Habitat for Humanity is a household name in the United States, but as Tim Stafford notes, most of Habitat's work is now done elsewhere. For instance, over 10,000 Habitat homes have been built in Guatemala, 12,000 in Mexico, and 40,000 in all of Latin America and the Caribbean.
Costa Rica, a relatively new Habitat country, began construction on its 300th home this spring. Christianity Today spoke with the new homeowner, as well as workers in the national and regional offices, to get a sense of how Habitat's Christian identity gets translated through the organization.
Raúl Peraza Solórzano and his wife, Maricel Ruíz Quirós, are the future owners of that 300th house in Palmares. When CT asked Maricel if working with the Habitat local committee strengthened her Christian faith, she gave a blank look. "It's hard to put into words," she said, and after a few moments of silence, concluded, "It gives me more strength."
Then again, she is in a strong position to begin with. She's married to a faithful husband (who, in fact, was still at work at 6:30 P.M. when CT interviewed her). Some Habitat families are not as functional, and when they hit a bump, Johnny Castro Madrigal, who works in a regional Habitat office in San Ramon, says he has the clearest opportunity to share his faith. "I try to advise the family, if one spouse drops out of a marriage for example, that it doesn't mean our God has abandoned the family. I tell them he is a person in whom we can trust."
Kelly Sumner, an international partner in the national office, respects the quiet way Christian faith is communicated through the ranks, from the copy of Fuller's The Theology of the Hammer that each Habitat homeowner receives to the regular devotions at staff meetings. But mostly it's a matter of letting one's life lead the way. "I won't go evangelizing—that is not my strength or my gift," she says. "I prefer to put my faith in action, and if you want to talk to me, I'm more than happy to."
—Mark Galli, CT managing editor
Copyright © 2002 Christianity Today. Click for reprint information.
Also appearing on our site today:
How to Build Homes Without Putting Up WallsHabitat for Humanity strives to keep its Christian identity—a tricky task, when everybody wants to join.
Keeping the FaithHow other Christian organizations stay true to their mission.
A Bible study based on our Habitat cover article is available in Christianity Today'sCurrent Issue Bible Study Series. This unique series uses articles from current issues of the magazine to prompt thought-provoking discussions in adult Sunday school classes or small groups.
Millard Fuller's Theology of the Hammer is available at Christianbook.com.
Previous Christianity Today articles on Habitat for Humanity include:
God's ContractorHow Habitat for Humanity's Millard Fuller persuaded corporate America to do kingdom work. (June 14, 1999)
Habitat Builds 50,000th HomeHabitat for Humanity had its busiest week ever starting September 8, constructing 150 homes in 70 cities. (Oct. 26, 1998)
Building Straw Houses on a Firm FoundationHabitat for Humanity goes low-tech with big results. (Feb. 3, 1997)
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