People of many different faiths came together on Sunday, Sept. 20 to celebrate the Annual Day of Prayer and Action for Human Habitat. The event was associated with the charitable organization Habitat for Humanity and was hosted by St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in downtown Provo.
The event was held to bring people of all faiths together for a worthy cause, Habitat for Humanity, in Utah Valley. The speakers of the event were affiliated with many different faiths, but a common theme among all the speakers was the need for Christlike charity.
“What drives us is God’s love for His children,” said Gary Jensen, the Utah County Board Chairperson of Habit for Humanity.
Habitat for Humanity is a charitable Christian organization that was founded in 1976 by Millard and Linda Fuller. The organization builds affordable homes for the needy. Homes are built by volunteers, paid for with donations and sold for no profit. The organization has built or repaired more than 1 million homes to help more than 5 million people since its creation.
Flora Aleman, a Utah Valley resident, was the recipient of one of the homes built by Habitat for Humanity. The Aleman family moved into their new home on Aug. 1, 2015. Aleman wept as she shared her family’s story at the event. “It was clear that (the Habitat for Humanity volunteers) were working with God’s love in their hearts,” Aleman said.
Aleman explained that she had tried her best to remain optimistic as she recalled the frustration of her search for an affordable home.
“I remember telling my husband that we had to keep moving forward with faith,” Aleman said, “that our Heavenly Father had His own timing.”
Many members of the LDS Church were also present at the event. Dr. Robert L. Millet, an emeritus Dean of Religion and former professor of ancient scripture at BYU, shared his testimony of the need for divine aid. Millet has been a visible figure at many interfaith dialogues and works as a coordinator for religious outreach.
“Because things are not the way they ought to be, in our personal lives as well as in the world at large, we need help,” Millet said. “We need help from the source possessing wisdom and perspective and power grander and greater than that possessed by any mortal man. We need help from the Almighty. That recognition, that acknowledgment of our limitations, is not a sign of weakness.”
Millet taught that even through very small acts such as prayer great things can happen. He recounted the events of 9/11 and how the number of heartfelt prayers throughout the nation seemed to increase dramatically. The prayers expressed were more humble.
“Dependence upon God can fade quickly when prayers are answered,” Millet said. “When the trouble lessens, so do the prayers. We should remember the Most High day and night. Always. Not only at times when all other assistance has failed and we desperately need help.”
Millet encouraged Christians to use prayer as a source to access this spiritual strength, and emphasized that this is regardless of denomination.
The Rev. Peter Van Hook, reverend for St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, stressed the need for a dialogue between Mormons and Evangelical Christians as well.
“There’s so much interfaith hate, so there’s got to be a witness for how to do it right,” Van Hook said. “There’s so much distrust, mistrust and hate. Some of us have to witness to the alternative, which is that which we preach: love, acceptance, mutual support and caring.”