by Karen Kallenberg
This summer I will celebrate my nineteenth anniversary of working for Habitat for Humanity. My initial exposure to Habitat began even earlier when I first caught the incurable Habititis in college. UNC- Chapel Hill had a campus chapter whose activities by my senior year included sponsoring two Habitat homes in partnership with a local church and several student groups, numerous Collegiate Challenge trips, and a Global Village trip to Honduras. Through my involvement with Habitat in college, I not only met other students that were passionate about affordable housing, but I had the benefit of working and learning from community and church partners, professors, awesome affiliate Executive Director, Susan Levy , and patient Construction Manager, Tyler Momsen- Hudsen, all who recognized that a group of college students could make a difference in the community.
Because of my Habitat experiences in college and later working in HFHI’s Campus Chapters and Youth Programs department, I firmly believe that one of our priorities should be to serve as mentors and teachers to young people who are dedicated to putting their faith into action and contributing their enthusiasm to the mission of Habitat.
The apostle Paul wrote the letters of 1 and 2 Timothy to his spiritual son and co-worker Timothy. Paul first recruited Timothy into ministry as a youth. Timothy developed into a faithful ministry associate and travel companion throughout most of Paul’s second and third missionary journeys.
During this time the early church was suffering persecution and desperately needed strong leadership. Paul left Timothy at a young age, in Ephesus as the appointed leader of the church. A wide range of responsibilities were given to Timothy: to combat the heretics who were troubling the church there, to order the church’s worship, to select and ordain elders as well as many other tasks. Many people thought Timothy was too young to be a serious candidate for ministry. And in many regards Timothy was comparatively young to be in this position. But Paul urged him, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12 NIV 2011).
Even more responsibilities were placed on Timothy’s shoulders in Paul’s second letter to him, which Paul wrote a couple years after the first one when he was in prison facing execution. Knowing his departure was near, Paul solemnly charged Timothy to preach the gospel and to do it boldly and faithfully. Timothy himself was inexperienced, prone to illness, and timid. He faced strong opposition. So Paul gave Timothy this charge regarding the gospel – continue in it, proclaim it, guard it, and suffer for it.
To Timothy, my dear son:
Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
I thank God, whom I serve, as my ancestors did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.
For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but give us power, love and self-discipline. (2 Timothy 2-7)
Timothy was a Christian minister, a missionary, and apostolic delegate. In these verses Paul mentions the four major influences that shaped Timothy’s life. He recognizes Timothy’s grandmother and mother, his gift from God, and his self-discipline. Paul also mentions his own relationship with Timothy as a mentor and friend. Throughout the friendship, Paul took Timothy on his journeys and trained him as an apprentice, was patient with him, provided him companionship, provided him encouragement, reminded him of his calling, and remembered him in his prayers. ALL of these had a powerful effect on molding young Timothy, strengthening and sustaining him in his Christian life and service.
I am thankful that as a college student, I had mentors and teachers that possessed many of the attributes of Paul. Their patience, training, encouragement, and faith inspired me to believe that I could be part of the solution. As Timothy was equipped to be faithful in his generation, I hope we can support the young people today to be faithful in theirs.