Millard Fuller’s law office, first Habitat headquarters, donated to Fuller Center

Millard Fuller’s law office, first Habitat headquarters, donated to Fuller Center

As Linda Fuller strolled through the building that once housed Millard Fuller’s law practice and the first headquarters of Habitat for Humanity on Church Street in Americus, Georgia, she reminisced about the simplest of times at the birth of the affordable housing movement.

She noted the dust that had settled on the desk where she once sat and tried to remember which landline phone was ringing — the one for Habitat or for the law practice. She was glad to see that the curtains she fashioned from bed sheets were still intact and that the cobweb-covered bell on the front door of the building still worked — well, every now and then, after a few tries.

That door — that blasted door! Literally, Linda Fuller blasted it with everything she had to remove layer after layer of paint as they spent three months getting the property ready to open for business. She ruined many of her work clothes in the process. Then, when it was ready to open, she realized she had another problem — she didn’t have anything to wear at the office.

“We had just come back from Africa, and I had left whatever clothes I had over there for people to have,” she said Wednesday of their 1973-76 stint building homes in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo). “I had to go out and buy myself a dress. We didn’t have much money, so I wore the same dress every day.”

Habitat for Humanity International has donated the historical site at 417 W. Church St. to The Fuller Center for Housing.

Millard and Linda Fuller — co-founders of both Habitat and The Fuller Center — purchased the property for $4,000 in 1977 from the Rev. Jim Jackson to serve as Millard’s law office. A small section of the law office served as the headquarters for the then-fledgling Habitat for Humanity, just a year old at the time with its only paid staff a part-time typist. Volunteers, including Linda and the Fullers’ children, assisted with Habitat’s early correspondence and newsletters.

“Millard Fuller’s affordable housing ministries were born at Koinonia Farm,” said David Snell, President of The Fuller Center for Housing. “His law office on Church Street was their nursery. It was there that the partnership housing concept that Millard and Clarence Jordan were inspired with took form becoming Habitat for Humanity and later The Fuller Center for Housing.

“We’re delighted that Habitat has turned this property over to us to ‘keep it in the family’,” Snell added. “We’ll honor its history, preserving it as a museum of the affordable housing movement, a movement that began right here in Americus, right here on Church Street.”

From those humble beginnings, Habitat would grow and move its headquarters more than once — although all within walking distance of the original office. Despite the simple roots they were planting, Linda knew something was growing even before former President Jimmy Carter joined the ministry and gave it star power that would almost instantly make Habitat for Humanity a household name.

“It was great having it as a mom-and-pop operation,” she said of Habitat’s first year in the law office. “But I had an inkling with Millard’s vast success in business (in the 1960s before the Fullers turned from a life of wealth to a life of service) and the way he was pushing, pushing as he always did, that it was going to grow pretty fast.”

After being forced out of leadership at Habitat, they would go on to found The Fuller Center for Housing in 2005 as a return to the simple, grass-roots principles with which they started. Linda recalls Millard’s final years of leading The Fuller Center until his death in 2009 as some of the happiest years of his life.

Today, The Fuller Center’s work continues to grow and Millard’s dream of eliminating poverty housing remains alive — and The Fuller Center for Housing remains headquartered in a small building that was donated by John and Sue Wieland, just a couple miles from the simple law office in which the Fullers’ ministry began.

417 W. Church Street Slideshow:

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President David Snell sat down with Linda Fuller in the historic building on August 29, 2018, to talk about the early days of the affordable housing ministry. Check out their conversation below:


Fuller Center for Housing officially recognized as Bicycle Friendly Business

Fuller Center for Housing officially recognized as Bicycle Friendly Business

Photo (from left): The Fuller Center’s Ryan Iafigliola, Joel Derksen, Jessica McClain and Connor Ciment are getting ready for the June 1 start of the 2018 Fuller Center Bicycle Adventure.

The Fuller Center for Housing’s international headquarters in Americus, Georgia, has been named one of only 20 Bicycle Friendly Businesses in the state of Georgia — and one of only 1,199 nationwide — by the League of American Bicyclists.

The designation comes during National Bike Month and as cyclists prepare to begin the 2018 Fuller Center Bicycle Adventure‘s summer rides, a pair of paths that will take one group from Astoria, Ore., to Portland, Maine, and the other taking riders from Ocean Beach, Calif., to Ocean City, N.J. The cyclists are raising money for and awareness of The Fuller Center for Housing’s affordable housing ministry — and they’ve already passed the $200,000 fundraising mark this year.

“After 11 years of leading Bike Adventures around the country, cycling has become part of the Fuller Center’s DNA,” said Ryan Iafigliola, The Fuller Center’s Director of International Field Operations and the man who founded the Bicycle Adventure. “There are people around the country who know us as the people who lead great bicycle rides. Out of that grew our local involvement, where some of us bike almost every day to the office, and we’ve been active encouraging cycling and safe cycling. It’s great to receive this formal recognition of all these efforts.”  

“As we celebrate National Bike Month and the tenth year of the Bicycle Friendly Business program, the League of American Bicyclists is honored to recognize our latest new and renewing Bicycle Friendly Businesses,” said Amelia Neptune, Director of the Bicycle Friendly America program. “These companies and organizations are making their workplaces and their communities safer, happier, healthier, and more sustainable through bicycling. We applaud these businesses, including The Fuller Center for Housing, for leading the charge in creating a more bicycle-friendly America for everyone.”

National Day of Prayer 2018: Unity is something we must make happen, David Snell says

National Day of Prayer 2018: Unity is something we must make happen, David Snell says

(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:

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LEGACY BUILD 2018: Volunteers talk about why they’ve come to serve others this week

LEGACY BUILD 2018: Volunteers talk about why they’ve come to serve others this week

(Craig Threatt of Americus is helping the Wright family build their new home at the 2018 Millard Fuller Legacy Build.)

On Monday, we told you about some of the international volunteers who have come from places such as Nicaragua, Peru and Haiti to help Americans build homes at the 2018 Millard Fuller Legacy Build in Americus, Georgia.

On Tuesday, we chatted via Facebook Live with the leaders of our newest partners from Maunabo, Puerto Rico. Fuller Center for Housing Global Builders teams are lined up to help the area hardest hit by Hurricane Maria, but Milagros Lebron and Eneida Santiago have been busy this week helping their fellow Americans build new homes here in Georgia.

Today, we’re visiting with some of the volunteers who have come from various states — as well as folks from right here in Americus — to find out the answer to one simple question that we put to each of them: “Why are you serving here in Americus this week at the Legacy Build?” Here are their responses:

Roger Theobald (Las Vegas, Nevada)

“Because I like the people who work for The Fuller Center — they’re good people who’ve got their heads in the right place to help the communities, and that’s hard to find these days. It’s a pleasure to be here. It’s good work. You sleep good at night. Work is a good thing. I like to stay busy and do good work instead of just wandering around. It’s more important to be part of a solution than a problem.”

Wendy Peacock (Americus, Georgia)

“It’s a way to give back to our community and encourage families who live here locally that they are part of a larger community of love and concern.”


Diane Bies (Evansville, Indiana)

“I just love it. It’s amazing how good it makes you feel to be here with all of these fantastic people. This is truly a vacation to be able to do this. This recharges me for the rest of the year. I’m not a beach person. This is where my heart is, for sure, and I’m happiest when I’m here. I really am. I called home and told my mother’s friend that I was on a construction site building a house for the week. She said that didn’t make her very happy. But I said, oh, I am in Heaven! She said, ‘OK, then, I’m happy!'”

Craig Threatt (Americus, Georgia)

“I’m here to help build these houses, and I know the Wright family. It’s a good process. It’s coming along, and it’s going to look real nice. I have some construction experience, but I’m still learning as I go.”

Joel Palmquist (River Falls, Wisconsin)

“I had the pleasure of being able to meet with and work with Millard years ago, and this is the first Legacy Build that I’ve been on. It’s just a chance to honor his legacy. It’s my first Legacy Build, but I’d volunteered before in Americus, so it’s kind of neat to come back and see after 25 to 30 years the changes and maybe being able to see some of the folks from back then, too. This is the heart of it.”

Maryann Glass (Malvern, Pennsylvania)

“My motivation is for the people to have a good home to live in. I rented a house for many, many years, and I think it’s very important for you to have your own home. It gives you more of a sense of pride.”

Michael Oliphant (Hayesville, North Carolina)

“I wanted to join a blitz build because it’s something I’ve heard about forever, and I’ve never been involved in trying to build a house so quickly, so it’s a learning experience for me. I plan to help lead a trip to Nicaragua (with the Fuller Center Global Builders program), and have a good group forming for that. It’s all about having a good time while you’re building a house and helping a family have a good place to live.”

Roger Werner (St. Johns, Florida)

“I came to give back. I’ve been very blessed with everything that the Lord’s given me and the skill that He’s given me in being a carpenter. I get more out of this than I give.”

Annette Metz (Cumming, Georgia)

“Why are we here?! Because we love it! You get the satisfaction of knowing that you finished a project or got it as far as you could get it and that somebody will enjoy it.”


Peter Meyer (Plainview, Minnesota)

“Life’s been good to me. I’ve had good health, and I’ve worked and made quite a little money in my life, and I don’t need any more, and I’m retired. So, why not help somebody else?”


View photo galleries from the
2018 Millard Fuller Legacy Build here.

LEGACY BUILD 2018: Family sees love pour in from all corners during home build

LEGACY BUILD 2018: Family sees love pour in from all corners during home build

(Photo: Legacy Build homeowner partners James and Mildred Wright with their sons Joshua (left) and Jeremy)

Christian theologian Clarence Jordan — who inspired Millard and Linda Fuller with the partnership principles that drive The Fuller Center for Housing’s success — once wrote: “What the poor need is not charity, but capital; not case workers but co-workers.”

Fuller Center homeowner partners repay the costs of building simple, decent homes on terms they can afford, over time, with no interest charged and no profit made. So, it is an empowering hand-up but not a gift. It is not charity in the sense of a handout. It is enlightened charity that uplifts.

Fuller Center homeowner partners also must contribute hundreds of hours of “sweat equity” in the building of their homes. James and Mildred Wright — along with their teenage sons Joshua and Jeremy — are putting in plenty of sweat equity this week at the 2018 Millard Fuller Legacy Build in Americus. Fortunately, they have plenty of co-workers in the process as volunteers from across the nation and a few other countries are working alongside them.

“It’s wonderful,” James said Tuesday morning as the second day of building got under way. “It’s a wonderful thing that people come from all over the world to help you, to help you improve your living conditions. If I need to go somewhere to help someone, that’s what I’ll do because it’s the right thing to do — to show love. There’s not enough love like they used to be. Love will get you a long way, and that’s all I see around here — love.”

James Wright digs where his family’s front porch will be.

That love is coming from co-workers like Sophie Luedi, Millard and Linda Fuller’s granddaughter, a Florida native who now is attending school in California. It comes from as far away from Peru with the help of volunteers like Zenon Colque and Vitaliano Enquiquez. It comes from Maunabo, Puerto Rico — in the area of the island hardest hit by Hurricane Maria — with volunteers Milagros Lebron and Eneida Santiago. More love comes from New York, Rhode Island, North Carolina, Virginia, Minnesota and other places, including locals from Americus, Georgia.

All that love means that the Wrights will no longer live at the mercy of landlords.

“Our current living situation is not a place that a person really wants to be,” James said. “We thank God for The Fuller Center helping us build a house. The place we were renting from other people, they weren’t keeping it up. It was raining in the house, with roaches in the house and mice. So the situation was real bad.”

As soon as the family gets settled into the home, they will concentrate on their next step upward — getting the boys enrolled in technical school to learn a trade. He credits all the love coming their way and the improvements in their lives to a renewed commitment to Jesus and living right.

“They’re very excited that we’ll have something new and different to live in,” he said of the two hard-working teens, who will continue to live with them until they are self-sufficient in their careers. “This is a real improvement. Once you get to know Jesus, you start living right. They say if you live better, you do better. And that’s our experience right now.”

LEGACY BUILD 2018: International leaders enhance perspective by volunteering in U.S.

LEGACY BUILD 2018: International leaders enhance perspective by volunteering in U.S.

(Photo: Haiti’s Geral Joseph with Peru’s Vitaliano Enriquez)

Volunteers with the Fuller Center’s Global Builders program have contributed greatly to the home-building efforts in countries around the world — including such places as Haiti, Peru and Nicaragua. Representatives of those three Fuller Center for Housing international partners are in Americus, Georgia, this week helping Americans build homes for a change.

Geral Joseph, who has done an outstanding job leading The Fuller Center’s work in Pigñon, Haiti, is enjoying a week of not being the boss as a volunteer at the 2018 Millard Fuller Legacy Build.

“I’m very happy to come and see how the volunteers feel when they come down to Haiti.” Joseph said. “It’s the first time that I’m volunteering to build a house. It’s like giving something back to the American people because mostly they are coming down to help the Haitians. I think it’s my time to come help build a house.

“It’s very different,” he added, “but I wanted to feel like someone who comes to help as a volunteer. I think this will help me change a lot things because I’m coming to learn, too.”

Jose Santos

One thing Joseph learned is that it can get cold in Americus in April as the workday started with temperatures around 40 degrees. Jose Santos Rodriguez, who helps lead The Fuller Center’s work in Nicaragua could feel Joseph’s pain and then some.

“I’m freezing to death,” said Santos, whose first visit to the United states, first plane ride and first trip out of Nicaragua was last April at the Higher Ground on the Bayou blitz build in Hammond, Louisiana. He was happy to return to the United States for another round of build — and he was even happier when the sun began to warm the job site by the time lunch rolled around.

“At the beginning, it was hard, but it’s getting nicer,” he said of the weather, adding that he is happy to return the favor after hundreds of Americans have come to help his homeland. “The Americans have helped a lot to build our community.”

It also is a practical learning experience.

“This is very different than building in Nicaragua because we build with blocks and concrete,” he said. “Here, you use a lot of wood, so I’m learning a lot. It’s also important because you learn how to work together, as brothers and friends. You show us how to work as friends and brothers and improve the community.”

Zenon Colque

Zenon Colque’s relationship with Millard and Linda Fuller goes back to the early 1980s, and he now leads The Fuller Center’s work in Peru. His last Legacy Build volunteer experience was in 2011 in Minden, Louisiana. This time, he brought along a Peruvian colleague, Vitaliano Enriquez, who handles accounting for the covenant partner in Peru.

“I came to work in the U.S. to understand the feeling when Americans go to other countries, what they need when they go to foreign countries and know whether we are prepared in Peru for them,” Colque said. “This is just the first day, but I’m sure that in a week I will understand better. When we receive groups from America and other countries, we will be much better prepared.”

Colque’s experience with Millard and Linda Fuller’s affordable housing ministry dates back to the early 1980s, and he has spent much time in the United States. While he speaks English well, Enriquez knows almost no English but is finding that it is not a huge barrier on the job site.

“It’s very satisfying for me to do this kind of work — it’s not my everyday job,” Enriquez said through Colque, who is serving as his interpreter for the week. “It may not be easy, but there are ways to communicate with others using the hands and the face.”

By the time these Legacy Build homes are dedicated at 4 p.m. Friday, they will be joined by leaders from The Fuller Center’s new partner in Puerto Rico and our leadership from El Salvador.

View a photo gallery from Monday’s action at the 2018 Millard Fuller Legacy Build.

LEGACY BUILD 2018: From homeless to homeowner — “When God is all you got, God is all you need”

LEGACY BUILD 2018: From homeless to homeowner — “When God is all you got, God is all you need”

(Photo: Taneka Miles, 33, — center, with her two older daughters Jasiauna and Tykeria — is one of the homeowner partners for the 2018 Millard Fuller Legacy Build in Americus, Georgia.)

When Millard Fuller Legacy Build volunteers wrap up each day of working alongside Taneka Miles in building a new home for her and her seven daughters the week of April 15-20 in Americus, Georgia, most will head back to their hotel rooms or volunteer lodging to wind down and relax in order to be ready to start working again the next morning.

Miles, however, will not be getting much down time during the week. When her day ends on the job site, it will be time for her to report to her night job at PharmaCentra. It will be a long week but well worth it for the 33-year-old mother of seven daughters who became homeless when she and her husband separated in March of last year.

When she recalls the pain of her family falling apart and losing their rented home, the tears flow. When she thinks of how her daughters will soon have a decent home thanks to the Millard Fuller Legacy Build and Fuller Center for Housing volunteers and supporters, the tears flow again.

“I’m just blessed,” she says. “I don’t know why. I don’t know how. I just feel very blessed. There’s nothing I’ve done so spectacular in my life. I’m just blessed. Thank you from the bottom of my heart because it could have been anybody. I’m grateful. I’m humble and I am grateful.”

She may be humble and grateful now, but she spent most of the past year terrified. After the separation, they stayed briefly with a friend. But adding eight people to a home environment is tenuous at best. When bed bugs became a problem in that home, Miles slept in the car with one of her daughters who suffers from asthma.

After that, she stayed briefly with a cousin, then in a dilapidated trailer just outside of Americus. The landlord refused to make repairs without going up on rent Miles already could not afford. Soon, she was on the streets again.

“People don’t know how many times I had to sit there and close my door to just pray and cry to God for help, for strength,” Miles says. “I’m trying to be strong for these kids who are looking at me to be strong for them when sometimes I don’t know whether I’m going or coming, not knowing how I’m going to pay bills and trying to keep them from worrying about it.”

Finally, her bishop and a deacon’s wife at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church got her in touch with Evangelist Snipes of the Sumter Area Ministerial Association.

SAMA had been helping the area’s homeless find temporary places to stay for years, but Snipes felt more needed to be done. She and Kirk Lyman-Barner of the Americus-Sumter Fuller Center for Housing (this year’s Legacy Build hosts) created a new nonprofit — Americus-Sumter Transitional Housing Ministries — through which the homeless are able to apply for lodging and are then given a mentor. The mentor helps them as they work to get a job, manage an income and handle any personal problems they may be battling.

Going to Transitional Housing Ministries would wind up being a blessing that helped her get back on her feet, find temporary housing and will soon see her as its first major success story — a story that comes to a crescendo on April 20 when their new Fuller Center house is dedicated. However, Miles remembers going to the organization for help as her lowest point.

“I just didn’t want a handout,” she says with tears now streaming down both cheeks. “I want to do it myself because I’m looking at my children depending on me. I had them kids. I didn’t want no help to do it for my children because they’re mine. So it was hard asking for help. I didn’t want a handout. I wanted to do it myself. I just wanted to do it myself.”

Fortunately, this new home will not be a handout. All new Fuller Center for Housing homes are built in partnership with families. The families repay the costs of the home build, on terms they can afford to pay, with no interest charged and no profit made. Those repayments go into a Fund for Humanity to help others in the local community get the same hand-up. Therefore, not only will the Miles family own their home with payments far less than they would pay for a substandard rental unit, but their repayments make them givers themselves. This is enlightened charity, not a handout. It is a true partnership.

“I tell my kids all the time that we are blessed, and you’ve got to keep God first,” Miles says. “That’s the only way I got through. I would tell my kids, ‘When God is all you got, God is all you need.’ They see it now. We are blessed.”

Local volunteers, supporters and donors are still needed for the 2018 Millard Fuller Legacy Build. To learn more, please click here.

Dreams of Christian leaders Dr. King, Millard Fuller intersect in visible ways

Dreams of Christian leaders Dr. King, Millard Fuller intersect in visible ways

There is an intersection of two main roads on the south side of Americus, Georgia, this small town where the world’s affordable housing movement began and where The Fuller Center for Housing is headquartered. The streets at the intersection bear the names of two great Christian leaders — Martin Luther King Jr. and Millard Fuller.

The Fuller Center’s simple offices are housed at 701 S. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, about a mile from the intersection. It was 50 years ago today that we lost Dr. King to an assassin’s bullet in Memphis, Tennessee. Today, our address here on the highway named after a man who dedicated his life to righting injustices and empowering change through determined nonviolent activism is particularly significant.

Dr. King knew that the Civil Rights Movement at its core was a grass-roots movement and was the first to credit the men and women of all races and backgrounds for making change possible. We, too, are building a better world by putting faith into action with grass-roots principles and dedicated supporters who give their time, money and passion to this ministry. These foot soldiers make change possible.

As a wealthy white businessman hailing from Lanett, Alabama, at the time of Dr. King’s seminal “I Have a Dream” speech, Millard Fuller may have seemed an unlikely man to someday be honored with the Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Award, an award that would be bestowed upon him by Georgia Gov. Zell Miller in 1992 at the State Capitol in Atlanta — the city where Dr. King’s body, but not his dream, was laid to rest. In the second half of the 1960s, though, Dr. King and Millard Fuller were pursuing the same dream — ending poverty.

Millard and his wife Linda gave away their fortune to serve God. They did not know at the time exactly how they would serve God, but they would soon discover their path at Koinonia Farm, an intentional Christian farming community just south of Americus. It was at this racially integrated farm — a radical concept in these parts back then — that they would learn from theologian Clarence Jordan that “What the poor need isn’t charity, but capital; not case workers, but co-workers.” The Fullers saw the light.

In 1968 — the same year Dr. King was assassinated — they launched Koinonia Partnership Housing and the Fund for Humanity. That was the origin of Habitat for Humanity and later The Fuller Center for Housing, the two affordable housing ministries founded by Millard and Linda.

Dr. King, meanwhile, launched the Poor People’s Campaign in 1967, leading a new war on poverty. Both King and the Fullers worked tirelessly to lift families out of economic despair. They provided hope to individuals and communities. They inspired generations. At times, they grew frustrated and impatient while pursuing their dream. Yet, they knew that Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 26:11 that the poor would always be with us was not an excuse to quit trying to help them. In fact, it was one of Jesus’ most frequent counsels.

Dr. King worked to lift the poor right up until the day an assassin’s bullet struck him down on April 4, 1968. Millard Fuller worked toward a similar dream right up until the day he died from an aortic aneurysm on February 3, 2009. Had it not been for that bullet in Memphis, there is little doubt that the paths of these two great Christian leaders and tireless servants of God — one a Nobel Peace Prize recipient and one a Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient — would have crossed, likely often. We can only imagine what it would have been like to hear two of America’s greatest and most inspirational orators share a pulpit or a stage. They both could command an audience, and they both inspired generations to seek peaceful change and build a better world — especially for the poor among us.

Their lives may have never intersected, but their dreams most certainly did. We see it every day through the efforts of everyone involved in this grass-roots ministry across this great country and around the world. The poor are still among us, and we are still called to help them. Should we ever need to be reminded, there are a couple of roads joined together here in Americus — the only place in the world where such named thoroughfares intersect — that offer us direction unlike any other.

VIDEO: Millard Fuller speaks after being presented the Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Award in 1992