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If you expected the US headquarters of the International Children’s Fund to be a swanky office complex, prepare to be
disappointed. If you’re an African missionary in need of essential supplies however, the ICF headquarters in Neenah,
Wisconsin is a gray, old warehouse building that looks a lot like heaven.The contents of the warehouse make
all the difference. One corner of the room is filled with recycled computers, bound for a vocational training program in
Liberia. A rural medical clinic is eagerly awaiting the boxes of sterile medical supplies stacked on pallets nearby. A prime
piece of floor space is taken up by a massive clothing compactor, used to compress mountains of donated clothing into bundles weighing over a thousand pounds each.
Filling containers with uncontained joyThe true miracle happens once every few weeks. At an agreed-upon
date, a team of experienced volunteers gathers at the warehouse to meet the object of their efforts: an empty oceangoing shipping
container bound for Africa.These savvy packers quickly set to work, skillfully filling every square inch. Machinery
goes in first, surrounded by clothing, supplies and other sundries to hold the machines securely in place for the long ocean
voyage. They’ve packed large printing presses, bicycles, even entire pickup trucks into the sturdy metal containers.
While the work is serious, the workers are anything but grave. Laughter rings out frequently, and the glow of good fellowship
radiates in the empty space.Soon the packing is done. A truck arrives to haul the container away to a waiting freighter
and an African destination.Midwestern thrift and generous heartsNot long after the diesel fumes
fade, a phone rings in the 2-desk ICF office. It’s a reseller with a truckload of surplus items. Could they be put to use? “
Absolutely,” the volunteer replies, then begins to spread the word on new items by phone and email to ICF’s network of African
The situation also works in reverse. Our regular communication with African ministers often uncovers special needs. The ICF
volunteer team will soon be busy digging up well drilling equipment, hospital microscopes or altar furnishings for new village
churches.A wise investment in low overheadChristians have two words for the practical, cost-conscious
way ICF works. They call it good stewardship. It’s the type of
ministry you feel good supporting with your own charitable dollars. If you don’t believe it, come to Neenah and see for
yourself. Soon you’ll stop looking and start working. After all, there’s always another container to be loaded!
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