A month after launching a fundraising campaign, supporters of Maranatha Volunteers International raised $600,000 to build a new church for the Bethsaida Seventh-day Adventist Church in Zambia. Half of the funds came in the form of a gift from a generous donor, who offered to match dollar for dollar up to $300,000. More than 900 people gave to the effort, allowing Maranatha to move forward in providing a new place of worship for this congregation. 

The new church will replace an old place of worship that collapsed earlier this year. On the afternoon of January 8, 2022, a severe storm broke out in Kasama, the city where Bethsaida is located. As Sabbath services wrapped up, some members decided to shelter in the church to wait out the weather. However, the rain and wind intensified, causing the church to collapse onto those inside. Five people died and 16 were badly injured. 

Local officials attributed the collapse of the church, which was constructed by members in 2020, to the quality of construction. “After assessment of the building, it is clear that the building material used was of poor quality,” said firefighter Hoseo Mbao to Daily Nation, a Zambian news outlet. 

Samuel Sinyangwe, president of the Adventist Church in Northern Zambia, requested Maranatha’s assistance in rebuilding the church as soon as possible, as “members have nowhere to worship and it is the rainy season,” said Sinyangwe. 

The new place of worship will be on a larger property that can accommodate a church designed for Bethsaida’s 500 congregants. Maranatha will also provide six Sabbath School classrooms for the church’s 180 children, bathrooms, and a water well for the community.