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A Home Can Change Everything

– Chris Heavner 

I love coming to the Gatherings and staying in a hotel!  My family didn’t stay in hotels that much (even now, I snatch all the tiny shampoo bottles for my kids).  This luxury would probably not be so thrilling if my stay only reminded me that I lack a permanent place to sleep.  For too many families, “home” is a couch in the home of a friend or relative.  For too many of God’s children, it is a dream to have a thermostat which controls the temperature and a bathroom with running water. 

“This Changes Everything” about the way we understand our stay in the hotels in Houston. Those of us staying in the hotels will “change everything” about the lives of three Houston families. 

Three Habitat for Humanity Houses will be constructed in the Interaction Center. Youth will swing the hammers that will frame the walls for bedrooms, kitchens, and living rooms.  I love coming to the Gathering knowing that a part of me and my heart will stay in the hosting city when I am gone.  

This is the fourth Gathering at which such a project has been one of the Interaction Center offerings.  The leadership is provided by Lutheran Campus Ministry and Lutheran Disaster Response. Twelve college students for whom Lutheran Campus Ministry has become an avenue for civic and community engagement will be serving as crew leaders. In addition to the work completed in Houston, we will tell you how you can organize similar projects in the places you call home. 

I love coming to the Youth Gatherings and meeting folks from across our country and our Church.  And I love working with you to change so many things in the city which serves as our host. 


Chris Heavner is campus pastor at Clemson University in South Carolina. This will be his eighth Gathering. He also serves as the faculty advisor for Clemson’s Habitat for Humanity, with whom he as built thirty-three homes.