In 2020, Maranatha Volunteers International completed a sanctuary and school building for the Abbebroukoi Seventh-day Adventist Church in Côte d’Ivoire. During its first year in operation, the school offered Kindergarten only, attracting 37 children.
For the 2021 school year, Kindergarten enrollment increased to 45 kids, and the school also expanded up to third grade. Fifty-nine students are now in grades 1-3, bringing the total enrollment to 104. The school’s growth is providing high-quality education to many more children and additional evangelistic opportunities for the Seventh-day Adventist Church, as many of the families in the neighborhood belong to other faiths.
Gilberto Araujo, Maranatha’s country director for Côte d’Ivoire, knows that what is learned during school does not stay inside the classrooms but is transferred to the home. “Once the children come to learn here, they not only learn math and science, they learn about God and also about how to serve God and how to serve others,” Araujo said. “And once they go home — this is the beauty — they start teaching the parents. They become teachers; they become missionaries there.”
Mrs. Kadi, parent of a student at the Abbebroukoi school, said, “Now that [my daughter] is here, she comes home and tells me, ‘Mom, at school we pray before we eat, we wash our hands, we rest, we sing.’
“So I said, ‘OK, very well.’ She tells me, ‘Mom, you can’t eat; you have to pray first.’ I say, ‘OK, fine.’ She sings a lot. She loves the word of God as though she were an adult. She says, ‘Mom, you can’t talk like this. You have to lower your voice before you start talking to someone.’ She talks about forgiveness a lot. I like it.”
“School is a powerful factor of evangelism,” Charles Assandé, education director for the Adventist Church in Côte d’Ivoire, said. “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. That’s why it is extremely important to have many schools here in Côte d’Ivoire.”
In 2019, Maranatha began working in Côte d’Ivoire to provide churches and schools in the country. The commitment was in response to a request from the West-Central Africa Division (WAD) of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. To start, Maranatha has focused on projects in Abidjan, the country’s largest city and home to the WAD headquarters. In November 2020, Maranatha launched a water program in Côte d’Ivoire, drilling wells at Adventist churches.