A couple days before we left to come to Love Packages, one of the guys texted to ask how many people we were bringing and to let me know that they have five shipping containers scheduled for this week—one every day.
The most economical way to ship over 1000 tons of literature overseas every year is in 20-foot shipping containers. In past years I have prayed that a container would be scheduled for one of the five days we would be in Butler (and we always got one). But five? By the end of the week, our team will have touched 100 tons of gospel being sent all over the world.
Yesterday they packed a container for Durban, South Africa.
This morning, they stuffed one for Guatemala City, Guatemala.
They are tired.
(But not tired enough, because it took 32 minutes too long to fill the container this morning.)
Last night as we sat in a circle to talk about the day, worship, thank God, and pray, I realized this is the fifth time I’ve done this. Not an earth-shattering revelation, really. Five is not a huge number. And that would make this afternoon the 22nd day—another paltry number—that I have eaten a PB&J while listening to Steve, Vern, and/or Jason recount testimonies from all over the world about how much the literature means to people. So far this year, I think I’ve only heard one story that I’ve never heard before and that’s because it happened just five months ago.
The container this morning was the seventh one that I’ve seen (however slightly, ’cause in recent years I’ve been working remotely from the kitchen and keeping track of a toddler at the same time), but seven is not a staggering number either—if you’ve seen one 20′ shipping container, you’ve seen them all.
It’s a big, metal box that gets packed full of lots of smaller boxes.
But something happened this morning as I stood around with the bulk of the crew, waiting for the last dozen boxes to get shoved into place so we could close the container.
Something happened and I realized—really realized—how much material was in that container. They don’t pack the pallets in those containers so they can use every inch of space for literature. And they pack it so full and so tight that someone usually has to use the forklift to push the doors shut enough to latch them.
And somehow, as I watched a wall of brown cardboard form a couple inches past where the door was supposed to close, I understood the weight of that container in a new way. In a split second I wondered who would carry every box, who would hold every book. I felt the possibility stuffed between the printed lines of every page.
In a split second I was on a receiving dock on the other side of the world. I was every pastor, every evangelist, that I’ve heard about 22 times. I was watching that container come in with more printed gospel than my village—my nation—had ever seen, and I was overwhelmed.
Every year we hear stories of missionaries who literally rescue infants from garbage dumps, of brokenhearted individuals on their way home with a suicide weapon in hand who live because someone handed them a pamphlet, of pastors who have nothing more than a 12-page track or the gospel of Matthew copied by hand into a spiral notebook. Every month I read the stories in the newsletter about unreached villages hearing the gospel for the first time, and beautiful people being healed and set free just by reading about the love of God.
Our team will get to fill three more shipping containers in the next three days, but they are packing more than books and magazines. They are packing hope for a broken world.
They are packing love for the abused, healing for the sick, and freedom for the oppressed. They are packing salvation. They are packing eternity.
In little cardboard boxes, inside a big metal box.
It’s amazing what God can do. It’s even more amazing that we can get our hands dirty with the work.
Alexis is an Associate Editor and Researcher by day, and a Redefined Ministry Servant by night. When she’s not in front of a keyboard (which is almost never), she likes playing with her toddler, reading, and eating too much Indian food.