(Photos: Fuller Center for Housing President David Snell gives the keynote address at Thursday’s 2018 National Day of Prayer event in Americus, Georgia.)
The theme of this year’s National Day of Prayer is “Unity.” If you look around at all the divisiveness in America today — much of it bitter and hateful — unity sounds like a mighty tall order for a theme.
Yet, that was the theme Mr. David Snell was tasked with addressing as the keynote speaker at Thursday’s National Day of Prayer service right here in Americus, Georgia, home of The Fuller Center for Housing and the city where Millard and Linda Fuller launched the world’s affordable housing movement decades ago.
In the interest of full disclosure, I must tell you that David is not just the president of The Fuller Center for Housing. He also has a much tougher job — being my boss. That’s a job with the difficulty level only a handful of folks can understand (likely after years of therapy!).
“Unity isn’t something that just happens. It is the result of good-hearted people doing good things, coming together to make the world better for all of God’s children.” — David Snell, President, The Fuller Center for Housing
When it comes to issues like politics, sports or even whether it’s better to vacation in the mountains or at the beach, David and I don’t agree on much. But we do work well together in pursuing one passion — helping families have simple, decent places to live. On that issue, in this pursuit, we have unity. In fact, I believe diversity of thought in such pursuits is an asset, not an obstacle.
Too often in today’s America people let their differences on unrelated issues prevent them from working together for good. In the nearly seven years I’ve served with The Fuller Center, it still amazes me that so many people — left, right and center; religious and not; northerners and southerners — come together under this big umbrella pitched by The Fuller Center. It’s not only because folks from all backgrounds want families and children to have simple, decent places to live, but it’s also because no one is against helping people help themselves, and that’s exactly how The Fuller Center works.
This is never more visible than when dozens of Fuller Center volunteers come together at a single site for a build — something we witnessed just a couple of weeks ago right here in Americus at the weeklong Millard Fuller Legacy Build.
“I know that these folks hold a great variety of political and religious beliefs and we could have had some vibrant debate over whose were the right ones,” David said to the crowd Thursday. “But we didn’t. All of that was put aside in order to get the houses built. When you have a Baptist and a Lutheran shingling a roof on a 90-degree day they aren’t likely to spend time arguing the merits of dunking over sprinkling. They are united in their mission just as we were as we came together to get some houses built. That’s the kind of people you want to spend time with.”
It may not get much attention on the television news shows — or the punditry panels that have taken the place of news — but folks of different backgrounds and political persuasions unite quite often. I see it all the time at The Fuller Center, and I know volunteers work together every day to support the good work of other nonprofits.
“Unity isn’t something that just happens,” David noted. “It is the result of good-hearted people doing good things, coming together to make the world better for all of God’s children. We see this happen so touchingly after a natural disaster, when people rush to the aid of those in need. We need to commit ourselves to being this supportive when there isn’t a disaster to deal with. We need to do it every day, and encourage our friends, our families and our churches to join in. Together there is nothing that we can’t do. Divided there is little that we can.”
While the theme of National Day of Prayer might be unity, none of the prayers I heard specifically asked for unity. Maybe that’s because we’ve already been given the tools and instruction to achieve it. It reminds of this old adage: If you ask God to move mountains, don’t be surprised if He hands you a shovel.
“As we leave this place of prayer today may we carry in our hearts to do as Jesus commanded, to love God and love one another,” David said in closing. “Jesus promised joy to those who do so, and there’s no better weapon against fear and division than a joyful heart. May God bless us all and may He continue to bless America.”
You want unity? So do I. So does virtually everyone in this great country. I pray that every American gets to work on it, with work being the key word there. Unity begins with you, and it begins with me. But it requires work for it to take shape.
So, care for those in need, Show love to everyone, whether you agree with them on other issues or not. If all else fails, grab a shovel. Be part of the solution, not part of the problem.
We’ve got everything we need to achieve unity. Pray that everyone sees the light.
Scenes from the National Day of Prayer in Americus: