While we have been home for almost 2 weeks now, there has been a lot going on and time has been a dwindling commodity. We have had good news, tragic news, and news of a new team member joining us in this journey.
Our time in the States was good. We got to visit many different churches, sharing about the great need of hope to be brought to a land trapped in hopelessness and made lots of new friends along the way. That said, being home only 1 week since Sept. 1 was far more than we had planned and it was so nice to arrive home. A few days ago Asher started running in circles in the living room shouting, “it’s home, it’s home.” It is so good to see him so happy and remembering so much about our home. The Thai language he seems to have forgotten, but I’m sure he will still be fluent before we are.
A few days after arriving back we received the tragic news that a very close friend that we considered family had passed away. He was very healthy and had beat the fight with prostate cancer through lifestyle changes. Just 2 months ago we were at his home listening to him excitedly tell us how he had just had all his numbers run and he was officially a cancer survivor (5 years) and had done it all through the means God has provided. He was most proud about the fact that at 69 he had a cholesterol of 100. We are still waiting for the results from the autopsy to reveal the cause. This has devastated us and especially Jessica as she had thought of him like a father. While the storm that hit us in Spokane had seemed like such an inconvenience, especially as it took us away from Jessica’s family during the week we set aside for them, it turned out to be a blessing because we got to spend that week with Lynn and his wife. Please keep his wife, Kathie, their family and all who were close to them in your prayers. Connected with that is a request for us as well. We had just made a vow to them that if anything ever happened to one of them and they needed our help we would come back and take care of them. We never thought it would be so soon. Kathie is praying and will let us know whether she wants us to return or not. Until we hear back we will be moving forward in faith in what lies nearest to us.
While packing the day before we left the States we received a call from a couple in TN that has an interest in joining the work in Bkk. They have 3 children and shared that while watching an interview we did on ‘Mission t.v. Live‘ the oldest got excited and began talking about the possibility of serving. They are progressing forward in a possible short-term trip to assess and see if this is what God is calling them to do. Please keep them in your prayers.
Also near the end of our trip we learned of another team member that is for sure joining us, but not until August. We are pregnant! This was incredibly exciting news. Then we returned home and Jessica was not able to get out of bed because of how sick she was. Then we remembered what the last pregnancy was like. Some research online rewarded us with a possible cure for the Hyperemesis Gravidarum. So far it has been helping but we are waiting for a few supplements to arrive that are supposed to completely fix the problem. We will let you know next month. This has added a bit of a challenge to our plans of returning home, Brian going to Bangkok to find a house and then moving. Jessica out of commission means Brian is watching Asher and doing all her usual duties. I’ll just say it straight, I (Brian) have not given Jessica enough credit for all that she does. I feel so overwhelmed and I am only doing things to a small degree of what Jessica does. We have eaten out many of our meals because I can’t seem to cook and entertain the baby, etc. If you were ever considering that you do more than your ‘stay-at-home’ wife, don’t wait till a difficulty forces you to take over, just trust me, you probably don’t. We ask for prayers for a quick recovery and a healthy pregnancy.
With the possibility of us returning to the States to help our friend I have been really challenged with negative feelings about the idea. It didn’t seem to make sense to me that God would bring us here for a year and a half only to turn us around and send us back right when we were about to start our project. I have prayed a lot and really sought answers and came to the conclusion that it doesn’t have to make sense to me. God knows the end from the beginning and I can barely see in front of my feet so I just need to trust Him. I was helped to that conclusion by a friend of ours sharing her testimony at GYC. Her husband sent me the link to watch it and it was so timely and just gave me a glimpse at the faithfulness and foreknowledge of God to have an answer already prepared. I will post the video here for you all if you want to be encouraged. This is the wife of the couple we mentioned that are praying about joining us down in Bangkok.
In considering why God would bring us here and then have us leave I tried to consider what possible good could have come from our time here. We really haven’t opened the Bible to more than 2 Thai people and really have just been studying Thai. As I thought about what I may have gained, that is where I found some answers. Throughout my Christian experience I have had this underlying notion that I needed to prove myself to God. I read the Bible and see people like the disciples, Paul, Mary Magdalene, who had repented of their old ways and went on to do great things for God and I felt like that is what God expected of me. I saw the comparison of God to our Heavenly Father and projected my earthly fathers characteristics upon him. Now I don’t have a bad father, but he is human and not perfect. I really had a feeling that I needed to earn God’s love and acceptance. I understood and could explain to you from the Bible how we were all saved by grace, but looking back on my actions I was really trying to secure my place with God through my efforts for Him. One thing I learned here is truly how little my efforts matter. While I am not condoning a life of sin in Christ, I am saying that there is not some huge requirement list in order to gain salvation. In Matthew 5:6 Jesus said, “blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” If I want to be filled with righteousness what is the requirement; simply a hunger and thirst for it. God has implanted desires within us; the desire to eat, drink, etc and for each desire He has supplied the fulfillment; food, drink, etc. So He places within us a desire for righteousness and in the same pattern, HE SUPPLIES the fulfillment. Being here and watching people go through ceaseless rituals to try to gain them a better afterlife has really converted my mind from feeling sorry for and looking down on them to realizing that I am not too different from them. Receiving something for free is a difficult concept to grasp and when it is something so great as eternal life it makes it even greater. If we were called to leave Thailand now, I may not feel that much success was made in bringing the Gospel to the Thai people, but one thing I do know is that God brought the Gospel to me. I am still imperfect, I am still growing, but God accepts me and is lovingly drawing me into a deeper relationship with Him. I pray that He does so with each of you as well.
Through the faithfulness of God we are able to move forward in faith on this journey to set up a ministry in Bangkok. We don’t have the money to do it, we don’t have any degree that says we are qualified to do it, we don’t even have the fluency of the language to be able to do it. But the one thing we do have is FAITH. While at times it may be no bigger than a mustard seed, that is all that is required because our God is faithful and He is bigger than any obstacle we have or will face. 2016 is a going to be a great year and whether the outward circumstances match that statement we have peace because with Christ we can do ALL things.
May your new year be blessed with the peace that passes all understanding,
Brian, Jessica & Asher Atwell
Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Titus 2:13