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.’”
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!
In our last newsletter, we shared about YWAM Bend, Oregon, a one-of-a-kind ministry with a vision calling for equally visionary mission builder volunteers. True to form, the first project accomplished at their location was out of the ordinary, just like the mission builders who showed up to help get the job done.
David and Crystal Cook happened to be in the area in early October of 2014 and volunteered to help set up YWAM Bend’s Mongolian gers (yurts), which would become housing for ministry staff. In the span of four days, David helped spread mulch, set up one ger, disassembled a second one at another location and prepped it for moving. Crystal helped with meal preps and garden gleaning (and David found time to cook some of his famous burgers for the staff as well). With the Cook’s help, the YWAM Bend team was settled in before the snow fell.
YWAM Bend wasn’t the first ministry nor will it be the last to benefit from the Cook’s volunteerism. Along with their son, Michael, and daughter, Amy, the Cooks began their mission-building adventure while visiting friends at YWAM San Francisco six years ago. David, who owned his own construction business, says, “While we were there we noticed so many broken toilets and door hinges and the like. We said we would stay and help and began to get a glimpse of the need out there.”
On their first long-term mission building trip, the Cook family traveled from Seattle to YWAM Orlando in Florida in a truck, living out of a camper on the back. There, David says, “The young staff would tell us about having a heart for Turkey or Africa, but they were at the campus helping with needs like cooking or maintenance instead of going where their hearts were. I wanted to help with those practical things so they could actually get out and do what God was calling them to do.” That’s when the Cooks decided to invest in missions by becoming full-time mission builders. They bought a pull-trailer and hit the road, making, to date, four circuits of the United States, volunteering at numerous YWAM campuses and taking YWAM missions training along the way.
Together, David and Michael worked at general maintenance projects, repairs, roofing and similar tasks. “Michael was my right-hand man,” David says, “as capable if not more so than me. From blenders to cars, he can fix so many things.” Their biggest project was at YWAM Mendocino in California. “The Woodbutcher cabin, their premier cabin from the ’70s,” David says, “was built on a hill. It was made with dowels and pegs; no nails. The foundation was rotting and needed repair, andthere were gaping holes in the deck. The staff had been at a loss as to how to save it. Michael and I spent 2 months jacking it up, tearing out old foundation and building a new one.”
When the Cooks first launched their mission-building lifestyle, Crystal says, “I felt like I was going to be tagging along; that I didn’t have a lot to offer and I would just be seeing what David would do. Friends prayed with us and helped me realize I had something to offer.” She and daughter Amy started working in the campus kitchens serving healthy, good-tasting food. Now, she says, “I get so much appreciation for cooking! People are constantly thanking and complimenting me! And Amy learned and grew so much; I am confident she could take on any YWAM kitchen.” But it’s more than just putting food on the table. Crystal says, “I like being a mom to the staff and teaching them. I’ve worked with several gals, teaching and mentoring them in kitchen and life skills and speaking into their lives spiritually. We adopt the young folks and feel like they are our kids. Some call me Mom, which blesses me because some of them don’t have good families. We love being family for them, pouring into them like parents.”
Although Michael (to be married in June) has now launched into his own YWAM adventure, David, Crystal and Amy continue traveling, enjoying the countryside, history and parks as they mission build campus to campus. What they like most, however, is meeting new people and making friends. “Our world used to be so small and now it is so broad,” they say, “and we haven’t gone international yet! No, we don’t have a home anymore, but we have many, many locations across the United States where we feel at home. We have people who are like family in all those locations.”
The Cooks agree: “There is so much need out there, and God has given His people the skills to meet those needs. Being the ones God uses is more fulfilling than anything we did living the normal North American lifestyle. Not everyone is called to do what we’re doing for a lifetime, but there are probably a lot of people who are called to do it short term. We wish we’d done this sooner, but we figure we have a good thirty years left, so we’ll make good use of it.”
Are you ready to share your time and skills in missions for a season? Looking for ministries you can serve from your RV? Visit our website at www.missionbuilders.org and see all the YWAM ministries around the world who need your help. Apply online today or contact us!