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‘Acts of loving kindness’

Faith House Coalition members have begun construction on a new home that they’re helping both build and financially sponsor this year. The coalition’s congregations represent 14 denominations but came together recently for a common purpose: to celebrate and share in fellowship with the future homeowner, Mbaliwombazi, her daughter, Lydia, and her mother, Ndarusangiyabandi.

Faith House Coalition member Dan Gilbert with Omaha’s Temple Israel spoke during the kickoff, discussing Reform Judaism’s strong commitment to doing “acts of loving kindness.”

Dan Gilbert from Temple Israel

“On one level, the questions about housing are about justice,” he said. “But I think the answers are found in love. Our faith, our history, our community and our families simply come down to love. Although we are commanded to love our neighbors, we have a hard time actually saying that to our neighbors. But Habitat Omaha provides us the opportunity to show that we love our neighbors. I believe that there is a great deal of love in our community and that participating in Habitat is a beautiful way for us to channel love into our community and change families’ lives.”

Amanda Wise of Presbyterian Church of the Master shared the following:

“When I searched for inspirational sources for this moment, I uncovered resounding themes such as community, habitat and inclusion,” she said. “These three words best capture our purpose together today and going forward. Though we see walls emerging from this foundation, we know a community born of inclusion has no walls. We gather to create new homes, using our faith in action.”

Joe McNamara and Stacia Vawter

A single mother, Mbaliwombazi wants to provide the best possible life for her family, which led her to apply for Habitat’s Homeownership Program. While she works hard on the build site to complete the 250 hours of sweat equity required of all soon-to-be Habitat Omaha homeowners, her mother Ndarusangiyabandi plans to support the home build by serving meals to volunteers.

The whole family looks forward to moving in and making their house their own. For Mbaliwombazi, their home will bring a sense of stability and self-reliance.

“It will be so nice to be free – to be independent,” she says.

Faith partners support Habitat Omaha and the community in so many ways – from pounding nails and bringing meals, to saying prayers and offering financial support. In the end, it’s all worth it to see a family like Mbaliwombazi’s open the door to a new home and brighter future.

“It takes a lot of work from a lot of people to transform the lives of families – and in turn those families transform the community that we share,” Dan said. “We learn skills, we build new relationships, and we help people – those are profoundly meaningful experiences for us as individuals and us as a congregation. Come join us!”

Special thanks to Thrivent Financial for their support of this home. As a “generosity challenge,” Thrivent has promised to match each dollar raised by participating congregations up to half the cost of the build.