Maranatha Brings Change across Zambia

Supporting independent Adventist ministry is building churches, schools, and water wells.

Julie Z. Lee, Maranatha Volunteers International, and Adventist Review
Maranatha Brings Change across Zambia
Members of the Ngombe Seventh-day Adventist Church gather in their One-Day Church, provided by Maranatha. Although the members are still building the walls, the congregation has already grown from 40 to 60 members, and more than 100 people attend each week. [Photo: Maranatha Volunteers International]

Zambia, located in central southern Africa, is a country about the size of Texas. While its capital, Lusaka, boasts the typical developments of modern cities — fine hotels, shopping centers, and high-rise buildings — the rest of the country is more rural and rugged. Move past the borders of its bigger cities and towns, and you’ll find a lifestyle frozen in time. People push through waterways on narrow, hand-carved canoes. Men with machetes harvest tall, wild grass on the side of the road to make thatch roofs. Children run through clusters of mud huts that comprise a family unit within a village. Women, wrapped in colorful fabrics, carry buckets of water on their heads. 

Among these scenes of idyllic beauty, some challenges arise. Many of the people working the boats are trapped in poverty. Thatched roofs and mud walls tend to disintegrate in the heat and rain. Some children have no school to go to. And some areas lack clean water access, forcing women and girls to walk to distant watering holes to retrieve contaminated water.

Maranatha Volunteers International is working in Zambia to build One-Day Churches for congregations that need an enduring place of worship, schools for children who need access to education, and water wells for the general good health of everyone. Maranatha’s first effort in Zambia started in 2009 and continued over the next six years. The work started up once more in 2018, when Maranatha responded to a request for more projects from the Seventh-day Adventist Church leadership in Zambia. 

In 2021, Maranatha launched a water maintenance program, which now has crews in Zambia traveling from site to site, doing maintenance and repairs on existing wells. The flurry of activities makes Zambia one of Maranatha’s most prolific countries in terms of completed or active projects. 

One-Day Churches, Schools, and Water Wells

Launched in 2008, the One-Day Church (ODC) program continues to provide strong, safe structures for hundreds of congregations around the world. The program has been especially helpful and successful in Zambia, where Maranatha has a goal to build 120 ODCs this year.

At the same time, schools have always been a priority in Zambia as there is a shortage of Adventist educational centers in the country. Most recently, Maranatha expanded the campus at Liumba Hill, located in the western part of the country. This year, we are examining requests for a school in Sala, near Lusaka, and a campus at Mwami Adventist Hospital, on the far eastern border of the country.

Students who seek an Adventist education and live far from Liumba Hill must find their own housing near the school. This option typically isn’t safe, as female students in particular are vulnerable to assault and robbery. Some of them rent a room in the community. Maranatha is currently planning to build a girls’ dormitory at Liumba Hill.

Crews have been busy drilling water wells all over Zambia, as clean water continues to be elusive to many people. In 2023 alone, Maranatha had a goal to drill 300 water wells in the country.

Like any other structure, a water well requires maintenance and repairs, especially when it is being used multiple times a day by hundreds of people. And once a well is broken, people go back to drinking contaminated water or spending inordinate amounts of time searching for clean water. In response to these challenges, Maranatha created a team to check on existing wells to ensure that they are working properly. They travel all over the country responding to calls for assistance.

The story is adapted from The Volunteer magazine, Issue 3 2023, pages 14–17. Maranatha Volunteers International is an independent supporting ministry and is not operated by the corporate Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Julie Z. Lee, Maranatha Volunteers International, and Adventist Review