Over the Christmas holiday, 36 people volunteered in the Dominican Republic on one of Maranatha’s annual Family Projects. These were the first volunteers to serve in the country in Maranatha’s most recent effort here. Families of all kinds met up near the capital city of Santo Domingo to experience a different type of Christmas than they might normally have at home. The group’s main goal was to build the walls of the Caleta 5 Seventh-day Adventist Church, where volunteers of all ages helped, including children. The kids also participated in a special day camp to experience local culture.

Besides construction, volunteers also conducted outreach in the community, like children’s programs. Sixty to 110 kids attended each day, and at the end of the week, they participated in a graduation ceremony with a cake and snacks. Volunteers also raised money to purchase gift baskets for neighbors around the church, delivering 60 baskets to surrounding homes.

At the conclusion of the project, volunteers worshiped with the local congregation in their new building. “We are very joyful because today we are celebrating our first [volunteer-constructed] church here in the Dominican Republic in this particular period of time,” said Maranatha’s country director in the Dominican Republic, Gilberto Araujo. “We want to thank those who were bold enough to be here for this first church and are praying to God that we will build many more churches like this one in the future.”

Maranatha has a long history of working in the Dominican Republic. In 1980, after the destruction of Hurricane David, Maranatha constructed 160 houses here. In 1992, the Dominican Republic was the site of a watershed moment of growth for Maranatha, when the organization coordinated the construction of 25 churches over 70 days. Dubbed “Santo Domingo ’92,” it was the first time Maranatha concentrated on one place for multiple volunteer projects. Later efforts occurred in 2003 and 2013, and in 2022, Maranatha returned once more.