The following is another blog post I wrote for the Greater Indy Habitat website
Mission Part 1
I’ve been here for ten months now. In a “year-long” volunteer program that actually only lasts eleven months, being here for ten months means I only have one month left. Obvious though that may be to anyone capable of doing arithmetic on or above a kindergarten level, it’s still something about which I can’t stop thinking. I already have ten elevenths of what is meant to be a life-altering program on which to reflect, and I’m not sure where to start. So, in trying to begin to reflect on how my experience here has influenced my understanding of service, I recently asked a few friends how they would describe Habitat’s work.
“Helps habitate humans?” my brother, who studied linguistics, suggested. My friend Mikey, responding in a group chat in which I’d posed the question, said that they “build houses for low-income families.” Moments later, another friend in that group posted, “I second Mikey,” so obviously that must have been a pretty good answer.
If I had asked myself the same question a year ago, (a clichéd premise, I know), I probably would have seconded Mikey as well. In my mind, at that time, Habitat was just a particularly generous construction crew. That was before I’d ever heard their mission statement, and more significantly, before I became a small part of the mission in that statement.
That mission is this:
“Seeking to put God’s love into action, Habitat for Humanity brings people together to build homes, communities, and hope.”
It seems like a simple enough statement. I don’t think most people with a passing familiarity with Habitat would be surprised by anything in it, at least. But if one really takes the time to dissect and consider the pieces of it, they may realize there’s more to it than would initially appear to be the case.
So with my final three blog posts as this year’s Greater Indy Habitat YAV, that’s precisely what I want to do. This being the first installment in the series, I want to start by looking at the first object of Habitat’s missional building: “homes.”
Perhaps Bill Withers put it best when he sang, “And this house just ain’t no home, anytime she goes away.” There is a distinct difference between a house and a home. For the esteemed Mr. Withers, a house is where he lives, but a home is where he and this woman who brought sunshine to his life could be together. For many of our homeowners, the structure we build together is a place where their families can be safe. It’s a place where they can find respite and revitalization. It’s a place where they can find fellowship and freedom. It’s a place where love can thrive.
Habitat forms relationships with their homeowners. They take the time to understand the needs of the homeowner, and demonstrate the necessary investment to care for those needs. It’s not that difficult to build houses; to run a blueprint through a conveyor belt and give people four walls and a roof. It’s not cheap, but it’s available almost everywhere today. What makes them homes, and what Habitat takes the utmost care to do, is the compassionate attention given to each family in the system, and each structure they build.
The homes these families build change their lives. They provide a brand new foundation from which things seem possible which may not have even been considerable before. A house cannot do that on its own. It needs to be made into a home, and that’s why homes are the first thing Habitat builds.