Just a few months ago I met Millard Fuller for the first time . Early this morning, he passed away.
My friend Brandon invited Millard to Abilene to speak at ACU. I was blessed to help plan his trip in our city and to have Millard as a guest of Connecting Caring Communities’ “Sweet Evening with Millard Fuller” on Sept 30, 2008.
I knew about Millard. He started Habitat for Humanity International in 1976. In 2005, he founded (both with his wife, Linda, pictured with him here) the Fuller Center for Housing. I knew that he had been working closely with friends at Community Renewal International in Shreveport. He was an international force for good; who went to Bible class with Jimmy Carter; and was THE leader of the decent and affordable housing movement. I learned much more about his story during those three days in September.
I had no idea what an impact he would make on my life.
I was able to not only hear his wisdom in lectures at several events, but was able to sit at a discussion with him and local leaders; take him on a tour with Brandon; and, with my daughter Caroline, take him to the airport. Those conversations– and a cherished letter from him a few weeks later– remain with me. Not just today when I heard he had passed. But rarely a week has gone by when I haven’t thought of his words and his challenges.
He changed the world. Habitat housed over 1 million people under his leadership. The Fuller Center continues his work today. Tomorrow he will be buried in a crate, on a hill at Koinonia Farm where his life was transformed by his spiritual mentor, Clarence Jordan (author of the Cotton Patch Gospels), in an unmarked grave (just like Clarence).
He not only changed the world. He changed my life.
I’ll reflect on some of the things I learned in the next few posts.