Renovations have been moving forward and things are truly beginning to seem real. With the reality of Bangkok’s first Center of Influence soon to open we are also realizing our need for a deeper connection with the Source of our strength and a time to revive and refresh ourselves before jumping in. Thus we will be returning to the States for a short furlough at the end of May.
With managing renovations, taking care of 2 kids, hosting a bed and breakfast, taking care of 2 kids, looking for Bible workers to join our project, and taking care of 2 kids, we have been buried to say the least. While we will be opening soon, the projected date of early May is not going to be met. The workers on the building haven’t been able to always remember what we discussed in regards to renovations so I have to visit multiple times in a week to verify that things are being done properly. Multiple walls have gone up in a wrong place which you might not think is a big deal but everything here is done with concrete so taking down a wrong wall or a forgotten door opening (or 3) takes time and effort away from what should be done. Thai New Year’s celebration didn’t help the progress either. Besides that we have realized that it would be better to do everything right the first time rather than just cutting corners to save a buck with the intention of changing it later. In talking with others who have traveled the world they say that the church’s Centers of Influence are often not done very nicely for the sake of saving money. So we made the decision to postpone the opening to make sure everything was done to the honor and glory of our Father in Heaven. God deserves the best.
In the same line we have been doing much hunting to find dedicated Christians to work as Bible workers in this center. Turns out they are not so easy to come by here. Through much prayer God convicted us that if we opened as a business using whatever workers we could find and later tried to transition it to a ministry (an idea we weren’t interested in anyway) it would never work. It needs to start from the beginning as a ministry and God encouraged us with the message He gave to Elijah that He has many in this city, we just need to pray and search for them. That is another reason for delaying the opening. We had a meeting last Sunday with 6 local workers which included a tour of the building, prayer meeting, followed by a great brainstorming session about the Center. It was an encouraging time with much excitement that this will be a great center for building relationships with the young people here. Two people shared that they would like to come and join our team and others were praying about it and would share with other workers they felt might be a good fit. God is working out the details. I was scared to announce we would not be opening as planned but a fellow missionary friend shared that we often make plans and have the best intentions but God often has to shape them in different ways. Through His providence we have seen this to be the case here.
We have been invited to speak at a campmeeting for foreign missions called Faithcamp. It was this very campmeeting, 5 years ago, that God used to call us into the foreign mission field and we are so excited to have the opportunity to be back and sharing how God has been leading. The meetings will be at Upper Columbia Academy in Spangle, Washington from July 12-16. If you are interested in attending or finding out more information follow the link here. This also affords us the opportunity to get Asher some more treatments as Spangle is less than an hour from the doctor who provides such wonderful treatment for Asher. Jessica spent 6 weeks with the boys in the States at the end of last year where Asher saw amazing improvements through the treatments he received but just a week before returning home he fell while playing and bumped his head on a table and everything went back to how it was. Jessica was then in the southwest and unable to return to the doctor for help and it crushed her. With this opportunity we can get him back in ‘running’ order in no time by God’s grace.
As we fasted and prayed about whether or not to accept the speaking invitation I was impressed with the thought to read a chapter entitled “Come and Rest Awhile” in a book called The Desire of Ages, a Bible study reference that traces Christ’ life through the Gospels. Upon reading it I was deeply convicted with the fact that I have been putting Christ’s WORK as paramount, even above my RELATIONSHIP with Him. That was proving disastrous. In my mind as soon as the building project was done we would calm down into a flow of things again and we would be ok. God showed me through this chapter that if I didn’t rededicate myself to Him now and make a change for my family it would not only get worse for us, but would have huge complications for this project. Not yet having a team the entire weight of everything that is being done here is on our shoulders and with Jessica being more than busy with the boys and all the household work, most of it is on my back; I have been sagging under the load but unwilling to admit it. But now I realized that God was using the weight of it all to bring me to my knees before Him so that I could let go control and allow Him to lead. Amazing how many times you have to do that in life. In Matthew 11 Jesus says that He will give us rest and take our load if we just take His yoke. He wants to pull the load with us, we just have to surrender.
We used to see our missionary friends come back from furlough and talk about how they needed a break and I would think, “You just came back from one.” Well, after coming back a year and a half ago from experiencing our first furlough we realized what they were talking about. We spent 13 weeks traveling around the entire west coast and spoke more than 15 times changing locations 14 times. All with a 2 year old. We spent each weekend in a different church and often traveled to do a mid-week meeting in another church. All of that, on top of over 4000
miles of traveling just while we were in the States, left us feeling drained. (Not to mention 20+ hours flying, time changes, and jet lag) But when you return to the field, all the things that have been put on hold while you are gone are still there waiting for you to jump right back in. We have decided that while we really enjoy sharing at churches we are going to take some time out during this trip to recharge and focus on our little family. We will try to plan a family camping trip (the first one ever) to connect with God in His creation. Living in a GIANT city for the last 3 years is really wearing and the beauty of the Northwest is a welcome retreat. Jessica can almost hear it calling her name! We will be based in Washington State for our time and would be happy to prayerfully consider a visit to any churches interested. We will be attending Upper Columbia Conference Campmeeting as well.
We would like to ask for your continued prayers as we attempt to get as much done as possible before we leave so that the opening can closely follow our return. We met with the climbing wall designer who has put together an awesome design that will really make the best use of the space. He was also encouraging in sharing his experience of starting a climbing gym smaller than ours that is still running successfully. He said with our location so near the university we have an amazing opportunity to connect with the students through this vibrant venture. I will be working on getting the final renovation details lined out this week for the restaurant and church which will provide a better idea for an opening date. The quote for climbing wall will be here any day and then will need funding. The final finishing work; paint, counter tops, building bench seats, organizing where the lighting will go, etc, will be here before you know it.
We are so grateful for all of you that have supported this work and made it a reality, whether with your prayers, your skills or with your resources. None of this would be possible without you. Keep us in prayer as we move forward in faith to proclaim the Gospel of a crucified and RISEN Savior to those who have never heard.
We need to raise enough money for our monthly expenses while gone that will need paid in advance. Please join us in prayer for the $2000 needed for the building and the $1000 for personal bills.
Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our savior Jesus Christ; -Titus 2:13
In His service,
Brian, Jessica, Asher and Joseph Atwell
- That we can find the right workers with a heart to serve the Lord.
- Please pray for the church here, and especially the leadership to know God’s will and seek Him in His word
- For the 2 students that were sponsored from the Jesus for Slum Kids group to go to Chiang Mai Adventist Academy, Prow and Nut, to assimilate well and find Christ
- For donors to sponsor the fitness center/climbing wall construction
- For the funds to pay the 2 months rent in advance while we are gone
- For extra protection over our marriage and family as the enemy seeks to discourage and destroy Christ’s work
- Pray for Jenny to raise the needed funds to bring her here (she has raised $4006 of the $5000 she would like to have to launch.) I will buy her ticket tomorrow and she will fly back with us
- God has impressed us that we need to open an official call for someone to come and join our team to help in the climbing side of things. Please pray that God opens the right heart. If you know anyone with a passion for climbing and route setting skills with a heart for missions please send them our way
- For people to help support our sister project in the slums to bring education to these oft neglected youth. $1000/year could send them to a private Christian school with room and board. If you would like to find out more check out their website here http://jesus4slumkids.org/ or email Joshua Bauder at Joshuabauder@hotmail.com (Update: The first 2 students just arrived at the school yesterday and will start school this week. Thank you for your support)