Poor and remote, the southern Mexican state of Chiapas developed a bad reputation during indigenous uprisings of the 1990s, leaving many local residents more impoverished than before the conflict began. But now things are looking up in Chiapas thanks in part to the work of Maranatha Volunteers International, an organization that brings volunteers from all over the United States to build schools and churches in both small villages and larger towns throughout the area.
Maranatha’s work in Mexico closely resembles its efforts in Zimbabwe, Honduras, India and other Third World countries around the globe. The story began 41 years ago, when a Christian pilot volunteered to fly some supplies to a poor country where a local congregation was building a new church. He soon recruited a corps of pilots for similar projects; eventually, Maranatha grew into a multifront international ministry, organizing volunteer trips for thousands of travelers each year.
Today, Maranatha is broadening its reach with newly developed programs, the One Day Church and the One Day School. These programs use a universal building design and prefabricated structures, enabling teams of volunteers to complete a construction project in a single day. In addition to putting up metal frames or laying cement blocks, participants can choose to help with meal preparation, children’s ministry, or medical and dental clinics in the communities where Maranatha works.