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VOLUNTEER A Publication of Maranatha Volunteers International

W I N T E R 202 0


Building hope in a fire-ravaged town



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: www.maranatha.org Email: info@maranatha.org 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.

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

LIMA, PERU The crew of Maranatha Mission Stories was recently in Lima to film an episode about Maranatha’s upcoming work in Peru, where we’ll be building churches and schools all over the country. For one week, the crew visited numerous churches to interview members and collect stories of need. Congregations talked of having to meet in homes or in crumbling shelters with dirt floors, rusting roofs, and thin plywood walls. Each group was overjoyed when they heard the news that Maranatha would be building them a new church. 2 | THE VOLUNTEER WINTER 2020

The Maranatha Mission Stories team also visited churches that were constructed during our first effort in Peru in 2006. The congregations are thriving and several have grown so much they had to create another group. In fact, one congregation created 20 daughter churches! For these groups, the gift of a church planted a seed of hope, evangelism, and growth. It’s evidence of the tremendous impact a single church can have in spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ!

About the Cover: Volunteer Larry Duffield, from Washington, USA, gives a big grin for the camera as he works on one of the sheds at the project in Paradise, California. Photo by Tom Lloyd





In early September, 2019, Maranatha received a call to help in Paradise, California, a town that had been decimated by a devastating wildfire the year before. You can read about the Paradise shed project on page 8. The Paradise Seventh-day Adventist Church, which burned to the ground, asked if we would make a visit. I anticipated that they wanted our help to build a new church or rebuild burned classrooms at the nearby school. But the request was entirely different. “Our town is hurting. We want to help. Can you help us? Two months later, 381 Maranatha volunteers from all over the country gathered to build 200 sheds, and, in a small way, to help heal the hurting. Through several visits to the project, I was impacted by the volunteers who came to help. —A longtime volunteer, 92 years old, lost his wife three weeks before the project. He knew what it meant to hurt and wanted to help others who were hurting also. —When learning of a need for painters, a volunteer dropped everything to come out and help. www.maranatha.org

—A volunteer from Oregon felt his perspective on life change while helping out in Paradise. I heard volunteers explain how helping people kept them happy and gave them a purpose in life. I saw people leave partway through the project to get back to responsibilities, only to come back because they couldn’t stay away. For three weeks in November, everyone in Paradise knew that something special was happening at the site where the Adventist Church once stood. And the example given by the volunteers prompted many people in the surrounding region to come and volunteer also. When the original request came to build sheds, I was a little skeptical. But I understand the wisdom of it now. The sheds were practical, and they met a need, but they were so much more. They were a tangible expression of how people cared. They reached beyond platitudes and provided something simple, basic, and needed. The project also demonstrated to the town of Paradise that these people who call themselves Adventist Christians really care. I’m really excited about the

efforts of the Paradise Church to follow up with all the shed recipients to build friendships and continue being relevant to them. Today, if you drive through the town of Paradise you will see evidence of a huge disaster. But you will also see 202 sheds—evidence of hope for something better. It’s a reminder that people—a lot of people—care about them even when they think they’ve been forgotten. This is what we are called to do. To share the love of Jesus through selfless service. I am truly inspired by each and every person I meet on a Maranatha project. You recognize that each person has an influence, and you choose to use yours for good. You follow the command to “Love thy neighbor.” You work not for recognition or material gain, but because you have the love of God in your heart. Thank you for being a Maranatha volunteer. Kyle Fiess is the vice president of projects at Maranatha.

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A snapshot of volunteers and projects in the mission field.

ZAMBIA Construction of a new elementary campus is complete for the Kabwe Adventist School.

CÔTE D’IVOIRE In October, Brazilian volunteers made up the first group to serve with Maranatha in Côte d’Ivoire.

UNITED STATES Stairs and decks were replaced on cabins at Camp Kulaqua in Florida, as well as other general renovations. 4 | THE VOLUNTEER WINTER 2020


CANADA Volunteers constructed a new ranger house at Camp Frenda and completed other renovations throughout the camp.

KENYA Volunteers from Brazil helped to construct the first high school building on the campus of the Kajiado Adventist School and Rescue Center.

BOLIVIA Volunteers finished construction on the final building at the Entre RĂ­os Adventist School. www.maranatha.org

BRAZIL A new Maranatha well was dedicated at the Maracaja Seventh-day Adventist Church. T H E V O LU N T E E R WINTER 2 0 2 0 | 5

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

For the second time, female athletes in California raised funds for Maranatha’s water drilling program in Kenya.



group of girls with Female Athlete Volunteers (FAV) of San Diego, California, held a Walk for Water fundraiser, bringing in more than $5,000 for water wells in Kenya. A group of 35 athletes, along with some friends, walked nearly a mile to a pond in their neighborhood, scooped water into their buckets, then walked back a mile to pour the water into a large basin. The exercise was to demonstrate the long hours women around the world have to spend collecting water—often from contaminated sources. Each girl was also encouraged to find sponsors for the event. This was FAV’s second Walk for Water; the first, held earlier this year, raised more than $15,000. Elizabeth Rabbit, a Maranatha volunteer, helped 6 | THE VOLUNTEER WINTER 2020

to create Walk for Water and hosted both events at her home. While on a mission trip in Kenya, Rabbit saw the impact of the water crisis on women and felt motivated to do something with Maranatha. She shared her experience with some of the FAV members and inspired the girls to create a fundraiser. One of the teenage leaders was so inspired that she later went on a Maranatha mission trip with Rabbit to Kenya. Rabbit says at this year’s event, the girls “were wowed by the physical experience of what was taking place every day in their ‘sisters’ lives on the other side of the world.” She says the girls plan to do a third Walk for Water, next year.




n November 20, 2019, the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Cuba celebrated 25 years of Maranatha’s work in the country. The anniversary was marked by a commemorative service on the campus of the Cuba Adventist Theological Seminary in Havana, constructed by Maranatha between 1995-1997. Maranatha President Don Noble and wife Laura helped mark the milestone, which was attended by Adventist Church leaders from around Cuba, nearly all of whom graduated from the seminary. “When we started in Cuba, we had no idea where it was going,” says Noble. “We didn’t know if we could do anything. Now, we look back as if the results were inevitable. But in the beginning, we didn’t

know where God was leading us.” Maranatha’s work in Cuba began in 1994 with the simple hope of building one church. Over the years, more than 200 churches were constructed or renovated and 600 students were educated in the seminary. Church membership on the island increased from 12,000 to more than 35,000. The Adventist Church in Cuba was forever changed. “It’s easy to look back and say, ‘Oh yeah, that’s an obvious decision to go into Cuba–you help out and the church grows,’” says Noble. “But when you’re

first starting, you don’t know any of that. However, after this long period of time and the impact on the church, it’s very clear that God was leading what was happening there.” Recently, Maranatha completed a 500-seat church in the city of Cardenas and started a renovation project at San Antonio de los Baños, located on the western side of the island.



n December 3, 2019, as a part of the annual global day of charity known as #GivingTuesday, Maranatha raised $103,680 to fund a new high school building on the campus of the Kajiado Adventist School and Rescue Center in Kenya. The school cares for Maasai girls who have escaped child marriage and a painful ritual known globally as female genital mutilation (FGM). There are nearly 200 girls living at the center and attending primary school. However, when the girls enter the secondary level, they must go to other regional schools with students and teachers who don’t understand the trauma they’ve endured. The goal is to add a high school on the existing property so that the girls can remain at the Kajiado campus. The #GivingTuesday campaign also


fulfilled a timesensitive priority, as the new academic year at Kajiado starts in January. The effort allowed the building to be funded before the current eighth graders have transitioned to high school. “I sincerely appreciate all of the efforts made by Maranatha to reach so many people to make Kajiado Adventist School and Rescue Center a better school and home,” says Sarah Daniel, director of the center. “Our girls are eagerly waiting to join high school in January, 2020. For all those [who] made their contributions in terms of finances, prayers, and many other

ways, I pray that God will continually bless you.” The new building effort includes three classrooms, with future plans to construct additional classrooms, labs, bathrooms, dormitories, and staff housing.

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After a fire destroyed the city of Paradise, Maranatha brought hope in the form of sheds By Julie Z. Lee Photos by Tom Lloyd


“That day,

he morning of November 8, 2018, started out like a typical day in Joelle Chinnock’s life. She woke up early and headed to the neighborhood bike path to take her daily walk. It was brisk with a bit of wind. The only anomaly was a plume of smoke in the distance. Yet in Paradise, California, where Chinnock lived, it was wildfire season, and people were accustomed to occasional smoke in the air. But it wasn’t long before the alarm bells began to ring in Chinnock’s head. She saw that the smoke was growing and a massive, dark cloud loomed overhead. There was a fire, but it was miles away. Then, the sky started to rain ash, and the wind picked up speed. Minutes later, her son called from school to say that the principal was telling students to go home and leave town. Her husband texted to say he was leaving work and coming home. At 10 a.m., after a chaotic packing session, Chinnock, her husband, and their four children stood in their front yard. The fire had reached Paradise, and it was out of control. “We gathered together to pray as a family one last time. We didn’t know if we’d come back to our home, and to be honest, I don’t remember what we prayed,” says Chinnock. “I’m sure we prayed for our family, for our home, for our community… then we jumped into our truck and exited.” That day, Paradise burned. The Camp Fire, as it came to be called, originated in the community of Concow and raged on through Paradise, consuming 153,000 acres, 18,804 structures, and 85 lives. It was the most destructive wildfire in state history, and both towns were completely destroyed. Most people lost everything. The Chinnocks did not. Their house survived the fire.

Paradise burned... it was the most destructive wildfire in state history.”



An aerial view of the Maranatha job site at the Paradise Seventh-day Adventist Church—which burned down—in California. Nearly 400 volunteers helped to build 202 storage sheds for the survivors of the Camp Fire, which burned the entire city of Paradise to the ground.


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“My husband and I knew instinctively that we had a purpose to fulfill in Paradise. God had spared our house for some reason. Or if it wasn’t His hand, that we still had a role to play here.” says Chinnock. “How can we be of service to our church community, to our greater community?” God began to answer her question almost immediately.


hile the smoke was still thick in Paradise, the Paradise Seventh-day Adventist Church jumped into action. Although the entire church complex had burned down, the pastoral staff and members, including Chinnock, were eager to help the community. Under the church outreach ministry called Love Paradise, members helped to organize multiple outreach activities, such as organizing free meals, giving out kits with various home supplies, building a community center with free clothes and furniture, and even creating a water station for people to access clean water through the church well. In summer 2019, Chinnock was hired to be an official part of the Love Paradise staff. One of her first assignments was to find more service opportunities. “One of the things Garrison Chaffee [associate pastor of Paradise Adventist Church] asked me to do was jump on the Facebook threads of different groups that have come up since the fire. Things like ‘I’m a Camp Fire Survivor.’ People were posting a lot on there of things they needed, the desperate situations they were in, and he asked me just to find people we could start helping,” remembers Chinnock. “And I saw somebody on one of those saying that they were going to build a shed for somebody… and I thought that was a great idea.” Chaffee was skeptical. “At first, I thought it sounds kind of ridiculous to build sheds for people—and who and how? Sounds overwhelming—I haven’t heard of a church ever doing that,” he says. “Then it kind of stuck and grew on us, and we thought, if there is a need that we can meet, then we should meet it.” The need was definitely there. An estimated 2,000 Paradise residents out of the original 29,000 had moved back to town and onto their properties. The majority of them were living in RVs and trailers without a place to store their things. Generators—a critical item in a town without electricity—were being

“At first I thought it sounds kind of ridiculous to build sheds for people— who and how?”






stolen, along with tools and other precious items. For some, storage was critical to survival. One woman in need was a dialysis patient who gave herself treatments. However, all her dialysate was being stored in cardboard boxes under her trailer, because of the lack of space. Moisture would be destructive to the dialysate and ultimately her life. Chinnock suggested a small work bee in the parking lot of the church to build a few sheds. But Chaffee had another idea. “Garrison remembered that Maranatha had stepped out right after the fire and called our church and said, ‘What can we come up and do?’ So he put two and two together and made the call, and Maranatha was on board. They came up within a day or two of that phone call, and it was all thumbs up from there.” says Chinnock. Maranatha committed to building 200 sheds. The goal was to run the project in November so that the sheds could be completed and delivered before the winter rains and snow. It was already September, so that left Chinnock and Chaffee with less than two months to find funding and for Maranatha to organize a project and recruit volunteers. Typically, Maranatha requires several months to plan a project with funding already in place. This was going to be a leap of faith. “They needed to raise upwards of $300,000, which is a big deal,” says David Woods, director of North America Projects for Maranatha. “I told them God owns the cows on all the hills, and we just need to pray that He sells some cattle.” w w w . m a r a n a t h a . o r g

Weeks later, Chaffee texted Woods with a miracle. He wrote, “God sold the cows.”


hen the Camp Fire tore through town, it burned several classrooms at Paradise Adventist Academy and damaged the gym. The students had to meet at another school in an adjacent town, and the campus sat empty for almost a year. Then, Maranatha arrived. On November 5, 2019, almost a year from when the fire broke out, volunteers from all over the United States arrived in Paradise and moved into the academy. Two classrooms were converted into a kitchen and dining hall. In the library, cots were set out between book shelves for a women’s dorm. Across the quad, in a math class, men set up their camp with cots and blankets. Others parked their RVs and trailers in an empty field next to the parking lot. The Adventist Church in Northern California loaned the project a portable shower trailer. Generators buzzed from all corners of campus, powering everything from stoves to refrigerators to lamps and computers. Across the street from the academy, Maranatha established a construction site in the parking lot of the Paradise church with a line of stations for each stage of construction of the 10 feet by 12 feet sheds. Starting with the base, each shed was set on a wheeled platform and rolled from team to team,


1 Susie Fox, volunteer, cuts lumber for the storage sheds, which were designed by Maranatha. 2 Volunteer, Cheryl Northrop prepares lunch for the group. Overall, the kitchen team served more than 4,000 meals during the project! 3 At a delivery, a shed is carefully lifted from the trailer by an experienced forklift driver. 4 Heidi Lange, who lost her home in the fire, is all smiles after receiving her storage shed.

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receiving walls, a roof, shingles, door, and paint along the way. The last step was the installation of two plaques—one with a list of financial sponsors and another with a Bible verse: Psalms 46:1. Initially, the project started with approximately 80 volunteers and less than 100 applicants for sheds. But, thanks to several articles and news reports about the project from local newspapers and TV stations, more volunteers began to arrive and participation swelled on the weekend. The number of applicants also began to soar. By the end of the project, Love Paradise had received more than 700 applications. “Shortly after the first shed was built the word spread through town immediately,” says Kyle Fiess, vice president of projects for Maranatha. “Everybody was aware that the Paradise Seventh‑day Adventist Church was building sheds and giving them away. The media attention spread the news throughout Northern California and pretty soon we had volunteers showing up to help from two to three hours away. Some of these people had never heard of Maranatha or were not familiar with the Adventist Church. And we used that opportunity to make friends with a large group of people that we would have never met otherwise.” In total, 381 volunteers participated in the

“I just love that generosity that Christ has demonstrated for us.”


project. Among them were several who had lost their homes in the fire, including Terry Parsons, a retired clinical laboratory scientist. Parsons was already a seasoned Maranatha volunteer, having been on multiple projects overseas. But this one was much more personal. “Well, I’m from Paradise, and so this is a way for me to give back to my community. I know the need because I, too, have lost my home during the Camp Fire,” says Parsons, who relocated to the neighboring town of Chico. “I understand that people are hurting, still hurting and still need to recover… This is just one way I can do something to be a positive impact for our community.” Americorps, a federal service organization for 18-24 year olds, sent a team of volunteers. Several local firefighters worked on the project. The neighborhood Lowe’s Home Improvement store not only offered discounts on materials, but employees came by on multiple days with pastries, warm drinks, and gratitude for the volunteers. “I cried the first time I came up here,” says Charissa Gorman, a Lowe’s employee who lost her home in the fire. “It’s absolutely amazing meeting people from all over the United States… just coming in and without a stop of a heartbeat, just helping non-stop.” By the end of the second week of the project, Love Paradise started delivering the first batch of sheds, thanks to the generosity of several organizations and individuals. With each shed weighing 2,500 pounds, delivery was not a quick www.maranatha.org

process. But it was certainly a joyful one—full of gratitude from the recipients. “This shed means space, a little bit of freedom inside of my little trailer, a little bit of normalcy… It really does mean a lot, and I’m really grateful to everybody who’s helped put this together—the volunteers that have come from far and wide, out of state, that have helped build them, and the volunteers that are bringing them and delivering them,” says shed recipient Andrea Hitt, a Paradise resident who lost her home in the fire. “We’re very grateful to Seventhday Adventists and everybody that’s helped put this together.” Allen Plowman is a single father of two kids. He escaped Paradise with his children and mother as flames licked his car and torched the town he loved. When he returned to his property, months later, he found his entire neighborhood gone. He eventually moved back to live in a trailer. It goes without saying that life has been challenging. “One of the hardest things about this that I didn’t realize until I experienced it, when you hear somebody say, ‘My house burned down’ or ‘I suffered something bad,’ it’s horrible that it happened. And it happened on an individual basis. The community comes in and they rally up and they support,” says Plowman. “But when your entire community burns down… there is no more community support. Everybody has lost everything of their own.” Plowman, who is not an Adventist but sent his kids to the academy, stayed connected to the Paradise church. Chaffee told him about the shed project. Plowman applied, and on November 20, he received a shed. “I am a Christian, and I was raised primarily [in another denomination]. There were things about religion that I was negative about. It seemed a lot of people talked about helping others and in reality they don’t,” says Plowman. “They don’t seem to be the meek, humble people that the Bible expects us to be. And I became disillusioned with a lot of organized religion. And since I’ve been around the Adventists, it amazes me how Christian they really are.” Says Fiess, “This project was unique for us in many ways, but ultimately it was special because we had an opportunity to make a huge difference in the lives of more than 200 families who are hurting. At every delivery we hear a story of why the shed is so important to the recipient. And every story makes you realize how desperately needed these sheds were. So we are grateful that we were able to help make this project a reality.” www.maranatha.org


By the end of December, all but seven of the sheds were delivered. And by January, Maranatha and Love Paradise were already planning a second project for April 2020: 250 more sheds. “Lives are going to be changed, impacted. More people are going to hear about the project and want to be involved. And I just love that generosity that Christ has demonstrated for us that is being filtered out through this project,” says Chinnock.


fter the family returned to their property following the fire, Chinnock’s husband installed a plaque in the front yard of their home. It was placed at the precise spot where the family had stood to ask for God’s protection as the sky turned black and smoke filled the air.


1 Volunteers and local sponsors celebrate the completion of the 200th shed—plus the two extra they didn’t account for! 2 Joelle Chinnock and Garrison Chaffee, leaders at the Paradise Adventist Church, hold up a banner featuring all the organizations that helped to make the project a reality.

He wrote a message on the plaque: Here on November 8, a family gathered to pray. They prayed for their family, their home, and their Paradise. Minutes later, the flames came, but the family returned. The home remains. And Paradise is rising. Tears for all that was lost. Hope for those that returned. And love for the ones who will make this Paradise again. A few months later, nearly 400 volunteers arrived in Paradise, carrying tools and a message of hope.

SEE THE STORY Watch the Maranatha Mission Stories episode about the Paradise project at maranatha.org/ sheds

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How a school in India survives in appalling conditions Story and photos by Dustin Comm


ou don’t always smell it right away. Depending on the direction of the wind, the presence of rain, and your location on the campus of the Jingshai Mihngi Adventist School, the air might be tolerable. But inevitably, as you navigate the disjointed campus—which includes dilapidated structures made of sticks and metal—you can’t escape the smell of raw sewage coming from an open sewer line just five feet away from the classroom windows. The Jingshai Mihngi school has used rented space for classrooms since it opened in 2005, which has always created a significant financial strain. Currently they rent from two separate landlords spread over five buildings along a city street in Jowai, India. Some of these buildings have solid walls. Others have wooden siding covered with plastic sheeting to prevent water from coming through the cracks. All of the classrooms are cramped, with students sitting elbow to elbow at rickety desks that are badly scratched from years of use. Some of the floors have holes where dirt and trash have collected over time. Many classrooms have poor lighting, and other times the school loses electricity altogether, so students are forced to learn in a dark environment. On wet days, water seeps in through openings in the floor, and rain drops pelt the tin roofs so hard that the teachers cannot be heard; the lesson is traded for songs of worship. Students must be reconfigured, depending on where the

“‘Oh, it’s terrible, sir!’ and they cover their mouth and cover their nose.”


leaks are dripping. On hot days, students yearn to open a window for fresh air, yet they must weigh that desire against the vile smell that will enter from the open sewer line right outside the classroom walls. With such horrendous conditions, one might wonder how the school survives. Yet it boasts an enrollment of 476 in grades K-10. There are other schools in the area with better facilities and lower tuition costs, but parents continue to send their kids to Jingshai Mihngi. Wailad Sukhlain earns a modest salary working at the local town jail as a carpenter. He passes another less expensive school on his way to Jingshai Mihngi, yet he has gladly put two of his children through the school already and has a third child in elementary. Sukhlain and his wife are not Seventh-day Adventist, but they have appreciated the warm community feel between home and school and want their children to learn about God. “I really like the closeness that exists between the parents, teachers, and administrators,” says Sukhlain. “The other schools have better facilities, but I still want to keep my children at [ Jingshai Mihngi] because they learn about God and that makes all the difference to me. I ignore the state of the campus and have patience for the facilities to improve.” Ignoring the conditions has become a way of survival. Being subjected to this environment, day after day, can take a psychological and emotional toll on everyone, from students to teachers. And so, the faculty pretend that things like the smell of sewage doesn’t exist–at least, in front of the kids. “The smells gets stuck inside the classroom, and we just have to pretend,” says Bible teacher Aysidora Kharsynniang. “We ask [the students] to open the windows and they will say, ‘We cannot open [them] like this, Miss, it is too smelly.’ And I say, ‘No, just open them for some time and let’s feel the fresh air come in.’ We [teachers] just pretend everything is good in the classroom, but actually, we know [it is not].” Principal Lam Jingshai Suchiang also presents a positive outlook for the students. “Some students are saying, ‘Oh, it’s terrible, sir!’ and they cover their mouth and cover their nose,” says Jingshai Suchiang. “But I say, ‘It smells?’ I pretend like I didn’t get the smell. Because if the teachers and myself are saying, ‘Oh, it is smelling!’ then the children don’t even want to sit in class.” Although the smell may be out of their control, www.maranatha.org


teachers try to lighten the surroundings for students as much as they can. In some classrooms, the plastic sheeting on the walls is turned into an artboard, lined with homemade paper cutouts of nature scenes or the students’ hands. Despite its hardships, the Jingshai Mihngi school has a waiting list of families who wish to enroll but cannot due to the lack of space. Parents are not only attracted by the school’s high performance on standardized tests but also the emphasis on moral development and healthy living. Students enjoy warm and loving teachers who have committed their lives to Adventist education. These factors outweigh the unsuitable physical conditions the school presents. In 2019, Maranatha agreed to construct a new campus for Jingshai Mihngi on land purchased by the school. Located five minutes from the current space, the new classroom buildings will sit on top of a hill surrounded by green, lush forest, with views into a picturesque valley in the distance. Best of all, the air is fresh. It will be a stark change of scenery for the entire school community. “This site is so beautiful,” says Jingshai Suchiang. “Just by being here, I feel like God is with us here. The environment, the surroundings– you live among the trees, among the birds, the sun. Sometimes when I’m busy at the school, I come here and think. I used to imagine what will happen if we get the school here. And that [gives] me inspiration.” Maranatha has begun to work on the new campus, which will include four buildings with three classrooms in each block. Soon, volunteers will come to help build these new classrooms, where students will be able to learn without the myriad of distractions they’ve endured for years. “When I heard the news that Maranatha and God’s people will come and help build a school, www.maranatha.org


I’m so thankful to God,” says Jingshai Suchiang. “I feel that God works in a very mysterious way– at the right time, at the right moment.” Most importantly, the school will continue to point children to Jesus. Although many students are not Adventist, it is at Jingshai Mihngi that they learn about the God of the Bible who loves them. Education is one of the best ways the Adventist Church in India is able to reach local communities with God’s love. “There are many non-Adventists in this area– most of our students are not Adventist,” says Kharsynniang. “They learn and they like to attend our church. Some of them, when they left our school and I see them in another city, they are attending our church there.” In the local Khasi language, Jingshai Mihngi means “eastern light,” and at the dawn of this new chapter of the school’s journey, it will continue to shine the light of the Gospel in a country where many do not know Jesus’ name. With the help of Maranatha supporters and volunteers, this will soon be accomplished in a reasonable setting. “I’m so thankful,” says Jingshai Suchiang. “There are still good people in this world that God is using, that God has touched their hearts. We live in a world of people who are selfish and don’t think about others, but there are some of God’s people who are willing to give. I don’t know whether they are rich or they are poor, but they are willing to give, so we praise God for that.” As for Sukhlain, his patience has paid off. And along the way, he has realized that his family is a part of this community of faith. “I am excited for the new campus–we are very happy. We will continue sending our kids there–this is our school.”


1 Students recite the day’s memory verse in a classroom lined with plastic sheeting to prevent leaks from entering. 2 The open sewer line behind the classroom are just a few feet from the windows.

SEE THE STORY Watch the Maranatha Mission Stories episode about Jingshai Mihngi at maranatha.org/ sewerschool

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How grieving turned into new purpose on a mission trip By Dustin Comm Photos provided by the Tam family


ariah Tam wasn’t sure she wanted to go on this mission trip. She’d been on Maranatha projects with her family in the past, but now, only two months removed from her mother’s passing, she wasn’t sure if she was ready. She was struggling with the loss of a central figure in her life, and it was hard to imagine participating in what should be a fun trip. “She was very caring, very sweet–she would do anything for us,” says Mariah, a 20-year old education assistant from Wardner, British Columbia, Canada. But it was Mariah, along with her father and brother, who had looked after her mom throughout 2019 as she battled Lyme’s disease. After her passing, with the family’s caregiving role finished, they were available to participate in a mission trip that had been on their radar for some time: Maranatha’s biannual Family Project. The Tams had participated in Family Projects when the kids were younger, serving in Honduras and Nicaragua nearly 10 years prior. “[Those trips] brought us closer together as a family,” says Mariah. “My mom had a great time doing VBS and music. She spoke Spanish, sang, and played the ukulele.” But this upcoming trip would be under different circumstances–the family was incomplete. It would have been easy to skip it as the family settled into their new reality, but Mariah realized there was a sustaining power in family itself. “My dad thought it would be a good way to grieve. My family keeps me going, along with God, my goals, and dreams. But 1 especially family.” So Mariah said “yes.” The Tams, along with 84 other Family Project volunteers, traveled to Peru over the Christmas holiday to serve a community near the capital city of Lima. As the family settled into the mission work, it became clear that this trip would be a good way for them to bond. They worked alongside one another as the group constructed a new Sabbath School building for the Huaycan Seventh-day Adventist Church. They met people as a new family unit. They organized and led children’s programs in the community. “It was out of my comfort zone to speak and lead out. I didn’t know what to expect. I was a little scared, not sure that I could control the group. In the end

“It was healing, and I felt closer to God, being around so many spiritual people.”





it turned out okay, especially with the help of a good translator.” The Tams also roomed together, which gave them an opportunity to talk about life without their mom. “We talked about grieving and how this was a good distraction.” says Mariah. “It was healing, and I felt closer to God, being around so many spiritual people.” One of the highlights was passing out Christmas presents to local residents of the community. Volunteers went door to door, handing out gifts to children who otherwise may not have received anything for Christmas. The experience had a profound impact on Mariah. “We were glad that Maranatha organized a ‘Sponsor a Family’ program that enabled us to interact with locals one on one,” says Mariah. “It helped me to open my eyes to how they live and appreciate all we have.” At the end of the trip, the group visited Lake Titicaca where they worshiped on the floating church constructed by Maranatha in 2005, followed by an excursion to Machu Picchu. “The landscape is beautiful. The people were my favorite–they are very friendly. I would absolutely, 100 percent recommend it. It was an amazing experience. It helped me get closer to God.” For Mariah, the trip offered perspective–a chance to remove herself from all that had occurred in her life at home and, in some ways, begin a new chapter of her life. There were many reasons she could have said “no” to this mission trip, but she is www.maranatha.org


glad she didn’t. For the Tam family, the experience in Peru inspired them to take missions and their family even further. Together, the three will be serving as missionaries for ten months at a school on Kosrae island in Micronesia. “Our time in Peru reminded us of how much we love serving in the mission field. While there are opportunities that God gives us here in Canada, it seems that we can have more influence abroad.” It would have been hard to imagine the family taking this new adventure only a few months ago. And none of it would have happened without their journey into Peru. Through it all, Mariah learned that the call to service doesn’t always come at the most convenient time, but she can answer, no matter the situation. “Whatever is stressing you back home, whatever is bothering you, that doesn’t negate the fact that God is calling you on a mission trip. You just have to answer and He’ll take care of the rest.”


1 Mariah and her brother, Caleb, work on the construction site of the Huaycan Seventh-day Adventist Church. 2 The Tam family poses with a local church member on the floating church, constructed by Maranatha, on Lake Titicaca. 3 Mariah (right) passes out Christmas gifts in a neighborhood near Lima. 4 Mariah and her father take a selfie in Peru. After their experience on the Maranatha mission trip, they’ve decided to serve for 10 months in Micronesia.

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Water for Life Photo by Tom Lloyd


t’s been less than a year since Maranatha drilled a new well at the Bwaangwa village in Zambia. But things are already changing in this community. For one, women no longer have to walk a distance to the next village to collect water—contaminated water from a hand dug, shallow well. Now, thanks to Maranatha donors, clean water is readily available for hundreds of families. While in Bwaangwa, Maranatha also constructed a One-Day Church. Already, the members have collected bricks for walls and are saving money to buy cement. They’ve also started a school in the village. Surely, life is changing in this village, for the better and for eternity.



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


BEFORE Members of the Snalgre Seventh-day Adventist Church worshipped in this porous structure which did not keep out the wind, rain, or local wildlife.

BUILDING YOUR Nenad Stegnjaic was first introduced to the mission of Maranatha through this magazine, The Volunteer. He read about the lives being changed around the globe through construction, and though he couldn’t volunteer on a project, it was important to him to support the work financially. Over the years, his gifts have provided churches for hundreds of people across the world. In 2019, as Nenad was preparing to sell a house, he wanted to give back to God. “I love the Lord. I know what he has done for me,” says Nenad. “I can recognize that this is not my home–these material things are not 20 | THE VOLUNTEER WINTER 2020

AFTER This strong new structure protects worshippers from the elements and provides a distraction-free environment.


mine.” Nenad decided to donate his house sale to Maranatha. With those funds, Maranatha constructed 26 new churches in India, Kenya, and Brazil. New houses of worship for hundreds of people came from the sale of a single house. “We have to support God’s work, then the Lord can come quicker,” says Nenad. “I’m very glad [to give] because many lives will now have the truth, preparing them for the Lord’s coming.”


PROJECTS THAT NEED YOUR HELP This year, Maranatha is working in 10 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. CÔTE D’IVOIRE

In 2019, Maranatha launched a new effort in the country of Côte d’Ivoire, also known as the Ivory Coast. The Seventh-day Adventist Church in the country has asked Maranatha to build churches and schools in the greater Abidjan area, as there is a great need for places of worship and a big demand for Adventist schools. You can help by sponsoring a church or school classroom or by making a general donation for projects in Côte d’Ivoire.


Fifteen years ago, Maranatha mobilized volunteers to Peru to build churches and schools for communities in need. Those projects served as a catalyst for major growth! Congregations have grown and created daughter congregations, and now those groups need churches of their own. Be a part of this second effort in Peru by making a gift for these projects. Volunteers are already working in the country and funding is needed right away!


I N 202 0



For more than three decades, The $10 Church has sponsored nearly 500 churches around the world. This program asks you to give just $10 a month toward church construction. It is Maranatha’s smallest giving program but it makes a huge impact. The collective donations of thousands of people adds up to a lot of change in hundreds of communities. But support for this program needs to grow if we can keep up with the requests. So if you haven’t already joined, please give today. www.maranatha.org






Apr. 12 - May 1, 2020

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



Paradise Adventist Church CALIFORNIA, USA Outreach Project

Susan and David Woods

Shed construction

Apr. 15 - 19, 2020

Blue Mountain Academy Project


Betty Beattie-Chrispell, Jim Mills

Dorm renovations

Apr. 19 - 29, 2020

Camp Yavapines Project


Carolyn Houghton, Charley Chavez

Camp renovations

May 3 - 10, 2020

Camp MiVoden Project


Melody and Doug Wheeler, Jerry Wesslen

Camp renovations

May 10 - 29, 2020

Union College Project


Susan and David Woods

Dorm renovations

May 12 - 19, 2020

Leoni Meadows Camp Project


Kim Toyama, Charley Chavez

Camp renovations

Jun. 2 - 16, 2020

Milo Adventist Academy Project


Leroy Kelm

Campus renovations

Jun. 8 - 29, 2020

Mount Pisgah Academy Project


Ed Burgan, Jeanice Riles

Dorm renovations

Jun. 11 - 23, 2020

Kenya Project


Loretta Spivey

Classroom construction, outreach









Jun. 17 - 28, 2020

Family Project Peru


Steve Case

Masonry construction, medical/ dental clinics, outreach

Jul. 16 - 26, 2020

Ultimate Workout 30


Lisandro Staut, Dan Klein

Construction, medical/dental clinics, outreach

Jul. 23 - Aug. 2, 2020

Young Adult Project 2020


Angela Boothby

Church floor and foundation, construction

Aug. 3 - 20, 2020

Pacific Union College Project


Ed Jensen, Leroy Kelm

Dorm renovations

Aug. 10 - 24, 2020

Black Hills Health and Education Center


Sadie Torrez, Roger Naranjo

Siding and painting

Sept. 1 - 17, 2020

Meadow Vista Adventist Church Project


Leroy Kelm

Church renovations

Sept. 27 - Oct. 11, 2020

Camp Lawroweld Project


David and Susan Woods

Camp renovations

Oct. 4 - 16, 2020

Bakersfield Hillcrest Adventist Church Project


Ed Jensen, Leroy Kelm

Nativity build

Oct. 7 - 21, 2020

Blue Mountain Academy Project


Betty Beattie-Chrispell, Wayne Moon

Dorm renovations

Thank You



The following Group Project Teams served during the months of January, February, and March. KENYA

Chisholm Trail Academy Team Texas

Gracepoint Family and Friends Team California


PUC Preparatory School Team California

Spencerville Adventist Church Youth Ministries Team Maryland


West Houston Mission IS Possible Group Team Texas Northern California Conference Youth and Pathfinders Team California



Washington Conference SAGE Team Washington Niles Westside Adventist Church Team Michigan Amazing Grace Academy Team Alaska

Burton Adventist Academy Team Texas Carmichael Adventist Church Team California Palisades Christian Academy Team Washington Mother Lode Adventist Junior Academy Team California Grand Rapids Adventist Academy Team Michigan

T H E V O LU N T E E R WINTER 2 0 2 0 | 2 3

Non-Profit U.S. Postage


Roseville, CA Permit No. 111

990 Reserve Drive, Suite 100 Roseville, CA 95678


Travel into the mission field and see how God is leading ordinary people to make an extraordinary difference in communities around the world with our television program, Maranatha Mission Stories.


3ABN Friday, 7:30 p.m. Saturday, 2:00 p.m. Hope Channel Wednesday, 3:30 p.m. Friday, 8:30 a.m. Sunday, 8:30 p.m. ON DEMAND

The Maranatha Channel App Download our app at the App Store and Google Play.

Each month, thousands of people contribute $10 to The $10 Church program. The combined donations sponsor the construction of urgently needed churches each month!

www.maranatha.org View all episodes online at Maranatha’s website. Find segments by using our online “Search” function.

Please join The $10 Church today.

YouTube Go to www.youtube.com/missionstories to watch. Subscribe to our YouTube channel and automatically wreceive w w . m aupdates. ranatha.org


Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire Download The Maranatha Channel to watch all current and archived episodes and other videos on demand.

Profile for Maranatha Volunteers International

The Volunteer Winter 2020  

The Volunteer is the official publication of Maranatha Volunteers International.

The Volunteer Winter 2020  

The Volunteer is the official publication of Maranatha Volunteers International.