When introduced to us, Millard Fuller
unfolded himself from his seat on the podium, continuing
upward and even more upward. He towered, tall and slim,
and casually approached the podium as though he’d
done this a thousand times before (he had!), but glad to
be here, happy to address us. He opened his mouth, a smile
lit up his face, and stayed there throughout. With a slight
southern lilt to his voice, he engaged us for half an hour.
I couldn’t believe that THE Millard
Fuller, creator of Habitat for Humanity was actually here.
But I’d seen no huge banners spanning the boardwalk,
no brass band. Had I not looked over at the small notice
in the corner bookstore window, I would have completely
missed him. The Ocean City, New Jersey Shore, Tabernacle
has two services each Sunday during the summer, and I was
there for the early one, the end of June of 2004. The audience
was residents, summer vacationers, and me. Millard
spoke again at the second service, and this one was recorded.
We have that CD at the office to loan out, so you can listen
to the entire speech.
Fuller and Barbara Dauria, after
his presentation, June 2004
Quote marks show where I lifted
exact words. Otherwise I summarized. If anyone finds
I have made any errors, please let me know and I will immediately
correct them. B Dauria
Excerpts from the FULLER SPEECH June 2004
He read scripture, thanked us for the opportunity to speak
And explained how this June had gone for him.
“This has been one of the most remarkable months of our lives.”
It started in Charlotte North Carolina at the
annual board meeting where he learned:
“Habitat International is now active in 89 countries, 3700 cities, has
built 150,000 houses for 750,000 people, and this year (2004) another 21,600
will be built.” Millard said, “That’s a new house for another
needy family every 26 minutes, 7 days a week, 24 hours a day!
minutes another family moves in to a good place to live, and keys are given,
and a bible is presented, and people know that out of motivation of God’s
love their lives have improved.” (NOTE: We’re currently (2009)
at 300,000 houses, 1.5 million people, over 3000 communities, over 90 countries
Then he and Linda dedicated “Our Global Village” in
Americas Georgia. He invited us to visit the 6 ½ acre tract
as a microcosm of: “. . . all the work we do around the world,
including slums – you walk through the slums, then you walk
out of the slums into Africa, Asia and South America, giving an
idea of the kind of work this ministry is doing.”
Then they went to Anniston Alabama to launch
the annual Jimmy Carter work project. He told us, “Jimmy
Carter has worked with us every year since 1984, this (2004)
was the 20th year. In 3 cities, with 4,000 volunteers, in 5 days
we built 92 houses, and all the families have moved in. . . ”
Then he and Linda flew to Eastern Europe, visiting work in Hungry,
Romania, Armenia, and Poland.
He then made it personal:
“It’s so exciting to see what is happening there (Romania). Last
Sat. we dedicated that milestone 150,000 house. “In that house will be
living the Baco family.” Millard Fuller pulled a photograph from his
lapel. He held it high, turned and looked at it himself, then proceeded…”This
is little 4 year old David who is going to live in that house. And David, and
his 4 brothers and sisters and mother and father, have been living in a house
that’s full of mold, and its leaking and falling down, and the children
are perpetually sick. Little David will no longer be sick because we put him
in a good house with no mold, and good and lots of light, and clean and decent.”
“We are determined to be a significant
part of bringing a better life to the people. . . we try to be
reconcilers wherever we work in the world.”
Millard was constantly impressed with the
large numbers of people, young and old who attended events overseas
because they are enthusiastic about Habitat, what Millard described “This new frontier,
this Creative new way to spread God’s love and to share gods
love with people in the world.”
know the Christian religion that we profess is a very practical religion.“ Jesus
never said the first and great commandment is this, ‘Thou shall go to
church’. . . . The bible says things like ‘Invite strangers in.’ .
. . Coming together . . . is very important, but that’s the beginning of
our expression of faith this is not the end all. . . If we only come
to church and that’s it, of what use are we out in the world? The bible
tells us to be salt. to be a presence in the world that makes a difference,
like salt makes a difference in food. We are to go out from here. . .
And that’s what we seek to do in Habitat for Humanity. To be a presence
in the world; to go out and express God’s love.”
He gave us his history:
“I grew up in Americas Georgia. Jimmy Carter was my Sunday School teacher.
When I went off to college a new friend and I decided to become business partners.
We didn’t know what we were going to do, . . . Our mission statement
(We’d heard they should be simple so it could easily be remembered): ‘To
“I wanted to be a success in the classical sense, making money. . . . “
“In church I’d heard it is easier for a camel to pass through the
eye of a needle, than a rich man to get into heaven,” Millard said and
then paused, and smiled . . . “but I didn’t mind a challenge.”
“Our first enterprise was selling Mistletoe, we wanted to
find something we could get for free and sell for a price. We sent
brochures up north, offering to sell southern mistletoe. We got
orders for 2000 lbs. But when we went out to collect it we found
it was higher in the trees than we remembered. So we got cane poles
to knock it down. We found it was more tenacious than we’d
remembered, so we got shotguns to shoot it down. But it was more
porous than we thought, so the shots went right through it. After
we’d worked all day, we’d gotten a 2 foot mound of
mistletoe; we went and weighed it, and it weighed one pound! That
first attempt was a big failure; but we learned we could get orders
through the mail, we just had the wrong product! And later we sold
holly wreaths, door mats, birthday cake service, desk blotters.
By the time I graduated from college we were making $50,000 a year,
and I wondered if we should bother to graduate. We invested in
real estate. We sold tractor cushions to the Future Farmers of
America, with tractors as prizes, that was for the boys. Then we
decided we needed something for the girls, so we sold cookbooks
(to Future homemakers of America) by the millions and made lot
of money. In the process I became totally committed to personal
“I’d married Linda when I was
a Senior in law school. I adored her, I dreamed of a loving close
family, we had two children. I ensconshed her in a beautiful
house with a Lincoln Continental to drive, 2000 acres of land,
horses, cattle, speed boat, cabin on the lake, servants to take
care of the kids and everything. She had everything a young woman
could want, but no husband. I was always gone. I was never there.
So the inevitable happened, we grew apart. Linda went away to
New York where she new a minister she respected for help and
counseling. Eventually she agreed to see me. Out of a very painful
situation we were reconciled. . . .We decided to divest ourselves
of our wealth and ask God to guide us into a life of Christian
service. We had no idea what that would be.
“And God lead us to Koinonia farm,
an integrated Christian community in the heart of the deep south.
Americus, Georgia. (http://www.koinoniapartners.org)
We planned to stay 2 hours, and stayed 2 months. Clarence Jordan
introduced us to a Jesus we did not know. . .
We end up
with a Jesus who is far removed from the biblical Jesus. He showed us the authentic
Jesus who taught us to love everybody, love people of a different race, love
even your enemies, do good to those who persecute you. . . He had a profound
impact on us. . . With him and a small group we built one house for one family
in need, and from there the ministry of Habitat for Humanity began to take
off. Slowly at first, but then over a period of time, with increasing speed.
---- until today - - - 3700 cities, 89 countries, we build a house every 26
“By the year 2005 we will have
housed a million people. And we expect to double that number
within 6 years.
“I think it is a movement of God’s spirit that is
sweeping across the land and around the world in an amazing way.
. . A new frontier in Christian missions, a creative and new way
to share the gospel in a practical way, of putting it in terms
that people can see so its incarnated.”
Another history of dedication to Habitat:
"When we were in Hungary we met a woman there that we had been wanting
to know for many years.
begins with Armond Hect from Alberta Canda, a successful journalist traveling
in Mexico heard about Habitat for Humanity and got interested. . . He
went around to all the churches in Alberta Canada and started a chapter up
there. After a couple of years he wanted to learn of the bigger picture so
he traveled to Americas Georgia. There he found out that in the country of
Hungary work wasn’t going well. He said, ‘send me.’ He went
over there and, I’m telling you, Armond Hect is a take no prisioners
kind of guy. And this rough talking German – he roughed them up. So much so
that I started getting all kinds of letters, 'Who is this guy that you sent
over here. Would you please send him back.' and today we have a dynamic program
in Hungary, largely because of that man.
Late in the 50’s he discovered
he had cancer, and while he became too weak to work as he had for
Habitat, confined to his home, he got on the internet and promoted
Habitat. In that process he got in touch with Elana Latinovia in Tomps Siberia,
and they wrote back and forth.
And subsequent blossoming of faith:
Eleana found out Habitat was a Christian program she was not happy,
she was an athiest. She told Armond, 'You
are trying to trick me to Christianity! I have no interest in
And he explained
that, 'No,' that was not the intention of Habitat for Humanity at all, 'that's
just who we are,' he said. Finally they got over that rough spot in their relationship,
and Eleana said, ‘I have to see this.’ And so Armond, from his sick
bed made arrangements for Eleana to visit a site in Bucharest, Hungary. She didn’t
have any money, so she went to a bank and borrowed it. She rode on the train
for two days, then took a flight to Bucharest, Hungary. and connected with a
work group from Omaha, Nebraska.
Her family ridiculed her for going. They said ‘You stupid
woman. You are working for people you don’t know and you’ll
never see again.’ But she responded, ‘Somehow I feel
I need to go.’
“The people from the work group in Nebraska found out that
she didn’t have any money. So on her 40th birthday they presented
her the money to pay the bank loan. She dissolved in tears. She
had never experienced that kind of love… She went back to
Siberia a changed woman.
“She wrote to Armond Heck, and she said, ‘I know you’re
death is approaching, but before you die I want to tell you two
First: I don’t know how I’m going to do it,
but I’m going to start Habitat for Humanity in Siberia.
And second: Armond, I want you to know that I have decided to become
took a long pause here to contain his emotion. About 5 seconds – count
them out!) . . .
‘I will be baptized at Easter.’
And last Easter she was baptized and wrote the most moving story
of her baptism.
And since then she’s been on three more work projects. And
Habitat is starting in Siberia.
When we met her last week she had a cross around her neck.
5 sec pause, voice cracks)
And she is totally on fire for Jesus!
He closed with a challenge:
"Mathew 28 says:
‘Proclaim the gospel!’ One way to do it is by talkin’ about
it, another way to do it is by letting your light so shine that others see
your good work and they end up glorifying our father who is in heaven, Amen.' ”