On November 20, 2019, the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Cuba celebrated 25 years of Maranatha Volunteers International’s work in that country. The anniversary was marked by a commemorative service on the campus of the Cuba Adventist Theological Seminary in Havana, in a building constructed by Maranatha volunteers between 1995 and 1997.
Maranatha president Don Noble and his wife, Laura, helped mark the milestone, which was attended by Adventist Church leaders from around Cuba, nearly all of whom graduated from the Havana seminary. The festivities included a tour of the campus, a presentation of plaques, speeches by church leadership, and a viewing of Maranatha’s 50th-anniversary video on the work in Cuba.
“When we started in Cuba, we had no idea where it was going,” Noble said. “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 have been constructed or renovated, and 600 students educated in the seminary. Church membership on the island increased from 12,000 to more than 35,000, marking big changes to the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Cuba.
“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,” Noble said. “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 a renovation project at San Antonio de los Baños, located on the western side of the island.
Maranatha Volunteers International, based in Roseville, California, United States, is a non-profit, Christian organization that organizes volunteers to build churches, schools, and waters wells around the world. Established in 1969, Maranatha has constructed more than 11,000 structures in nearly 90 countries and mobilized more than 85,000 volunteers.