2009 has moved into the history books, and what a year it was. It got off to a sad and dramatic start on February 3rd with the sudden and unexpected death of our founder and friend, Millard Fuller. We were suddenly cast adrift, hoping that we’d all learned enough from that remarkable man to keep his dream of eliminating poverty housing alive. It was a huge event in the life of our young organization, especially perhaps for me, as in a heartbeat I went from the position of loyal follower to one of leadership.
I’ve often said that Millard’s shoes were too large to be filled by a single pair of feet, but that many feet might do the job. It has been incredible to watch as those feet, and the good souls they support, have come forward to help carry this ministry forward. We are blessed with an outstanding board of directors, under the steady and able leadership of LeRoy Troyer, who have been faithful and supportive throughout this unplanned transition. Our staff has been truly amazing as they’ve come forward in a mighty way to keep the ministry moving forward.
The first event of the year turned out to be Millard’s funeral and burial at Koinonia farm. Many of those whose lives he touched rushed to Americus to be a part of that bit of history. In March we held a memorial for Millard at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta and hundreds more came to pay their respects. Throughout it all Linda, Millard’s wife of just shy of 50 years, was an inspiration to us all as her faith carried her through. She continues to work with us at The Fuller Center, keeping the dream that she and Millard shared alive.
Throughout it all The Fuller Center continued to grow and prosper. Old friends and partners have continued their faithful support, new covenant partners have signed on both here in the US and around the world, and houses continue to be built and rehabilitated. By the end of the year we could make two great claims—over 500 families have been decently housed by this ministry, and the sun never sets on our work.
We had some great happenings during the year. The second annual Bicycle Adventure engaged 140 riders, 14 of whom went the entire 1400 miles from Lake Michigan to the Gulf Coast. They let me ride with them the last 30 miles from Tallahassee to the beach. I didn’t actually ride with them, but followed as quickly as my bike and body would allow.
The Millard Fuller Legacy Build was a huge success. With its hub in the Chattahoochee Valley, Millard’s home territory, 100 houses were dedicated around the world during that fall event. The folks in the Valley, who built six new homes and rehabbed another eight, did an outstanding job of hosting the many volunteers who came from across the country to renew friendships and share the joy of building with God’s people in need.
In November a group of us traveled to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to break ground on our new project there. This is one that will take The Fuller Center to an entirely different place as volunteers from the US will work side by side with North Koreans, building peace one house at a time.
One of Millard’s great strengths was his ability to show people that they could do things they didn’t know they could do and to be better than they thought they could be. That counsel has served us well over this last year as The Fuller Center and our partners around the world have come together to pursue the goal of eliminating poverty housing. We have been richly blessed and are deeply grateful to all of those who have stepped forward to be a part of this great ministry.