As I sat waiting for the next blast of the horn that would send me out of the driver seat to tell the bus driver he needed to calm down I was greeted instead by the sound of a knock on my window and the bus driver standing there with a length of metal pole.
We were driving home from church on a very busy road and you just have to surrender to the fact that it is going to take a while. Well there was one city bus driver that morning that was not surrendering. As I pulled into traffic he hit his horn and blew past me. Having my son in the car I was a bit upset but let it go. Then he swerved right in front of me, honking again, to pick up people on the side of the road. I was a bit more upset. As I began to pass him in the right lane while he picked up his fare he laid on his horn and pulled off the curb, having collected his passengers, and almost hit me as I went by. Now I was furious. As I looked at his scrawny frame holding the pipe I could feel my blood boiling and nothing but the grace of God, and the thought that my actions will be etched upon my son’s mind as an example of how to handle similar situations in the future kept me in that seat. We stared at each other until the light changed and I drove away. My wife and son hadn’t even noticed anything had happened. That experience taught me a great lesson. First off, God brought me here to grow me, and one of the greatest areas of growth I need, in my opinion, is patience. The daily activities that in America are so simple and quick can take hours and days here. They must be met with patience. Among a people who virtually know nothing about the Bible, your actions are possibly the only sermon they will ever here. What will they share about the God you serve? The second is that I am still human and desperately in need of God’s saving grace. I have definitely not reached perfection in my own heart. Lest I forget that it will be by Christ’ merit alone that I gain access to Heaven, these little instances remind me and drive me back to my knees clinging to God’s mercy. Connected with this is a deep and serious request for prayer. Bangkok is a much stronger battle field. The enemy has this territory and has no desire to give it up. There is incredible evil here and we will not survive here without prayer. Please do not forget to pray for us. These situations are simply the beginning and we need God’s Spirit to not only mold our hearts but the hearts of the Thai people as well.
I mentioned previously about the new addition to our family and how connected with that came debilitating sickness for Jessica. Last pregnancy she was on bedrest most of the time and had to take anti-nausea medication just to be able to function. I also mentioned we had found a possible cure. Well the possible cure worked! If anyone is interested in specifics, especially if you or someone you know suffers from HG or extreme morning sickness, message me and we will share but in short; there is a bacteria that exists in almost all people. When it reaches high levels it causes problems. Hormonal changes are one thing that cause it to flourish. We took a simple natural remedy for a month and Jessica has been all but normal since. I am so grateful to have her back as I don’t know how much longer our family would’ve survived with me doing everything.
As the title indicates, we have returned to Bangkok. That was quite the experience. We didn’t realise we had acquired so much stuff in Chiang Mai, but gifts from departing missionaries and an unfurnished apartment necessitated the acquirement of some things. We moved back down by train again and had a much smoother time in some respects since we knew what to expect. We loaded an entire Song Teew (kind of truck taxi) with stuff and also a van the next day. For all our belongings, including the motorbike it cost us about $120 to move it to the opposite end of the country. Can’t beat that.
We moved down without a place to go, but like Abraham we trusted that God called us down and He knew where we were to live. I spent 7-8 hours a day riding the motorcycle up and down every street looking for houses with rental signs on them. Finding houses is rarely done by internet our Thai friends told us. Well I was finding nothing in our price range and starting to get a bit discouraged. We prayed and decided to raise our budget a bit. I decided to check the internet one morning before heading out, using our new price range and found a nice place very close to where we were wanting to set up the ministry centre. It was close to lunch time but I thought I would go look at the neighbourhood and anything I could see from outside the gate. As I was looking a lady approached and asked if I wanted to look at the house, she was the owner and lived just 4 houses down. I went and looked and it seemed perfect. We didn’t have many stipulations about what we wanted but this place met them all and then some. One of the biggest desires we had was that the house would have no spirit house which is a small idol type dwelling set up for spirits to live in. Almost every house has one, this house didn’t. Then, when we went upstairs is when things got interesting. In the room she called the master one entire wall, floor to ceiling, wall to wall, was a picture of the wailing wall in Jerusalem.
When I asked about it she said the previous renter was a Christian church that was trying to work with Catholics and Jews. This was very encouraging to us. Not only was there nothing set up for spirit worship but the creator God had been worshipped here. We decided to rent and the landlord told us she would have a large carport built so Asher would have a shaded place to play. As I type I am surrounded by the sounds and smells of that structure being raised out front. We’ll send a link later to a video of our house for anyone interested.
After over a year of having a motorbike as our only transport, God has blessed in a major way and provided us with a truck! A missionary family that has been in the States had it sitting in storage and prayerfully decided to sell it to us. We got an incredible deal on it and it is in incredible shape.
We had the privilege of hosting the Foreign Correspondent for the ministry Jesus 4 Asia a couple of weeks ago as he shot a promo video of our project here. It gave us an encouraging look at how this idea of adding the rock climbing fitness component can really build connections. As we went to the community climbing wall to get some shots we realised we were stuck right in the middle of a university graduation. There were thousands of people there and we had almost considered not going that day. As we got things set up lots of people would crowd around to watch. I asked a couple people if they were interested to try but being in their nice clothes all declined. Until one young man who had just graduated as a lawyer was asked. Excitedly he replied that he did want to try. I told him he should remove his graduation robe which he opened and revealed a full suit underneath. He geared up and got on the wall and did pretty well. When he fell I asked if he was done but he said he wanted to try again. Afterward he was so grateful and they asked for our number to come with us again. Building relationships with people can sometimes be the hard part, especially ones that are deeper than surface level, but there is something about knowing that your life is literally in the person’s hand who is holding the other end of your rope that builds a strong connection real quickly. So many principles of the Gospel are played out in the simple act of rock climbing. We are excited to see how this new relationship will grow.
I, Brian, had the privilege of sharing at a conference this last month with many church leaders from all over Southeast Asia about the importance of our personal testimony. Revelation 12:11 says that “they (the people of God) overcame him (the devil) by the blood of the Lamb AND by the word of their testimony.” Our testimony is an aid in our victory over the enemy as well as a powerful witnessing tool, especially here. When people know nothing about the Bible and see it as having no authority, just sharing some texts will often result in very little. But sharing your personal experience with God is very meaningful and is the best ‘sermon’ that can be preached. We can say all the right things but our lives are the real testimony to what is true. Our testimony can help people relate to us. It can help them see we are real people with real struggles like their own, but we are finding victory through Christ. Just opening up to someone in a humble way and sharing that you aren’t perfect and still battle with things can break down barriers and help them to desire the peace you have to be open about those things with someone else. We also benefit as we see how God has guided and grown us from the past. My interaction with the bus driver was by no means a positive thing. The feelings I had were not brought about by the Spirit of God or love in any way, but I didn’t react in a physical way as I would have in the past so there is progress. I think about how I felt then reflect on how similar situations had ended in the past and I am strengthened in my faith that God is with me and helping me grow. I am not happy or proud of my feelings during that situation and am seeking God for a deeper walk with Him but it encourages us to see even small steps of progress.
As we seek to be a light here in this dark city, we thank you for your support. While we may be the ones here on the front lines, none of what we do would be possible without your encouragement, donations and most importantly your prayers. We are a team working together and we appreciate everything you do. Please keep us lifted up as we seek for a location for the centre and also work out the logistics of it all. This is a big undertaking and very easy for the enemy to discourage us, but God has given us confidence through the faith of Joseph even against impossible odds that God is faithful to accomplish all He has promised to do. We are excited for you to join us on this amazing faith building ride. For His glory.
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