Maranatha Volunteers Build a Home
for Arizona Adventist Church
Yuma congregation gets much-needed worship space

BY WENDI ROGERS, Maranatha Volunteers International
Some 75 volunteers with Maranatha Volunteers International, a nonprofit organization that builds churches and schools around the world, helped construct a building for the Gila Mountain Seventh-day Adventist congregation in Yuma, Arizona, in December 2010.
RISING FROM THE DESERT: A permanent home for the Gila Mountain Seventh-day Adventist Church rises in Yuma, Arizona, with the help of volunteer workers brought together through Maranatha Volunteers International.
The church’s more than 70 members have worshipped for 15 years in three combined 60-foot trailers. Pastor Mel Phillips explains that this doesn’t provide enough room for the membership, which swells in the winter when people migrate to the area. The new building will seat nearly 230 people.

The dusty, dry town, with a summer population of more than 90,000, is situated close to the U.S.-Mexico border and provides a winter haven for additional thousands each year. Gila Mountain church members enjoy reaching out to their community, Phillips says. “We want to help the public. Our hearts go out to people who are hurting.” The new building will help the congregation serve their community. 

Volunteers, averaging 73 years of age, made a lot of progress on the new church during the three-week project. Phillips says he hopes the remainder will be finished by spring.

He adds that the volunteers were amazing people who love God and love the church. “They want to see it prosper.”

What is now Maranatha Volunteers International began in 1969 when John Freeman, of Berrien Springs, Michigan, took 28 volunteers to Freeport, Grand Bahamas, to complete the Eight Mile Rock church.

“The biggest change in Maranatha’s more than 40 years of service has been the ability of the organization to respond to the world church needs,” says Kyle Fiess, Maranatha vice president for marketing and projects. “For 20 years the organization would respond to several projects per year. Now Maranatha is hosting hundreds of projects per year.” Some 70,000 people have volunteered with the organization, going to more than 65 countries around the globe.


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