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... The House That Love Built is the story of Millard and Linda Fuller, founders of Habitat for Humanity, the largest nonprofit housing ministry in the world. Theirs is a journey that spans more than sixty years: from Millard’s upbringing and his serendipitous first meeting with Linda, through the crisis that almost ended their marriage but providentially led them to give away their fortune. It is also the story of their spectacular rebound to establish The Fuller Center for Housing and their ongoing mission to eradicate poverty housing from the Earth. They’ve built homes for a million of the world’s poor, amassed more than sixty honorary doctorates between them, and won hundreds of awards. In 1996, Millard was prsented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom—the highest civilian honor a person can receive in the United States of America. Also, adjacent to the U.S. Treasury building in Washington, D.C., a bronze emblem embedded in the sidewalk bears the Fullers' images and honors them as prestigious Points of Light recipients. But for their recognition, they are exceptionally humble, family-oriented people. They have raised four well-educated and happy children, forging strong family ties that remain even now that the Fuller children are married and have children of their own.

Someone once said that "spending an hour with Linda and Millard Fuller is like being at a Billy Graham crusade, a Norman Vincent Peale presentation, and a rock concert—all rolled into one." Being in the Fullers’ presence is electrifying. They are tremendously charismatic. Both are tall, attractive, bright, quick-witted, and energetic. Yet, behind their dynamic energy is a deep sense of calm about them. And a great joy. You develop an inkling that they know something you don’t—and it makes you want to know what they know. They are permanently smiling, as if they’re itching to tell you what they’re happy about. If you ask, they’ll gladly tell you all about it.

Their experiences are vast; their stories are rich; their friends are many. At speaking events, they often receive standing ovations just by entering the room. Being around them or being a part of any project they’re promoting is captivating. Perhaps it’s because they’re so fully committed to what they’re doing—and to their unwavering faith.

From the day Millard Fuller was first inspired to start Habitat for Humanity, he has strived to show the world that making decent shelter available to the needy is a matter of conscience and action, and he ceaselessly challenges people to join in the movement. Over the years, he has traveled tirelessly across the country and around the world to rally people into realizing that every community has the wherewithal—the talent, resources, and tools—to eradicate poverty housing, if only they have the will. The results have been no less than phenomenal. By 2005, under Millard and Linda’s leadership, some two hundred thousand homes had been built, and some one million more people had a decent place to call home. But Millard was never one to gloat about the greatness Habitat had achieved nor lose sight of Habitat’s mission. When "Habitat has work in a hundred countries, but it still isn’t in ninety other countries. We may have helped a million people find adequate shelter, but some billion more people are still in need."

Despite its great success—or perhaps because of it—by 2005, Habitat for Humanity had experienced a shift in its Christian underpinning and philosophy. Millard’s ministry and movement mentality no longer appealed to an increasingly corporate-minded board of directors who saw Habitat as a business—an international conglomerate with a brand value of $1.8 billion. Millard’s insistence on maintaining Habitat’s status as a ministry and grassroots movement stood in the way of the international’s board vision for a new order. This divisiveness would cost the Fuller’s the organization that was such an integral part of their lives.

Until this writing, the complete story of the Fuller’s experiences has remained untold. Through understanding the crisis that birthed Habitat, as well as what happened inside Habitat’s own house—the upheaval during the Fuller’s final months with Habitat—you will come away with a renewed admiration for the visionary founders of Habitat for Humanity and the heart with which their organization was born. As you come to understand Millard’s steadfast devotion to an organization "founded under God’s direction" and driven by his commitment to working "in partnership with God," you will come to appreciate how important the preservation of Habitat as a grassroots organization was to Millard and why he appealed to others to get involved in the struggle to end poverty housing and homelessness.

It has been my privilege to tell their story of success, crisis, and changing direction; of renewing faith, finding purpose, and fulfilling destiny; of personal courage to stand for what matters. The House That Love Built will give you a glimpse into the lives of two remarkable people who continue to exemplify the inspiring nobility of the human spirit.  Their story is a big one, and a remarkable one. Remarkable because they’ve lived uncommon, and truly inspiring, lives. Rare is the person who meets the Fullers or hears of their amazing journey and isn’t inspired by them.

May it enrich your life. —The author

 
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