Habitat for Humanity: Not just for Christians

Building houses is the work of Christ, but those doing the work don't have to be Christians, according to Habitat for Humanity Director Melinda Bobo.

"One of the things we get confused about is having a Christian organization and having an organization for Christians," she said.

"(Faith is) the motivation. But it's not a requirement to participate and it's not a requirement to get a house."

Habitat for Humanity International was founded in 1976 with the goal of eliminating poverty housing through volunteers and donations. Families may purchase houses built by volunteers with no-interest loans.

The organization includes Christianity in its mission statement, and Bobo said the local chapter, which recently was accepted under the umbrella of the Routt County affiliate, will keep the same purpose.

"Our job as Habitat for Humanity is to provide habitat for humanity, and in doing that, we're being Christian," she said. "But you don't have to hit people over the head with a two-by-four."

More important is showing the ways of Christ instead of just talking about them, which is what attracts people to faith, Bobo said.

She related the situation to a parable in the Bible. There were two sons -- one promised to do something and didn't, the other said he would not, but did.

"Which one did the will of the father? The one who did it, not the one who said it," she said. "And that's it: What are you doing?"

But Bobo stressed that everyone can participate in Habitat as long as each does the work necessary.

The organization has 25 volunteers, including eight board members. The group meets the fourth Monday of every month at 7 p.m. at St Mark's Episcopal Church and Lutheran Church of Grace, 657 Green St., where Bobo is pastor.

"Even if all you want to do is put up siding or paint, it helps to see how you fit in the big picture," she said.

When asked how many people she'd like to see participate, Bobo said, "How many people are there in Moffat County?"

Her goal is to start a housing project by next fall, but she's not sure how realistic that expectation is. The organization is completing paperwork and looking into property availability and building permits.

In the meantime, Bobo invites anyone interested to attend a meeting or call her at 824-3470. She hopes the organization will grow and continue to incorporate demonstrations of Christ's love.

"Jesus said we're supposed to take care of each other, and one of those things is making sure everyone has a decent place to live," Bobo said. "And that's what we're going to do."

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