Last week, in between Habitat’s annual U.S. legislative event, Habitat on the Hill, and the 65th annual National Prayer Breakfast of 3,000 participants from more than 130 countries, Habitat International CEO Jonathan Reckford paused to share this reflection.
Wherever we work, Habitat for Humanity has always sought inclusivity and has often served as a place where people holding disparate views can come together in common cause. In recent days, I have found myself again and again returning to the certainty of Habitat’s mission and vision and the faith principles on which we are founded. My hope is that, by revisiting these pillars of strength together for a moment, we may find a collective energy and clarity for today and the days to come.
So of what am I certain?
I am certain of Habitat’s vision: a world where everyone has a decent place to live.
I am certain of our mission: Seeking to put God’s love into action, we bring people together to build homes, communities and hope.
I am certain that:
- We are a welcoming and accepting ministry.
- We build with people in need of decent housing, regardless of their race or religion.
- We welcome volunteers and supporters from all backgrounds.
- We work with people of all faiths and people of no faith.
In my own journey of belief, I am also certain of the direction we were given in Matthew 25:40: “‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”
We have a particular heart for the marginalized in our world. Let us never forget that Habitat was born in a place marked by its fierce commitment to the equality of all people and its unfailing devotion to the creation of opportunity for all. People of faith and strong conviction called Koinonia home, living in the shadow of a community that did not understand, welcome — or in many instances — tolerate them. And yet, because a small group never failed to put their faith into daily practice, what would become our global housing ministry found its footing and its following. And in 40 years, we have helped provide safe and decent housing for more than 10 million people. The way we approach our work has been a vehicle for reconciliation and has broken down barriers between people. We work alongside those willing to partner with us, no matter their background or walk of life, and that will always be true.
We have chosen, as our means of manifesting God’s love, to create opportunities for all people to have decent places to call home. We firmly believe that no matter who we are or where we come from, we all deserve to have a decent life, to feel strength and stability day after day, and to know that we have the power to help build our own futures. In response to Micah’s call to do justice, to love mercy and to walk humbly with God — and no matter the daily circumstances we might be called to navigate — we embrace the notion that we are all humans, and that every single one of us deserves an opportunity for a better future.
Finally, we believe that, in faith, respectful relationships can grow among all people, and that, through faith, all things are possible. The uncertainty of today — and tomorrow — will always be with us. The need for our hands, voices, prayers and participation is greater than ever. I pray that, like the wise man who built his house upon the rock, we will each of us hold tightly to our passion for and deep commitment to helping the families with whom we partner and to the unchanging principles outlined above, which I know you share so deeply.
Jonathan T.M. Reckford