On March 26, 2022, after a two-year pause on in-person events, Maranatha Volunteers International welcomed nearly 500 people to Go Maranatha!, an annual mini-convention in Chattanooga, Tennessee, United States. The Sabbath (Saturday) afternoon program featured volunteer testimonies, informative reports from the mission field, and music by the Aeolians, the award-winning choir from Oakwood University in Huntsville, Alabama.
Gabriel Paulino, president of the Southeast region of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Dominican Republic, was among the special guests who spoke. Paulino spoke about the history of Maranatha in his country, when volunteers arrived to build 25 churches in 1992. A teenager at the time, Paulino recalled the impact of the first project on his own life and the domino effect of these first churches in his country as year after year, the membership of the Adventist church in the Dominican Republic grew, creating new congregation after congregation. Now a church leader, Paulino outlined why Maranatha is being asked to return to the country for a fourth time.
“The conference that I represent, the Southeast conference, it’s the largest conference in the Dominican Republic. We have about 90,000 members. And in our conference alone, we’ve planted 100 additional [congregations]” Paulino said. “We had to buy a lot of properties for the building of new churches. We’ve had to hire about 20 more pastors. … We have very humble, full, but terrible places where people are meeting… and we need Maranatha to bring those miracles back to the Dominican Republic.”
Maranatha has already been preparing for a team to assemble in the Dominican Republic, with plans to identify new projects and mobilize volunteers later this year.
Other speakers at the Go Maranatha! event included representatives from India, Peru, Zambia, Kenya, and the United States — countries where Maranatha is currently working.
In addition, volunteers shared stories of their personal experiences with Maranatha and how mission trips have changed their lives in significant ways. David Mack, a volunteer and Maranatha supporter, shared his story of faith in the mission field, then urged everyone in the auditorium to get involved with God’s plan to save the world.
“This plan, He wants us. He wants you to be part of it. Isn’t that cool? That we’re invited to help?” Mack said. “You simply give the Lord permission to use your life, your skills, your talents… If you say, take over; let the Holy Spirit loose in my life, you better expect to see the most amazing things happen in your life.”
The annual Maranatha convention will be held in-person this year, in Sacramento, California, on the weekend of September 17, 2022. Leaders said updates will be posted on the ministry website in the coming months.