After a hiatus of two or three years, the local affiliate of the international Christian housing ministry is back in business.
Habitat for Humanity International is based on a belief that everyone should have a “decent, safe and affordable place to live,” according to its mission statement. It is widely known for its building projects, and for the emotional, heartfelt gratitude that occupants of the new dwellings often express.
But the gratitude comes with something more important – self-satisfaction and a heightened sense of worth, because Habitat for Humanity does not give away homes. It helps people build their homes, and then pay for them.
That stands out in an era marked by oft-discussed “entitlements,” a time when many people – far too many – believe that the world owes them something.
Habitat is sort of a modern-day incarnation of the cabin- or barn-raising efforts of bygone days, when members of communities would band together to help one of their own construct a building.
Those informal groups did not assemble to give someone a handout, but rather a helping hand. They volunteered not for their own personal gain, but in the belief that by helping their neighbor, they were helping their community overall – helping themselves, in an unselfish sense, by helping everybody who shared in the community’s growth and prosperity.
The personal benefit for the owner of the new cabin or barn was magnified by the larger context of the event. In a way that no handout could ever do, the gathering together of members of the community to engage in a building project bound the individuals of that community together.
Like those old-time community members, Habitat homeowners don’t merely help build their own house; they are participants in the building of others’ homes, as well.
They purchase the homes, through affordable, not-for-profit loans. Volunteers, particularly specialist such as electricians, plumbers and other skilled craftsmen, help them do the work and Habitat arranges the financing.
Cabin- and barn-raisings came naturally in an agrarian society in which citizens were primarily responsible for their own well-being. There was no big government to foolishly attempt to accommodate everybody’s needs and wants, and so there was no percentage in sitting around and waiting for something to be given away.
Well-intentioned programs have helped create a society that is much too dependent on the diminishing numbers of those who work and pay taxes to support the big government that attempts to provide all those giveaways.
Habitat’s founders and its thousands of supporters – and, more importantly, its volunteers and those who now enjoy the benefits of a home they helped build – know the ultimate truth of the admonition in Genesis 3:19: “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground…”
Habitat wisely relies on “sweat equity,” because that which we work for and earn is our only true “entitlement.”
Habitat for Humanity, established in 1976, has more than 1,500 local affiliates. Anyone interested in volunteering to work with the Marshall County group should contact Shannon Story at (859) 333-0191.