Friday, October 18, 2013

Remembering Millard Dean Fuller January 3, 1935 - February 3, 2009

"I see life as both a gift and a responsibility.  My responsibility is to use what God has given me to help
his people in need."

These are the words of Millard Fuller.  How appropriate they are when describing this great man.

Millard Fuller was the founder and former president of Habitat for Humanity International.  Habitat, as most know, is a nonprofit organization known around the world for building houses for those in need.  He is regarded as the leader of the modern day movement for affordable housing around the world.

Millard Fuller was born in Lanett, Alabama. His mother died when he was 3.  His dad remarried and Millard's business career began at the age of 6 when his dad gave him a pig.  Millard is said to have fattened the pig up and sold it for $11.  Millard was soon buying and selling pigs, rabbits, and chickens and selling them for a profit.  Following high school, Millard graduated from Auburn University with a degree in economics. He continued his studies by attending the University of Alabama where he received his law degree.

Millard became very successful in both law and business.  He married his wife Linda and became a self made millionaire by the age of 29.  He and his wife discovered that money doesn't make you happy.  It seemed like the more wealthy they got, the more problems they had.  One day Millard and his wife decided to give their money away and turn their lives over to Christian service.  The Fuller family moved to a farming community in Georgia.  They remained there for five years until the decided to become missionaries in Africa in 1973 where their vocation was building homes.  While there, they  came up with the idea that if homes could be built in Africa, why couldn't they be built around the world.

They returned to the U.S. and began a Christian ministry at Koinonia Farm in Georgia and, as part of the ministry built simple decent homes for low income families in their community.  They sought assistance from others in the community through both donating labor and contributions.  Those who received the homes repaid for the materials along with donating their time and efforts to building additional homes.  No interest was charged and these principles were used to expand the ministry.  They named the ministry "Partnership Housing" that eventually was expanded to Habitat for Humanity.  In 2005, they founded another non-profit organization with the same vision called "The Fuller Center for Housing."

The Fullers, over the years, are responsible for more than a million people with homes in more than 100 countries.  Among those supporters of the Fullers are former U.S. Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.  Bill Clinton presented Fuller with the Presidential Medal of Freedom and was quoted as saying "I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that Millard Fuller has literally revolutionized the concept of philanthropy."

Fuller Memorial Celebration
Millard Fuller authored ten books and was the recipient of more than 50 honorary doctorate degrees.  He has also received numerous awards and honors for his work.  One of his books "Theology of the Hammer" explains Fuller's philosophy. "Love in action changes the face of volunteering in America and has inspired millions to pick up a hammer and make a difference in their communities. "
Fuller program and nail apron

Millard Fuller died on Tuesday, February 3, 2009 after experiencing chest congestion for about a month.  He was 74 years of age.

A Memorial Celebration of Millard's life was held March 14, 2009 in the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia (program pictured).  Among those who paid tribute to Millard was former U.S. President Jimmy Carter.  Others who reflected on Fuller's life were two homeowners from Fuller's organization.  The songs sung were favorites of Millard's that included "Higher Ground" and "We're Marching to Zion."  Those who attended the celebration received a "nail apron" that reflected Millard's life (pictured).  He was laid to rest on Koinonia Farm.
Millard Fuller resting place

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