Updated: Feb 18, 2020
"That makes a lot of sense," he said after a long pause. Kate Wright, Executive Director of Habitat, and I had just explained to Jamie Stephenson, the head of our 2020 partner family, how his home would be our first Faith Build project. We told him it would be funded and built by local churches working together to show God's love in action.
Habitat for Humanity selects partner families based on need and doesn't ask about religious affiliation during the application process. Since this is our first Faith Build, we just weren't sure how this conversation would go. Would Jamie be comfortable with people of faith lifting him up in prayer during his path to home-ownership? Or would he be ambivalent about it? It had been a question weighing on my mind since we'd been accepted as an official Faith Build Partner last fall.
I'd met Jamie a few days earlier, but this was the first time Kate and I had a chance to talk with him. We explained the Faith Build consists of an $80,000 matching grant from Thrivent Financial, a company helping Christians with financial planning. We told him how we're asking local churches to come together to pray for the project, to raise money and in-kind donations towards the match, and to work alongside him as we build his home. We wondered how that sounded to him.
After that long pause, he told us it made sense to him because lately, he had a strong feeling that God was walking alongside him. There were signs along the way that he was on the right path, he said, and more importantly, that he was doing right by his three children: Bradley (13), Cherish (8), and Jaiden (6).
Recently, the family started going to Element Church together. For Jamie, it was a return to faith after a life that took him down some dark roads. Despite his troubles, it seems his children have always given him a reason to keep going. Jamie says his only goal is to bring them up with good morals and standards. It's easy to see how strongly he feels about his children and how much he learns from them as well. After a lapse in sobriety a few years ago, it was his oldest who reminded Jamie that he's a better man without alcohol. He listened to his son and has earned two more years of sobriety since. Recently the youngest has taken to teaching his dad some of the lessons he's learning at church. Jamie listens to him as well and considers it as yet another sign that God has a hand in the good things that are happening for his family."
Jamie can't wait to get started building a safe and stable home for his kids. "No more moving, no more changing schools," he said, clearly as a man who has struggled but sees some of the light that is starting to shine for him. "A lot of people have been praying hard for my family," he said, "I know He's been listening".