We spent this week with 75 other trainees in an intense, powerful, heartbreaking, and inspiring orientation at IJM headquarters in Washington, D.C. It’s impossible to put into words all that we experienced, but here are a few nuggets:
1. IJM is doing incredible, transformational work in the world: rescuing thousands, protecting millions, and proving that justice for the poor is possible.
2. This organization fills us with hope. We are so proud to be a part of it, and so grateful to have this opportunity to participate in God’s work.
3. Wonderful to be with Thais’ brother and his wife, who were terrific hosts, chefs, companions, taxi drivers, and all around great people. I highly recommend the accommodations. Thank you Lee and Jill! Also great to see a good friend from Covenant Presbyterian Church who moved to D.C. a couple of years ago. Thank you Jaco for making time for us!
4. We met people from all corners of the world who were commissioned along with us – people from the U.S., Canada, Brazil, England, Ireland, Scotland, France, The Netherlands, Zambia, Ghana, Uganda, South Africa, Kenya, Kazakhstan, India, Sri Lanka, China, Hong Kong, and Singapore.
5. Our week of orientation included not only those heading out to serve in IJM’s 17 field offices, but also recent hires for headquarters and IJM’s partner offices. The new CFO was training with us and the college interns all week long.
6. IJM’s founder, Gary Haugen, is a force of nature, an inspiring leader and speaker, and a modern day William Wilberforce. He is building a global movement to stop slavery and injustice against the world’s poor. He is so effective because he has deep credibility. He has been there. He goes to the hard places. God uses him and his organization to make real change. Check out his Ted Talk to get a taste.
7. Four billion people are living outside the protection of the law. That means no one will intercede for them if they become a victim of violence, regardless of what the laws might say. Laws are not helpful when they are ignored and not enforced. But a few successful prosecutions can have a dramatic effect in changing behavior. (If you'd like to dig deeper, IJM has published studies that are accessible on its website.)
8. Our week culminated in a meaningful and emotional commissioning service led by Gary Haugen. We depart a week from Monday, on Jan. 23. Please keep us in your prayers as we go!
9. We have become dear friends with some wonderful people who are also about to uproot their families to go and serve those in need. It has been a great source of encouragement and strength to be in touch with them over the last few months as we all prepare our families and our lives for a move and work in a distant land. It was wonderful to spend time with them this week in D.C. If you are so inclined, they are more than worthy of your support. (Click here and/or here.)
10. On the plane ride home we were surprised to be with two of my law partners, the spouse of another, and the spouse of our newest associate. It was a Graves, Dougherty reunion. Also, I had a nice chat with the gentleman sitting next to me on the plane. We compared notes about planning for our respective upcoming transitions in work and our upcoming moves away from Austin. (He was recently appointed to a cabinet level post, but I can’t remember which agency – oops.) He was gracious and kind, and we both wished each other well.
Thank you for all of your love, encouragement, prayers, and support! We appreciate you all!