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Archive for Sunday, October 4, 1992

HABITAT CONFERENCE BUILDS VOLUNTEER UNITY

October 4, 1992

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Clive Rainey invoked themes of building and unity Saturday for about 140 members of the Heartland Northern Regional Conference of Habitat for Humanity.

Rainey, the first volunteer at Habitat for Humanity's headquarters in Americus, Ga., in 1977 and now an administrator for the organization, spoke at a celebration service at Plymouth Congregational Church, 925 Vt. The service was the final event in a day of workshops about Habitat for Humanity operations.

Habitat for Humanity is a non-profit group that helps low-income families buy houses that are built with donated funds and materials by volunteer workers. The houses then are sold at cost, at no interest, to families who need housing assistance. Lawrence Habitat for Humanity, an affiliate of the international organization, has built six houses.

RAINEY DREW on the themes of building and unity from the Bible to illustrate Habitat for Humanity's mission in the world.

He also recalled the movie "Field of Dreams," in which an Iowa man, as he is walking through his corn field, hears a voice that says, "If you build it, he will come." Even though the man doesn't know what the voice is trying to tell him, he plows the cornfield to build a baseball field.

The same sort of theme is expressed in the Bible story of Noah and the ark, Rainey said. Habitat for Humanity's mission has been ridiculed as well, he said.

"We have the audacity to tell people we are going to eliminate poverty housing from the face of the earth," he said. The organization's goal is to build 10,000 houses in 1994 and to keep expanding until it can build 50,000 houses annually.

"BUILDING IS a theme throughout the scriptures and we are called to build," he said. But unity is another key element of Habitat's mission.

"We're about housing the whole community decently and bringing people together," he said.

Habitat for Humanity grows as existing chapters set examples for volunteers in other communities, he said. Already, Habitat houses are being built all the time around the world.

And building houses in Africa is just as important as building houses in U.S. communities, Rainey said. "We have to eliminate this idea of `We have to take care of our people first and then we'll get to them later.' . . . Unity is important for all of us," he said.

It is easy for a Habitat for Humanity chapter to get caught up in building one house and forget that it is part of a worldwide effort, Rainey said.

He concluded his speech by again recalling "Field of Dreams."

"As long as we're faithful, as long as we work together . . . if we build it, He will come," he said.

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