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Foundations: September 2009 -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1

Foundations: September 2009

Servant leaders shape Habitat
From Habitat CEO Jonathan Reckford



From its earliest days, Habitat for Humanity has been blessed with passionate leaders whose gifts, personalities and circumstances have helped shaped this ministry. When Clarence Jordan, who developed the concept of the Fund for Humanity, sent out a personal letter inviting people to consider his plan for sharing resources, people responded so favorably that Clarence said he felt something eternal had been set in motion.

With a vision and boldness that could not be held back, the early Habitat leaders could never imagine what they were unleashing, but they knew they had to follow God’s call. “We just knew that the idea that got hold of us wasn’t going to stop with us,” says Sam Emerick, the first chair of Habitat’s board of directors.

Since then, politicians and pilots, pastors and small business owners, craftspeople and executives have taken leadership roles and become great advocates for the cause of affordable housing. Some of those crucial leaders guide our work and give voice to our mission on the local level; others speak on a larger stage.

We lost one of our great voices in May with the death of Jack Kemp. Jack supported Habitat’s work for more than a decade, serving on our international board of directors and chairing the five-year “More Than Houses” capital campaign and the “Rebuilding Our Communities Campaign.” He was an amazing example of servant leadership and kindness. His legacy will live on in the families who live in better conditions because of his efforts.

With the deaths of Jack Kemp and Habitat founder Millard Fuller, who passed away within two months of each other this year, we feel the emptiness left by two giants who cared so passionately about families in need of affordable shelter. We will forever be grateful for their drive to engage others in our work and for all they did to shape the Habitat story. We will always miss them.

As part of the life cycle of this mighty organization, however, we must constantly develop and nurture strong leaders at every level, taking inspiration from the service of those who have come before. The need for affordable housing continues to climb rapidly. Now, more than ever, we need faithful people who have bold vision, determination and discernment to follow God’s leading. More than ever in this troubled economy, we need leaders to help us see over the mountain so that we may continue to help families around the world improve their housing situations.