Tuesday, May 3, 2016

A Habitat House and Hope

Sketch by Liz Smith

Once in a while something comes along that makes you proud. Like everybody else I have had my share of defeats and disappointments. While I was Pastor of the First Baptist Church in Clemson, South Carolina we decided to build a Habitat house for some family that needed a house. This would be the first Habitat house built in Pickens County. Since that time all over our county you can find rays of hope where people who needed a place to call home found one--many for the first times in their lives.

We built the first house for the Collier family. Curtis, the father had a lot of trouble with drugs and alcohol. But when we opened the Drug and Alcohol Abuse Center in one of our church's houses--Curtis was one of the first ones to enroll in the program.  He was the father of several children and he and his wife were separated. But Curtis worked hard and beat the drug-alcohol habit. It was an enormous struggle and yet he did it. Because he had made such progress he was reunited with his family and they were in the Center behind our church with him. I helped a little on that house and Curtis and his family moved in. Then afternoon of the Dedication I remember crying all the way home. For once we had come together and helped a family find a home.

More than twenty years have passed since that day on Vista Drive when we dedicated that first Habitat house. When we moved back to Clemson three years ago I wondered about Curtis and his family. No one seemed to know anything about them. And then about a month ago the garbage truck came by and moved on down the street. We were leaving for a trip and I didn't want the garbage left in our can for two weeks. So I pulled out the bag and went running down the street. I finally caught up with the Garbage truck. I yelled and told the man to wait until I gave him my garbage bag. The man came to meet me. I couldn't believe it. I said, "Curtis, is that you? I didn't l know if you were still here." "Oh yeah, he said, "Doctah Lovette--is that you?" We hugged and laughed. "Yeah, we still here. Been working on this job for over twenty years. Getting ready to retire." "You living in the same house we built?" "Yeah," he said, "me and Albertine still live there. Paid off the house. It's all mine." He had to work and moved on. But I remembered his early struggles and that of his family. But his life came together and they still live in that little blue house.

Since that time Pickens County Habitat is getting ready to finish their hundredth house. As I remember that encounter with Curts by the Garbage truck Jesus' parable came into my mind.

"Another parable he put before them, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed which a man took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches."

photo by Micolo / flickr

--Roger Lovette /  rogerlovette.blogspot.com

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