CBNNews.com - Millard Fuller, the visionary behind the largest non-profit housing ministry in the world, died Feb. 3. He was 74.
Fuller gave up his success as a self-made millionaire in 1976 to start Habitat for Humanity. The building of the group's first house started as his way of seeking God's purpose for his life.
"We felt that we should simply throw ourselves on God's mercy and go on a spiritual pilgrimage and ask God to lead us into a life of Christian service," Fuller said once on The 700 Club.
The non-profit group grew to a worldwide network that has built more than 300,000 houses for the underprivileged.
Jonathan Reckford, chief executive officer for Habitat for Humanity International, called Miller a "force of nature."
"The entire Habitat family mourns the loss of our founder, a true giant in the affordable housing movement. Our prayers are with the entire Fuller family," he said.
Linda Miller said that she and Millard planned to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary with 100-house worldwide "blitz build."
"Millard would not want people to mourn his death," she said. "He would be more interested in having people put on a tool belt and build a house for people in need."
The plans will go forward without him.
Former President Jimmy Carter, a Habitat volunteer said Fuller was an extraordinary person.
"As the founder of Habitat for Humanity and later the Fuller Center, he was an inspiration to me, other members of our family and an untold number of volunteers who worked side-by-side under his leadership," Carter said.
Founded in 1976, Habitat's first headquarters was a tiny gray house in Americus, Ga. For the first 14 years, Fuller's salary was just $15,000 and his wife worked ten years for free.
Fuller was named to the National Housing Hall of Fame and had received the World Changer Award, the World Methodist Peace Award, the Norman Vincent Peale Award, the John W. Gardner Leadership Award and the Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Award.
He also received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor.
Former President Bill Clinton presented the award, remarking that "Millard Fuller has done as much to make the dream of homeownership a reality in our country and throughout the world as any living person."
J. Ronald Terwilliger, chair of Habitat for Humanity's International Board of Directors, said Fuller changed lives around the world.
"His inspiration lives on in Habitat's work and through its employees, volunteers, partner families and supporters," he said.
Source: The Associated Press, Habitat for Humanity