Millard Fuller, 1935-2009 -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1
Millard Fuller, 1935-2009
In the early morning hours of a February Tuesday, Habitat for Humanity International founder Millard Fuller passed away.
The many members of Habitat’s extended family mourn his loss—and celebrate his longstanding commitment to the cause of affordable housing. His death on Feb. 3, at the age of 74 after a brief illness, ended a life dedicated to what Fuller often referred to as the “God-ordained, Christ-centered work” of building simple, decent, affordable housing with families in need of shelter.
The first seeds of Habitat were sown at Koinonia Farm, a Christian farming community founded in southwest Georgia in the 1940s. In 1965, financially successful but personally spent, Fuller and his wife Linda decided to begin anew at Koinonia. The former entrepreneur/attorney and his wife gave away the fruits of their lives’ labors and moved to Koinonia, where they encountered farmer, theologian and community founder Clarence Jordan.
In time, Jordan and Fuller launched a program of “partnership housing”—building simple houses in partnership with rural neighbors too poor to qualify for conventional home loans. The first house was dedicated in 1969. In 1973, the Fullers took the concept to Africa. Within a few years, simple concrete-block homes were replacing unhealthy mud-and-thatch homes. And Millard Fuller had a bold idea: If partnership housing could improve lives in Georgia and Zaire, why not the rest of the world?
After three years, the Fullers returned to the United States and launched Habitat for Humanity International. Fuller led Habitat from its 1976 founding until his separation from the organization and his founding of the Fuller Center for Housing in 2005.
By Habitat’s 25th anniversary in 2001, tens of thousands of people were volunteering with Habitat and more than 500,000 people were living in Habitat homes. In the years since, Habitat’s numbers—and its impact—have only grown. Habitat has built more than 300,000 houses around the world, providing more than 1.5 million people with safe, decent, affordable shelter.
The idea of change that first sprouted in the fields of Koinonia continues. The very same housing need that Fuller saw in the lives of his Georgia neighbors exists everywhere. Because of the vision and tireless effort that he brought to the founding of Habitat, because he was able to inspire so many to join him in the task, God’s work continues around the world.
“We are frustrated that we can’t just wave a magic wand and have houses appear for everyone who needs them,” Fuller once wrote in the pages of Habitat World. “But we do know that by doing what we can, we make a difference. We know from experience that when we move on faith, God moves with us.”