FAITH IN ACTION: Managing ReUse Store provides spiritual lift, helps families

FAITH IN ACTION: Managing ReUse Store provides spiritual lift, helps families

(This is the latest installment of our “Faith in Action” series. If you have a story of how involvement with The Fuller Center has impacted your faith, please let us know at this link.)

Kristen Rimmer already had five back surgeries under her belt by the age of 25 — all stemming from a car wreck that happened with her then-5-year-old child in the vehicle. The operations limited her physically as she sought to return to the workforce, but she wound up landing a part-time job with limitless opportunity for helping others.

In April of 2015, Rimmer began working for the Ginger Ford Northshore Fuller Center for Housing‘s ReUse Store in Hammond, Louisiana. The store — along with its adjacent sister shops, The Fuller Shop and The Rabbit Hole — is one of the nonprofit’s leading sources of revenue. That revenue helps families make badly needed repairs to existing homes or partner with Ginger Ford Northshore to build new homes.

“From day one, I really enjoyed my job,” Rimmer says. “The enjoyment quickly grew to love. As I began to connect with our homeowners, establish a relationship with our regulars and, of course, build relationships with co-workers, that love grew to become a passion.”

Kristen Rimmer

Within five months, Rimmer advanced to a full-time position and she has since become the manager of the ReUse Store. Not only does the store raise money for Ginger Ford Northshore’s work, but it also provides amazing deals on many items and necessities — something especially important for people still recovering and making repairs from historic flooding less than two years ago.

“Seeing customers come in every day and hearing their stories of losing everything from our floods in 2016 was incredibly humbling,” she says. “You go home with a sense of ease knowing you were able to help these people in some way.”

Rimmer says that she tries to live every day by the biblical principle in Acts 20:25 — that it is better to give than to receive.

“I actually had it painted inside of my store,” she says of the Bible verse. “Working in a place where I can wake up and connect and minister to people who come through my store is an amazing feeling! It not only gives them the spiritual direction they desired but also gives me a spiritual fulfillment I could have only gotten by helping others.”

FAITH IN ACTION: Expansiveness of God’s love clear after Thailand trip

FAITH IN ACTION: Expansiveness of God’s love clear after Thailand trip

(This is the latest installment of our “Faith in Action” series. If you have a story of how involvement with The Fuller Center has impacted your faith, please let us know at this link.)

Fuller Center for Housing founder Millard Fuller saw the affordable housing ministry he and wife Linda started in the early 1970s as a worldwide movement. He knew, as most do, that God’s love extends to the entire world. Millard did not just read that in the Bible — he and Linda witnessed it while traveling to all corners of the world.

Reading and believing that God’s love reaches beyond man-made national borders is one thing, but witnessing it is for yourself is a perspective-altering experience that lasts a lifetime. Sandy Buscheck of Orinda, California, knows it.

Though her husband, Tim, had been to Thailand several times, such a long journey was not exactly her idea of a good way to spend free time.

“I’m someone who usually resists leaving my safe and secure world,” said Sandy, whose town has been ranked by Forbes magazine No. 2 on a list of “America’s Friendliest Towns.” (Who’s No. 1? That’d be Sammamish, Washington, according to Forbes.)

It was only when a team of 10 people from First Presbyterian Church of Berkeley signed up to work with The Fuller Center’s Global Builders program in Lampang, Thailand, that she reluctantly tagged along with her husband.

And she’s forever glad she did, as are their Thai homeowner partners — a husband and wife with two daughters, who moved from a bamboo shack to a safe, new Fuller Center home (pictured above).

Sandy & Tim Buscheck

“I’m a mother of three sons I occasionally took camping while they were growing up,” Sandy said. “Living outdoors for a short time is fun, but I cannot imagine raising children who live on a bamboo platform with no walls. I loved being able to help homeowners with two daughters move to a house with four outside walls, windows with screens, doors, a roof, a kitchen and a bathroom.”

The family’s dire need for a simple, decent home was made even more clear during their trip when one of the homeowners’ daughters fell ill with a fever.

“I am so happy that if one of the daughters is sick again, she will be able to be inside in a comfortable room recuperating,” Sandy said.

While Sandy helped provide this family with the safety and security of a decent home, she is thankful for the opportunity to have stretched outside of her California comfort zone.

“The safety and security that house will provide for those girls remind me that God surrounds me with His love,” she said. “Meeting the family, cooking and eating meals with them and seeing how their lives will improve makes God’s work in the world real to me. I know this family now and I can pray for them. I see that God is at work in Thailand, and He is at work in opening my eyes to His care for all people.”

DID YOU KNOW? It costs only $6,500 to sponsor a new
Fuller Center home in Thailand. Click here to learn more!

Interested in a Fuller Center Global Builders trip to Thailand? Click here!

Orchard Park (NY) Presbyterian and Auburn (AL) UMC help Harvey victims

Orchard Park (NY) Presbyterian and Auburn (AL) UMC help Harvey victims

Two churches from very different parts of the country teamed up recently to work with the Fuller Center Disaster ReBuilders and help residents in the Houston area who are still dealing with the effects of this past summer’s flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey. Volunteers from Orchard Park Presbyterian Church of Orchard Park, N.Y., and Auburn United Methodist Church of Auburn, Ala., worked on five homes during the week of service. Orchard Park TV station WIVB reports on the work here, and you can view a slideshow below shared by Orchard Park Presbyterian. If you would like to volunteer with the Disaster ReBuilders, please click here.

Millard Fuller Legacy Build, annual conference both coming to Americus in April

Millard Fuller Legacy Build, annual conference both coming to Americus in April

(Photo: First United Methodist Church of Americus)

For the first time, The Fuller Center for Housing’s Millard Fuller Legacy Build will be held in Americus, Georgia. The build, featuring new home builds and rehab projects is the week of April 15-20, 2018. The Americus-Sumter Fuller Center for Housing will be coordinating the build.

But that’s not the only first coming to Americus in April: The Legacy Build will conclude as The Fuller Center’s Annual Conference begins — with the two events merging for the first time on Friday, April 20. On that day, the annual conference will begin at 1 p.m. at host First United Methodist Church before attendees join Legacy Build volunteers for house dedications in the afternoon. That evening, both Legacy Build volunteers and conference attendees — including some people involved in both events — will join together again for a 5 p.m. social hour and a 6 p.m. dinner at historic Koinonia Farm.

“Millard used to say that while the Northeast has beautiful fall foliage and the West Coast has sunny skies and beaches, Americus has April,” Fuller Center President David Snell said. “It’s a glorious month, and it will be even more glorious with the two great events that will be hosted here. It will be one great family reunion! Start making plans now to join us for either or both — the Legacy Build, April 15-20, the Conference on the 20th and 21st. I’ll look forward to seeing you here!”

Fuller Center Director of Communications Chris Johnson added that the idea of joining the two events was spurred by a four-day build that preceded The Fuller Center’s Annual Conference in Hammond, Louisiana, in April of 2017.

“Our partners there had a very successful Higher Ground on the Bayou flood repair blitz over the four days before the conference, and it provided a lot of enthusiasm and momentum heading into the sessions,” Johnson said. “It also put the learning of the conference into a very tangible context for those who attended both. We expect the same to happen in Americus, and we expect plenty of folks will want to be part of both events.”

conference — Register or learn more

LEGACY BUILD — register or learn more

Housing nonprofits team up in Springfield, Ohio, hoping to spark redevelopment

Housing nonprofits team up in Springfield, Ohio, hoping to spark redevelopment

Fuller Center for Housing covenant partners often collaborate with like-minded organizations to maximize the impact they can have in a community. That’s exactly what’s happening with the Clark County Fuller Center for Housing in Springfield, Ohio, where their current home build is in partnership with the Neighborhood Housing Project of Greater Springfield. The organizations’ home build is part of a redevelopment effort in the Clifton Court neighborhood where the NHP worked before the housing crash of 2008. The Springfield News-Sun has a complete report on the project at this link, along with a video interview with Clark County Fuller Center Executive Director Kermit Rowe below:

FAITH IN ACTION: Manuelians’ work in Armenia comes full-circle with a big surprise

FAITH IN ACTION: Manuelians’ work in Armenia comes full-circle with a big surprise

(This is part of The Fuller Center’s new “Faith in Action” series. If you have a story to share for the series, please let us know at this link.)

Was it a case of providential confluence, divine intervention or pure coincidence? Leo Manuelian doesn’t know the answer to the question, but he is grateful for the surprise experience he had while leading a Fuller Center Global Builders project in Armenia this past summer — an event that revived memories of his first Armenian build.

Leo and his wife, Sona (pictured above), have been helping families have simple, decent places to live in Armenia since 2003. It has become a summer tradition for the couple, although Sona was unable to make the trip in 2017.

The Manuelians’ first experience in 2003 was helping a man whose family lived in a domik — a large metal shipping container in which the Soviet Union had intended as temporary housing for families affected by the massive 1988 earthquake that killed tens of thousands of people. The Soviet Union soon collapsed, though, and Armenia was on its own. Three decades later, many families still live in those domiks.

The patriarch of the family was hopeful that the new house would encourage one of his sons who had fled to The Netherlands to come home. He also wanted his younger son to have a decent home into which he could bring a bride. It is Armenian tradition for the youngest son to stay in the family home to raise his own family and take care of his parents as they age. They then inherit the home. But that tradition is difficult to maintain when the family lives in a domik.

“His younger son was not going to get married because they lived in a steel container, and where’s he going to bring a wife to?” Manuelian recalled a day after shoveling heavy snow at his home in River Vale, New Jersey. “A steel container and take care of his parents from a steel container? If it wasn’t for that, he wouldn’t have had any grandchildren from that son, and there wouldn’t have been a family unit there. The work that we do there, it goes forth for generations. It truly does.”

This past summer, he saw that work go forth in a way he never expected. Late in the build week, volunteer coordinator Gohar Vardanyan told him that the young mother of three whose family was the homeowner partners this trip also worked on that first home in 2003. That home was for her uncle, and she was a 12-year-old girl who worked as hard as anyone on that site to help her extended family.

“It was just an incredibly gratifying moment,” Manuelian said. “We were eating lunch, and Gohar said ‘I have some good news for you.’ My face lit up. I couldn’t believe it — to help two generations of one family, that I’d been going there that long and that she remembered me from the age of 12. It was just an incredible feeling.”

It was no premeditated plan by The Fuller Center’s local team in Armenia to link the Manuelians’ first and most recent build experiences.

“The houses are selected by the Fuller people after they go through the vetting process, and it wasn’t until the third or fourth day that I was there that Gohar came to me and told me,” he said. “She didn’t know to begin with. So it wasn’t planned that way. It could have been coincidence or it could have been divine intervention — I have no idea.”

Manuelian was thrilled to see the mother of three have a decent home, just like her uncle, especially now that she has a fourth on the way. But he had to be coaxed into revisiting the home of her uncle, even after she invited him to visit Manuelian on the final day of her home build.

“He wanted to show me how happy he was in his home, but I didn’t want to go back,” he said. “I didn’t want him to remember what it was like before. I wanted him basically to forget about me.”

He relented, though, when Fuller Center Armenia President Ashot Yeghiazaryan pressed him.

“I sensed that I was putting Ashot in an awkward position because he had this weird look on his face when I said that I didn’t want to go back,” Manuelian said. “So I said OK.”

And he’s glad he did. He even saw the old steel container that had once been the family’s home. They sold it to a neighbor and could still see it from their Fuller Center home. Their neighbor uses it to store winter hay. Unfortunately, the son who left for The Netherlands never returned.

“We had a nice talk,” Manuelian said. “His children had married. He had five grandchildren around him and brought a couple with his wife to the dinner that the Fuller people prepared. We sat down, had a few drinks and reminisced. We’re both getting old. But it was just a wonderful, wonderful experience.”

Leo and Sona Manuelian will continue their annual tradition of helping Armenian families build homes June 11-18 of this year when they lead yet another Fuller Center Global Builders trip. If you’d like to join them, there are still slots available. Visit our Upcoming Global Builders Trips page to learn more.

Hear from Leo Manuelian and volunteers on the 2017 trip and see the family they helped in this video from Fuller Center Armenia:


Gallery featuring Leo and Sona Manuelian’s work in Armenia:

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FAITH IN ACTION: Church’s service trip to Haiti brings a Little “gift from God”

FAITH IN ACTION: Church’s service trip to Haiti brings a Little “gift from God”

(This is part of The Fuller Center’s new “Faith in Action” series. If you have a story to share for the series, please let us know at this link.)

Reading, Pennsylvania’s Jennifer Little joined West Lawn United Methodist Church’s service trip to Pigñon, Haiti, to help a family build a simple, decent home through The Fuller Center for Housing’s Global Builders program. It was an opportunity to do some soul-bolstering manual labor and help people in a much different way than her usual job as a registered nurse with the Wilson School District.

Before the week of work was over, however, she would put her nursing skills to use — to the tremendous appreciation of a mother whose child had been suffering for several weeks.

On the second-to-last day of West Lawn UMC’s build, Little learned that one of the homeowner partner’s children had been enduring extreme pain in his ear. When she examined the child, she saw that his ear was swollen and crusted on the outside.

“Her son had been experiencing ear pain for several weeks and was up crying at night,” Little said. “It just looked terribly infected.”

West Lawn’s team leader offered to pay for the medical care, but they needed to get the child to the nearest hospital. And that would require a trip by motorcycle — hardly Little’s preferred mode of transportation.

“I’ve never been on a motorcycle before, and I hate motorcycles,” she said. “Next thing I know, I’m on a motorcycle in Haiti taking a kid to the hospital. It was an adventure. I had to do it. I was the person who had to be there for this child.”

The family Jennifer Little was able to help in Pigñon, Haiti.

The boy was diagnosed with a severe ear infection, and the West Lawn team purchased Ibuprofen and antibiotics for treatment. When Little returned to the job site, she showed the mother how to correctly administer the medicine.

“As we were leaving that day, she gave me a huge hug and told me that I was ‘a gift from God,'” Little recalled. “I’ve never been told that before. It was just so cool.

“The build was great, and I loved doing the manual labor,” she added. “But, for me as a nurse, that was just awesome to be able to help someone. This boy probably was not going to get treated. It’s something I think about every day. I was just the right person in the right place, and we figured out a way to get him help.”

The experience has made her not only want to serve abroad again but also has bolstered her faith and made her appreciate home even more.

“This experience has had a life-long impact on me, something that I will never forget,”. she said. “It’s just kind of changed everything for me. I came home with a whole new appreciation for everything that we have and being able to provide a life and home for my kids. You just don’t take anything for granted when you come back.

“Taking this journey has strengthened my faith — in God and humankind,” she added. “I am excited for the next time I’m able to go on an adventure with The Fuller Center!”

Please enjoy this gallery from Jennifer Little’s trip to Haiti:

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SURVEY: Has your faith been enhanced or restored through a Fuller Center experience?

SURVEY: Has your faith been enhanced or restored through a Fuller Center experience?


Click here to take our faith experience survey

Time and time again, we have seen people who had stepped away from their faith or the church do an about-face after having a positive experience with The Fuller Center for Housing. We have seen faltering churches and dwindling congregations rejuvenated by tackling a Fuller Center project.

As an ecumenical Christian nonprofit housing ministry, we’ve worked with just about everybody. Our homeowner partners, volunteers and supporters have included Christians, Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, Jews, nonbelievers, the “spiritual but not religious” and still others.

When it comes to Jesus’ instruction to “love thy neighbor,” we do it through helping them have simple, decent places to live. And that “love thy neighbor” philosophy appeals to a broad range of people beyond Christians.

At a time when church attendance is declining and more people each year identify as non-religious, we believe that demonstrating love for others through the Theology of the Hammer is a powerful way to shine a light and show what true Christianity is all about — loving our fellow human beings.

In 2018, we want to share more stories of people whose faith has been enhanced, strengthened or restored through their experiences with The Fuller Center for Housing. We also want to share stories of those who do not necessarily identify as Christians but appreciate The Fuller Center’s basic principles of extending a hand-up to families in need of simple, decent homes.

Do you have a personal story that you would like to share with others? Your testimonial could be the story that moves someone closer to Jesus Christ or opens eyes that had been shut. If you would like to participate in our collection of testimonials and stories, please fill out our survey below. We’d love to hear from you! And if you know of someone who has such a story to share, please forward this post to them and encourage them to get in touch with us.

Thank you!


Have you had an experience with The Fuller Center — in general or specifically — that has strengthened, enhanced or restored your faith? During 2018, we will be contacting people and doing stories about such experiences. If you have such a story you'd like to tell, please provide a brief summary of your experience below. Some survey respondents will be contacted for further interviews so that we can share stories on and The Fuller Center's social media outlets.
Or, do you consider yourself non-religiously affiliated, spiritual but not religious, a nonbeliever, or other but are involved in or support The Fuller Center for Housing's efforts to help people have simple, decent places to live? If so, we'd like to know why you support this affordable housing ministry. We'd also like to feature some of these stories in 2018.
May we publicly share your comments above on our website, social media and/or print materials?*
May we contact you for an interview about your experience? (Not everyone who submits stories will be contacted.)*
(Optional) If you belong to a church, please let us know the name of the church below. We'd like to share your story with church leaders.
(Optional) Do you have photos from your experiences that you would like to share? (Limit 3 photos; maximum size 2.5 MB each)

Please provide your contact information so that we may be able to get in touch with you. The following fields will not be shared publicly.

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