Locals beg church construction missionaries to stay home

Slow going...
Slow going…
Locals at Maranatha construction sites worldwide have launched a global We Got This Campaign, urging missionaries to stay home.

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The surprising action comes on the heels of a report of Maranatha mission construction projects in 2013.  Analysts rate that the average completion record of church and school buildings by missionary teams was 9%.

“Construction work by short-term volunteers appears to suffer especially in the host countries with the best weather and food,” said analyst Melanie Blunt.  “Site proximity to beaches has an especially terrible effect on productivity.  Volunteers arrive all excited in, say, the Dominican Republic, but then seem genuinely shocked that they are required to do actual work.”

“Let’s not even get started on the technical knowledge of our volunteers,” said long-time volunteer mason, James Hatley, who averages three Maranatha trips per year.  “On most of my trips, some locals and I have to tear down what has been built and rebuild it at night because our people were so busy yapping that they laid brick like 3-year-olds.  I pray for patience on every trip.”

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Chapters of the We Got This campaign have sprung up at almost every Maranatha construction site around the world.  “We are very grateful for the good intentions of the volunteers that come to build churches and schools in our countries,” said We Got This World President, Joseph Santos.  “But the money spent on these trips would go much further in simply funding local professional builders.”


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21 Comments

  1. Ernie Medina, Jr.

    Hahahaha..I know this is satire, so I won’t even begin to critique were it’s all wrong! We’re getting ready to go on our 5th family summer project to Dominican Republic in less than 2 weeks, and we’re looking forward to making new friends with the locals and volunteers who will be going.

  2. Ernie Medina, Jr.

    In response to what Olson said, he/she obviously doesn’t know what actually happens when Maranatha goes to a location to build a church or school. It doesn’t take away from local jobs–if anything, it provides them jobs AND it raises the value of that community long after we volunteers have gone. Plus locals DO helps us on these job sites, especially when we build the schools. The impact these schools and churches have on the community last for decades and generations in those communities, so the little work that we actually end up doing has a far greater ROI to the local economy than if we had never gone there in the first place.

    • Paige

      Having been on a few of these working vacations as a teenager, knowing the quality of th e structure we built, (cinder block, bare bones.) I can say with confidence, the money we raised to go on the trip, upwards of $50k, would have gone SO FAR toward providing those locals with sustainable blessings! We were idiot kids. Sure, we worked hard, but we flirted, played, and complained if we had to work more than a few hours a day. We were there to get out of school and enjoy a change of scenery. I wish I could say otherwise.

      • Ernie Medina, Jr.

        Did you go on Maranatha trips? We have both US and local foremen on the job sites, and they make sure we are building to US standards…some of the buildings I’ve seen there are very sub-standard, so I know every single church and school that I’ve been on the last 5 years, are of the highest quality. And my 16-year old daughter can lay block faster and better than I can! Barely needs to tap it down and it’s level all around.

        From your description, it sounds very different than a Maranatha trip. All the family projects I’ve been on have been very spiritual, fun, and hard work as well. Last year’s trip to Panama, we were on the job site at 5:30 AM, worked till lunch, and then worked again till about 3 or 4 PM. We also did medical clinics, VBS, and health evangelism talks in the evenings. And yes, we did have fun, did a half-day trip midway through the project to go sight-see, so it wasn’t all work and no play. But we did certainly work hard, no question!

        That’s a misconception that the money could’ve been betters spent. You should see the schools and churches that Maranatha has built in the last 10 to 20 years and they have grown tremendously. That’s why we’re going back to Dominican Republic next week to build even more churches.

        I know there have been many “wasted” mission trips, that’s why we go with Maranatha because they have a top-flight organization that focuses on using the local people, makes sure it’s sustainable by the local church members, and makes sure the local conference is prepared to sustain a new church or school in their area.

  3. Paige

    I completely agree with the impetus behind this satire. 35 witless high school students, airfare, lodging, meals, twelve chaperones, and assorted sundries cost the church or school tens of thousands of dollars. Money that would be MUCH better spent hiring a local crew and sending ONE person or family for outreach. Not to mention the medical costs when half the kids come down with hepatitis or dysentery. True story.

  4. Glenn

    It appears that for some, satire and religion don’t mix. For you we have set up the alternative safe-for-the-humor-averse site “fullyadventist.com”. Unfortunately there doesn’t appear to be enough bandwidth…

    • Ernie Medina, Jr.

      While some satire is fun…it’s only really fun when everyone knows it’s satire. And the sad truth is, that many actually believe as truth the satire portrayed here. Unfortunately, not all mission trips are as well-run as Maranatha’s so they perceive all mission trips to be a waste of money.

      I can guarantee you that if you go on one Marantha trip, you’ll see how it works out best, both for the host locals AND for those that go on these trips!!! It CHANGES LIVES for both the volunteer and the local!!! The effects and benefits continue to occur long after we have left.

      Sure, my family could’ve just donated the $$ we are spending to go next week, but I can guarantee you that the impact on our family would be no where near as powerful and deep as it will be from actually going. Same with the locals–it’s more than just about a building, it’s RELATIONSHIPS that are built between volunteers and locals. The fact that they see us spending our own time and $$ to come down there and help them with a need that they have makes a difference. We get to eat together, pray together, worship together, talk and laugh together, and yes, when we leave, even cry together.

      But the good news is that I now have friends in Mexico, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, and soon, Dominican Republic, that we pray for, some we communicate on FB, and we all look forward to seeing them in “cielo” (heaven) someday soon.

      Could we volunteers and locals experience all this relational stuff if I had stayed at home and sent in a check to the Maranatha office???

      • Ernie Medina, Jr.

        PS. I forgot to add this….in Honduras, one of the elders at a small church in a rural, poor area, where they met in someone’s house with dirt floor, said to us as we we were preparing to return back to our hotel after worshipping with them (we had more volunteers than church members!), that they were SO encouraged to be able to worship with us, it was a huge encouragement to them, for them to know that they were not alone in this world. Our being there made them feel connected to a world-wide church, and we assured them that they were not alone.

        That made a huge impression on me, knowing that our just being there was a huge boost to their spiritual life.

        In Nicaragua, the church members there told us that having us “gringos” come and visit them helped the other neighbors see that they were a “real church” because SDAs were not as well known as Catholic churches. So us visiting to them elevated their status among the neighboring communities and validated who they were as a church.

        I could go on and on, but you get the idea how actually BEING THERE in person makes all the difference. The building part is more like an excuse to be there, because sure, the money we spent could hire local workers to build the building faster than we could. But that’s not the main reason we go–it’s to impact and change LIVES through construction…both the locals and the volunteers!

  5. Dee Elias

    This is sad! I understand that people with AGENDAS need to project their negativity at others’ expense to get satisfaction and possibly further their “cause”. Here unfortunately it went too far. No one with a real clear conscience would agree with this premise of “leave us alone”.. These volunteers are paying out of pocket to not only help the locals with their physical needs but also their emotional and well being. This can be an everlasting help. There is no substitute for human touch and compassion. There is also an inherent blessing for the families that go there as well. . SO instead of feeling guilty and angry for not going, try to go sometime and see how you can bless others and be blessed in return.. Enjoy the day! stay positive…

    • Glenn

      Dee, Yikes. I’m betting that the author of this post has been on such a mission trip, and will probably go on another. There are times when even the locals joke about it – in sarcastic kidding around fun and appreciation. And there are places that have asked that no more such mission trips return to their area.

      • Ernie Medina, Jr.

        That’s too bad some groups have left a bad taste in the local’s mouths. That’s not the case with Maranatha…they have, in their office, over 100,000 requests for building projects all over the world! And more coming in each month that have still to be vetted.

  6. Steve

    Okay, so it’s satire. I’ve started to collect funds from the intelligent people who say, “it would be better to collect the money and then wire it to the people who need it in the mission field.” Since I get to go on several mission trips each year, I ask people to give me the money and I’ll hand deliver it to the mission field. To date, only one person has given me anything. Sounds like a lot of good talk but no action. Anyone can be an armchair quarterback. The same is true for virtual missionaries whose lack of doing anything overseas can only be matched by what they do in their own community as well.
    It’s only satire, right?

    • StefanieD

      …and money without structure can be pretty meaningless as well. Assuming you’re the Steve I think you are, UW never told us that we were doing something that the “locals” couldn’t do. Actually, I remember on both of my trips being specifically humbled with the idea that we were being given the opportunity to assist/help/minister/play with kids(in my case!!) during a time of need, mostly for our own benefit (for one of my trips it was right after Hurricane Mitch in a shanty town–we literally built the most sturdy building that existed in the town at the time). I don’t think all trips are equal–I know of some where people just got high with the locals the whole time–but well organized trips with leaders with broad cultural perspective can be really life changing for the volunteers. And that’s what I think we should be willing to accept is that the we’re going there to make ourselves better people and hope that we can pass on some of that good vibe to the people hosting us for those two weeks or so. Plus, I met my husband as a teenager on a UW/Maranatha trip, so no complaints here!! I feel like I’m more likely to empathize and/or sympathize with the dire needs of disenfranchised people after having been on those trips. Maybe it’s not the same for everyone, but I know it was for my husband and me. I’m going to be a Veterinarian soon (kind of rare in the Adventist world), so I’m hoping to use that to do more mission-type trips. I’ve already volunteered at outpost vet clinics in Samoa and the Cook Islands where my husband was doing his Anthropology fieldwork. Anyhoo, before I rant much more–I appreciate satire, even this one, but even as barely Adventist as I am today, my happiest memories of Adventism are mission trips (minus the giardia!!).

  7. Tim

    One big misconception is that if people did not go on mission trips that they would give that same money to assist locals with projects. I am not sure that is true. The reason many people invest and even sacrifice for airfare, food, materials etc. is because they want the young people that they send to get a bigger picture of life. Missionary projects are two sided evangelism. They help the ones who receive the buildings and they change the lives of those who go.

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