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Central Oklahoma Habitat for Humanity's approach seen in Bible stories

Parallels to the ecumenical homebuilding ministry's approach can be found in the Bible.
by Richard Mize Published: May 18, 2013

And so my two main worlds — journalist by day, seminarian by night and weekend — so coolly colliding since January, come back apart with the end of the semester and the end of my time of supervised ministry with Central Oklahoma Habitat through Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa.

Lo, this is my next to last report — although certainly not my last writing about Habitat — so I'm going to fill it, and next week's, to the brim with theology and Scripture. And, hey, if you're not into that sort of thing: Peace unto you.

My main project, self appointed, was to find theological parallels of Habitat's work and approach to ministry in the Bible. Here are some thoughts from the Old Testament (next week: New Testament):

•  The Book of Judges 3: 7-11 — Othniel.

Othniel's story is short, but important for reading the rest of the Book of Judges in the Hebrew Bible. Judges has story after story of the people of God falling out of step with God, God raising up a leader to get them back on the right path, followed by a period of peace, followed by a time of carelessness, followed by a period of fear and the people crying out — and God responding by raising up a leader to guide them back to the right path, in cycle after cycle after cycle.

In Judges, it is a deteriorating cycle; the people cycle further from God and get more out of step with every turn, until “all the people did what was right in their own eyes” (Judges 21:25).

The comparison with Habitat for Humanity is simple: I think God raised Habitat as a way to call people — especially those in the housing economy — into a better relationship with God and God's desire for goodness for all people. Even as the housing market and the economy rises and falls — from healthy, to boom, to bust, to calls for judgment — Habitat continues, at once beside, among and above the marketplace, using biblical principles to keep working with others to get people into decent, affordable housing.

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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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