With Jessica and the boys return home, my parents first visit, the construction crew moving in and starting work and a nanny coming to help us, 2017 has started out with a lot to be thankful for. We hope you have found the Lord’s blessings in your life as well. With Jessica and the boys arriving 2 weeks ago and my parents arriving just a few days later for their first visit things have been an exciting swirl of family and fun, and a little jet lag thrown in for good measure. When I picked up my family from the airport Asher was so excited and ran to see me. He followed me around for the 1st two days not letting me out of
his sight, which I was ok with. We barely had time to adjust though before my parents (Nana & Papa) got in. It has been really nice to have them here. They took us to Chiang Mai and we had fun visiting the “tiger’s house” (Asher’s words) and just relaxing a bit. They are visiting Cambodia for a few days and we are actually resting and getting back into the swing of things. It is such a blessing to be back together but I am grateful for the time apart to help us realize our love for one another and allow it to strengthen.
Before we headed up North I met with the builder and finalized the contract for the renovations and they moved in and started work last week. According to his estimation they will be finished in about 4 months. The total for his quote was about $30,000 which we currently have! I should take this moment to thank all of you who have been supporting this project and making it a reality. We wouldn’t be where we are today without you. This will cover all the built-in stuff; flooring, walls to divide rooms, new
bathroom furnishings (replacing old squat toilets with western style), installing electricity and water, building locker rooms for the fitness center and apartments for the workers, and removing the roof on the top floor to accommodate a taller climbing wall. We will still need to raise funds for the furnishings; tables and chairs for restaurant and cafe, bookshelves and books for the library area (donations of new/used Christian books are welcome), tables and coolers for the kitchen as well as beds and wardrobes for the worker’s apartments, seating for the church and PA equipment. We also will be having a different person come to build the steel frame for the climbing wall as it is a critical build for safety and I have seen too many poor welds here to trust just anyone. We have a guy who comes highly recommended from an American friend. We have still not heard from the foundations we have requested grants from and are praying one of them will be accepted so we can cover those costs.
In a bit of bittersweet news a couple that we have come to love and respect here doing medical missionary training are leaving Thailand to a different calling. We had much time with them while living in Chiang Mai together and had come to see them as spiritual parents. While there is deep sadness in our hearts for their leaving we are happy knowing they are following the Lord’s calling and will be producing materials that can help many workers in this field. The bittersweet aspect is that they, as well as another family that has recently left, are donating many of their things to our project. Refrigerators, fans, beds, tables, etc. It will greatly help us in furnishing some of the rooms for workers as well as some other things.
Our home, being so near to the main international airport has turned into a mini-bed and breakfast. In the first 6 months here we had over 30 people come through, many of them upon arrival in Thailand and again upon departure. It has been great to meet so many people from different areas. Between now and March we will have 13 more coming through. It has really helped Asher in his socializing, he loves to talk to people and ask them questions. If you are planning a trip to Thailand and need a place to stay and pick up from the airport we would be happy to see you.
Some of you may be wondering about that nanny comment in the intro. Well a couple of weeks ago I received a message from the director of Jesus 4 Asia asking if we wanted him to do any recruiting for us at GYC (a youth ministry meeting) that he was heading to. I informed him we couldn’t offer anyone a visa and couldn’t have them work with us without a work permit. Then I had a random thought that maybe if someone wanted to come and just live with us and help Jessica out with the boys it could be a huge blessing. Before children we used to pray together regularly and had time for our marriage. Being here has zapped all of that. Not having grandparents close by to watch the kids is really hard and when the culture says “just rub the little boys genitals to get him to stop crying” you don’t leave your kids with anyone. I thought not much more about it until the next morning when I had another message from him saying he had just received a call from a young woman who was interested in going into the mission field and had asked what opportunities were available. When he told her ‘nanny’ she said “you have to be kidding me, I’m a nanny.” Through much prayer she has decided to come and stay with us to help. But the same challenge still was there, we couldn’t offer her a visa. While talking to her
she shared her passion was in translation work. Her degree is in sign language interpretation and she is good with music which we have found has a direct correlation to proficiency in language, at least in our observation with this tonal one. So she can come over on a 90 day tourist visa and get settled a bit into the flow of things and then convert that to an education visa through a language school and study Thai full-time. This covers 2 very important needs; our family needs and the need for translators here. Currently there are no full-time translators working for the church. We are greatly in need of people to take up this work. I ask that you would all join us in praying for this young woman Jenny. She is ready to come as soon as she can raise the funds for study. The school requires a payment in full for their complete basic course before offering the visa. She will need about $3,500 to come. Her living expenses will be covered by us but she will need a little money to get to and from school on the skytrain as well. If you would like to support this much-needed aspect of the ministry here please click on the link here and mark your donation (JENNY).
While reading this morning I came across this statement from a book called the Acts of the Apostles; speaking of Paul’s messages to the Corinthian church the author writes, “He dwelt especially upon practical godliness and the holiness to which those must attain who shall be accounted worthy of a place in God’s Kingdom.” It really struck me as relevant to our work here. The whole chapter discussed how the Corinthian believers had very little knowledge of the scriptures and Paul had to simplify his message to meet the people where they were. I have had many opportunities to speak in different churches and have found that adaptation of the message is extremely important here as well. The last few messages I have shared were very basic and discussing practical aspects of our walk with Christ. Not only is sharing practical and simple messages good for the people who have less Biblical understanding, but it is good for us as well to remember just how simple this walk with God is. Sure, surrender is hard, I don’t mean to downplay that. But often we get so caught up in what we are doing and trying to ‘work out our own salvation with fear and trembling’ (Phil 2:12) that we forget that ‘it is God that worketh in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure.’ (Phil 2:13) This walk is easy in the sense that we have a guide who has walked the path before us and is leading us each step of the way. All we have to do is choose to follow. I shared many challenges that we have faced lately and they were definitely challenging at the time, but I was thinking this morning about Daniel, David, Job, these men faced serious challenges in their lives. The question came to me, if the roles were reversed and they were reading the stories of my life in scripture, would they find any encouragement from what they saw? They endured because they knew their God and had an experience with Him that gave them faith. We have the same God, but do we have the same experience?
Jesus for Asia Foreign Correspondent Jonathan Hill has put together a nice updated video on our project. Check it out below.
Please continue to keep our prayer needs before the Lord and may you have a blessed new year.
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
- Please continue to pray for the visa situation here. Workers are desperately needed and without visas cannot stay
- Please pray for the church here, and especially the leadership to know God’s will and seek Him in His word
- Pray that God will lead us to the right Thai workers to serve with us
- Pray for Jenny to raise the needed funds to bring her here
- Pray for the situation with our car in the states. If you know anyone looking for a small economical car in the southern California area please let me know
- 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