It takes so little to give so much: Malibu Pacific Church’s Baja Missions tradition celebrates 30 years

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Volunteers from Malibu Pacific Church stand with local residents in front of a church in Baja California, near Tijuana. The volunteers were there to build two new homes. Photo Courtesy of Malibu Pacific Church

Malibu volunteers build homes near Tijuana, changing recipients’ lives 

By Barbara Burke

Special to The Malibu Times

“In an ongoing commitment to community service and outreach, Malibu Pacific Church, in partnership with Baja Christian Ministries, has reached a significant milestone: 30 years of building homes and providing essential aid in the outskirts of Tijuana, Mexico,” Pastor Andy VomSteeg shared with The Malibu Times. “Over the decades, this initiative has seen the construction of two to four homes annually, directly impacting the lives of numerous families across the border.” 

This year, Malibu Pacific Church continued its tradition by sending a team of 43 dedicated volunteers to construct two new homes at the end of April. 

“Among the beneficiaries was a local pastor and his family, who received one of the homes, complete with appliances and beds — a gesture that symbolizes the deep connection and support the church aims to foster within these communities.” VomSteeg said, adding that each home, valued at approximately $15,000, is constructed over a mere two-day period. Further, the homes are fully furnished and ready for immediate occupancy. 

“The quick turnaround doesn’t just provide shelter but also instills hope and stability for the recipients.” VomSteeg noted. “The emotional culmination of each mission trip is the key handover ceremony, an event filled with tears and gratitude, highlighting the profound impact of the church’s efforts.”

Volunteer Wailani O’Herlihy, who participated in this year’s mission along with her nephew Daire O’Herlihy, talked of the lasting effects of such an effort.

“To me, it’s very important to take people to Baja to build for others, especially younger people because they are positively impacted — they see how important it is to help the less fortunate, but how fulfilling it is to those who donate their time and efforts as well.” Wailani O’Herlihy said. “In addition to building the homes, we also feed meals to those in need, which they greatly appreciate.”

VomSteeg said O’Herlihy’s thoughts are typical of the volunteers.

“Participants often describe the experience as life-changing,” he noted, adding that another volunteer shared with him, “We got out of it more than we ever gave,” and noting that sentiment is echoed by many who take part in the annual missions. 

“It’s very moving for both the volunteers and those who receive the homes,” VomSteeg noted. “

Another volunteer reflected on the moment the keys change hands and said, “When we give the house away, it’s not just about building walls and roofs; it’s about laying the foundations for a brighter future for these families.”

VomSteeg observed, “This transformative effect is a testament to the reciprocal nature of service — while the volunteers provide tangible aid, they gain immeasurable personal growth and perspective in return.” 

Looking ahead, Malibu Pacific Church is already preparing for its next mission trip this fall. The church extends a warm invitation to anyone interested in joining their efforts to make a difference. 

“Whether you’re skilled with a hammer or eager to serve in other capacities, such as food distribution, there is a place for you on the team.” VomSteeg said. “For those inspired to participate or contribute to the ongoing mission work, Malibu Pacific Church welcomes new and returning volunteers to continue this beautiful journey of service and solidarity. Join them in making a lasting impact where it’s most needed, and perhaps discover how such an experience can change your own life too.”

For more information, call Malibu Pacific Church at (310) 456-1611.