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Central Oklahoma Habitat for Humanity's approach seen in New Testament

Parallels to the ecumenical homebuilding ministry's approach can be found in the Bible.
by Richard Mize Published: May 25, 2013

So much regular news and commentary seemed superfluous after the tornadoes last Sunday and Monday.

Somebody bought a building? Somebody leased some space? Eh.

So I started to delay what follows, the comments I intend to offer from my semester in supervised ministry with Central Oklahoma Habitat for Humanity through Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa. But then Ann Felton Gilliland, chairman and CEO of Central Oklahoma Habitat, reminded me that life must go on.

Central Oklahoma Habitat is asking for donations so it can help with rebuilding as well as keep up its work against slum housing.

After the May 3, 1999, twister, Habitat built houses for those who'd lost homes as far away as Mulhall. Hobby Lobby answered late Friday by announcing donations of $1 million each to Habitat and the American Red Cross.

Habitat goes on. So here are my final remarks on my main project, which was to find theological parallels of Habitat's work and approach to ministry in the Bible. From the New Testament:

•  The Gospel of Mark 7: 24-30 — the Syrophoenician woman.

The story of the Syrophoenecian woman is short and bittersweet. The Gentile woman asks Jesus to heal her daughter. Jesus balks, essentially indicating that what he has to offer is for his own people — not for her. The woman insists, cleverly turning Jesus's own insulting words — he basically calls her and her people “dogs” — to her advantage.

A common interpretation has Jesus responding to her faith. Another way to see it is that the encounter causes Jesus to think outside his own norms and to be drawn into greater community, which is another way of saying that he accepted her into his own community for the sake of an enhanced mission redefined with a greater love. In other words, the woman taught Jesus a thing or two.

The comparison with Habitat is in Habitat's embracing of “green” building, constructing houses to the standards of the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED program — for Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design.

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by Richard Mize
Real Estate Editor
Real estate editor Richard Mize has edited The Oklahoman's weekly residential real estate section and covered housing, commercial real estate, construction, development, finance and related business since 1999. From 1989 to 1999, he worked...
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