As in many countries around the world, Zambia’s COVID-19 outbreak brought an abrupt halt to all activity earlier this year, as local governments scrambled to assess the potential risks from the virus. But it was only a matter of weeks before Maranatha’s local crew was able to start working once more.
In the more than six months since the start of the pandemic, the team in Zambia has been one of the most productive, working on a school campus and constructing 52 One-Day Churches. The team also oversaw the drilling of 186 water wells in the first 10 months of 2020.
The wells and churches have already been making a profound difference for hundreds of people in rural Zambia. Samuel Sinyangwe, president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in northern Zambia, said the wells have drawn a great deal of attention from government officials and local village leadership.
“Pastor Sinyangwe shared that tribal chiefs and village headmen were reaching out to the Adventist Church, expressing their gratitude for the water program that Maranatha is helping to implement throughout the country,” says Kyle Fiess, vice president of projects. “Their gratitude was coming from not only providing water for the people in the villages, but also for their cattle.”
While clean drinking water for humans is vital, water for animals is also an integral part of a healthy community. Often, water — clean or dirty — is so scarce that families will lose their cattle, their source of income, during the dry seasons.
“With water, they’re not only able to provide water for their community, but they are able to sustain their livelihood and keep their livestock alive,” says Fiess. “It’s something they’re really grateful for, and they’re expressing their gratitude to the Adventist Church, saying that the church really cares about the physical needs of the people.”
According to Sinyangwe, the local government is also grateful for Maranatha’s work in strengthening Zambia’s infrastructure through the construction of schools. Last year, Maranatha completed construction on a large campus called Kabwe Adventist School. This year, crews have been expanding Emmanuel Adventist Secondary School in Chisamba. The boarding school currently has an enrollment of about 300 students in grades 8-12, with a long waiting list. The addition of new dormitories and classrooms will provide space for more students.
As for the One-Day Churches, the structures are providing strong, efficient places of worship for the growing Adventist Church. Currently, Zambia has more than 1.3 million members, and many congregations, particularly in northern Zambia, where Maranatha is focused, have no proper place of worship.
The original version of this story appeared in the Summer 2020 The Volunteer magazine.