointment and delay.
We choose to be grateful for the down time here in Montana—even though we are on our phones or computers more than ever. Our “suffering” is hollow compared to the real suffering of the persecuted Church around the world—and those without Jesus suffer even more. It is for the love of Jesus we continue serving—so others may thrive—and so that the whole world may know Him. That’s why your prayers are so valuable to us!
While our recent newsletter highlights what MBI does when things are reasonably normal, the present crisis is a missionary moment of marshaling faith over fear. Rather than focus on what we cannot do and cannot have, however, we choose to continue to reach out, to be generous, to connect with friends, co-workers, and family in new and old ways using the tools we have in our hands: computers, keyboards, telephones, teleconferencing apps, pen, and paper. We are not giving up.
But the essential tool in our arsenal is prayer, in the name of Jesus. Our MBI team is actively praying for you, for your family, for your connections throughout this season.
Eventually, this crisis will pass. Meanwhile, we pray you can enjoy a new, more profound richness of fellowship with the One who promised never to leave or forsake you. His persecution, crucifixion, and resurrection remind us that the best is yet to come!
Have a blessed Easter in Jesus,
The MBI team: Ron, Jeanette, John, Donna, Brad, Dawn, Gordy, Craig, Lane, Jason, Reba, Andrew, Becky, Greg, Jan, and our team of MBI field staff and board of directors.
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.’”
by Amy Lindstrom
I remember looking in my husband’s eyes as we sat across from one another at a local restaurant. I had called a meeting. I had a lot on my mind.
I was fighting my way through the sadness of an empty nest, looking for new meaning and purpose. I knew I needed more and I wanted to “finish well.” I had deep fear that my last productive decades would be spent going out for lunch with friends, sharing photos of grand babies, scrap-booking and reading an occasional book. It wouldn’t be enough.
“Give me a few more years,” Paul said. So I did. I waited a few more years, finding more meaning than I’d anticipated. I finished a master’s degree in Christian counseling ministry. I was involved in mentoring younger women and mothers, counseling, praying, leading small groups, teaching. Still, I knew there was more. I wasn’t sure exactly what it was going to look like or how it would happen, but my soul longed for adventure, depth, more of Jesus and a community of others that longed for the same things.
Finally, God intervened and some rearranging began to happen in our lives. Some was good, some was difficult. Paul submitted to the changes, remembering the agreement he made across the table that winter day.
It was time for an adventure with Jesus. Depth, growth, challenge, pain, revelation, surrender; all of these were part of the MBI Crossroads DTS we participated in during the spring of 2014. Not even two years ago! Amazing, considering all that has happened since then. It was as if the waters of labor broke and the real me was birthed from a struggle I didn’t understand at the time.
Like many of you, I knew there was more in me than the world would want me to believe; more than what I saw so many in my generation settling for. I knew all of the experiences, failures, pain, loving and sacrifice I’d lived through was training that made me fit for a work that was somehow holy.
Holy is defined as: consecrated to God; set apart for the service of God. I knew the coming decades of my life were to be set apart in a way that was different from those now past. Motherhood and teaching had been services that were sacred in their own particular ways. But, I knew something was waiting that was different.
Looking back at the past 24 months, I find it amazing to see what the Lord has done with the days and weeks and months now in my rearview mirror. I’m blessed to have seen many of my life-long dreams reach their fullness. Some I had even protected from utterance in my prayers. There have been times when I was filled with doubt and painfully stretched, but the adventure I began in my Crossroads DTS has become a whirlwind of adventure, growth and delightful surprises.
Last January, I traveled to Mazatlan, Mexico, where I was a mission builder for 10 days. I went there in a desperate attempt to remind myself that God was working on a plan, ordering my steps, and there was something else to come after my CDTS. I went with small expectations, not knowing what would happen, just willing to serve in a warm and beautiful place. What happened was immeasurably more than all I asked or imagined (Ephesians 3:20). I worked in hospitality and housekeeping, something I knew a little about. But the Lord gave me grace and favor, opening doors so I could also use my education and experience to lead a time of intercession and minister to staff and students through prayer, counseling and teaching. Those younger than me sought my wisdom, knowledge and friendship. They welcomed me as a valuable blessing to their community. This was the encouragement I needed to expand my YWAM training in order to use my experience in counseling ministry to bless YWAMers.
In April of 2015, I attended a secondary school in Kona, Hawaii: Foundations of Counseling Ministry. This has opened further doors for me to use my master’s degree in YWAM. I completed three months of outreach over the fall and winter, ministering in Scandinavia and campuses in my home state of Wisconsin. Paul and I traveled to Mazatlan, Mexico, again where I taught, ministered, counseled and participated in local outreach. He assisted with campus projects and helped build a house with Homes of Hope. In future months, I will continue teaching, counseling and ministering to those who long to expand the kingdom but are hindered by the pain and wounds of life.
This is what I have learned since my adventure with YWAM began:
- Although the Y in YWAM stands for youth, the younger generation is hungry for the wisdom and experience that my generation has to give. Having lacked a God-like love as children, many still crave the care and nurture of those older than themselves; spiritual mothers and fathers to accept, mentor and cheer. God is a God of the generations. He desires to join the generations together in bonds of love and unity. Yes, they really want us, need us, and we are still part of the story!
- There is a real community available to us; a big family that loves us as we are and welcomes the chance to do life with us. There is a belonging that is unique to the Body of Christ, where we are able to transcend differences in cultures, colors, languages, age and gender. Yes, there is a community where we can belong!
- God is challenging my generation to surrender the selfishness of a retirement focused on pleasure; to use the blessings of our age and resources to benefit the kingdom. Yes, we really have much more to give than we realize!
- It is never too late to heal, find purpose, dream dreams, discover what else is inside of us. God has never stopped dreaming dreams for us and he has not forgotten the things he has whispered into our hearts, the promises he has made. Yes, he is faithful to finish what he started in each of us (Philippians 1:6)!
- God knows us. He knows exactly what we bring to his kingdom and the best place to set us. He knows every detail of our joys, talents, knowledge, and if we follow, he will place us exactly where we can most brightly shine for him. That may be behind a bulldozer, in a kitchen, playing with orphans, painting a sign or praying with the brokenhearted. He alone knows where we fit and the time of our arrival. Yes, we can trust him!
Be encouraged today! The Father is not finished with me or you. Perhaps, like myself, you can find YOUR place with YWAM and MBI. Perhaps you, too, will begin with a Crossroads Discipleship Training School. God may have another road for you to travel. But I am certain that however the Father chooses to do it, there is still meaningful purpose and growth awaiting you. Change and adventure are both exhilarating and terrifying at times. But to me, the alternative is even more frightening. God is good, trustworthy and faithful. Lean into ALL that he has for you.
You may already be connected to Mission Builders International. Perhaps you love the idea of lifting the arms of those in long-term missions. Or maybe you support a friend or family member in such efforts. Or is it that your curiosity has been piqued by missions? Whatever your reason, this letter could confirm what already resonates in your heart, or it could be God’s nudge for you to go for it!
I spent five years longing to know God more in a safe and set-apart season of my life. I remember talking, for the umpteenth time, of my desires to my good friend, Melisa, who’d spent years in YWAM, living in the Middle East. She had something I didn’t—a maturity and well-roundedness—but more than that, a heart able to expand toward people and places in a way mine couldn’t. I told her once more, “I want what you have!” In a moment I’ll never forget, Melisa pounded her fist emphatically on the coffee shop table and said, “Then you just need to GO!”
Go? Me? Oh no, no, no. That’s not possible. I’ve already established myself in a career. I’d have to quit my job! That’s a lot to ask of me financially too. How in the world could I afford to do that? I’m pretty involved in my local church; how can I be released from my commitments? What about insurance? Rent? Leaving family and friends? And the clincher: YWAM is for those “young pups.” I’m too old!
Now, with a humble and knowing smile, I’m writing this on my last full day of outreach in Romania. For the first time in my walk with Christ, I didn’t allow fears and my over-analytical brain to define my desires or my future. Months ago, I took a leap of faith and declared, “I’m going to Montana!” I finally allowed God to be Himself. When I cut through the tethers of human understanding, the poison of people-pleasing, and my anxiety over many things, He showed me places of freedom and provision I’d only dreamed of.
How has a Crossroads Discipleship Training School changed my life? I received precious revelation about God’s character and grace, missions, evangelism and relationships. I surrounded myself with people who love Jesus and who encouraged me in how God has fashioned me. I was sharpened by different life perspectives, cultures, personalities and life situations.
Ups? Most definitely. Downs? You betcha. In fact, if you were to part the grass-is-always-greener curtain on anything in life, in time you would see—the ordinary. Did I just kill the mood? I certainly don’t want to paint a bleak picture. But as I read Romans 12 this past week, I recognized the beauty of the common dirt my Jesus walked on daily as He sojourned on earth, and the apostle Paul’s loving encouragement to do likewise.
So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Recognize what He wants from you, and respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, which drags you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you and develops well-formed maturity in you. A DTS enables you to embrace the everyday, ordinary life and to place all that you think, believe and are, at Jesus’ feet as a “living sacrifice.” As you do this, you allow Him to open your heart and eyes to people, places and experiences you never would have before.
At a Crossroads DTS (for those 30+), you can continue the journey of life-long learning and discipleship. It’s a season of receiving without apology, working out frustrations you’ve had and lies you’ve believed for years, making new and lasting relationships with other believers, gaining a heart for things that never before crossed your mind, wrestling through the hard questions of life and seeing God take the ordinary and make it extraordinary.
What would a Crossroads Discipleship Training School do for you? Only God can answer that. Just go for it! –Anna Patton
MBI’s next CDTS begins April 4, 2016. Visit www.missionbuilders.org for details and fill out the online CDTS application. For a photo tour of Anna’s 2014 outreach to Romania, visit the YWAM Mission Builders International Inc. Facebook page and view the photo album.