The Volunteer Fall 2019

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VOLUNTEER A Publication of Maranatha Volunteers International

BUILDING COMMUNITY IN D’IVOIRE CÔTE How buildings are sharing the Gospel

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Julie Z. Lee Editor Heather Bergren Managing Editor/Designer Dustin Comm Writer

UNITED STATES HEADQUARTERS: Maranatha Volunteers International 990 Reserve Drive Suite 100 Roseville, CA 95678 Phone: (916) 774 7700 Fax: (916) 774 7701 Website: Email: IN CANADA: Maranatha Volunteers International Association c/o V06494C PO Box 6494, Station Terminal Vancouver, BC V6B 6R3 CANADA All notices of change of address should be sent to the Maranatha Volunteers International United States address.

SANTO DOMINGO, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC The spirit of Maranatha was in Don Kirkman before Maranatha existed. He flew his plane to international destinations and brought volunteers along to build structures long before Maranatha Flights International was established. His first Maranatha trip was the iconic Yellowknife project in the Northwest Territories, Canada, in 1973. From there on out, he was hooked and became a critical figure in Maranatha’s history. An architect licensed in all 50 U.S. states, Don Kirkman became an invaluable asset to Maranatha when he became a board member in the mid-1980s. He spent much


time traveling to survey potential construction projects. “He had the unique ability to look at a piece of property and instantly have a grasp of every detail to be considered,” says Don Noble, president of Maranatha. Kirkman was responsible for designing several structures for Maranatha, including the Education and Evangelism Center that serves hundreds of thousands of people in more than 100 locations around the world. Today, Kirkman is retired but still designing buildings and traveling with Maranatha. He also continues to serve on Maranatha’s board.

Maranatha spreads the Gospel throughout the world as it builds people through the construction of urgently needed buildings.

About the Cover: At the Abbebroukoi Seventh-day Adventist Church in Côte d’Ivoire, Danielle Ghakabi is baptized on a rainy Sabbath afternoon. Photo by w wTom w . mLloyd




I never thought I would work for a construction company. Yet in 2018, as a new employee of Maranatha Volunteers International, I found myself learning about international supply logistics, how a block building is constructed, and the operations of Maranatha’s fabrication shops around the world. As someone who grew up with a vague familiarity of Maranatha, but never as a volunteer or supporter, the sheer scale of what was being accomplished each week was shocking to me. You may not realize it, but at any given time, more than 100 dedicated people are working together at various levels to facilitate the mission of Maranatha around the world. We have had construction requests from nearly every division of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, totalling over 100,000. Each year, more than 2,000 volunteers serve on projects around the globe. Over the last five decades, Maranatha has worked in nearly 90 countries worldwide. Yet, these statistics are a far cry from the humble beginnings from which Maranatha started. Over the past year, I have dug through our archives, conducted interviews, and peered through a magnifying glass at old film slides to learn the story of Maranatha.

I have posted old photos and videos on our website and social media accounts from decades past that tell the story of how God used key people to grow Maranatha into the organization it is today. I have learned of maverick volunteers who flew their own planes into remote locales to serve. I’ve flipped through folders of printed photos and read historical letters highlighting Christians who were so moved by the mission, that they gave up their homes and businesses to push it forward. I learned of pioneers in missions who had no idea God was leading them to a much larger calling. Through my research, I also discovered that Maranatha is much more than projects and buildings–it is a family. Since my first day working at Maranatha, I’ve heard staff refer to volunteers like family members. I soon began to feel the same way. Something happens when the spirit of mission takes a hold of people and God uses them in extraordinary ways–a special community is formed. Although my history with Maranatha is still young, looking back through this organization’s movements, ideas, decisions, and God’s leading, I feel connected to the beginning. There is a

sense that anyone who has caught the mission of Maranatha is a part of this community as well. Though separated by time, country, or language, a shared passion for mission and service binds Maranatha volunteers, donors, and staff in a sacred kinship. No matter the era, we’re united by a belief that God can work through us to bless others. I’m so happy to be a part of this community now, and I hope you know that you’re a part of the Maranatha family too. Dustin is the Communication Specialist at Maranatha Volunteers International To learn more about the people, places, and stories of the last five decades of Maranatha, visit our website at

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A snapshot of volunteers and projects in the mission field.

ZAMBIA Volunteers on the Summer Family Project helped construct classroom buildings at the Kabwe Adventist School.

CUBA A small team of students from Walla Walla University, in Washington, organized a number of outreach activities in the city of San Antonio. 4 | THE VOLUNTEER FALL 2019

KENYA After meeting in old mud classrooms, students at the Gucha Adventist School now have a beautiful campus.

UNITED STATES Improvements were made at Leoni Meadows Camp in California, including landscaping, painting, and new gravel on the camp train tracks.

UNITED STATES Volunteers renovated the boys’ dorm and staff housing and cleaned classrooms at Rio Lindo Adventist Academy in California.

BOLIVIA Our volunteers from the Corona Seventh-day Adventist Church, from California, helped build the Nuevo Amanecer Seventh-day Adventist Church.

UNITED STATES Volunteers renovated rooms inside a dormitory at Pacific Union College in California.

KENYA Volunteers with the West Houston Seventh-day Adventist Church, from Texas, built a new dormitory at the Kajiado Adventist School and Rescue Center. T H E V O L U N T E E R FALL 2 0 1 9 | 5

News + H I G H L I G H T S

Maranatha’s annual teens-only mission trip landed in Africa for the first time, and the volunteers served at the Kiutine Adventist School.



or the first time in its 29-year existence, Ultimate Workout, Maranatha Volunteers International’s annual mission trip for high schoolers, made its first appearance on the African continent in Kenya. From July 10-22, 111 teen and staff volunteers served at the Kiutine Adventist School, near Meru, to build a new dormitory and classroom. The secondary school, which has 230 students, has long needed help in improving its dilapidated campus. Seventh-day Adventist Church leadership in Kenya approached Maranatha for help, and in 2018, Maranatha agreed to a plan that included the addition of new dorms, bathrooms, a kitchen, a cafeteria, and classrooms. On this project, Ultimate Workout participants helped construct a second boys dorm and a new classroom. The new space has a concrete floor, glass windows,


and a metal roof. Volunteers also moved in new bunk beds and bedding. The contrast between the old and the new facilities made quite an impact on the visiting teenagers. Volunteers also served in the local community through children’s programs, outreach, and medical clinics. The free medical clinics served more than 2,100 patients, providing basic health care, reading glasses, medicine, food, dental education, and prayer. Teen volunteers worked alongside adult health professionals, getting valuable health care experience. On the final Sabbath of the project, 37 people were baptized, including Kiutine students and 26 Ultimate Workout volunteers. It culminated a transformative missions experience that left volunteers changed. “Everyone should have this

experience,” said 16-year-old Elise Hall of Texas, who was baptized on Sabbath. “Before I came here, I was kind of nervous. I was like, ‘I don’t know if I will be able to make friends. I don’t know how it’s going to be.’ But I feel like everyone should be able to get out of their comfort zone and be put into a place you’re not familiar with, with people you’re not familiar with, and just learn to adapt and love and grow with people you don’t know. It’s probably the best thing that has ever happened in my life.”



nion College’s school song is about “slinga’ de ink and pusha’ de pen,” but the month of July was all about swingin’ the hammer. From June 23 to July 12, the campus in Lincoln, Nebraska, welcomed more than 100 volunteers for a Maranatha project to renovate the women’s dormitory. The work was extensive, requiring demolition, electrical work, painting, flooring, and even carpentry. Working under the guidance of Maranatha’s director of North America Projects David Woods, volunteers built oak desks and bookshelves at the school woodshop. While Maranatha’s North America projects always welcome a group of skilled workers, the Union College project was unusual in it drew several electricians–thanks to Mick Ray, a

Maranatha volunteer. Ray owns Empire Electric in Lincoln. When he heard about the mission trip at the college, he encouraged his employees to give their time as much as possible. As a result, many of his workers dropped by to help, and some even stepped outside their field of work to pick up a paintbrush or work in the woodshop. The most experienced electrician was not a part of Ray’s team but a retiree named Larry Rhodes, Sr. At 90 years old, he was the oldest volunteer, and he wired Rees Hall when it was first built 60 years ago. He was happy to return

for the overhaul and share his skills. The project also drew Union College faculty and staff, along with plenty of local community members and even alumni. By the end of the three-week session, volunteers built and installed 68 bookcases, base cabinets, and drawers; demolished 34 rooms; painted all the dorm rooms; stripped out old electrical and replaced them with new outlets, switches, smoke detectors, and lighting; installed 7,000 square feet of flooring; and much more.



n May, Maranatha kicked off a water program in Brazil by drilling in the village of Campestre. Located in the northeastern state of Bahia, Campestre receives little rainfall, and water has to be purchased and delivered. However, this is financially constraining for most residents. “Not having water here is the difference between life and death for you, your livestock, and your crop,” says Elmer Barbosa, Maranatha staff. “So each foot drilled is a constant hope for a miracle from God.” The inaugural well proved to be a challenge, as the crew drilled nearly 300 feet beyond estimates to finally find water. But now, Campestre has a source

of clean water. While much of Brazil receives ample rain, there are regions that suffer from severe drought, including areas where

Maranatha has constructed a church. The goal is to provide wells in those places to provide water and serve as an outreach for the church. T H E V O L U N T E E R FALL 2 0 1 9 | 7

Faith in Côte d'Ivoire Building community through construction By Julie Z. Lee Photos by Tom Lloyd


olange Touhou, who lives in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire (also known as Ivory Coast), was frustrated with her son. His grades had been sliding south for some time. It was clear that he was unmotivated. He wasn’t taking school seriously, and he was hanging out with the wrong crowd. He was even selling his textbooks—books that she had bought with hard-earned money. Touhou knew she had to make a change and set her son on the right path. But how? Touhou heard about a Christian school near her home. Her neighbor told her that they had also had problems with their kid at school. Then, they sent him to Marcory Adventist School. Soon after, they noticed a change coming over their child—a positive change. So Touhou visited the school and noticed a difference in the culture. “All the students, the teachers, the principal, also—everyone here, they pray before they go to class. They pray and tell the kids to do well in school. They say, ‘School is your future.’ They give advice of this nature, and then they go to class. When I saw that, I said, ‘Oh that’s good,’” said Touhou. Touhou wasted no time in enrolling her son at Marcory. At first, he tried to pull the same shenanigans from his other school. But soon, Touhou saw improvement, not only in his grades but also in his behavior. A couple years later, Touhou’s son graduated with honors, and today, he is studying economics at a university in Morocco. “Wherever I go, in my neighborhood and here in the school, I started telling everyone that my son used to be mediocre, and even delinquent at first. But when he came to an Adventist school, he started doing well,” says Touhou. She is sold on Adventist education and tells people that “the best school is the Adventist school.”


The Abbebroukoi Seventh-day Adventist congregation meets for worship on Sabbath in their partially constructed church. They don’t have the money to finish it on their own, and they have asked for Maranatha’s help.

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Faith and Education

Touhou’s enthusiasm for Adventist education is common at Marcory. Out of nearly 900 students, only about 30 percent are Adventist. The rest have come because the positive word-of-mouth marketing from families who are thrilled with the academic program. As a result, the population of the secondary school is diverse in religious backgrounds, yet united in the respect for Christian education—even when they aren’t Christian. “What I like about the Seventh-day Adventist school is the way they teach us spirituality and help us. They help us understand life better,” says Llayane Nour, a 17-yearold Muslim student. Her brothers went to an Adventist school, and now she and her sister attend Marcory. Stories like these have long been a part of the Adventist tradition in Côte d’Ivoire, a west African country. Education has long been a way to open doors, build relationships, and serve the community. Nearly 100 years ago, European traders from Ghana first introduced the Adventist message to Côte d’Ivoire. Initially, there were some baptisms but no sustained effort to grow or strengthen the church. It wasn’t until 1946, when American

“What I like about the Adventist school is the way they teach us spirituality.”


missionaries arrived and established schools, that the message began to take hold. “Since right from the beginning—1940s, 1950s—those schools have done many things, great things for church growth in this country. Especially our secondary school in Bouake. And this school opened—[it] was opened in 1958 by the missionaries… most of the educated members that we have in the church to date are from that school,” says Paul Baka, former president of the Adventist Church in Côte d’Ivoire. According to Baka, today there are approximately 9,500 Adventists, but thousands more identify as members because of their connection to the schools. The success of Adventist education is why Maranatha has been asked to build multiple classrooms in Côte d’Ivoire. Currently, there are plans to build at least three schools in neighborhoods surrounding Abidjan, the financial capital of the country and where approximately 60 percent of the country’s Adventist membership resides. “School is a powerful factor of evangelism because education and redemption are one and the same. When you have a school with six classrooms, you have six churches. So the more classrooms we have, the more churches we have. And it will boost our missionary work,” says Charles Assandé, education director for the Adventist Church in Côte d’Ivoire.

Church Construction

Additionally, Maranatha will be providing churches for existing congregations without a proper place of worship. A strong infrastructure in the schools and churches will help the Adventist community in Côte d’Ivoire to thrive. There are many groups that are currently meeting in rented or inadequate spaces. They have dreams of owning a church, but the people in most need are also the people who don’t have the funds. They don’t have the expertise to build a structure, but that doesn’t mean they won’t try. In the town of Grand Bassam, just outside of Abidjan, there is an Adventist congregation that has been praying for a church for quite some time. Currently, they meet in a rented structure. It’s only one room, and there are no restrooms. But that’s not the biggest problem. The issue is that out of 100 people who meet each week, only half can fit inside the building. The other half squeeze under the shade of the narrow patio outside. The building is far too small for the size of the group. They need a real church. Kwamé Emmanuel, an elder of the church, told us: “Having a church here—a nice building—is a factor of evangelism. When you don’t have a church, people don’t consider you a serious church, and we lose credibility.” So they tried to gain credibility by building their own church. But this group is not wealthy. Many are fishermen, and others make a living selling various things, like vegetables and fruit. Despite their financial challenges, the members saved and saved until they were able to collect enough money to buy land. But that’s where their problems only got worse. The property was no good. It was on the lower part of a field that often flooded. Second, since they only had a little bit of money at a time, they could only purchase a little bit of material at a time. They built when they could with what they had, a couple days a week. Unfortunately, on the days they weren’t working, people came by and stole materials, even removing tiles that had been installed. It was a losing battle, and soon the congregation gave up. They sacrificed so much, but they were alone in this process, as the Adventist Church in Côte d’Ivoire—along with so many other areas of the world—have no department dedicated to helping congregations build a church. The story of the Grand Bassam congregation is an example of the need for Maranatha’s mission. People try to find solutions for their construction challenges. Sometimes they succeed, and other


times they fail. Maranatha provides guidance and leadership in the complicated process of construction by working with the local church and leadership. In the coming year, Maranatha will be working in Côte d’Ivoire to build several schools and churches in the greater Abidjan region. It’s a project that Adventist leadership in the country is certain will make a significant impact. “We are so happy to receive Maranatha in Côte d’Ivoire because we believe that in the next two, three, four, five years, Maranatha is going to change the whole image of evangelism in the church,” says Thio Tigue, president of the Adventist Church in Côte d’Ivoire. Assandé puts it more simply. “There will be a before and after Maranatha.” All projects in Côte d’Ivoire are in need of funding. Please make a donation for churches and schools in this country!



1 Students at Marcory Adventist School gather for morning worship at the flag pole. 2 Solange Touhou and her daughter, Grace, love being part of the Adventist community at Marcory. 3 At the Grand Bassam Seventh-day Adventist Church, Sabbaths are crowded because of the lack of space.

THE JOURNEY INTO EVANGELISM How churches and schools in Zambia are fulfilling the Gospel commission By Dustin Comm Photos by Christina Lloyd


he New Testament of the Bible is filled with stories of the Apostle Paul and other missionaries traveling by foot, by boat, and any other modes of transportation necessary to spread the Gospel to the world. Today, in the Shimukuni district of Zambia, Pastor Eddie Himoonde lives out this tradition while pastoring 55 Seventh-day Adventist congregations, spread out over nearly 125 miles, with no transportation. “Sometimes I take maybe a week or two weeks just walking to the furthest church because I don’t have a car, I don’t have a motorbike—I walk,” says Himoonde. “And sometimes members come and pick me up on their motorcycle. They cycle me to that church. But if there’s no one that’s having even a bicycle in that area, then I have to walk through, sleep on the way, wake up in the morning, and continue moving until I reach to that church.” Because his territory is large and he has so many congregations to care for, Pastor Himoonde only sees each group once a year. When he visits, he focuses on training the members to carry out the work without him. The 11,260 members in Himoonde’s territory love to worship together and praise God; but with limited resources available, most do not have a church building. “Some of them are still worshiping under trees. Some of them just cut the grass and make some shelter around, and they begin to worship from there, because they love their Lord,” says Himoonde. Many church members here are passionate about spreading the Gospel but are often hindered by the lack of a church

“This structure will change many lives of people.”


The Lwendge congregation celebrates the construction of their new One‑Day Church, which they will complete with local materials. Steel is a rare and valuable commodity in these rural villages, and the structure will help them to finally have a permanent structure.

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Photo by Tom Lloyd


building. “The challenge that I face when such incidences happen where we evangelize, maybe a public campaign, and people give themselves [to God],” says Himoonde. “But when they come to the actual church, they find that actually where we are worshipping is not conducive. There are no seats. They are worshipping under the tree or maybe on the grass.” Last year, Maranatha began building churches in Zambia for the second time after having worked in the country from 2009-2015. Recently, Maranatha constructed multiple churches in Himoonde’s district, and the members are grateful. Lilian Naluminoz is a church member at the Lwendge Seventh-day Adventist Church. She has been active in spreading the Gospel to her neighbors. “This structure will even change many lives of people, because what they were crying for has now come,” says Naluminoz. “God has answered our prayers through you. And I think next time [you visit] we shall have more members than we have right now.” “Having a proper structure in this area is evangelism on its own,” says Himoonde. “Because like now [what] we are doing here at Lwendge, Maranatha is giving us this structure, it becomes easier for me even to evangelize because just the structure on itself will be preaching to the people

“God has answered our prayers through you.”


around here. Already, people are coming and seeing what is happening. They just heard the noise here, the works that are going on. People are asking, ‘What is happening there? What is happening there?’ Then they believe that now we are worshipping a true God because they have given us a structure. And then the people will just come on their own.” “It might look simple in their eyes but it is big in this community,” says Himoonde. “Because it has never happened before. The people have never seen such a structure here. You see, even the houses around [here], there are no iron sheets. You just use the grass and stuff. So when they see just this simple structure, it’s not simple as it may look. It is big. It will go a long way.” Evangelism in Zambia is also strong through Adventist education. In the fourth-largest city of Kabwe lies the only Adventist school in the province, where 65 percent of the 550 students are not Adventist. Every day, students are taught about Jesus and a God who loves them, and families are eager to have their children enrolled because of the high quality of education. But the draw is more than academic; there is a level of care and direction students receive at Kabwe that is unmatched in the area. Mawuse Michello is the school chaplain and provides spiritual direction, not only to students and staff but for parents as well. “We do works like counseling for both staff members and pupils,” says Michello. “And even


parents when they do see fit. We do talk to parents when they come to get reports for their children, and they do visit our office as well just to help them understand that we need a balance between the home schooling and the actual space that we have here, between the teacher and the child.” Yet, even with a great program and support staff, the school is limited in how wide they can share their mission. They have outgrown their capacity—classrooms are crowded, and the school cannot accept new students. “Parents, they really want to take their children to Kabwe Adventist School,” says parent Chileshe Steward. “But there is no space and the staff—they have restricted themselves in growing their number. They have put a control measure there. They don’t just accept anyone because of their space.” In 2018, Maranatha agreed to build a new elementary campus for the Kabwe school which will allow more space for current students and provide more children with the opportunity for an Adventist education. “This school, it is God Himself that is building it . . . says school manager Peter Moyo. “But He cannot come from heaven to come and mold bricks. But through His agents He’s able to do that. So the coming of Maranatha, it’s not a human dream. No, God Himself puts things in place. He has got a plan for everything and at every moment He puts things in place. And they just fit in.” This new campus will do more than expand the school. It has the potential to bring unknown numbers of students to God for years to come. Michello realizes that this new campus is a gift of eternal proportions. “When you go into the new campus, you see the new buildings that are coming up, it actually gives you hope that we have more space and more doors that are open to allow



SHARING CHRIST: 1 The new Kabwe Adventist Primary

School, constructed by Maranatha, has capacity for 400 students. 2 Sabbath worship in Lwendge is held in a simple mud structure with a thatch roof that requires constant maintenance. 3 Students at the Kabwe Adventist School offer shy smiles for the camera. Kabwe is the only Adventist school in the region. 4 At preschool storytime, children learn the story of Moses. An estimated 65 percent of the 550 student body are not Adventist, but their families love the values‑based education provided at Kabwe.

pupils to come through,” says Michello. “And the beauty of it is, for every child that will go through, they’ll have an opportunity to meet Christ in the classroom. So the more blocks you have, the more opportunities for Christ you have to expose Him to the community at large.”

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How a family heard God’s voice on a mission trip By Julie Z. Lee


aurelie Abbey always wanted to be a missionary. As a child, she devoured every mission story she could find and dreamed of a life in service. As a teenager, she met her match with David Hillebert, a fellow student who was also passionate about missions. In fact, during their senior year at Weimar Adventist Academy, David suggested that they forgo the predictable jaunt to Disneyland and instead go on a mission trip with Maranatha Volunteers International. “It was truly in planning and organizing that mission trip that we felt God leading us together. We discovered that we work well together and shared the same goals, and our relationship started,” says Laurelie. “Together we became focused on service, knowing Jesus was coming soon.” David and Laurelie went on to Pacific Union College and married soon after graduation. During graduate school at Loma Linda University, Laurelie eagerly explored options for serving overseas. David prepared by getting his pilot’s license so they could potentially serve in the bush. “I remember going to some different venues to find out what kind of missionaries we could be and where we could go,” says Laurelie. The two were ready to serve God, wherever He called them. Then, the Hilleberts had their first child—a beautiful baby girl. The birth was a moment of great love mixed with tremendous heartbreak. Larissa had spastic quadriplegia cerebral palsy.

“My faith grew tremendously on this trip. I’m seeing the fruits of the Holy Spirit growing in my heart.”


As medical professionals—David is a physician’s assistant and Laurelie is a physical therapist—they understood the hardships they would face in raising their daughter. “Because of her disability, we weren’t able to travel and do mission work. I ended up staying home from work to take care of her, and that put our missionary dreams on hold,” says Laurelie. They waited 16 years before attempting to go back into the mission field. By then they had two more children, Liana and Dawson. They hired a caregiver for Larissa, then joined a Maranatha project to Panama with their youth group at Red Bluff Seventh-day Adventist Church, in northern California. The trip reignited their passion for missions. The family had such a wonderful time that they decided they do another trip the next year. Then, in November 2016, just eight months after they returned from Panama, Larissa passed away. As Laurelie and David planned the memorial service, friends suggested they set up a way for people to give in Larissa’s honor. “The idea came to me to set up a fund through the local church, and we created a fund to sponsor teenagers to go on mission trips,” says Laurelie. “We had just done the Panama trip that year, and missions had transformed me and David when we were teens.” “When you’re a teenager, you’re just focused on your own life and your own friends. Then when you go on a mission trip, it changes you. You see the whole world, and you see it through God’s eyes—how big God’s plan of salvation is. And you want to have a part in changing the world, one life at a time.” So they created the Larissa Memorial Fund, and people gave in her memory.

Challenging Faith

Throughout Larissa’s life, Laurelie and David had prayed for their daughter as she lay awake at night with pain and the torment of her seizures. “I still love God, and I still trust Him, and I know He has a plan. The best thing about her life—even on the days that were miserable—was knowing that her soul was secure. That was my hope and my confidence. But it still hurts to see your kid suffering,” remembers Laurelie. When Larissa died, Laurelie held strong in her faith, but there were plenty of days where her spirits dipped low. “One of my challenges, spiritually, was to have prayed for 16 years for a miracle. And the answer was to wait for heaven and that was hard. The temptation was to stop asking when you don’t get what you want,” she says. It was a period of uncertainty for the family—not only because of Larissa’s death but a string of difficult and tragic events in their personal lives. David says, “There was a very definite point where I had had it out with God. I even told Him, ‘Look, I’m pretty sure that you don’t love me. And I’m pretty sure, you don’t even like me.’ I was getting self-centered… Then, the very next day, I had a specific thing happen that made it obvious that God was answering a prayer that I had prayed the day before. He was telling me, ‘You’re wrong. I do care. And I do love you.’” It was the start of a new conversation. One that kept nudging at the Hilleberts and reminding them of God’s presence in their lives.

Hearing God’s Voice

In 2019, at the insistence of their daughter Liana, the Hilleberts signed up for another mission trip. This time it was to Zambia on Maranatha’s Family Project, designed to provide a bonding experience for families through missions. Volunteers would be building the Kabwe Adventist Primary School. The current facility is overcrowded, and Maranatha is constructing a brand new campus for the students. Using funds from Larissa’s Memorial Fund, the Hilleberts decided to bring along a teenager, Svetlana, from their church. In Zambia, on the very first day of construction, Svetlana walked over to a stack of hard hats that had been left by previous volunteer teams. Without looking, she grabbed one and placed it on her head. To David and Laurelie’s surprise, the hat had a name scrawled on the crown: Larissa. “When I saw that name on her head, I thought, ‘Oh Lord, you are so great and mighty!’ It felt like a sign, and I was so thankful for Svetlana to be on the trip and for Larissa’s life and to remember her in this way. I realized God had given an opportunity for someone to serve in Larissa’s shoes and for her to be a blessing to someone else,” remembers Laurelie. The nudges continued throughout the project. When the volunteers learned that the Kabwe school desperately needed new desks, the Hilleberts decided to give money from Larissa’s fund toward the desks; it was enough to provide for four classrooms.

Then, after the volunteers had completed the construction of a large classroom, the school held a dedication ceremony. “The students sang ‘In Christ Alone.’ It took a few verses to remember that this was the same song we used for the slideshow at Larissa’s memorial service,” says David. One of the most impactful moments took place during Sabbath worship. A volunteer preached a sermon about prayer. She asked the congregation whether they had ever prayed and not gotten answers? Laurelie’s ears perked up. Then the volunteer said, “I have. So I changed the way I prayed. Instead of praying for certain things that I wanted, I started praying for others and asking the Lord what I could do for Him, and praying for spiritual blessings. And when I changed what I prayed for, I started seeing answers.’” With those words, everything gelled for Laurelie. The questions she had been having about Larissa, God, and her prayers were answered on a mission trip, where her energy had been focused on others. There, she and David heard God’s voice. “Everything in Zambia was a reminder that our daughter’s life was not in vain. Now, there are kids on the other side of the world that are benefitting from her life in that they have classrooms and desks and the opportunity to come and be taught about Jesus,” says David. “We saw how God was working to use Larissa’s life in a way that was meaningful. I always knew that He was going to make it right in heaven, and eventually things would make sense,” says Laurelie. “But to see how her life mattered, even here—before we got to heaven—was something I had not seen before this trip.” “God didn’t answer my prayer to heal Larissa. But when I thank Him in spite of those difficulties, there are blessings. When I pray for other people, there is fruit. When I pray for the salvation of my children, I see their character changing. Instead of sadness and depression, God gives me peace. I have hope and faith in my soul, and I see amazing answers,” says Laurelie. She recalled a lyric from a song that the Kabwe students sang for the volunteers. The kids had sung it at the beginning of the project, when the volunteers arrived, and they had sung it again at the end. “If you want to be great in God’s kingdom, learn to be a servant of all!” More than 550 kids had belted the words, getting louder and louder with each repetition. Their voices filled the building, echoing through the room and floating into the streets outside. Laurelie was certain that every ear in town heard this message—a message that had brought her peace and understanding of what it truly means to be a missionary. “My faith grew tremendously on this trip. I’m seeing the fruits of the Holy Spirit growing in my heart,” she says. “I’m praying daily for the Holy Spirit to use me in some way to be a blessing to others. I’m praying for God to make me a servant.”

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Mission: Maranatha Celebrating 50 years of service at our annual convention By Julie Z. Lee


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n Sabbath morning, September 21, 2019, Don Noble stood before a crowd of more than 2,000 people, welcoming them to the 50th anniversary celebration of Maranatha Volunteers International, in Sacramento, California. Behind him, a massive globe spun on a screen, showcasing the thousands of locations where Maranatha has completed a project. In total, Maranatha has built 11,229 structures and more than 1,000 water wells in 88 countries. The numbers are impressive, but they weren’t the focus of the weekend. “The story of Maranatha is a fascinating story,” said Noble, president of Maranatha. “Each one of you probably has your own. It’s a fascinating story of people, it’s a story of miracles, it’s a story of a lot of different things.” Indeed. These stories were at the heart of this year’s annual convention, which focused on Maranatha’s five decades of service. Established by a small group of friends in 1969, Maranatha has grown to be an international organization that has mobilized more than 85,000 volunteers on short-term mission trips to build churches, schools, and other urgently needed structures around the world. Many of these volunteers have returned with powerful stories of transformation and several were highlighted during the three-day event, held September 19-21. Among the stories was the testimony of Dominique Garcia, a college student from Houston, Texas. She shared her challenge with an eating disorder and talked about how mission trips have helped to bring healing. Jack and Neoma Wisdom, from Paradise, California, told of their narrow escape from last year’s Camp Fire, where they lost everything but found grace and gratitude in God’s mercy. Shanti Slater, 16-years old, talked about how she found God while on the mission trip and was baptized. “One of the main things I learned about God is that He wants to come into everyone’s life. And if you just open up—just a little—give Him the smallest chance, he’ll take that chance, and He’ll come into your life,” said Slater. The program also featured Seventh-day Adventist Church leaders from countries around the world, including Cuba, Kenya, Peru, and India. They shared how Maranatha’s involvement changed the landscape of the Adventist Church in their countries, including an increase in membership. Among the speakers was Israel Leito, former president of the Adventist Church in Inter-America. During his leadership, from 1993-2018, Maranatha worked in almost every country in his


region, including Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Dominican Republic, and Cuba. “Marantha is not just providing our needs for schools and churches. Maranatha inspires the church. Maranatha creates a change in the situation. Maranatha is a changing agent. And it is far from over. There is still so much to do. We have only scratched the surface. And we’re looking forward to continue receiving this blessing,” said Leito. Other events during the weekend included free seminars related to missions, a special anniversary dinner, and a Maranatha History Museum, which highlighted memorabilia and key moments in the organization’s history. Leading up to the convention, Maranatha also organized major renovation projects in August and September at three institutions within driving distance of the convention location: Pacific Union College, Rio Lindo Academy, and Leoni Meadows Christian Camp and Retreat Center. During the weekend program, Ricardo Graham, president of the Adventist Church in the Pacific Union, and Marc Woodson, president

of the Adventist Church in Northern California, acknowledged the work Maranatha has done in the Pacific Union and around the world to further the Gospel commission. Said Woodson, “May God continue to bless this ministry. We recognize that’s it is not really about building buildings. You all have been building lives . . . We just pray that God will continue to use you for a number of years until Jesus comes because that’s what we’re looking forward to—that great reunion when we are able to see our heavenly father, face to face.” Watch clips or the entire convention program online at and Watch on your mobile device by downloading The Maranatha Channel App, available at the App Store and Google Play stores. You can also download The Maranatha Channel on Roku, Apple TV, and Amazon Fire.


1 Jack and Neoma Wisdom share their harrowing story of escape from the Camp Fire in Paradise, California. 2 On Friday afternoon, nearly 200 people participated in various seminars at the convention location. 3 Samuel Makori, president of the Adventist Church in East Kenya, talks about the impact Maranatha has made in his country. 4 Don and Laura Noble welcome the audience for the opening program on Friday night.

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Maranatha organizes three “convention projects” in honor of 50th anniversary By Dustin Comm


n years past, many Maranatha conventions were held in conjunction with a local service project. Volunteers would work on a designated project in the area, leading up to the convention, and carry that spirit of service into the weekend program. In August and September, this tradition was revisited as 116 people served on projects at Pacific Union College (PUC), Rio Lindo Academy, and Leoni Meadows Christian Camp and Retreat Center ahead of Maranatha’s 50th anniversary convention in Sacramento, California. All three sites were located in Northern California. At PUC, volunteers renovated rooms in a men’s dormitory, Newton Hall, by installing new flooring and cabinetry, and adding a fresh coat of paint. The project at Rio Lindo featured a variety of work including painting and roofing two staff houses, clearing brush, and renovating boys’ dorm rooms. Volunteers also cleaned and organized numerous other buildings on campus. At Leoni Meadows, the project involved painting, staining, and landscaping across the camp, including the repair of 30 bathroom doors. Most of the volunteers coordinated their schedules to stay for the 50th anniversary convention, held September 19-21. For many, the entire experience was a nostalgic reminder of the type of loving community formed through decades of service. “The camaraderie among the workers is great,” said Gary Smith, from San Andreas, California,

“The people are so nice. They’re like a family.”


who has served on both international and domestic projects over the years. “We’re all friends, but we all live a long way apart. When we come back together again on a project, it’s like another family again.” First-time volunteers Tina and Carlos Van Philips took their normal vacation time to participate in the Maranatha experience at PUC. “I surprised my husband,” said Tina. “I said, ‘Do you know where we’re going this year?’ And he said, ‘No, where would you like to go?’ And I said, ‘Well, we’re going on a Maranatha trip this year.’” The Van Philips soon felt the same bond many Maranatha volunteers have known for years–a welcoming community connected by mission. The experience fulfilled a long-held wish to participate on a Maranatha project, and Tina said they were hoping to join more in the future. “The people are so nice. They’re like a family,” said Tina. After all the projects were complete, that family took their camaraderie from the job site to the sanctuary for a special anniversary celebration at Maranatha’s annual convention. Memories of some of the earliest Maranatha projects were shared, little known stories of faith made public, and inspiring volunteer testimonies told. It was a memorable capstone event that for some people brought a nearly four-week experience to an end. Jim Frei, who volunteered at PUC and Rio Lindo, shared the story of his first Maranatha project at the convention. “They just treated me like a long-lost soul,” said Frei. “I said, ‘This is some organization. They’ll take people like me and accept them in.’ And that’s what we find over the years. It’s one of the beauties of it, is that everybody is welcome.”






1 Volunteers on the Pacific Union College project, in Angwin, pause from their work to take a group photo. More than 80 people helped to renovate Newton Hall, a mens’ dormitory on campus. 2 Ken Meert spackles a wall at Leoni Meadows, in Grizzly Flats, where volunteers completed a number of renovation projects at the camp. 3 Trevor Clemons (left) and JonPaul Jones help with a renovation project at Rio Lindo Academy, where they are both alumni. 4 Judy Schwinn (left) and Shirley Ann Gowan work together to stain a playhouse at Leoni Meadows.

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A LOOK AT 50 YEARS OF MISSION For 50 years God has blessed Maranatha with the great privilege of working with Him all over the world. Rather than using only a handful of people for this mission, God has chosen to work through thousands of highly diverse people to help advance His Kingdom, primarily through the construction of buildings that are urgently needed. More than 85,000 volunteers have had a life-changing mission experience as they served others in nearly 90 countries. In addition to those that have volunteered on projects, many thousands have generously supported this mission with financial gifts. Early records are scarce, but after diligent research, we have compiled an impressive list of approximately 11,000 churches and schools where hundreds of thousands of people worship regularly and tens of thousands of children are being educated. Maranatha volunteers have also built hundreds of houses, completed a wide variety of remodel and repair projects, and worked on many youth camp and school campus renovations. Our supporters funded more than 1,000 water wells that provide healthy life for thousands of communities. In today’s dollars, the financial value of these projects is nearly $1 billion. The most important impact, of course, is on the lives of the volunteers and project recipients. It is the prayer of the Maranatha Board of Directors and the Maranatha staff that a very large number of people will be in God’s kingdom as a result of these 50 years of mission. God has been faithful in leading Maranatha for 50 years, and we believe He will continue to guide and direct us until He returns. We still believe in the name MARANATHA. Jesus IS coming! Don Noble President, Maranatha Volunteers International


“It is our prayer that a very large number of people will be in God’s kingdom as a result of these 50 years of mission.”

The Beginning

The very first Maranatha project involved the construction of the Eight Mile Rock Seventh-day in Adventist Church a. m ha Grand Ba


In 1968, while vacationing in Freeport, Grand Bahama, John Freeman and his wife Ida Mae came across an abandoned, partially constructed building. In the tall weeds that had taken over the place, a sign peeked out to reveal that it was the Eight Mile Rock Seventh-day Adventist Church. On Sabbath, John asked a local pastor about the building. He learned that the church had been sitting unfinished for more than a year, with no solid plans to finish it. The news sparked an idea, and John asked the pastor if he and some friends could come and finish the church for them. The pastor was ecstatic, and in December 1969, 28 volunteers flew into Freeport to build the Eight Mile Rock Church, giving birth to a new non-profit organization called Maranatha Flights International. The organization operated out of the Freeman’s home in Berrien Springs, Michigan. In the early days, volunteers drove or flew small planes to the projects—it was a time when planes were relatively affordable and general aviation pilots were more common. Opportunities were intermittent, with a few annual projects overseas and in the United States. Interest from volunteers steadily grew, but Maranatha was still a little known organization. Then, in June 1973, at the request of the Seventh-day Adventist Church leadership in North America, 140 Maranatha volunteers flew into Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories of Canada. The goal was to build the Yellowknife Seventh‑day Adventist Church. For two weeks, volunteers worked in shifts, taking advantage of the north’s endless summer days. The project drew wide interest from local and Adventist media, opening doors to new volunteers and opportunities.


When it first star ted, Maranatha Flights International was like a club, complete with membership cards and special patches for projects.

Fay and Van Vanden Heuvel sold almost ever ything e they owned to serv ll fu ha at an with Mar time, even living in Central America for a time to lead projects.

The Yellowknife project, in 1973, was a pivotal event for Maranatha as it drew much media attention. Roger Hatch, a contractor from Florida, joined Maranatha in the 1970s and has continued to be involved for the next forty years as d a project leader an board member.

Developing an Identity

e Following Hurrican ha at an ar M id, Dav organized a major effor t to rebuild housing in Dominica and the Dominican Republic.


In 1980, Maranatha volunteers Roger Hatch and Van Vanden Heuvel led efforts to rebuild housing that had been destroyed by Hurricane David in Dominica and the Dominican Republic. In total, they led volunteers to build 270 houses. It was the first time Maranatha had ever been part of a disaster relief effort. In 1982, as the organization continued to grow, the Maranatha board of trustees voted to bring on new help. They interviewed a young man named Don Noble, who was working in Colorado at the time. Don, who had never heard of Maranatha, was uninterested in the offer to fly himself out to Michigan for an interview, and he turned down the invitation. Later that day, the president of his company came into Don’s office and asked him to go to Michigan for business. The coincidence was staggering, and Don began to wonder if it was a sign from God. Don interviewed with Maranatha, and the board offered him the job. He came in as president of the organization with only one objective: “Make Maranatha fly.” In 1983, Maranatha embarked on the construction of an assisted living center in New Port Richey, Florida, intended to create a source of income for Maranatha. In the late 1980s, Maranatha began collaborating with Volunteers International, a humanitarian organization run by Robert Bainum. After working together on several projects, the two organizations decided to merge in 1989 and relocate the headquarters from Berrien Springs, Michigan, to Sacramento, California. Maranatha used funds from the sale of the Florida assisted living center to purchase a new office building in Sacramento, California. The organization was renamed, Maranatha Volunteers International, and a new era was about to begin.

In 1982, Don Noble was hired to run the organization, with the objective to “make Maranatha fly.”

Businessman Leon Slikkers was one of the original board members for Maranatha, and he provided much organizational and r financial suppor t fo the mission.

The mission was reborn as Maranatha Volunteers International in late 1989. After the move to the new headquar ters in Sacramento, California, Don Noble hired more people to join the staff and embark on a new chapter for Maranatha.

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Turning Point 1990-1999

In 1991, Don Noble and Robert Bainum, a Maranatha board member, traveled to the Dominican Republic at the request of the Seventhday Adventist Church. Don and Robert were surprised at the poor condition of the church buildings in the country. The leaders asked for Maranatha’s help, requesting 25 churches. After the meeting, Don started mapping out a plan to tackle a couple churches. But Robert pushed back, asking, “They asked for 25. Why don’t you do all 25?” The question surprised Don. “The thought came to me. Maybe that’s what we’re supposed to do,” he recalls. In a giant leap of faith, Maranatha organized a project called Santo Domingo ’92, an effort to build 25 churches in 70 days. The response was huge, as more than 1,200 volunteers flew into the Dominican Republic. The project was a success and catapulted Maranatha to a new level of experience and expectations. Maranatha started receiving requests from all over the world, and projects became more frequent and welcomed a larger number of volunteers. Over the next several years, Maranatha organized mission trips to places like Guatemala, Venezuela, Irian Jaya, Bangladesh, Mexico, and more. One of the most significant places was Cuba. In 1994, Maranatha cautiously started work in Cuba, where religion was monitored by the government. At the time, the Seventh-day Adventist Church had only 11,000 members, and most of the churches were in terrible condition. Tem Suarez, a Cuban American and Maranatha board member, helped Maranatha navigate the complexities of working in a communist country. Little did they know that this careful relationship with Cuba would continue for 25 years and counting. In 1998, Ron Watts, president of the Adventist Church in India, requested 10,000 churches to help grow the Gospel in one of the world’s most populous countries. In response, Maranatha established an office in India with a small staff and began building.


and board Robert Bainum (center), businessman le to set new Nob Don with ely clos member, worked vision for the organization.

Santo Domingo ’92 was another turn ing point in Maranatha’s history as it set a new stan dard of organizing projects and volunteers in a country.

man, Maranatha used Through the help of architect Don Kirk the world. out ugh thro a standard design for churches

In 1991, Maranatha worked with Insight magazine to launch Ultimate Workout, a mission trip exclusively for teenagers.

Nearly three decades since the launch, Ultimate Workout continues to be one of Maranatha’s mos t popular and successful projects.

Tem Suarez (left), a Cuban American and Maranatha board member, was integral to Maranatha’s efforts in Cuba.

Cuba, which continues Maranatha built the seminar y in Havana, the world. nd arou to serve hundreds of students from

ich was created The $10 Church, wh gain traction to in 1988, continued d funds an 0s ’9 e th through each year. numerous churches

In the late 1990s, Maranatha accepted an invitation to star t working in India.

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Big Wide World

e Garwin and Marile re McNeilus we a core part of s Maranatha mission d lpe he ey th as to launch several initiatives for the organization.


The 2000s was a decade full of bold moves and growth for Maranatha. With increasing interest in India, 170 volunteers from 14 countries welcomed the new millennium with a church construction project called “India 2000.” That same year, Garwin McNeilus, Robert Paulsen, and Bill Nixon worked with Maranatha to organize an evangelistic campaign in Tenali, Andhra Pradesh, India, where Maranatha had already built a church and school. By the end of the effort, more than 10,000 had attended the church dedication and more than 3,300 people were baptized. It was the start of a significant moment in Maranatha’s history where construction and evangelism merged for maximum impact. Throughout the decade, Maranatha organized large-scale evangelism meetings in India while increasing church construction projects. Thousands of volunteers poured into the country, including the Fjarli family. They were so moved by the experience that they became one of the key supporters and organizers of mission trips to India in the latter 2000s. By this point, Maranatha was receiving requests for thousands of projects at a time. Maranatha needed a way to increase giving. So in 2004, Maranatha introduced “1,000 Churches in 1,000 Days,” a campaign to push donations and construction. Also in 2004, Maranatha announced a foray into television with Maranatha Mission Stories, airing on 3ABN and the Hope Channel. Visibility of Maranatha swelled as people learned of the mission through their TV sets. In 2007, Maranatha started work in Mozambique, not only building churches but also drilling hundreds of water wells. Crews drilled more than 700 wells in locations where Maranatha built churches. In 2008, Maranatha rolled out the One-Day Church (ODC), which was created in partnership with McNeilus. The ODC kit offered a steel frame and roof, leaving local congregations to build up the walls. The simplicity of the program 28 | THE VOLUNTEER FALL 2019

In India, Maranatha held multiple large‑scale evangelism meetings, which welcomed thousands of people who had never heard of the Gospel.

In Peru, Maranatha built several schools and churches, including a floating church on Lake Titicaca.

In 2008, water wells became a major effort in Mozambique.

meant that Maranatha could deliver to more remote places where traditional construction methods are not available. As Maranatha’s mission expanded, Maranatha’s team did too, and in 2009, the office moved to a new, larger headquarters in Roseville, California, 20 minutes east of Sacramento.

The Fifth Decade

As the need for school classrooms increased around the world, the One‑Day School became a popular and efficient solution.


The overwhelming success of the One-Day Church paved the way for the One-Day School program. Like the One-Day Church, this kit offered a galvanized steel frame and roof, but also included walls, desks, and a chalkboard. The first classrooms were constructed in 2011 in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. Supporters embraced the One-Day Church and School programs for its efficiency and affordability. Affordability became an issue for churches in North America, as many congregations struggled with church ownership, particularly among immigrant groups. In response, Maranatha designed a standard church in North America, and the first one was constructed in Mississippi, in 2012, using volunteers. After that, blueprints and consultation for the “standard church” were made available to any congregation in the United States. In 2014, the well program was revived to accompany work in Zimbabwe, where Maranatha was building churches and schools. Overall, work on the African continent expanded with Maranatha fulfilling requests from all over southern and east-central Africa. In 2014, Maranatha Mission Stories found another home in The Maranatha Channel on the video streaming device, Roku. Today, The Maranatha Channel streams Maranatha Mission Stories episodes and other videos on Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, iPhone, and Android—making it easier than ever to watch Maranatha videos at any time. The following year, the program debuted in a second language. The Portuguese-language version, Maranatha Histórias de Missão, debuted on Novo Tempo, an Adventist media network based in Brazil. In 2018, a generous donor provided funds for Maranatha to purchase a well-drilling rig. After a short run in Zimbabwe, the rig moved to Kenya to drill wells in remote villages across the country. Now, a small team is driving the rig across the country to provide water where needed most. In 2019, Maranatha entered its 50th year, having constructed more than 11,000 structures and 1,000 water wells in 88 countries around the world. More than 85,000 volunteers have participated on Maranatha mission trips.

In 2012, Maranatha introduced a standard church design for Nor th America as a way to serve congregations in need of an affordable place of worship.

The donation of a well-drilling rig e expanded the scop rk wo ’s of Maranatha by making water wells more available to communities in need.

Advances in technology opened new doors for how people could access Maranatha videos, making it easier to watch and learn about the mission.

In 2015, Maranatha adjusted the design of the One-Day Church and started fabricating them around the world.

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A Timeline of Maranatha’s History Highlights and pivotal moments from the past five decades 1991 1969

1988 1973

John Freeman and 28 volunteers fly private planes to The Bahamas to complete construction on the Eight Mile Rock Seventh-day Adventist Church. This becomes the inaugural trip of Maranatha Flights International.

1970s Maranatha organizes a few mission trips per year in various locations around the world, including major efforts in Guatemala, Mexico, and Nicaragua. Many of these projects are led by Van and Fay Vanden Heuvel.

Maranatha organizes a large‑scale project in Yellowknife, Canada, that brings in 140 volunteers. It draws the attention of Seventh-day Adventist Church leadership, and the Maranatha concept begins to gain traction in the public eye.


In an effort to fund more churches, Maranatha launches The $10 Church, a program that asks people to give $10 monthly. The collected money is enough to fund at least one church a month.


Maranatha and Insight magazine start a teens‑only mission trip, and Ultimate Workout is born. During Maranatha’s 25th anniversary convention, Cuba is announced as the next big initiative.

1992 Maranatha sends 1,200 volunteers to build 25 churches in the Dominican Republic over 70 days. Dubbed “Santo Domingo ’92,” it is the first time Maranatha has concentrated its efforts in one place for multiple volunteer projects.


The board hires Don Noble to run Maranatha.

Following Hurricane David in 1979, Maranatha builds 110 houses in Dominica, led by Roger Hatch, and 160 houses in the Dominican Republic, led by Van Vanden Heuvel.

1989 Maranatha Flights International merges with Volunteers International, a Virginia‑based humanitarian organization run by Robert Bainum, and is renamed Maranatha Volunteers International. Headquarters move from Berrien Springs, Michigan, to Sacramento, California.



Maranatha builds and operates an orphanage, called Our Children International, in El Salvador.

Maranatha launches a partnership with the Commonweal Foundation to build large, multi‑classroom school buildings in underserved communities. The structures are called Education and Evangelism Centers.


2016 Coinciding with a new large‑scale effort in Mozambique, Maranatha begins drilling wells where we build churches and schools in the country.

Through a collaboration with volunteer and supporter Garwin McNeilus, the first One‑Day Church is built in Valle Hermoso, Ecuador. The program receives a huge response from around the world.


Maranatha establishes an office in India and launches a major initiative in the country.


Maranatha organizes the first volunteer project in Kenya. Maranatha also starts a major water program in the country, aided largely by the donation of a well drilling rig.


Maranatha begins working in Peru to build schools and churches, including a floating church on Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world.

2015 Maranatha Histórias de Missão, a Portuguese language version of the TV show, debuts on Novo Tempo, an Adventist media network based in Brazil. Visibility of Maranatha’s mission expands to a Portuguese-speaking audience around the world.

The First One‑Day School campus is built in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.

2009 Maranatha moves its headquarters to a larger space in Roseville, California.


In an effort to grow the vision, the board votes to create a television program called Maranatha Mission Stories.


Maranatha kicks off “1,000 Churches in 1,000 Days,” a campaign to build 1,000 urgently needed churches around the world in three years.


Maranatha ships One‑Day buildings to Haiti in response to requests for help following a devastating earthquake.

2012 Maranatha builds a prototype of a North America Standard Church, a design offered to congregations wanting to build an affordable place of worship. The design is eventually offered to any group in need, with volunteer support provided.

Maranatha celebrates 50 years of mission, continuing to work in more than a dozen countries and expanding the water program to more countries.



A look at how your support is making a real difference for communities around the world.


BEFORE Members of the Canoa Quebrada Seventh-day Adventist Church met in someone’s home or in this small, dark building that was unappealing.



ission trips have been an important part of Arnie Meert’s life. He’s been on numerous Maranatha projects with his wife and children. But Arnie doesn’t just volunteer—he also gives. Financially supporting Maranatha is important to Arnie, and it’s so much of a priority that he’s even delayed his retirement! “There are days I get up and say, ‘I’d rather not go to work. I am tired,’” says Arnie. “But when I think about what the mission trip does for other people, when I see the churches that are completed, those kids in the


AFTER Today, the congregation has a beautiful Maranatha church, thanks to donations from people like you!


school, when I hear the stories about conversions of the people, I suddenly get an attitude change. And I say, ‘You know what? This is well worth it. I’m working for God today. I’m not working for myself.’” There are many ways to support the mission of Maranatha, whether it’s making a donation or including Maranatha in your planned giving. To make a gift or to learn more about our Planned Giving services, contact our office at 916-774-7700 for ideas that fit your situation.



This year, Maranatha is working in 13 countries to provide churches, schools, and water wells to communities in need. Here are a few programs that urgently need your prayers and financial support.



I N 20 19

Here’s where Maranatha is working this year. BOLIVIA


Bolivia is home to more than 120,000 Seventhday Adventists, but many do not have a place of worship. For the past couple years, Maranatha has been building churches in Cochabamba, located in central Bolivia, along with a school. Maranatha has also completed a few projects in La Paz. The projects in Bolivia are in need of urgent funding. If you are inspired to help this wonderful community of believers, please make a donation for projects in Bolivia.




In 2019, 378 volunteers served in Kenya to build churches and school classrooms. In the coming year, Maranatha will continue building One-Day Churches, school classrooms, and water wells. However, the area in need of urgent financial help is churches in Kenya. Places of worship make a tremendous difference for many of the tribal communities where we are working. You can help by making a gift for churches in Kenya. The cost of a One-Day Church frame in Kenya is $7,500. You can give for a full sponsorship or make a donation in any amount.




After working in Zambia extensively, several years ago, we are returning to the country in response to a request for more churches. The Adventist faith is growing quickly in Zambia, and we have committed to 75 One-Day Churches and 12 classrooms. The cost of a One-Day Church in Zambia is $7,500. You can sponsor a kit in full or make a donation in any amount. Every dollar makes an impact!




Anyone can join a Maranatha mission trip! Check out our upcoming opportunities here or go to for the most updated list.






Jan. 30 - Feb. 11, 2020

Côte d’Ivoire Project


Karen Godfrey, Peter Thomas

Church construction

Feb. 3 - 21, 2020

Camp Alamisco Project


Evelyn Close, Ernie Riles

Lodge remodel

Feb. 6 - 16, 2020

India Project


Vickie and Bernie Wiedmann

School construction

Mar. 19 - 29, 2020

Multiple Group Project 2020


Steve Case


Apr. 15 - 29, 2020

Blue Mountain Academy Project


Betty Beattie-Chrispell, James Mills

Girls dorm renovations

Apr. 16 - 26, 2020

Peru Project


Judy and David Shull

Church construction - foundation and structure

Apr. 19 - 29, 2020

Camp Yavapines Project


Carolyn Houghton, Charlie Chavez

Camp renovations







May 10 - 31, 2020

Union College Project


Susan and David Woods

Dorm renovation

Jun. 2 - 16, 2020

Milo Academy Project


Leroy Kelm

School renovation

Jun. 8 - 29, 2020

Mount Pisgah Academy Project


Ed Burgan

Dorm renovation

Jul. 2 - 12, 2020

Family Project Peru


Steve Case

Church construction

Jul. 16 - 26, 2020

Ultimate Workout 30



Church construction

Aug. 3 - 20, 2020

Pacific Union College


Leroy Kelm, Ed Jensen

Dorm renovation

Oct. 7 - 21, 2020

Blue Mountain Academy


Betty Beattie-Chrispell, Wayne Moon

Dorm renovation

Thank You


The following Group Project Teams served during the months of July through December.


Corona Adventist Church Team California


West Houston Adventist Young People Group Team Texas


Eastgate Adventist Church & Friends Team Washington


West Houston Adventist Church Fall Group Team Texas

T H E V O L U N T E E R FALL 2 0 1 9 | 3 5

Non-Profit U.S. Postage


Roseville, CA Permit No. 111

990 Reserve Drive, Suite 100 Roseville, CA 95678

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