President’s New Year’s message: Show love and be an agent of change in 2017

President’s New Year’s message: Show love and be an agent of change in 2017

Another year is moving into the history books, and what a year it has been!  It seems as though we had an extra dose of challenges to deal with over the past 12 months and the news was full of tragedy and sadness.  But we survived!  And in the midst of all the heartache and grief there were bright shining moments of kindness to remind us that God is still in His heaven and that goodness and love are more powerful than evil and fear.

Here at The Fuller Center for Housing we see this every day as kindhearted souls share of their resources and time to make life a little better for a family in need, a family they may only know through the stories we tell.  In 2016 our donors and volunteers helped make it possible for hundreds of families to celebrate Christmas in a safe and decent home.  We moved families from a hillside slum into a lovely new community in El Salvador; we helped those who lost everything in the earthquake in Nepal to rebuild their homes and their lives; we reached out to families in Louisiana, where the flood waters did so much damage.  In 70 U.S. cities and 20 other countries local Fuller Center organizations built and restored houses at an unprecedented rate, and every house stands as a testament of God’s love.

Now we enter the New Year and indications are that in many ways it will be as tumultuous and tragedy-laden as the year we leave behind.  It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by it all and helpless by our individual inability to effect change.  The good news is that we can be agents of change, perhaps not at the global level, but every house we build means a profound change to the family that will move into it.  We know that children who grow up in a decent house do better at school, are healthier, and have fewer behavioral problems, so the kindness we share turns out to benefit not just a single family but the entire community.

We are deeply grateful to the many donors and volunteers who have reached out with us to help families in need.  Without that outpouring of kindness this work wouldn’t be possible.  It is our prayer that, by partnering with us, our friends feel the joy that Jesus promises to those who keep his commandment—that we love one another.  Together we are changing the world, one house at a time.

Our wish for you is a New Year rich with blessings and, even though we may not be able to bring peace to a troubled world, may we all experience the peace in our hearts that comes naturally from serving others.

build more homes in 2017

 

2016 Christmas message: Love one another and experience true joy

2016 Christmas message: Love one another and experience true joy

It’s Christmastime—the season of joy. It’s a time when we make an extra effort to be kind and giving. A quick look at the scriptures tells us why joy and these nobler traits are so much a part of Christmas.

Jesus spoke of joy in a conversation with his disciples on the night before he died. He told them, “If you keep my commandments, you shall abide in my love; … these things I have spoken unto you that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” He went on to say, “This is my commandment, that you love one another, as I have loved you.”

The message is a simple one—if we keep the commandment to love another we will experience the joy of the Lord. That’s profound. I’m sure that the joy Jesus talks about is deeper than the many joys we share during the holidays, and while those joys are good and meaningful how wonderful it would be to have Jesus’ joy in our hearts.

Jesus taught us a number of ways that we can show love to one another—we can forgive, we can reach out to the poor and afflicted, we can help a family in need to have a decent home (He might not have actually mentioned that last one, but I’m sure He would approve!). Loving one another is not that hard to do.

All of us here at The Fuller Center for Housing wish you and yours a joyous Christmas. As you reach out to bless others, may the joy of the Lord fill your heart.

Create the kind of joy you’ll be thankful for this Thanksgiving

Create the kind of joy you’ll be thankful for this Thanksgiving

It’s Thanksgiving and, again, I’m counting my blessings — family and friends, a warm and secure place to lay my head at night, plenty to eat, good health and the great gift of faith.  In so many ways those of us living in America today are among the most fortunate in the history of the world.  We have unprecedented material abundance and a level of freedom that few outside of this time and place have enjoyed.  We have so much to be thankful for, and we really ought to find ways of expressing our gratitude beyond simply saying “thank you” over turkey and mashed potatoes.

I just happen to have an idea or two.  The work we do here at The Fuller Center takes us to places that don’t enjoy many of the blessings that we take for granted.  We see poverty in all of its tragic manifestations — hunger, poor health, limited education and indecent housing.  Jesus tells us that to whom much is given much is expected.  He tells us what we give to those in need we give to Him.  And here’s the kicker: He tells us that if we obey his simple commandments — that we love God and love one another — everyone will know that we are His disciples.  And there’s more: He tells us that by doing this His joy will be in us and our joy will be complete.  That’s something to be truly thankful for. Read More »

Gifts in kind, generous companies help make our work possible

Gifts in kind, generous companies help make our work possible

Greetings from the beautiful community of Valley, Alabama, where we will begin our annual Millard Fuller Legacy Build tomorrow morning. Our wonderful volunteers begin raising walls in the morning on two new homes and a major renovation project that we will dedicate on Friday. From the moment we raise these walls until Friday’s hugs and tears of joy, we will see volunteers’ sweat, donors’ dollars and several entities’ gifts-in-kind in action.

The Fuller Center for Housing is able to do what we do because of the kindness of others. We have many friends who donate funds to pay for our house building and restoration work and many others who give of their precious time to get the work done. These partners mean everything to us.

Increasingly, we’re receiving more gifts of tools and materials, gifts that significantly affect the cash outlays that our capital-intensive programs require. Every dollar that we don’t have to spend on lumber or other materials is one that can go into getting yet another family housed, so these new partners are making a true difference in the lives of God’s people in need.

A couple of these donors are Christian organizations — World Vision has been a huge supporter supplying products like roofing, siding and fixtures, and CrossRoads Missions has built countless framing packages in church parking lots to be delivered to our building sites.

Every dollar that we don’t have to spend on lumber or other materials is one that can go into getting yet another family housed.

Now we’re seeing more corporate involvement as companies like Wooster Brush, Hyde Tools, Stanley Black & Decker, American Standard and Stihl have stepped forward in the past couple of years to offer support, some with tools and fixtures, some with cash, some with both.

These gifts are a great help to us, but what makes them significant is that they are gifts that don’t have to be made — they are given out of a generosity of spirit. Despite our steady growth, The Fuller Center doesn’t have the national recognition that some of our larger friends in the affordable housing movement enjoy, so we can’t provide these donors with the sort of publicity that they could get elsewhere. It’s been said that true generosity is that which has no expectation of a return. That’s the kind of generosity that these gifts represent.

We’re thankful for these gifts and the simple generosity that they represent. Lives have been profoundly affected by the blessing of a decent home, something that these gifts have helped make possible. On their behalf and from all of us here at The Fuller Center, thank you!

David Snell’s Easter 2016 message: It’s time to demonstrate our Christianity

David Snell’s Easter 2016 message: It’s time to demonstrate our Christianity

It’s Easter, that time of year when we pause to wonder at the incomparable gift God gave us of His Son, who lived to share a message of love, who died an excruciating death to redeem us of our sins, and who was resurrected to give us the promise of eternal life. That’s a lot to wonder at. It is truly a gift beyond our ability to comprehend, let alone to give proper thanks for. It should, though, inspire us to a better life, one that is enriched by following the Savior’s simple command—that we love God and that we love one another.

Those of us who follow Jesus, we Christians, find ourselves in a difficult time in history. In faraway places our brothers and sisters are being massacred at an alarming rate. Here at home we’re witnessing a rising secularism that can’t quite tolerate any public expression of Christian belief. We’re watching the church decline in membership and influence. What are we to do?

The way I see it the best defense we can offer is to be more Christian. The truth is that if everyone followed Christ’s teachings the world would be a peaceful place. Of course that’s not going to happen, but that doesn’t diminish the obligation that those of us who call ourselves Christians have to practice our faith in real and tangible ways.

Clarence Jordan established Koinonia Farm as a demonstration plot of the kingdom of God. The goal was to show how living out the commandments that we love one another, that we care for those in need, not only brought joy to those who were demonstrating such kindness but was of great benefit to society. We try to do that in our Fuller Center for Housing work as well. Every house we build is a sermon of God’s love and a witness to the message Jesus left us — that we love one another.

As we remember Christ’s suffering and celebrate his resurrection it’s a perfect time to recommit ourselves to following His example. The best hope for Christianity is for Christians to demonstrate the tremendous power of the faith and the goodness that comes from living a life of giving. The Great Commission calls on us to share the gospel with all the world. We do that best not by preaching but by doing.

May the good Lord bless us all as we reach out to bless others.

David Snell: Louisiana flooding victims need our help

David Snell: Louisiana flooding victims need our help

Last week, as much as 20 inches of rain fell in some parts of Louisiana in less than 48 hours. One of the hardest-hit parishes is Tangipahoa, where the very busy and effective Ginger Ford Northshore Fuller Center for Housing is based.

Ginger Ford Northshore Executive Director Tamara Danel was raised in nearby New Orleans, where flooding has always been a common occurrence. But she says she has never witnessed flooding like this. In Tangipahoa Parish, more than a thousand houses took in water and more than 2,800 people had to be rescued by boat.

“This flood affected rich and poor alike,” she said. “We are very worried about the homes where no flood insurance was required and the families do not have the resources to go out and buy all new insulation, drywall, baseboard molding, doors and appliances. Those families need their homes repaired quickly before any unwelcome black mold takes over.”

100 percent of donations made to our disaster fund will go toward helping these families rebuild their homes and their lives.

Scenes like this are all too common in Tangipahoa Parish, where more than 1,000 homes took in water from last week's massive rains.

Scenes like this are all too common in Tangipahoa Parish, where more than 1,000 homes took in water from last week’s massive rains.

Our friends at Ginger Ford Northshore do an outstanding job and already had committed to one new home build, two ReNew projects and at least 25 Greater Blessing repairs before this flood struck. Those ambitious plans already had stretched their 2016 budget thin, and they currently do not have the money in their budget for this recovery effort. But this outstanding Fuller Center covenant partner stands willing to help flood victims if we can simply help them raise the money to do the job.

So let’s do it! Let’s extend that helping hand to families in need!

The Fuller Center for Housing helps families in need of a decent place to call home. That need becomes stark when disaster strikes, disproportionately affecting the most vulnerable among us. As the floodwaters recede in Louisiana many families are facing great hardship, especially those who were uninsured and don’t have access to the resources to repair their homes.

We will be reaching out to these families, and we need your support. Remember, 100 percent of donations made to our disaster fund will go toward helping these families rebuild their homes and their lives.

donate to help flood victims

Happy 75th birthday, Linda Fuller! Your “Stop!” makes us “Go!”

Happy 75th birthday, Linda Fuller! Your “Stop!” makes us “Go!”

 

Support the #Linda75 campaign

For the better part of her life, Linda Fuller has been at the vanguard of the affordable housing movement — in fact, she gets the credit for starting it!

When Millard’s ambition to be a millionaire got in the way of his family obligations, it was Linda who said “Stop!” If she hadn’t put her foot down, the dream that became Habitat for Humanity and The Fuller Center for Housing might never have been born.

But it was. She and Millard gave away their wealth and listened to hear what God would have them do. He said, “Go and house the poor.” And, so, they did — first at Koinonia Farm, then in Mbandaka, Zaire, and then around the world with ministries that redefined volunteering and Christian charity.

Linda has noted that the phrase, “Behind every good man is a good woman,” is incorrect. It should read, “Beside every good man is a good woman.” And that is where Linda stood through Millard’s 40-year ministry. Since his death, she has continued to hold the banner high — raising funds, inspiring volunteers and reminding us all that the goal of No More Shacks has not yet been met.

Linda has noted that the phrase, “Behind every good man is a good woman,” is incorrect. It should read, “Beside every good man is a good woman.”

It is fitting that Linda wanted to celebrate her Diamond Jubilee Year by raising money and building houses. She’s set a goal of raising $75,000 in new funds and will be rehabbing a house with as many friends as she can muster in Macon, Georgia, on March 19. For Linda, being the First Lady of Affordable Housing is more than a title — it’s a calling.

So, on behalf of all of us here at The Fuller Center and, more, on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of families who have a decent place to call home because you said, “Stop!” those many years ago, Happy Birthday, Linda!

If you would like to support Linda Fuller’s effort to raise $75,000 for her 75th birthday, click here.

Support the #Linda75 campaign

 

 

David Snell: Remembering Millard Fuller’s dream of “No more shacks!”

David Snell: Remembering Millard Fuller’s dream of “No more shacks!”

In 1992, upon accepting the Martin Luther King, Jr. Humanitarian Award, Millard Fuller said, “He was a man of aggressive goodwill. Because of his dreams and because others dreamed with him, we do live in a better day.”

He was speaking, of course, of Dr. King, but it’s a statement that applies to Millard as well. Millard had a dream, that “Everyone who gets sleepy at night should have a simple, decent place to lay their heads.” And Millard had the rare talent of getting others to dream with him. Thousands of donors and volunteers rallied to his call and as a result millions of people around the world now have a simple, decent place to lay their heads at night.

Today, on the seventh anniversary of Millard’s passing, we pause to honor his memory. But we don’t pause for long because the need remains great and there are still millions of people around the world who need a simple, decent place to call their own.

The dream may have started with Millard but as he shared it, it became the dream of all of us who follow in his footsteps. Millard was a builder and knew the importance of putting a solid foundation under the houses he built. In that same way he put a solid foundation under the ministry and so, even in his absence, the work continues to prosper and grow.

We miss Millard to this day. His wisdom and enthusiasm inspired us all. He was more than the spark that started a movement, he was a raging fire that kept it moving and growing at a remarkable pace. He was a friend to the poor, to the marginalized and the needy. He sought to share the gospel not just with the houses he built or the sermons he gave but by the way he lived his life.

The only way to truly honor him is to follow his example, and so we here at The Fuller Center for Housing remain committed to his dream — No more shacks!