Imagine all the furniture, networking equipment, laboratory tools, cooking utensils, school supplies, and more, required to outfit a newly constructed 185,000 square foot Secondary boarding school. It is an astonishing amount of material to plan for, source, purchase and deliver!
As part of our intentional commitment to the nation of Rwanda, we buy as much as possible in the local economy. For other items, we utilize vendors from other nations, mostly from the US. These products are loaded into shipping containers and slowly make their way on trucks through their country of origin, then on to large container ships and finally to Africa. Rwanda is landlocked, so most of our containers route through Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, where they are offloaded to yet more trucks and delivered to Rwanda.
After an arduous customs and taxation process, which has been expertly overseen by Liz Ingabire, our Managing Director, the containers eventually arrive in Murindi, several months after their origination, where they are offloaded by a giant crane on our campus.
This year, generous supporters at the Fabric of Hope funded several of these containers. It was especially exciting when four of the containers arrived while Bryan Austin, an ardent investor in Hope Haven, was on campus with his family to receive them.
You may also recall this post about the crew of us that loaded a container on site in Sedalia, Colorado, earlier this year. There were many celebrations in the neighborhood when these containers arrived!
It occurred to me there is a deep spiritual lesson here: What type of “containers” are we for the power and love of God?
Containers are vessels. They have actual value in and of themselves, but the real value is in what they contain. As Christians, we believe we are conduits for God’s love. It is what drives what we do in Rwanda every day.
It reminds me of a powerful Scripture from 2 Timothy 2:20-21: “In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use. Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.”
Paul uses an awesome metaphor here to define a useful container. Two types of containers exist—honorable containers and common containers. I like to compare the two with fine dishes and paper plates. All of us have used paper plates, and they are useful in many contexts. But when distinguished guests come, fine dishes usually get dusted off. If a dignitary were coming to your house for dinner tonight, would you whip out the paper plates and the Styrofoam cups? I don’t think so! Some dishes are used for special occasions, paper plates usually aren’t.
Paul makes it clear what a useful container is, and in verse 22 the useful vessel is directed to “Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”
What kind of container will we choose to be today? There are “good works” for us to do together if we are ready and willing!