Leadership and Projects Emphasized at Maranatha's Convention
The annual Maranatha convention was held Sept. 30–Oct. 1 at the Gladstone Park Convention Center in Oregon. Adventists in the Pacific Northwest came out in full force, filling the Holden Conference Center's Mount Hood Auditorium to capacity.
In the wake of the recent hurricanes that ravaged the southern coast of the United States, the 2005 Maranatha convention organizers invited two representatives from the Gulf States region to discuss the storms’ impact on Adventist communities.
Joe Watts, Adventist Community Services (ACS) national disaster relief coordinator, discussed the severe damage suffered by several churches along the Gulf. According to Watts, the hurricane displaced one-third of the members from each of the Southwest Region and Arkansas-Louisiana conferences. Several churches were completely destroyed. Watts said ACS would like to collaborate with Maranatha in rebuilding or restoring those churches and in also reaching out and helping community members.
Mel Eisele, Gulf States Conference president, gave a detailed report on the destruction at Bass Memorial Academy in Mississippi and of the damage witnessed along the Gulf Coast. Most of the buildings at Bass were damaged, and some must be torn down and rebuilt. As they look into reconstruction, Eisele stated that volunteer help will be needed and welcomed.
The weekend program also focused on Maranatha’s ongoing efforts in Peru and India. Attendees responded generously to the weekend’s offering call, funding five churches in Peru, 10 churches in India, and a new community center and place of worship for Machu Picchu Town. Donations went toward Maranatha’s floating church project at Lake Titicaca in Peru as well.
The Maranatha Missionary of the Year award honors volunteers who demonstrate dedication, wisdom, leadership, an attitude of service, a loving heart, generosity, and a passion for the mission of Maranatha. This year’s recipients were Merlin and Jo Ann Fjarli from Medford, Ore.
In accepting the award, Fjarli deflected the praise showered on him and his wife, Jo Ann. “None of this would be possible without a whole bunch of you folks out there,” he said. “It’s not anything one person does. It takes a big team.”
Yet every team needs a leader, and Merlin and Jo Ann have proven to be extraordinary in their ability to inspire people to action. In just four years, the Fjarlis have helped to fundraise for more than 500 village evangelistic efforts in India and the construction of 500 churches. They have led 10 evangelistic projects in India with hundreds of volunteers, ultimately changing thousands of lives. Don Noble, Maranatha president, credits their work for taking what was a finite Maranatha project to a mission with unlimited potential. “We are honored to have you as the 2005 Missionaries of the Year, and we thank you for allowing God to use you to inspire us,” he said.
The Fjarlis are gearing up to start their 11th effort in India in early 2006. From Feb.1–19, 2006, 61 volunteers are scheduled for a 100-village effort in India. To learn more about the Fjarli’s work with Maranatha in India, order your free DVD copy of “Amazed by God.” Contact Maranatha by calling (916) 920-1900; or send your name and address to firstname.lastname@example.org.