A Story Bigger Than Any One Of Us

I first stood in the barrios of Puerto Peñasco, Mexico, when I was 14 years old. I was a freshman in high school and was on my first mission trip with my church.

Up until that point in my life, I’d had a pretty sheltered childhood. The poorest person I knew was the kid down the street whose family didn’t have a swimming pool. That’s how obnoxiously narrow my worldview was.

So when I experienced real poverty for the first time in that barrio, it broke me. It crushed my soul. Nobody had told me that billions of people around the world lived like that – let alone the thousands of people in this one community so close to home. I knew it wasn’t okay. Something had to be done about it.

So over the next ten years, all the way through high school, college, and into my twenties, I returned to Mexico again and again, doing as many service projects as I possibly could. When we got married, my wife Tina started leading these trips with me.

And I loved it. I felt connected to a cause greater than myself. I felt useful. I felt that I was doing what I was born to do.

Over time, we built around 30 houses for families in poverty. But at a certain point, Tina and I took a step back. We found ourselves wondering about all those mission trips and all those houses.

Is this community actually in better shape now than it was ten years ago? In another ten years, will this community be any better off than it is today?

These were profoundly personal questions for us, because along with people from our church, we’d spent countless weekends building these houses. We were giving generously of our time, energy, and money. But something wasn’t right.

Local families weren’t the heroes of the story. We were.

I knew we could do better. We had to do better.

And that’s how Tina and I eventually decided to start 1MISSION. I quit my job as a firefighter and stepped away from my landscaping business, ready to dive into this new adventure headfirst.

Images: One of the very first build trips in 2008. Bottom Left: Greg Yochim, VP of Operations, handing over the family’s new house keys.

We’d still be in the business of building houses, but the old handout model would be turned on its head. Rather than simply having people like us come down, build houses, and leave, what if we found ways to truly partner with local families? What if they could earn houses by serving their communities? What if they could be empowered, with their God-given dignity affirmed, through the process? What if they could be the agents of change in their own neighborhoods?

We didn’t have all the answers then, and we still don’t. But over the years we’ve learned a lot about the principles of healthy community development. We’ve learned what a big deal it is for families to have title to their land and how property rights unlock dead capital. We learned that it takes all sectors of society working together to make a lasting change. And in all of this, we’ve seen time and again that community transformation really is possible.

Images: We focus on all sectors of a society working together to make a lasting change. For an in depth look, watch our 2017 Gala program.

This year, 1MISSION turns ten – a huge milestone! We wouldn’t be where we are today without people like you who have made sacrifices to help us put more and more families in homes. We celebrate this together. But most of all, we celebrate the families we’ve had the privilege of partnering with – all 700 of them and counting! – who have taught us so much about hard work, perseverance, and hope.

They’re the true heroes of the story. And this story is just getting started.

Images: Jason Law, 1MISSION Founder, celebrating alongside the Morelos Cuevas family and Hermosillo, Mexico city officials.


Add yours
  1. Robert VJ Moreno

    My son, Luciano, had made several trips with his school (Northwest Christian in Phoenix, AZ) to work with 1Mission. One day he said to me, “Dad, some friends and I are going to do another 1Mission trip on our own. Why don’t you come along!” I said, “So you need someone to drive you right.” 🙂 He smiled and admitted that they did. I agreed to help them out. It was the most fulfilling endeavor I have ever experienced. We worked on two different homes, along side the new Home-owners-to-be and also with other local tradesmen and their families, who had participated in the 1Mission program and acquired their own homes as well. We worked as ONE in these 1Mission homesteads. May God bless 1Mission and all of their future projects!

  2. Dan Grief

    We at Boulder Mountain Community Church felt blessed when we ran into Jason after a home build in 2009. His concerns were the same as ours and we listened to his new approach and philosophy. The Lord put you in our path and we obeyed his leading. I have often used this relationship when describing “listening” to His word. Just finished a nine year of building a community and look forward to many more, God willing.
    Dan Grief
    Also, Greg looks so young in those pictures!

  3. Melissa

    1MISSION is a beautiful real life example of how community was designed to work. I have learned so much through my involvement with this organization and am forever grateful for the opportunities provided. It is evident in the work and the results where the focus of 1MISSION resides. Thank you for your vision, your courage, your tenacity and your willingness to invest in the people around you.

  4. Ralph

    What you all do is so fantastic, and I am sure changes a family’s life by helping them. But I do take issue and question why your organization does what it does? So it is non-profit in America, taking American’s donated money to help those in very desperate need of shelter with a floor, four walls and a roof. Not to mention how you spread the message of God to them, and have them also help with their neighbors.
    So your entire purpose and actions are so wonderful! But I have this point, to ask for a response: This is an American non-profit operating and collecting donations in the US. Then using those funds and all available volunteers to help build homes in Mexico for Mexican citizens. After talking with your companies founder, I was told this was because “even the poorest people in America live so much better than those in Mexico. America’s poor and homeless already have so many opportunities than that of those in Mexico”.
    But my counter to that is: “why stop at helping those in Mexico? We all know those in the Sudan and in Darfur have things much worse than those in Mexico. There are so many people suffering around the world, and if we list from worst to best, Mexico is right behind the US, with all other countries falling way behind.
    So why not use all your cause to take care of those is the Sudan, or in Syria or Venezuela? Answer=because it’s so easy to take care of these things in Mexico and Americans are much more likely to give money to those that are our “southwestern friends”. Truth is, there are so many other places that can use the help more than Mexico.
    But I still stand on taking care of Americans first. We have wounded warriors, drug addicts, families that are homeless, and so much more here in America that are in drastic need of some support. I was always taught to take care of my family, friends and neighbors first. Well, before watching all this money you collect go into Mexico, I would ask that you think about all the homeless persons and families in the US, those suffering from mental illness in the US, those addicted to drugs in the US, and those about to commit suicide in the US.
    Once we have taken care of our American families in distress, then I might think it OK to give anything to another country.
    FYI-My family immigrated from Mexico. But we are Americans.
    Maybe your “One Mission” should be to take care our your fellow neighbors before sending help to other countries. Also, building up families and communities here in the US has a major “ripple” effect to positively help others around.
    Sorry, but I want Americans helped first.

    • Tim Hoiland

      Hi Ralph, thanks for taking the time to comment and for wrestling through these questions! You’re right that there are tremendous needs throughout the world and right here in the United States. But the simple answer is that no single organization can meet all the world’s needs. Fortunately, there are wonderful organizations at work in Sudan, Syria, and Venezuela – three countries whose significant needs you rightly point out. Similarly, there are countless organizations in every city and state in the US, addressing everything from housing to mental illness. There are many reasons why we focus our work in Mexico, El Salvador, and Nicaragua – just as there are many reasons why all other organizations do what they do, where they do. Rather than pulling those organizations away from their crucial work, we cheer them on – and we encourage you to generously give to the work you feel most compelled to support. Meanwhile, it’s important to note that those who give to 1MISSION do so knowing exactly where their money is going and why. Many of these donors also support work in the United States and elsewhere around the world. We think that’s wonderful! God loves the whole world. So should we.

  5. Richard Porter

    I see the concept of working to build your house and community. I would like to know about the spiritual impact that is happening for the people and their communities. Are people that don’t know Christ being saved and advancing His kingdom? Not much has been said about the spiritual impact you make and it seems to be an add on to other aspects of the program or mission. Thank you, Richard Porter, rsp068@gmail.com

    • Tim Hoiland

      Hi Richard, apologies for our delay. I’ve passed your inquiry along to Nate Hughes, our VP of Partnerships. He’ll reach out to you today.

  6. Abigail Arneson

    This trip is amazing! I went for the first time last year with a Church, and I had an unforgettable experience. Thank you so much for providing this opportunity, and I hope to do it again this year 🙂

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