On the many occasions I walk through SeaTac International Airport, I generally enjoy joining the more than 46 million passengers heading somewhere through its gates each year for fun, for family, for reunions, for work, for weddings, for funerals, for service, for missions, for calling, for destiny. Walking through an airport means I’m heading somewhere for some (hopefully good) reason.
While I have a general disdain for early morning or overnight red-eye flights, I usually enjoy the journey, meeting new people and watching for those to whom the LORD might introduce me. Traveling means a change of location—even if temporarily. I enjoy the “new, novel, and different” that travel rewards its participants with and count it God’s mercy to have traveled reasonably safely these past 34 years in YWAM.
John and Donna Briggs – 2002
Perhaps travel is part of the reason Donna and I willingly tethered ourselves to an office in Montana for 18 years, helping thousands of Christians connect with worldwide missions, with the perk of joining them when we could.
At the same time, we have prayed and patiently waited for God to release His younger leader(s) in order to pass on the leadership of MBI with the charge to take it to the next level. Gratefully, God has answered those prayers with the return of Ron Brewster, a long-time personal friend, former director of YWAM Montana, current administrator of YWAM San Diego/Baja, and former member of MBI’s board of directors. Ron, his bride Jeanette, and a growing team of co-workers are scheduled to join MBI’s day-to-day team by January 2019.
Serving alongside YWAM ministries in more than 185 nations lends itself to change, and not just in location. We constantly take the risk of introducing volunteers to young, often inexperienced, often carefree, and occasionally undisciplined YWAM co-workers around the world. Volunteers are often willing to overlook some of those traits to discover and enjoy God’s appointment. And despite the frustrations, YWAMers—youth in general—help keep us young with the shared passion and goal of knowing God and making Him known. Keeping our focus on Jesus and not the foibles of imperfect people (we include ourselves in that description) has increased our love for the mission and missionaries of YWAM. It helps, of course, to be stubbornly called to serve alongside those who may not always recognize or appreciate the help MBI offers.
Sustaining and growing a ministry like MBI cannot be accomplished alone. In fact, over 80 friends and co-workers have labored together at one time or another over the past 18 years, guiding us with their wisdom from either a board of directors position or as day-to-day team members providing the practical service to get the job of recruitment and placement done. In addition, hundreds of prayer partners and financial supporters have provided their time and treasures to impact missions worldwide through MBI. As a result, it’s conservatively estimated that over 20,000 volunteers have served alongside hundreds of YWAM missionaries and ministries since July 2000 (including countless thousands more since MBI’s concept was formed in 1978).
Donna and I are especially appreciative of the help and support of tenacious co-laborers like Becky Hefty, who has researched, written, edited, and posted countless articles about the people, places, and opportunities for service that have helped communicate MBI beyond our borders. And of course, MBI is built around connections to friends like you, made possible by database programmers David McQuoid and, more recently, Greg Griffin, working in the background. But at the core of MBI for the past 18 years have been faithful partners on our board of directors, like Lynn and Jacky Battermann and Dean and Molly Ketchum. They have, like so many others, selflessly given time, talent, and treasure to follow Jesus wherever He leads.
I’ll conclude by starting at the beginning of my journey with MBI: Sitting in an office in early 2000, I met Don McGalliard, a former board member and mission builder volunteer who traveled to Colorado Springs from his home in Oregon specifically to meet with and encourage me to assume the leadership role of the ministry. His kindness and generosity helped re-launch MBI that day. This past month, the outcome of his generosity showed up on our doorstep in the form of a young missionary from Nepal. She was testifying that Don’s compassion and generosity as a mission builder volunteer—giving himself in a labor of love to help build a training center in Kathmandu—directly impacted her family. As a result, she responded to the call of missions in service to Jesus, which brought her to Montana and the opportunity to personally say thank you to the ministry and the people behind her calling. That thank you is also meant for those who have helped MBI directly, as well as those who have volunteered through the years.
And now it’s my turn. On behalf of Donna and our team, thank you to all of you for the years of Connections. The best is yet to come!
If you’re familiar with Mission Builders International, you’ll know we send hands-on help to YWAM ministries all over the globe by recruiting and placing volunteers. You’ll also know those volunteers come in all ages, sizes, skills and abilities and are passionate about serving Jesus. Each one has their own particular motivation for serving, whether the location is near or far. Here are just a handful of the reasons they go. Perhaps they’ll inspire you to go!
To prove that no one is too old to work for God.
“Remind yourself that you are never too old to make a difference and have a purpose,” said one elderly woman, who volunteered at YWAM Salem, OR. “We’re never too old to work for God. I’m 73. As long as God keeps me going, I’m planning on doing His work.” Mary, another 73-year-old, served at YWAM Ozarks, AR. She wrote: “Most of the students are in their early 20s, but all [of them] talked to me and shared their stories when asked. Their genuine, faith-filled, humble attitudes but normal young dress and actions so inspired me! They really appreciated everything I did to help. I left rejoicing, so encouraged for our younger generations.”
To mentor students, staff, and locals with their skills and know-how.
Retirees Brian and Karen volunteered at YWAM Montana Lakeside. Brian taught carpentry, built cabinets for kitchen units and worked on a local Habitat for Humanity project. “A life skill like carpentry is a valuable outreach tool as well as being useable around the world,” Brian said. Karen added, “He was immensely proud of the young men he trained and absolutely loved teaching them.” Karen worked as the front desk receptionist, but occasionally slipped on the title of Mom or Grandma, “blessing students and staff with prayer time and long conversations.” They said their time “was refreshing and recharged our spiritual batteries.”
To indulge a special passion or life-celebration.
Lynne, a regular mission builder (along with her husband Len) said: “I LOVE to travel! By connecting with MBI, not only do I get to travel anywhere in the world, but I get to travel with a purpose, connecting with and supporting missionaries wherever I go. Where will we go next? It doesn’t really matter, the possibilities are endless, and we know God has our course already planned.”
One lady wrote: “My husband and I volunteered for two weeks with Mission Builders at YWAM Amsterdam. It was a highlight of our two-month retirement celebration trip to Europe. We were warmly greeted . . . made to feel like valued members of the team . . . told several times how much they appreciated having people our age there, and of course, they were very thankful for the work we did. We’ll definitely explore volunteering at other YWAM campuses.”
To offer their individual skills, abilities and gifts.
Mission building is “a chance to use the gifts that you possess to help further the gospel message,” Michele wrote. “From cooking to computer programming, and gardening to construction, there are so many ways to help. My husband John is a mechanic, and I am an avid gardener and cook. We’ve served all around the U.S. and are so glad we can be a part of mission work without having to go to a seminary for training! We just serve using the gifts and skills we already have.”
Manoela F. from Brazil said: “I’m almost 22, an industrial engineering student and intern worker at Bosch, Brazil. I got vacation from work and college to be a Mission Builder in YWAM San Jose, Costa Rica. I understood a calling from God saying I needed to go someplace not so close and make the people feel loved through things I like to do; for example, playing soccer. As a Mission Builder, I could help in hospitality, I could help in the kitchen to cook for the base, I could play soccer again. I could help the Homes of Hope and the Metro Ministries, too, and join some of the DTS soccer classes.”
To do something they’ve never done before (and take their families with them).
Linda wrote to say: “My family (she, her husband and three kids ages 12, 7, and 5) had an amazing time watching God work through our time at Cowboys With A Mission in Meteetse, WY. We had odd jobs around the base, from cleaning out the cows’ water tub to helping build a house for staff to looking for a rattlesnake that bit three horses early one morning. Mission builders with an open mind and a willingness to fall in where needed will greatly benefit this campus. The directors blessed our family by allowing us to be a part of the CWAM family!”
To broaden their horizons and better their lives.
Swiss couple Kurt and Edith volunteered at YWAM Muizenburg, South Africa. They wanted to improve their English but got so much more. Edith said: “It broadened my horizons to see so many other cultures. It was our first time in an English-speaking country. It was interesting and a challenge. Friendly students, full of passion, were thankful to have older volunteers on campus.”
Mission Builder volunteer Casey said: “Seeing how the Lord is working outside of the U.S. was really eye-opening. My wife and I had a life-changing experience while we were helping out. We’re currently praying about joining YWAM full time; they’re mobilizing today’s youth for Christ’s mission!”
One young volunteer, who served at YWAM Guadalajara, Mexico, said: “I got to learn more Spanish and was able to touch many peoples’ lives with the love of Jesus. I felt so useful! All my gifts in teaching, music, and audio engineering were used. It was a life-changing experience. The Mexican culture was devoid of materialism and the driven-ness I constantly feel while living in the big city here in America. So when I returned home, all that ‘stuff’ hit me like a wave. But now that I’m back in the swing of things, I can see how my experience serving the peoples of Guadalajara, Ixtlahuacan, Chapala, and Ajijic will help me to live better while I’m here in the States. I have a much broader perspective on life—one I don’t believe I could have without physically going outside America.”
As you read through these testimonies, you may have seen your desires mirrored back to you and had an aha! moment. If that happened, remember, there’s room for you to give of your time and energy for the kingdom of God, and MBI can help you find just the right place to do it. Check out the possibilities and fill out an application today at www.MissionBuilders.org!