- Phone: (202) 558-9745
- Mailing Address: 1616 7th St, NW, Washington DC, 20001
Over the course of our sabbatical this summer we planned to write monthly updates to share with you about our travels and about what we have sensed God speaking to us during this time. It has been a true gift to be able to unplug from the daily pressures of ministry and receive this gift of rest. Thank you for allowing us to serve as your pastors and to be able to rest as a family during this season. We are truly grateful!
Our sabbatical started on June 18th with a week of preparation. Elijah and Natalie finished their last week of school and we were busy packing getting ready for our international travels. Aaron had the chance to travel for the weekend to a small conference in Denver with young leaders from all different sectors of society. It was an incredible opportunity to share about Christ with so many young leaders who have no background in church.
We left on June 26th for Liberia, a country founded by freed American slaves in 1822. Aaron lived in Liberia as a kid from 1996 - 1989 and this was his first time returning. When his family left in 1989 a horrible Civil War broke out in the country that took the lives of 250,000 people. It was heartbreaking to see that the Civil War and the Ebola breakout have taken the country further back than it was 30 years ago. Liberia is one of the poorest countries in the world and yet it is rising once again with hope being restored. We were able to visit Aaron’s childhood home at Rick’s Institute and connect with a ministry and school started by District Church’s Eddie Fallenbulleh. A highlight was going to Eddie’s home village of Messima, which is a predominantly Muslim village and being able to share the love of Christ. We were even given a chicken as a gift! We named him Frank, and Eddie is taking good care of him back in Liberia now :)
Next we traveled overnight to Kenya. We stayed with Chris & Caryn Doggett who are in the foreign service and were small group leaders at TDC a few years ago before their assignment in Nairobi. We spent significant time with Pastors Muriithi and Carol who are the founders and pastors of the Mavuno Church movement, which now has 19 campuses in about 10 countries. They recently built a beautiful guest house outside of Nairobi where we stayed with them for several days, sharing life together. They are further in their journey in many areas including having adopted their kids and have become a real spiritual mother and father to us.
We then went on safari to Masai Mara for a few days. Amy survived staying in a tent for three nights which is her proudest accomplishment thus far on sabbatical! It was so beautiful to be in the midst of God’s beautiful creation and you can see from the pictures we got up close to many of them!
Next, we headed to Kuwait where Aaron lived in 1990 for a brief time before Saddam Hussein invaded at the beginning of the Persian Gulf War. We worshipped on Friday at the English speaking congregation where Aaron’s Dad pastored briefly. This small church compound has 85 congregations from across the world that meet throughout the week. Truly multicultural!
We visited the apartment where Iraqi soldiers broke into Aaron’s home and harassed his family on the first morning of the war. We then went to the US Embassy in Kuwait where Aaron and his family were held hostage for several months during the war. It is a rebuilt embassy now, but we were able to meet with the US Ambassador to Kuwait who gave us a tour. Most importantly, we were able to share the story with Elijah and Natalie of how God delivered the Graham family during the most intense time in their lives.
Kuwait is very hot this time of year! With an average high of 117 degrees, we spent a good bit of time in the pool at our hotel! We also visited the Avenues Mall in Kuwait which is one of the biggest in the world. It has been a stark contrast to go from one of the poorest countries in the world to one of the richest.
Next, we went to Athens for a couple days where we met with our TDC mission team who is here, as well as our ministry partners on the ground, who minister to many refugees and immigrants. Tonight, we are heading to the Holy Land for a week of spiritual pilgrimage to walk where Jesus walked as a family.
Lots of intense travels, but we are filled up in so many ways with the goodness of God. We are so grateful for the grant from the Lilly Endowment that has made these extensive travels possible, as well as to our Exec Board for giving us this time of rest and renewal.
We continue to hold TDC in our hearts during this time and trust that God is speaking to each of you in personal ways this summer as we all seek God intentionally together.
We’ll provide another update mid-August.
Pastors Aaron & Amy
On Aaron & Amy’s Kindles
Another America: The Story of Liberia and the Former Slaves Who Ruled It
Madame President: The Extraordinary Journey of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
Chocolate City: A History of Race and Democracy in the Nation’s Capital
The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact
The Holy Land: Archeological Guide
The Practice of the Presence of God
It Didn’t Start With You
Imaginative Prayer: A Yearlong Guide for Your Child’s Spiritual Formation
On Elijah’s Kindle
Too many to count. He’s already read 12 ½ long books!
His favorite so far: Masterpiece by Elise Broach