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)
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.
“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.”
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!
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!