“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.”
I have had friends, family, supporters, and fellow YWAM coworkers ask ‘why MBI?’
When I was a young base leader in my early thirties at YWAM Lakeside, MT, I was faced with many challenges. Not enough people to help accomplish the vision. Not enough resources to realize our goals. More leadership development needed in my personal life. There were always projects and needs that required extra help and expertise, and God often provided those things through Mission Builder volunteers.
When YWAM Lakeside was given a motel that was located a mile away, we had to set the three massive, incoming sections of the hotel on foundations. God brought a team of volunteers to help, and now the Bayshore is a gracious home to students and visitors. When we discovered that one of our twenty-seven houses was sinking into the ground, we had to demolish half of it and figure out how to rebuild in such a way that it would not sink again. A visitor “happened” to be walking through, saw our dilemma, and said, “I can help you solve the problem you have with this house sinking.” He volunteered, and 13 years later, the house is still standing.
These stories might not seem like much to some (and we have many stories of God bringing volunteers at just the right time), but to me, as the campus director, those volunteers were like water to a person thirsting in the desert.
It’s now been three months since I became the director of MBI. We have a great team working hard to continue the legacy of volunteer placement that MBI is known for as well as adding new vision. We’re stretching to reach goals connected to our expanded focus of seeing YWAM locations thrive through increased volunteer placement, leadership support,and staff and organizational services.
Beginning with volunteer placement, we have prayerfully and in faith set a goal to grow from recruiting and sending 500 volunteers yearly to 3,000. How? We have to tap into new pools of potential volunteers, so for the next six to nine months, we’ll be focusing on recruiting:
• Volunteer teams: Families, couples, and singles may serve as a group at a YWAM location, assisting with specific projects. In turn, they’ll be deeply and personally impacted through what we call a “mutually transformative experience.” One expression of the volunteer team concept that we want to multiply to other YWAM locations is a program called Vacation With A Purpose (VWAP), which has helped transform the YWAM Lakeside campus over the years.
• Discipleship Training School students: Many graduates of the DTS program are excited about missions but not sure what God is calling them to next. We now offer those students a platform (called After DTS) through missionbuilders.org where they may volunteer and discover where God may be calling them to serve long-term.
In our next newsletter, we’ll expand on MBI’s newest areas of focus: leadership support and staff and organizational services. We believe that with MBI’s new three-pronged approach we can more effectively help build the mission.
Why MBI? So others may thrive.
P.S. Watch for our new newsletter design, coming this summer!
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)!
Getting God’s guidance to find the way forward is everyone’s challenge. And when a wrench is thrown in to thwart or slow progress, I wonder if it’s God’s way of challenging me to persevere or re-directing me to another tactic. I tend to look at life and ministry analogous to the glass being half empty as opposed to half full; a positive outlook about the way forward is not natural for me. I generally see what is NOT done and frequently forget to celebrate what HAS been done.
Some 1200 YWAM operating locations in 185 nations could benefit from the helping hands of mission builders like the Cook family (see related article) on a monthly basis. Doing the math (taking into account there are some that have no projects or room for mission builders while there are others that could use 100 at a time) 1200 locations x at least 2 mission builders a month = 2400/month x 12 months = 28,800 mission builders needed per year. That’s a LOT more mission builders than we presently serve!
Where are those volunteers willing to say “Here am I, send me!” to serve alongside YWAMers passionately pursing God to make Him known among the nations, and how does MBI reach them? That’s the question (or wrench) I cannot answer alone, and along with our board of directors, we have not found an affordable solution. How about you? Do you have ideas, strategies or the means to reach the hundreds of thousands it will take? Please let me know if you do, and let’s pray and work together!
MBI SHOULD be celebrating 15 years of ministry (since being relocated to Montana) and for mobilizing, recruiting and placing some 7,500 to 15,000 mission builder volunteers in over 300 YWAM operating locations worldwide. What we ARE celebrating on August 21-23 is the 30th anniversary of our neighbor, YWAM Lakeside (come join us), and the thousands of mission builders like the Cook family who have helped make a way for YWAMers around the world to share the love of Christ with the lost. Now that’s worth celebrating!