Oregon Members Build 27 Churches in Malawi

"The idea of building One-Day Churches is a fantastic plan, and our trip to Malawi was based on that idea," says Randy Meyer, International Caring Hands executive director and Fall Creek (Ore.) Church member. The mission of International Caring Hands is to provide dental care in Oregon and Africa.

The One-Day Church is designed and supported by Maranatha Volunteers International for short-term missionaries to construct around the world. Maranatha supplies a prefabricated kit containing all of the steel for the structure and roof along with the necessary fasteners. The church can be built in a day. Local members build the walls out of native material, such as red clay brick. The One-Day Church can seat nearly 125 people.

In March, 24 people from western Oregon, including 11 students and two Laurelwood Academy staff members, traveled to Malawi, Africa, to build 36 churches. The plan was to divide into three groups, with each group tasked with building a dozen churches.

Arriving on Wednesday after several long flights from Portland, Ore., they began building Thursday afternoon under the direction of Maranatha workers. By Friday evening, the first three churches were completed and it was time to celebrate.

"The members of the congregation fixed us a wonderful meal, which featured the best soy gluten you will ever taste," Meyer says. "After eating, we talked about how we all, members and volunteers, hope and pray each completed church will last until Jesus comes. Then the women began to sing with a power and spirit that brought tears to my eyes."

The "seasoned" builders built six churches on Monday and Tuesday. Rain began to fall on Tuesday night and lasted for several days. The red clay roads formed into a slippery mess, so the group built two churches within walking distance. "We learned to work together under difficult situations and overcame through the strength given us from God," Meyer says.

The next week was dry, and the group completed 27 of the 36 churches they hoped to build. Nine other churches were completed by Maranatha workers and local members.

Maranatha is responding to the request of Malawi Church leaders to build 1,300 One-Day Churches, and three One-Day School campuses are already underway.

International Caring Hands will return to Malawi in 2012 with their mobile dental clinic and will build additional One-Day Churches and perhaps a One-Day School campus.

Why go to Malawi? Meyer says, "Malawi is safe; English is spoken; the Adventist Church is the largest denomination in the country. Whenever you do something in Africa, you can't do it quietly. The entire community comes out wanting to know what is going on. Building a structure is a witness to the community."

To volunteer in Oregon or Malawi, contact Meyer at randym@hfdg.com.

August 01, 2011 / Oregon Conference