Addictions are not all the same. But they are all hard to break. Thankfully we serve an all powerful God Who has died to set us free! Meet Ice.
Roughly 3 months ago Ice and his wife Yin started coming to the F5 Climbing Center, an urban center of influence located in Bangkok, Thailand. They quickly connected with the friendly staff who mingled with them while sharing tips on how to rock climb. When Brian Atwell returned from furlough he was happy to meet Ice and let him know how much he enjoyed the climbing videos he was making and posting on Facebook. Ice is a local filmmaker and accepted the offer of a complimentary outdoor climbing trip in exchange for an F5 promotional video of the experience. Like every trip, a group meets early in the morning to travel by car 90 minutes south of Bangkok and then back in the late afternoon. Ice sat in the front seat giving Brian plenty of time to visit and connect with him. Ice confessed that he had been addicted to video games for quite some time. He said, “I played all night, it’s all I would think about. But since coming to your gym, all I think about is climbing. I’ve already lost 3 kilos!” Wow. Nobody had any idea this was going on! But God did. He knew what Ice needed to be set free… Fellowship, Fitness, Fortitude, Fun; Some of the five Fs that make up F5.
Then, last week Ice contacted Brian after watching a new, popular documentary (The Game Changers) about athletes who eat a plant based diet. He stated he and his wife wanted to try this diet for one month but needed some help with meal ideas and such. He knew Brian ate this way so he hoped he could offer some tips. Brian was very excited for this opportunity because since the conception of F5 he’d been searching for a local Thai who was willing to go on a plant based diet and document the journey to use as a testimony for others. God sent two people, Ice and Yin, who create documentaries for a living! When Brian proposed his vision for them they accepted, even willing to get blood work at the beginning of the month and the end. Please pray for this exciting opportunity as Thai people are very experiential based. They can watch westerners share their experience but it’s not nearly as impactful as one of their own people, in their own language, sharing their story. This mini documentary should be a very powerful tool for initiating interest in others to live more healthfully! At this point they are 2 weeks in and while initially they said they wouldn’t be able to go full plant-based they have stuck with it. The amazing thing to me is that when he went to have his lab work done he explained what he was doing to the doctor who promptly told him it was a bad idea and that it would impact him negatively. He said if nothing else he had to drink milk and eat eggs if he wanted to be healthy. Ice spoke to me about this and I simply explained how most doctors get less than 20 hours of nutrition training and unfortunately are ill-prepared to give advice on diet and nutrition. He said “oh good, so I don’t have to worry about that then.” I was blown away. A Thai person just accepted my word over the word of a Thai doctor. I realized that the time we had spent with him and the care that had been shown for he and his wife had established an influence that was able to cross a cultural barrier. This is huge.
One last story to share about Ice. This past week missionaries from Cambodia, Miranda and Sawyer Lundby, have been staying at F5 since the Atwell’s home was at full capacity with the newly arrived Woodward missionary family. Miranda and Sawyer have been enjoying climbing and interacting with guests to the gym which of course included Ice and Yin. When one of Miranda’s friends was leaving she asked to have prayer with her but first invited Tong, a Christian employee, to join them. Then Tong invited Ice. They kneeled down on the mats of a climbing gym and prayed, most likely, Ice’s first prayer to the God in Heaven. The final F of F5, Faith, is being planted in this young man’s heart and mind.
The F5 Challenge Center isn’t the fanciest facility, Ice actually lives closer to a monstrous, wildly popular climbing gym. So what brings him back almost every day to F5? The people; Jun, Tong, Wiang, Brian. People who care. People who have mingled with him to learn his needs, to minister to him, showing that they truly care. Christ’s method alone will bring True success. This is how you introduce Christ to people. Continue to pray as God uses humble, broken human beings to nurture these precious souls, Ice and Yin.
We apologize for being so behind in our newsletters. We have enough to share for a book right now! I’ll try to send out another soon.
Please keep F5 in prayer as it grows again. (No, we are NOT expecting another baby!) We have another missionary family that has joined us. The Woodward family from Tennessee; Mark, Candace, Matthew & Ethan. Also, Alissa Dreher will be returning January 2020 for at least 4 months. There are many ideas, plans, and leads for how to make F5 fully functional. We have been connecting with schools recently and have contracts with 2 international schools, one of them is using our training as part of their PE curriculum. We finished the first term and they plan to bring another group for next
term. The other will be using it as part of extra curricular activities. We are getting connected with the youth and that is something we have been trying to do. The first session we had with the international school when I offered prayer the kids all talked and acted like regular kids, almost like I wasn’t there. But by the last session they were reverent and respectful and I even saw one of them pray before climbing the real cliff for his final. I don’t know who or what he was praying too but I saw it as quite a different attitude than what they started with. God is working on these precious people. While it seems like it has been a long time coming, God is always on time.
We had a homeschool group connect with us that has 40 kids in it and had no PE. We offered them to come to the gym from 10-12:30 (before we open to the public) and climb with our trainers and then we would serve them pizza downstairs in the ‘Cafe’. We capped it at 20 kids to trial if this would work. They come next Wednesday and if it goes well they want to do it every week. With a full group of 20 kids plus parents we would be able to make at least $200/day which would almost cover our rent entirely from just those 4 days a month so we are really praying this works out. Jessica thinks it could be an opportunity to talk to the parents about true education as well since they are already homeschooling so they have an interest in their children’s education.
With all these opportunities come financial needs. We have a stock of rental shoes but unfortunately some are already wearing out and we have almost none for children. With all these school groups we will need to buy a fleet of smaller shoes ($50/pair). Our ropes for outdoor trips are in need of being replaced ($200/each, 4 needed). We could really use a van to cut our most expensive cost out of those trips, but not exactly a necessity. Our computer for the gym member registration has died and so we are just using google docs to log in customers (repair $15-$100? New one $450). I was encouraged by a friend and donor to the project to tell people we have needs and surrender the awkward feelings we have about fundraising and asking for money. After the Center opened our donations started to drop a bit and now since we returned from America we have been trying to do all we can to stay afloat with funds from the Center as we have had to use any donations coming in to try and pay down our credit cards and cover our personal expenses to live here. Typically on furlough we put all expenses on our credit cards and receive donations to pay it off before we head back. This year it didn’t happen and we returned with $2,000 in debt. The first time since I opened this account in 1993 I have had to pay interest on my card. That said, God has been working in amazing ways and the Center has been able to cover its own rent and utilities twice over the last 6 months. That still leaves staff salaries as well as our personal living expenses uncovered. We feel that once we open the cafe that things will really start moving upward. But please keep us in prayer and if you feel God impress you to donate you can get a tax deductible receipt by donating through Jesus For Asia at this link. 100% of your donation will come straight to this project, JFA takes no administrative fees.
We ask that you join us in prayer for discernment, that we may hear that still, small Voice clearly telling us which doors to open, which to close, and which to walk through by faith! God loves to keep us on the edge of our seat, holding our breath in suspense, hoping and praying it all works out. The exciting part is knowing this is all His doing. He started this ministry and He is going to keep it going! We are thankful He allows us to be apart of it.
In His service, by His grace,
Brian, Jessica, Asher, Joseph & Prudence Atwell
- For our visa extension. We have been leaving the country every 90 days and that has been a huge burden. We are finally able to apply for a one year extension. Please pray it can be approved.
- For a friends baby that was born early at just under 2 lbs. He is gaining strength but can always use more prayer.
- That we can find the right workers with a heart to serve the Lord (We need to add at least 1 more for the gym and 2-4 additional once the cafe opens)
- That God can help us with the business side of things. There are a few business people giving counsel and advice and helping in connecting with schools but we could always use prayer in this.
- For the resources we need, preferably through income sources, to cover our expenses. You can learn more at the end of this post
- For extra protection over our marriage and family as the enemy seeks to discourage and destroy Christ’s work
- For us to be more intentional in our witness for God’s glory
- God has impressed us that we need to open an official call for someone (or a family) to come and join our team to help with the business side of things. While I have managed a few businesses I have never started one and while I feel we have done a lot, by God’s grace, I think someone with a better mind for business could greatly improve upon what we have started and I could focus on managing and the ministry side of things. If you know someone with business experience please send them our way for an interview. (PRAISE GOD for the amazing answer to a 3 year long prayer!!)
- For guidance for Josh and Chitlada (Directors of Jesus for Slum Kids project). They have been seeing many changes in their work and they could use an extra special outpouring of prayer. If you would like to find out more check out their website here http://jesus4slumkids.org/ or email the Project Director Joshua Bauder at Joshuabauder@hotmail.com. You can also view their project featured on the program MissionTREK here