John J. Staton: Five decades of supporting Fuller ministry is all about hands-on faith

John J. Staton: Five decades of supporting Fuller ministry is all about hands-on faith

(Photo: Millard Fuller’s early work in Africa inspired the Rev. John J. Staton, who continues to support The Fuller Center for Housing’s work decades later.)


Editor’s note: We published this story on May 17, 2017. The Rev. Staton died on April 14 of this year, and we are re-running this story about a man who was a wonderful friend to the Fullers and a dedicated supporter of our affordable housing ministry through the years. The Rev. Staton’s obituary asks for memorial contributions to be made to The Fuller Center for Housing, which you can do in the Rev. Staton’s memory at this link.


When Millard and Linda Fuller founded The Fuller Center for Housing in 2005, retired pastor John J. Staton was among the earliest supporters. Of course, when the Fullers went to Africa in the early 1970s to test the concept of partnership housing, he supported them then.

Today, at age 88, he continues to give every month. He is especially proud to support a ministry that gave Millard Fuller some of the happiest years of his life as The Fuller Center gave him an opportunity to return and recommit to the grass-roots, Christian principles that he and Linda began with decades ago.

“It’s incredible what The Fuller center has done and accomplished since 2005, and I’m glad I’ve been able to play a role” Staton says from his home in Carmel, Indiana. “I get a real sense of joy every time I write a check to The Fuller Center, and it will always be so. I’ll continue to give to The Fuller Center as long as I live.”

“What The Fuller Center is doing is based on faith. Millard built things squarely on the Gospel and on faith. It appealed to me as a hands-on example of following Jesus.” — John J. Staton

Staton, who grew up in the suburbs of Columbus, Ohio, was Ivy League-educated at Dartmouth College, where he planned to become a doctor before going into ministry and attending Union Theological Seminary in New York City. It was that faith journey that would acquaint him with a young Millard Fuller, who also had experienced an abrupt change of direction in his life after giving up his millionaire lifestyle to serve others.

“He was deeply inspired by Clarence Jordan,” Staton says of Fuller’s relationship with mentor theologian Clarence Jordan, founder of Koinonia Farm. “I used to correspond with him even though I’d never met him, and I gave him some money for the work in Africa. That was long before they’d started Habitat or anything else.”

After the Fullers returned to the United States in 1976 and founded Habitat for Humanity, Staton’s correspondence with Millard continued. Eventually, Staton would bring Millard to speak at churches in Central Indiana and hosted the Fullers at the home he shared with wife Shirley. (Shirley Staton passed away in 2001.) After retiring from the pulpit, the Statons even came to Americus, Georgia, to volunteer with Habitat — John in development and Shirley as a guide at the Global Village and Discovery Center.

“The more I got to know Millard and Linda during those three months with Habitat, the more I admired what they were doing,” Staton says. Though he was frustrated by the Fullers’ dismissal by Habitat, he was eager to support them in their return to grass-roots, Christian principles with The Fuller Center.

“A lot of my connections to The Fuller Center are built on top of a friendship with him,” Staton says. “I believed in his mission. What The Fuller Center is doing is based on faith. Millard built things squarely on the Gospel and on faith. It appealed to me as a hands-on example of following Jesus.”

While spreading the Gospel through Millard’s “Theology of the Hammer” and by putting faith into action are what most appeals to him in supporting The Fuller Center, he also knows the importance of growing up in a decent home. He grew up in a solid middle-class home during the Great Depression, a home his parents purchased with a $10,000 inheritance from his great-grandmother.

“That was the only home I knew until I was out of college,” Staton says. “It’s still in good condition, although that lawn seemed to be huge when I had to mow it as a child. Now it looks like a postage stamp.

“But I have nothing but happy memories of that home,” he adds. “I fell in love as a senior in high school with a girl who lived just six blocks from me. I got to know every pebble in the street riding my bike back and forth between our two houses. I married that girl (Shirley, to whom he was married for 50 years) after college. I had a very happy childhood living in that house.”

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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

SERIES: The terms that define our mission — “partnership”

SERIES: The terms that define our mission — “partnership”

(Photo: Group shot from the first day of the 2017 Millard Fuller Legacy Build in Indianapolis.)

This is the fourth in a series of blog posts about terms that define how The Fuller Center for Housing works to help families have simple, decent places to live. On Sunday, we’ll wrap up this series with a look at the meaning of “faith-based.”


Whom do you see in this group photo from June’s Millard Fuller Legacy Build in Indianapolis? If you’re well-acquainted and heavily involved with The Fuller Center for Housing, you can probably list a whole bunch of familiar names you see — David and Sheilla Snell, Chuck and Joyce Vogt, Jeff Cardwell, LeRoy Troyer, Chuck Lee, Bob Pack, Mary Lou Bowman, Doug Miller, and … well, if I listed every name I see in this picture I wouldn’t be able to write about today’s topic — “partnership.”

For those of you who might be less familiar with The Fuller Center, let me give you a general overview of who’s in that picture — a neighborhood association president, homeowners, volunteers, house captains, nonprofit executives, political leaders, city representatives, church members and youth from the Church of the Nazarene, whose General Assembly coincided with our Legacy Build.

All of these good folks came together in partnership to help five families have simple, decent places to live in the neighborhood of Tuxedo Park, a blitz build that marked a turning point for a once-thriving east Indy area that had been on the decline for decades. No more.

You can’t build five homes in a week without a lot of partners. You can’t build 200 homes in Haiti, El Salvador and Nigeria without partners. You can’t build and repair hundreds of homes in Louisiana, Kentucky and Georgia without partners. Building a single home takes partners.

The Fuller Center’s affordable housing ministry sprung from theologian Clarence Jordan’s teachings at Koinonia Farm in the 1960s, where his final days were spent sharpening the concepts of partnership economics, including partnership housing. One particular line from his writings is oft-cited by The Fuller Center:

Clarence Jordan

What the poor need is not charity, but capital; not case workers but co-workers.”

That directly explains our partnership with homeowners. They are not charity cases. They work alongside our volunteers and repay the costs of materials on terms they can afford, over time, with no interest charged or profit made. Their payments go to help others in their community get the same hand-up, and in the process they become givers themselves.

But we have a multitude of partners beyond homeowners. Because we do not accept government funds (and the strings attached) for building, we rely on the generous partnership of our donors. We partner with skilled and unskilled-but-willing volunteers to build and repair homes, thus keeping the costs as manageable as possible. We partner with like-minded organizations such as People Helping People in El Salvador and Presbyterian Disaster Assistance in Texas. The local groups who do our work in the field in the United States and abroad are not called affiliates or chapters but are referred to as covenant partners. We do not dictate to them how to do their work. We see ourselves as partners with the same mission — to help families in need have simple, decent places to live.

Perhaps our most important partnership is with the church. The Fuller Center is not a church but is a servant of the church. We provide a vehicle for churches to put faith into action in a real, tangible, difference-making way. Churches also host teams of Fuller Center volunteers, host our fundraising Bicycle Adventure cyclists across the nation, send team on U.S. and Global Builders trips and often help feed our volunteers. We appreciate every way churches partner with us.

Church attendance and affiliation has been steadily declining in the United States for decades. We could debate ad infinitum the reasons for the decline. But at The Fuller Center we have seen time and time again a church become enthused and reinvigorated after tackling a Fuller Center project. Maybe it’s because Jesus was a carpenter, but there’s just something about swinging a hammer and pounding a nail that drives home the importance of loving thy neighbor. At the end of the day, you can look at the structure and enjoy the feeling of a job well done. More importantly, you can look on the faces of people to whom you’ve extended God’s love. That feeling is hard to beat, and it’s something you want to experience time and time again.

We are always seeking new partners who want to express God’s love by helping families have simple, decent places to live. If you want to know more about how you can partner with The Fuller Center for Housing, be sure to email us or call 229-924-2900.

200th Fuller Center home in Haiti home exemplifies what makes this ministry work

200th Fuller Center home in Haiti home exemplifies what makes this ministry work

(Photo: A local laborer puts the finished touches on the 38th Fuller Center home in Pigñon, Haiti — the first paid for entirely with repayments by previous partner families in the community.)

If I had a nickel for every time I saw a comment like “I wish The Fuller Center would give me a house,” well, I’d have at least $1.85. Of course, I’ve only worked in this ministry for six years. Those who’ve been here longer likely would boast a lot more in their piggy banks.

My first reaction when I see a comment like that on a social media post about the dedication or completion of another Fuller Center for Housing home — here in the United States or abroad — is frustration. However, I have to remind myself that it’s a great opportunity to educate someone who is obviously unfamiliar with the grass-roots principles behind this ministry.

Of course, The Fuller Center does not give away houses. Families build in partnership with us. They commit sweat equity in the building of their homes (often alongside volunteers but also with local laborers) and pay back the building costs on terms they can afford, over time, with no interest charged and no profit made.

Here is the simple concept that truly makes this ministry succeed and grow in each location: Families truly pay it forward as their repayments go into a Fund for Humanity that stay in the community and help their neighbors in need get the very same kind of hand-up into better living conditions. The families, therefore, are not charity cases but are transformed into givers themselves. This empowers families in ways that handouts cannot.

Those who’ve been involved with this ministry are familiar with such pay-it-forward concepts our founder Millard Fuller developed based on partnership principles he learned from theologian Clarence Jordan at historic Koinonia Farm in the 1960s. To newcomers, however — such as those who stumble across a story about The Fuller Center and jump to the conclusion that we give away houses — this is new information.

“One of the blessings that the Fuller Center model offers the poor is the opportunity it gives for them to be more than just recipients of goodwill but donors, as well.” — Fuller Center President David Snell

And it’s a concept they like and embrace. For those who hate handouts, they like that this is a hand-up instead. For those who are unconditionally dedicated to helping the poor, they like that families are empowered to help themselves and break the generational cycle of poverty.

There’s a reason why The Fuller Center is supported by those on the far right, the extreme left and all points in between: Because no one is against helping people help themselves!

The Fund for Humanity concept means that the more Fuller Center homes a community builds, the more it can build. This means that our supporters’ contributions don’t go toward just one house but many. Gifts are recycled, and home-building becomes a rolling snowball, growing along the way.

“One of the blessings that the Fuller Center model offers the poor is the opportunity it gives for them to be more than just recipients of goodwill but donors, as well,” Fuller Center President David Snell says. “And one of the blessings our model gives the rich is that the money they give is multiplied so that they’re not just giving for a single house to be built but for many. This all happens through the Fund for Humanity.  Both the donor dollars and the homeowners mortgage payments go into this fund which is used to build more and more houses.”

More to this milestone in Haiti

The 200th Fuller Center home in Haiti — made possible by volunteers, local workers and supporters like you — is a milestone for that number alone. But there’s more to it. Our 200th Fuller Center home in the country is the 38th in the community of Pigñon, far away from the earthquake-damaged zone where we first began working in 2010.

This 38th home is entirely funded by repayments made by the partner families of the previous 37 homes in Pigñon. These repayments will fund more homes, and when these repayments are coupled with donations by people like you the success multiplies exponentially.

A few of the houses built in Pigñon this year.

As our Director of International Field Operations Ryan Iafigliola noted, there’s always more to every milestone number.

“With the large family sizes in Haiti, that’s over a thousand people spending every night in a dry, safe and permanent Fuller Center home,” he said. “After the earthquake struck, it was such a struggle even to build the first one. Now at 200, they seem to roll one after another, using volunteers and employing local Haitians.”

“But the best part, the very best part, is that we now have a program that others said couldn’t be done — where Haitians fund the homes of other Haitians,” he added of the Western Hemisphere’s poorest nation, where decades of well-meaning handouts have exacerbated the country’s problems and helped foster a culture of dependency. “The Biblical model of a no-profit, no-interest loan is incredibly powerful and empowering, and we’re thrilled that Pigñon has embraced it. But this is no time to stop or slow down. Haiti badly needs homes and partners.”

There indeed is more work to be done in Haiti. And Nicaragua. And Nepal. And Lanett, Alabama. And Louisville, Kentucky. But in these places and dozens more across the United States and around the world, the grass-roots principles of partnership housing have taken root and allowing the pay-it-forward model to flourish.

We will never stray from those simple principles with which Millard was so inspired more than four decades ago. And we will stay true to those principles for the simplest reason:

Because they work!



Fuller Center President David Snell explains why The Fuller Center for Housing does not give houses away:



Why did we switch to Fuller Center? Groups cite grass-roots principles, local control

Why did we switch to Fuller Center? Groups cite grass-roots principles, local control

When Millard and Linda Fuller were ousted in 2005 from the helm of the nonprofit housing ministry they had built into a thriving charity over the previous three decades, they justifiably could have seen that as an opportune moment to hang up their tool belts and bask in the glow of their accomplishments.

After all, nearly 200,000 families had partnered with the ministry to have simple, decent homes in which they could properly nurture their families and build a strong foundation for their children. The Fullers had more awards and honors than they could count, including a 1996 Presidential Medal of Freedom for Millard.

But, as Linda Fuller recalled while telling her story to a group of college student volunteers recently, Millard was determined to keep helping families have decent places to live and had no interest in Linda’s “pity party.”

“I just had to get with the program,” she said. “He and David Snell (the current president of The Fuller Center) were on the ball right from the start.”

While Millard Fuller had no interest in retirement, he did want to return to the roots with which he and Linda had started the world’s affordable housing movement. He believed a new version of the old ministry would need to go back to the grass-roots, Christian principles that he developed based upon the teachings of theologian Clarence Jordan.

“It turned out to be the best thing that could have happened,” Linda remembered. “And though Millard would only be with us for four more years, those were some of the happiest years for him.”


Millard Fuller and Clarence Jordan at Koinonia Farm in the 1960s.

Though Millard Fuller passed away more than seven years ago, those grass-roots principles remain firmly intact and often are cited by groups who have chosen to switch their affiliation from the Fullers’ first housing nonprofit to The Fuller Center for Housing. Since 2005, 20 former affiliates of the previous organization have chosen to become covenant partners with The Fuller Center, most coming in the past three years.

“The Fuller Center operates with a few basic principles,” President David Snell explained. “We are unashamedly Christian and enthusiastically ecumenical; we follow the Biblical mandate that we not charge interest to the poor; our partner families must be in need but also willing to work alongside us and repay the costs of materials on terms they can afford with no profit made; and our grass-roots nature means that decisions about family selection, construction and volunteer and church engagement are made at the local level.”

With the emphasis on local leadership rather than top-down micromanagement from headquarters, The Fuller Center uses a different term than “affiliates” for its local groups — terminology that more aptly represents the relationship between Fuller Center headquarters and those doing the work in the field.

“We call them covenant partners,” Snell added. “They agree to our basic principles before joining with us and renew their commitments annually.”

“People like our mission and the fact that we are a Christian organization,” said Director of U.S. Covenant Partner Development Stacey Odom-Driggers, who like Snell has worked with both of the Fullers’ housing organizations. “They like the simplicity, support and grass-roots-driven approach that we offer.”

“Fuller Center supports the freedom and independence of our covenant partner to do what works best in our community instead of demanding that we do things a certain way.”  — Tamara Danel, Ginger Ford Northshore Fuller Center, Hammond, La.



For those who’ve left their old nonprofit housing affiliation for The Fuller Center, there are two recurring themes about why they switched: One, they wanted local control instead of micromanagement from a headquarters they increasingly saw as “corporate;” and, two, they said that recent annual fees required by their nonprofit’s headquarters would be better put to use helping families in the field.

“We like that there are not layers of middle management between Fuller Center headquarters and our covenant partner,” said Tamara Danel, Director of Ginger Ford Northshore Fuller Center for Housing in Hammond, La., one of the first to make the switch to The Fuller Center. “Fuller Center supports the freedom and independence of our covenant partner to do what works best in our community instead of demanding that we do things a certain way.

Tamara Danel visits with homeowners during a Global Builders trip to Nicaragua.

Tamara Danel visits with homeowners during a Global Builders trip to Nicaragua.

“We also like that neither Fuller Center headquarters nor our covenant partner is top-heavy when it comes to spending money on management,” Danel added. “We appreciate that more than 86 percent of donations go to the projects we do in the community and around the world. [The previous organization] seemed to be top-heavy and more legalistic when it came to organizational management.”

Randy Rinehart, who leads one of the newest groups to switch in Houston, Miss., cited the ease of working with a non-corporate headquarters, particularly while working in a small rural community. He learned about The Fuller Center through the Fuller Center Bicycle Adventure, whose spring ride takes it through Houston each year. Rinehart’s church, Parkway Baptist, is one of the weeklong ride’s host churches.

“The riders stayed in our church and shared their story and the story of The Fuller Center for Housing,” said Rinehart, whose group joined The Fuller Center in January of this year. “Then, when we interviewed other Fuller Center covenant partners, they talked about the ease of working with Fuller Center as a small-town organization. The biggest difference we have experienced is the personal, hands-on service and cooperation we received from The Fuller Center.”

“It is hard to have a relationship with a corporate conglomerate. Fuller’s folks, especially at the national level, bend over backwards to help, especially when you are new to the ministry. God’s love shows through them and the entire Fuller ministry.” — Kermit Rowe, Clark County Fuller Center, Springfield, Ohio

“The biggest difference that I have seen is Fuller’s people, both on the national level and at the chapters,” said Kermit Rowe, director of the Clark County Fuller Center for Housing in Springfield, Ohio. “When you are committed to God-centered principles in both word and action, that comes across in relationships.

“I’m big on relationships, and it is hard to have a relationship with a corporate conglomerate,” he continued. “Fuller’s folks, especially at the national level, bend over backwards to help, especially when you are new to the ministry. God’s love shows through them and the entire Fuller ministry.”



Rowe said the primary reason that Clark County switched to The Fuller Center’s model was that they wanted to get back to the Christian principles, just as Millard and Linda Fuller did. But they also had a financial incentive.

“The clincher for us was that [their former organization] was wanting to charge each chapter our size $7,500 per year as dues — on top of asking us to tithe 10 percent,” he said. “We could pretty much rehab a house for $7,500 and help another family, which is obviously our main mission. We wanted to keep that money in the community, helping families and spreading God’s love with it.”

Delores Peoples receives a quilt and Bible from volunteers who repaired her flood-damaged home in New Jersey.

Delores Peoples receives a quilt and Bible from volunteers who repaired her flood-damaged home in New Jersey.

The Fuller Center does not require its covenant partners to pay any annual dues or fees, but it does encourage its partners to tithe 10 percent of undesignated funds to help build internationally. However, tithing is not required.

“The people I talk to are surprised that we don’t have any application fees or yearly dues,” said Odom-Driggers, who serves as the first point of contact for those wishing to join The Fuller Center. “They appreciate that we are transparent and have a genuine interest in helping them serve their communities. Each community has its own challenges and strengths, and we are able to provide the framework to build a successful organization that addresses the specific needs of their community.”

“Rather than support us in our circumstances, [the former organization] increased demands for funding over and above our tithe,” said Barbara Curtis, Director of The Fuller Center of Johnson County, Mo., which transitioned to The Fuller Center in 2016. “Additionally, compliance with ever-increasing regulations and requirements became burdensome to us, considering how little assistance they provided. It just seemed our contribution and struggles were under-appreciated.

“It seemed to us that the organization ‘went corporate’ and shifted toward affiliates that were in metropolitan settings, ran commercial re-sale stores, had full-time paid workers and were able to generate results on large-scale projects,” Curtis added. “After years of affiliation with our former not-for-profit, it became clear that our all-volunteer chapter was no longer to be well nurtured by them. We were unable to produce the results they preferred and were in a downward spiral in need of advice, assistance and understanding. We found Fuller Center just in time, and our despair has become audacious hope.”

“We found Fuller Center just in time, and our despair has become audacious hope.” — Barbara Curtis, Director of Fuller Center of Johnson County in Warrensburg, Mo.

Covenant partners also cited innovative programs in their decision to switch — including the Greater Blessing home repair program. Unlike new home partner families, Greater Blessing partner families do not sign documents guaranteeing their repayment. They are instead asked to repay the costs of materials as they are able. The Fuller Center also promotes the Save a House/Make a Home initiative through which covenant partners take donated vacant properties — often considered toxic assets — and restore them to like-new homes for families in need.

Meanwhile, the low overhead at Fuller Center headquarters helps not just covenant partners but others as such volunteer experiences as Global Builders and U.S. Builders trips are very reasonably priced.



Partners sign a simple, two-page partnership covenant when they decide to join this grass-roots ministry. The term “partnership covenant” was deliberately chosen to emphasize the use of partnerships in the work of building and repairing homes and the parallel relationship of headquarters with its partners, rather than a top-down approach.

“The Fuller Center helped us through our entire transition,” said Marilyn Hoskins, who leads the Southwest Iowa Fuller Center in Shenandoah, Iowa. Her organization switched to The Fuller Center last year, officially signing their covenant partnership when the awareness- and fund-raising Fuller Center Bicycle Adventure made an overnight stop in her community during its 2016 summer ride from Seattle to Washington, D.C.

“It wasn’t easy in Iowa, for you can’t just change your name with the Secretary of State,” she said. “The Fuller Center, though, held our hand and aided us during the entire process. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend The Fuller Center any day.”

Fuller Center homeowner and volunteer Thad Harris with a group of student builders from Ohio State University.

Fuller Center homeowner and volunteer Thad Harris with a group of student builders from Ohio State University.

Most transitions, though, from one nonprofit to The Fuller Center are surprisingly simple.

“From our very first conversation with representatives of The Fuller Center, our experience has been positive and hospitable,” Curtis said. “The people who staff the international office have been available to answer every question, offered helpful guidance, listened to our laments, and supported our efforts. Sometimes it seems they intuitively know our next question and provide information about our challenges even before we realize them. They seem willing to champion the ‘little guys.'”

“When we interviewed other covenant partners, they talked about the ease of working with Fuller Center as a ‘small-town’ organization,” said Rinehart, who found the transition to be simple and expedient. “When we called the first time, someone answered the phone and talked to us and then called us back and checked on us. They sent personal emails and seemed interested in what we are doing here.”

“When we interviewed other covenant partners, they talked about the ease of working with Fuller Center as a ‘small-town’ organization.” — Randy Rinehart, Director of The Fuller Center for Housing of Houston, Miss.

The Fuller Center for Housing has grown by leaps and bounds since the Fullers hit the restart button on their affordable housing ministry in 2005, but the growth has been steady and not out of control. And while the ranks of covenant partners has increased across the nation and around the world, The Fuller Center only works where it is invited. It does not plant partners, nor does it compete with other organizations to lure their affiliates away.

“The need for the work we do is so great that we welcome the participation of any groups who share our vision, knowing full well that we can’t alone meet the goal of eliminating poverty housing,” Fuller Center President Snell said. “As Millard Fuller liked to say, ‘The Fuller Center won’t compete with other organizations until the time comes to build the very last house.’ That day will be a long time coming.”

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David Snell’s Easter 2016 message: It’s time to demonstrate our Christianity

David Snell’s Easter 2016 message: It’s time to demonstrate our Christianity

It’s Easter, that time of year when we pause to wonder at the incomparable gift God gave us of His Son, who lived to share a message of love, who died an excruciating death to redeem us of our sins, and who was resurrected to give us the promise of eternal life. That’s a lot to wonder at. It is truly a gift beyond our ability to comprehend, let alone to give proper thanks for. It should, though, inspire us to a better life, one that is enriched by following the Savior’s simple command—that we love God and that we love one another.

Those of us who follow Jesus, we Christians, find ourselves in a difficult time in history. In faraway places our brothers and sisters are being massacred at an alarming rate. Here at home we’re witnessing a rising secularism that can’t quite tolerate any public expression of Christian belief. We’re watching the church decline in membership and influence. What are we to do?

The way I see it the best defense we can offer is to be more Christian. The truth is that if everyone followed Christ’s teachings the world would be a peaceful place. Of course that’s not going to happen, but that doesn’t diminish the obligation that those of us who call ourselves Christians have to practice our faith in real and tangible ways.

Clarence Jordan established Koinonia Farm as a demonstration plot of the kingdom of God. The goal was to show how living out the commandments that we love one another, that we care for those in need, not only brought joy to those who were demonstrating such kindness but was of great benefit to society. We try to do that in our Fuller Center for Housing work as well. Every house we build is a sermon of God’s love and a witness to the message Jesus left us — that we love one another.

As we remember Christ’s suffering and celebrate his resurrection it’s a perfect time to recommit ourselves to following His example. The best hope for Christianity is for Christians to demonstrate the tremendous power of the faith and the goodness that comes from living a life of giving. The Great Commission calls on us to share the gospel with all the world. We do that best not by preaching but by doing.

May the good Lord bless us all as we reach out to bless others.