The Publication of Habitat for Humanity International | June 2007
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The Tithes That Bind
With roots in biblical tradition, sacrificial giving helps Habitat for Humanity grow around the world.

by Rebekah Daniel

As volunteers and homeowners labor each day in thousands of communities to build simple, decent housing, it truly can be said that the sun never sets on Habitat for Humanity's work. United by common values, Habitat supporters around the globe come together in the simple, profound work of putting hammer to nail and trowel to brick to improve their communities.

Charlotte, N.C, USA/
El Salvador
Vero Beach, Fla., USA/
Romania
Denver, Colo., USA/
Jordan and Northern Ireland
One of those shared values is tithing, a program in which Habitat for Humanity affiliates donate 10 percent of all unrestricted cash donations to further Habitat's work in other countries. The concept follows an ancient Biblical tradition in which God asked Israel to sacrifice the first crops of the harvest, trusting that the remainder would be enough to carry them throughout the rest of the year. In exchange for this act of faith was a promise of provision: "Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it" (Malachi 3:10).

This promise, as well as Jesus' instructions to care for our neighbors and the vulnerable in society, makes tithing a natural component of Habitat's Christian identity. In essence, it is an act of faith. The Israelites trusted God to provide rain and sun, crops and livestock; Habitat trusts God to provide--through tithe partners--shovels and cement, nails and lumber.

Some affiliates designate their tithes to benefit specific programs for a number of years, providing an opportunity for a relationship between the two locations to flourish. In the soil of time, the financial relationship often grows into something more. Reflecting on the impact of visiting volunteer teams, Philip Griffith, national director of Habitat for Humanity Jordan, wrote in a newsletter, "Social development is all too often about technique, procedure and things that are easily measured. Habitat is about more than that. It is a catalyst for real human relationships. The poor will always be with us. It is in doing with the least of them and the least of ourselves that we will know something greater."

You Can Help
You can be a part of Habitat for Humanity's global house-building efforts by participating in the House for a House Campaign. This campaign is an effort to increase the amount of money tithed by Habitat affiliates from US$10.5 million in 2004 to US$25 million in 2009. The increase will help house an additional 20,000 families.

Encourage your local affiliate to set a goal to build at least one house overseas for each house it builds in your community. For more information, visit www.habitat.org.






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