AMERICUS, Ga. (Sept. 13, 2006) — Habitat for Humanity affiliates around the world recognize their church partners during the organization’s “Building on Faith” events. This focus on church projects culminates Sunday, Sept. 17, with Habitat’s International Day of Prayer and Action for Human Habitat.
Last week in Armenia, 72 priests joined with more than 300 volunteers from Lebanon to Liverpool to build 37 Habitat for Humanity houses in a country where 45 percent of the population lives in poverty. His Holiness Karekin II, Catholicos of all Armenians, blessed the event held in his name and planted a symbolic tree to represent a new beginning for the families who moved into their new homes after an intensive week of building. On the final day of construction, Rena Davis and James Cradler, two American volunteers, both 78, were married on the job site.
Almost 8,000 miles away in El Salvador, more than 400 volunteers, some local and some from the United States and Canada, worked together to raise $39,000 and build 16 houses. This is the first Habitat for Humanity Building on Faith project that is part of a campaign to build 500 houses in five years in that country.
In South Africa, Habitat for Humanity is hosting its fourth Building on Faith event in KwaZulu Natal where more than 250 volunteers from churches in and around the Durban area will build five houses over five consecutive Saturdays, beginning Sept. 16. The build will take place at Ethembeni, “place of hope.”
In August in Mozambique, volunteers were so moved by the situation of a local woman that they took up personal donations to build one more house than they originally planned. Two United Methodist teams from Missouri, a Wesleyan team from the Great Britain and local groups partnered together to build 10 houses in an area where the HIV/AIDS pandemic has left many widows and orphans living in poverty. The team members met a woman who was living alone in a small tent-like structure, no more than a few feet tall, made of sticks, plastic bags and a reed mat. Team members collected enough money among themselves to build her a simple mud hut with a concrete floor. Mozambique is also planning a multi-year church campaign, with a goal of building 75 houses in three years.
On Sunday, Sept. 17, with Habitat’s International Day of Prayer, churches everywhere are invited to offer prayers of thanksgiving and petition, praying for those in need of shelter and praying that the right people would be lifted up to answer the call to serve.
Habitat groups build in partnership with churches throughout the year, but many plan a church project near the Day of Prayer as a way to emphasize Habitat’s Christian foundation and as a rallying point for churches. These projects that highlight church partnerships are called Building on Faith.
Many U.S. affiliates participate in these special church projects as well. In LeMars, Iowa, where the members of the Presbyterian United Church of Christ were just getting interested in the idea of building a house this time last year, volunteers are ready to dedicate the first of eight church-sponsored houses that local congregations have committed to build in that community over the next eight years.
In Saline County, Ark., a growing bedroom community of Little Rock, the first Apostles Build house in the county will be dedicated on the Day of Prayer. The idea of an Apostles Build is to bring together 12 churches to build a home. Karma Herzfeld, executive director of Saline County HFH, said that many of the participating churches are eager to come back for another Apostles Build next year, and that at least one church has expressed interest in fully funding and building a house on their own.
Apostles Build projects with dedications on the Day of Prayer are planned for a number of U.S. affiliates.
“This is exciting,” said Rick Beech, HFHI director of Church Relations. “We can look all around the world and see churches partnering with Habitat for Humanity as a way to help them carry out their desires for ministry. For some churches that means stepping out of their church buildings. For others that means traveling thousands of miles and working in a completely different culture. On the Day of Prayer let us give thanks for those who serve and continue to be in prayer for those who are in need of shelter.”
About Habitat for Humanity International
Habitat for Humanity International is an ecumenical Christian ministry that welcomes to its work all people dedicated to the cause of eliminating poverty housing. Since its founding in Americus, Ga., in 1976, Habitat has built more than 200,000 houses in nearly 100 countries, providing simple, decent and affordable shelter for more than 1 million people. For more information, visit www.habitat.org .