After serving as missionaries in Australia for 31 years, Rev. Bill and Daphne Foster (left) returned home to the United States in 2005 to serve as missionaries in residence at Indiana Wesleyan University (IWU) in Marion, IN. Their primary role was to recruit and mentor missionary candidates for Global Partners, the missions arm of the Wesleyan Church.
As mentors to nearly 200 students who were preparing for the mission field, the Fosters soon realized that raising financial support was a large obstacle for many of these future missionaries, and they wanted to help.
Their solution was to purchase a derelict house near the IWU campus and put IWU students to work rehabilitating the property under the supervision of volunteer tradesmen. Work on the project began in July 2005 and culminated six months later when the renovated home was sold, generating $11,900 in support for two future missionary couples: Josh and Becca Bowlin and Adam and Becky Thada.
Following the success of this initial effort, the Fosters purchased additional properties in Marion, with students and local church groups doing much of the renovation work. Soon churches in nearby states began sending teams to work on the projects. When churches offered to undertake rehab projects on their own if the Fosters would purchase properties in their communities, the Fosters realized that the time had come to establish an organization to take their idea to the next level, and thus Habitat for Missionaries (HFM) was born. The name of the organization later was changed to Habitat for Missions, to reflect its broadening focus and scope.