CBN.com The House That Love Built tells the story of Millard Fuller, an entrepreneur, lawyer and charismatic, passionate young businessman behind the largest nonprofit housing ministry in the world. From an early age, Millard Fuller used his instincts to become a self-made millionaire. At the same time he began building his career, his marriage and relationship with his children were crumbling.
His frequent absences left his wife, Linda, feeling lonely, so she had an affair and left him. After Millard and Linda re-evaluated their life’s priorities and tearfully reconciled their marriage, they made the decision to sell their possessions and give the money to the poor, rededicating their lives to serving others. And as a result, their ministry flourished. Having founded Habitat for Humanity International in 1976, Millard revolutionized philanthropy, challenging people to do more than send money, and they did – for almost 30 years.
In 2004, a “disgruntled female employee” made unsubstantiated allegations of “inappropriate sexual conduct” by Millard (saying he touched her on the arm and neck, and spoke to her with inappropriate conversation) after giving him a lift to the Atlanta Airport from Americus, Georgia where company headquarters were located. Millard had a practice of catching a lift to the airport with anyone going to save the ministry the $75 fee. His travel coordinator would set these up, and over the years, scores of people, both men and women had driven him to the Atlanta airport. The accuser’s allegations came about some thirteen months after the alleged incident took place. Fuller said that all allegations were ridiculous, and that he never did anything inappropriate; most baffling to the Fullers was how the NY Board reacted to the matter even though the woman had confided to co-workers that she hoped by presenting her case to the CEO, it would change her job which would allow her more time at home in her second marriage.
“I’m not afraid of the lie that woman has told about me,” Fuller said.
He even suggested that a polygraph test be administered in which both he and the accuser would have to submit too, but his suggestion was later denied (Fuller passed the polygraph several months later).
Some felt the Board took this as a chance to take control and get rid of Millard who wanted to keep the God-centered culture of Habitat. For example, before Millard could thoroughly defend himself, the board had already hired an outside law firm to investigate the accuser’s allegations. Not only that, but the board also helped the woman and her claims by penning a 90-page complaint on her behalf even though the woman had nothing in writing or substantial proof. No one who worked closely with Millard was sought out or questioned. President Carter joined in the negotiations to help ensure that Millard kept his reputation after being forced out of Habitat. And soon after, there was more attention generated and directed toward Carter than the Fullers.
MORE TO BUILD
At the heart of The House That Love Built is the dramatic story of Fuller’s fall from grace from the organization he had grown and nurtured. The author, Bettie Youngs, describes how Fuller’s world ground to a stop when, in a power struggle, he was fired by Habitat’s board of Directors in early 2005. But Fuller did not let that keep him from the work he has been called to do. After the shock of being fired from a company they created, the Fullers had a two-day pity party before moving forward in the calling God gave them – providing affordable housing for the poor.
“We’ve built in a hundred countries and still have nearly that many to go,” Millard said. “The housing ministry is what we believe God has called us to do.”
The Fullers were eager to get back to their kingdom work, so they have created The Fuller Center for Housing which is rapidly duplicating the success of Habitat. Through blitz builds and ongoing projects in numerous states and in such countries as Nepal, Nigeria and Romania, Millard Fuller continues to work toward his goal to eliminate substandard housing worldwide.
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