Dateline: Birmingham

 I went over to Birmingham last week and visited a neighborhood called McDonald Chapel, which was hit by the same tornadoes that did so much damage to Tuscaloosa, and pretty much destroyed places like Smithville, Heckleburg, and Ringgold.  As I write this the flood waters are being diverted into the Atchafalaya Basin to save Baton Rouge from being swept away.  We are watching tragedies on an epic scale play out in our own back yard.

There is no more important structure than a house.  Houses form the core of every community, and are the base from which the fundamental building block of society, the family, operates.  It is in their houses that families are nurtured and grow, and are protected against weather and wickedness.  When houses are destroyed families are disrupted and communities are broken.  What we are watching across the south, and saw earlier in Haiti, and Japan, and around the world, is the destruction of this vital piece of our societal infrastructure.

The only time Jesus spoke about housing was at the end of his life when he told his disciples, “In my Father’s house are many mansions.  . . I go to prepare a place for you.”  In this profound promise Jesus acknowledged the importance of the home.  Of all the blessings he could have offered his faithful few he chose to make sure they had a decent place to stay on the other side.

As people motivated to follow the Lord’s example we are called to do the same for our brothers and sisters here.  Those of us who have been spared the loss of our homes and worldly possessions need now to step forward to give a hand to those who have not.  We here at the Fuller Center for Housing, with the support of incredibly generous supporters and volunteers, are working to restore houses in Haiti, and despite the many challenges there, are making some solid progress.  With the new devastation here in the south we are sharing some of our energy with folks in our own corner of the world.  Very soon we will announce an initiative to help restore houses and hope to a place like McDonald Chapel.

Of course, The Fuller Center can’t meet all of these housing needs on its own, and the process will take years rather than months—our Disaster ReBuilders are working right now in Plaquemines Parish, rebuilding houses lost to Katrina.  But if enough people of goodwill pull together, each doing what they can, we can rebuild these broken communities and make sure that the families who have lost so much once again have a decent place to call home.

There is great sadness in these disasters, but there is great joy in reaching out to those in need to offer some help and encouragement.  We’d be proud to have you as a partner in this great task.

• View photos of the destruction in McDonald’s Church
• Read about The Fuller Center’s initial response to the tornado damage
• Read an article on The Fuller Center’s tornado recovery efforts in Georgia

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