Persecuted but not Forsaken

Well as I’m sure you’ve noticed it has been 2 months since we last shared a newsletter with you which has never happened before. The reason is because we have been under such incredible spiritual attack ever since we began pursuing this building that it has taken all we have just to stay afloat. But through the process God has stripped us of things in our hearts that were weighing us down and giving us a fresh glimpse at His grace. Through every trial God has shown us, in the end, that He is still guiding. Thank you for praying for us as that is all that has carried us through.

The last newsletter had us moving forward with negotiating the lease for the building. By God’s grace negotiations went smooth. We discussed and drafted a copy, after reviewing I shared concerns I had with it and he deleted all of them! Then I asked about a clause for the renewal rent price. I asked that it could not be raised above 40,000 baht, his original (low) asking price and he agreed.  Through a lengthy and arduous process at the land office we were able to sign the lease and get our official

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Khun Rooth the building owner and I at the Land Office

 

documents for registration purposes. That was where the first challenge came in. The fri before our meeting with the land office the building owner called me to tell me that I had to pay the deposit and first months rent at the meeting as evidence that the agreement was real. Thinking in American terms I thought the deposit would be 2 months rent so it would be 3 months total rent paid ($2400). He said that the charge is 100,000 baht ($3000) per year of the lease for deposit; total $15,000 usd. I prayed and discussed with him that it was impossible and he asked what I wanted to pay. I said 100,000 baht and he agreed. We didn’t have that much money but that seemed more realistic than $15,000. That evening I received an email from the director of Jesus for Asia stating that a couple called their office asking about any needs that they currently had. They had just seen their program on 3ABN and wanted to help. He told them about our project and they sent a check… For $19,200, the total for 4 of our Thai staff for a whole year! We were able to pay the deposit and finalize the contract.

A couple days later I received a message from a local man I didn’t know who wanted to discuss my finances. A bit apprehensive I called him and he informed me he was the owner of a local international school and heard about our project and wanted to know if “it would be ok if I sent you money?” He ended up sending 300,000 baht ($8340 usd). To top it off 2 weeks later he messaged

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The young volunteers working

me again with an online introduction to his community service coordinator for the school who sent out 24 students and teachers to help with demolition. Being teens and volunteers I thought they would work pretty slow but they worked hard the entire time and finished almost all the demolition and then carried the broken brick down the stairs by fire line. Was an amazing blessing.

We mentioned Jessica’s parents coming to visit and her father dedicating his time to help with renovations, well upon arriving he came down with the flu. It kept us all quarantined to different rooms so as not to spread it to each other, especially the baby. To make matters worse the week and a half prior Asher had come down with chickenpox and so we had already been

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The volunteer team atop their work

quarantined. Well the flu passed from grandpa through everyone else, even flaring up Asher’s chickenpox which had been basically gone. The poor kid had them for 4 weeks. Needless to say it didn’t make the trip very nice for them I’m sure and also did not result in any work being done on the building. But God knew what would happen and sent the group of young people to make up for it.

The day her parents left we also had tickets for Jessica and the boys to return to the US. Jessica was needing to try to find some closure from a family members death and Asher had some health things to take care of that we couldn’t find help for here.  Being that I would be full-time renovating it seemed like a good time for them to go. Well with Asher’s chickenpox making a comeback and Jessica still a bit sick we had to cancel the flight Sat. evening (flight was Sunday) and hope that we could reschedule cheaply when the main office opened on Monday. The counter people at the airport said it would be a $200 fee per ticket for reschedule. After much time in prayer I spent 4 hours at the airline office Monday morning and the nicest lady helped us find the best possible flight times with minimal extra cost (around $150) and she even waived the change fee because of the illness. We only had to pay for the extra cost of the tickets. Jessica even got an extra seat for Joseph on the flight to China and 4 seats on the long haul flight from China to LA. Praise God!

I am somewhat grateful I didn’t have time to write during the last 2 months because sitting down I was thinking how sad it was that I had to share so many negative experiences but as I am typing all that comes to mind are the amazing blessings of God. We did have continual health issues plague our family and ask that you would please keep that in your prayers. In that line I was awoken Wednesday morning at 3 to a sharp pain in my toe. Immediate thought; a rat was chewing on my toe. I went back to sleep after searching for it but got up on the couch. 3 more times I was awakened to the sound of chewing and eventually caught it in my flashlight beam. It WAS a rat chewing on my toe. It hadn’t looked like it broke the skin but today there is a small dark spot where it happened so the dr says I need to get a rabbis shot just in case.

As a last attack, so far, I was leaving my house on Wednesday evening to get some food at the market. It looked like it might rain so I took the truck. As I was pulling across the main road to make a right turn a motorcycle speeding in the wrong lane laid his bike down and slid right into my door. I was in shock and climbed into the back seat to get out but the child lock was on. As I climbed out the passenger door and walked around people had already moved him out of the road and were pushing his bike so they could clear the lane and get on with their travels. imageThat may sound like a harsh assumption but through this experience I realized that money seems to be of greater value than life. Seeing the concern on my face people kept telling me not to worry “it was his fault you won’t have to pay.” I explained I was worried about whether he was ok or not but that didn’t seem to register. The police even said “don’t worry, even if he dies the insurance will pay.” I moved the truck and came back to find him on the curb with his head bleeding. The ambulance came and made him walk himself to his bike and get his paperwork then took him to the hospital, I was told to wait for the police. The police arrived about an hour and a half later and asked questions then said they couldn’t help and the chief would be on his way over. During the wait my neighbor Taay, who we’ve mentioned before, that I had come down as a translator fainted and collapsed. I drove her home after she came to and was so grateful for the other friend Chompoo who was with me to help translate. (Taay is ok.) We had to go to the hospital to get the other guys name because the police didn’t know it and go to the police station.  After having everyone tell me it was his fault I assumed that the interrogation process was going to be easy but as we walked in they didn’t ask anything just said I was at fault and needed to pay. The racism we have faced here hasn’t really affected us that much. Sure people say rude things about you because they think you don’t understand or try to charge you more for things than locals but this was going to be much bigger. The idea is that “you are white so you have a lot of money.” I paid his hospital bill and we negotiated that I would take his bike to get it fixed and he would send me his other hospital bills to pay. The next day I took the bike to get repaired at a shop a friend uses. Again the guy saw me and told me it would be between $300-$600 to fix. A brand new bike is $1200. Thankfully Taay’s boyfriend had been over before I left and said “if they tell you more than $180 call me.” He talked with the guy then told me to bring the bike to him and he would take it somewhere. Last night he told me the price is between $120-$210. Praise God. I also found out that the insurance will reimburse me for the money I paid out of pocket for his hospital bill.

In all that has happened over the last few months I have been encouraged by a scripture song I learned when I first became a Christian. It’s from 2 Corinthians 4:6-9. The song had verses 6 and 7 as a chorus so in my head it keeps repeating this way, “we are troubled on every side yet not distressed; we are perplexed but not in despair; persecuted but not forsaken; cast down but not destroyed. For God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness hath shined in our hearts; to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” All these trials have sought to do is slow down progress on the building and discourage our faith. But the reality is that my faith is increased in the presence and strength of God. In each circumstance the trial seems too much to handle and in the past there has always been some kind of assurance that God is with us, but with these there has been nothing. We have had to press forward based on how God has led in the past and what His word says and as we do His presence is seen through His providence.

I don’t want to leave the impression that I am some great man of faith that has endured great trial and just shrugged it off. I haven’t. I have made incredible mistakes through this process and hurt the people closest to me with my words and attitude. But the point is that I am able to see that and realize my error and turn from it and  we have been able to forgive one another and grow closer together through the experiences targeted to separate us. There are great trials set to come upon the world very soon and God is seeking to use the time we have now to prepare us for those trials. We have to be open and humble with ourselves, with others and most importantly with God.  Will you ask God to give you an open heart to allow Him to search out in you anything that is coming between you and Him or you and others?

I plan to finish demolition this week and have the workers come in to lay tile, plumbing, electrical and change out the windows. We need your prayers for safety and strength as we move forward. Please notice the prayer requests below. Sorry this was so lengthy but we will pick back up monthly and they will be shorter. If you would like someone to come to your church to share about the work here Jesus for Asia has a new West Coast Field Representative who just returned from an extended visit here visiting all the projects and making videos of the work. If you would like him to share at your church please let us know so he can work it into his calendar. You could also help by sharing our start-up page https://atwell.jesus4asia.org/ No administration fees are charged unlike gofundme.

Thank you all for your love, prayers and support. May God richly bless you in this holiday season and in the year to come.

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Friend and fellow missionary Josh Bauder helped me knock down these 3 walls to open up the cafe more

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

Prayer requests:

  1. For God to continue to convert our hearts and humble us into full dependence upon Him.
  2. For God’s Spirit to continue working on this project to bring Him honor and glory
  3. For Jessica and Asher to find the healing they need.
  4. For wisdom and strength in renovating the building
  5. For the resources we need to continue
    1. $45,000 renovation costs
    2. First year operating expenses
  6. For God to direct us to foundations that will support the renovation costs.
  7. For at least 4 more dedicated Christian employees
  8. For all the missionaries facing visa issues right now. Some have been denied visas and others are in the process. PLEASE KEEP THEM LIFTED UP.
  9. For people to help support a 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

One thought on “Persecuted but not Forsaken”

  1. You write such an interesting post. I so enjoy reading them.

    Who in Jessica’s family passed away?

    I am off to bed now so good night.

    Love you much……grandma

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