The phrase is common; “I poured my blood, sweat and tears into this.” Well the work here has fit that to a T. The early stages of demolition produced much sweat and a fair bit of blood. But this month was all about the tears. But first let’s start with a followup from last month. You don’t want to miss this update.
I mentioned in our last update that Jessica and the boys’ visas were denied and we needed my work permit to be renewed in order to get new ones; well God worked it out and not only got it renewed, but renewed it for a full year which means the government will not be reviewing our financial records for another year and we have time to get operational. With that in hand we headed to Penang, Malaysia and just returned with new visas. God is good! But that is just the beginning.
I also mentioned last month that I had finally surrendered the building to God and how things had started moving much quicker than before. Well I started hitting snags. There is so much here that makes no sense to me. Painting I figured would at least be an easy one; I was wrong. I have ‘wasted’ so much time having to figure out this or that thing to get renovations done myself just so we could save money that it has taken me away from other duties I should be doing. I put wasted in brackets because during the time I am working I am listening to sermons and audio books so it is not all wasted. Well one day I really hit a spot that had me feeling a bit negative. I finished my work for the morning and came home for lunch. (This is where the story becomes like a movie and I still don’t really believe it.) I was ranting to Jessica how I was going to finish the first floor then hire people to do the rest. I had been listening to a sermon series and the guy was sharing how God will provide for our needs in city work. I literally told Jessica, “I have heard far too many quotes today about how we need to move forward in faith in city work and as we move forward God will provide. I am doing this work to save money but I don’t think we are being extravagant in any way so I will pay people to do the work from now on so I can focus on getting our workers ready and recipes developed.” I turned around and opened my email to find this message; “Greetings, We just wanted to let you know that funds ($10,000) are being mailed tomorrow to JFA for the Center of Influence building expenses.” Immediately I began to cry. I turned back and handed Jessica, who was asking who had died, the phone and just walked to the other room, dropped to my knees and through tears praised God for His faithfulness. Even though I was being somewhat critical of the methods here, God showed me that I can trust Him in all things. That’s act one in this movie that has been our life this month.
So now we know this money is coming and we pray and decide that windows need to be changed and painting the exterior should get done before rainy season really takes off. God works out a miracle and sends a guy for painting the exterior. His quote is astronomical but he says he can do the windows and his quote is almost half of every other one I have gotten. I sign the contract for all the windows to be replaced. Total; $10,200. God is faithful! Now I still don’t have a painter for the exterior. But God works that out again. I have asked our contractor multiple times for a quote to do it but he never has gotten back to me. Well I told him this other guys quote and he says it is too much. He gives me a price that is just over 1/3 of the other quote. God is faithful! But here we hit another snag. I hadn’t given him a payment in almost 4 months as we had been stateside. Well now with the new things he was going to be doing he worked out a total and we still owed around $15,000 and he needed a payment of $10,500 by the following week. We had some money in the bank but with the deposit of $2000 I had paid the window guy we were going to be short. I requested that Jesus For Asia transfer the $10,000 we had just received and just prayed and gave it to God. Well the day it was due the transfer still hadn’t come. I told the builder I could make a payment but it would be only half. He begrudgingly accepted that and I left for the bank. Now I had almost enough but I wanted to keep a few thousand in the bank as an emergency fund; you never know what could happen. Well as I was riding the motorcycle to the bank I felt convicted that I needed to trust God and honor my word. If I said I would pay I should give as much as I can. I surrendered the money to God and decided to give the builder all that we had. When I parked the bike my phone was ringing. A friend of ours here had borrowed some money a few months back and was letting me know he had just transferred it back. As he told me the total I began trying to process how much I would have for the builder. Then I cried again as I realized that we might have the total amount. I went to the ATM and the bank statement showed that after paying the builder I had $6.20 to spare. God is faithful! He also painted the first floor interior for free. Act two.
The next day we left for Malaysia to renew our visas. We arrived and I double checked all our documents that we would be taking the next day to the Embassy. As I did I realized something that all but paralyzed me. In my preparation I had completely forgotten the fact that we had to PAY for our visas! For some strange reason I had grabbed $200 in US money that we had brought back with us and put it in my wallet before we left the house. I quickly checked the exchange rate to see how much we needed; $279.38. I had only $30 worth of Thai Baht and didn’t know what we would do. Our US debit card soley active for Thailand and the US and I wouldn’t have time to contact the bank and have them open it for Malaysia in time. We prayed and then Jessica remembered that I had given her some money when we were leaving the states. She checked her wallet; $80. Total $280. God is faithful! She said, “I thought it was weird that you gave me so much money at the time but I just put it away.” God knows the end from the beginning and has a thousand ways of working that we don’t understand. If we follow Him and strive to unite our hearts and wills to His, He will guide our path. Not only did He provide what we needed but He also supplied us with a cheap activity while we were there that fit in with the rest of the cash we had. Act three.
If any of you were paying attention above you would probably have noticed that with the 2 contracts we have open the total of them was $25,000. Well when I prayed about setting up the contract with the window guy I calculated what we had and knew that we would be short about $7,000. I was apprehensive about setting up a contract beyond our means but I had prayed and felt sure that we were supposed to move forward in faith. In my faithlessness I thought to myself, “at least it is paid in installments and we only have to pay $2,000 at a time.” My thought was that God couldn’t provide more than a few thousand at a time. Well on the flight back from Malaysia I sent out an email to the friends who had donated the $10,000 with pictures just to give an update on where their money had gone. Last night I received an email with thanks for sending the pictures and a note; “Just sent out a check today to JFA for $10,000 to go toward the Center of Influence building expenses.” I just stared at it. I cried, then I thought, “somehow part of her last email got put in this one.” Well confirmation received this morning says that they sent an additional check. God is Faithful! I thought He could provide a little at a time to pay off the bills as needed but He showed us that it doesn’t matter how He provides, whether a large check or monthly support, He is the One who is in charge of this center and, if we allow Him to be, He is the One in charge of our finances. Act four.
Finally on Friday I got a message from a Pakistani family that I had met last year at Church. They are here as Christian refugees seeking asylum from the persecution they were under in their own country. Well this family has never asked me for anything. This time they said they needed help. Immediately my thought was that they are not in need and are just trying to take advantage of me. Obviously I am hard to get through to if you remember last month’s story about Bill. In my defense, we have been taken advantage of by one of these refugee families before. So they asked for food for their family. I was sitting in the truck about to leave for the store. In reality I had already left for the store but Asher had forgotten his water so I had just backed all the way down the street to get it. That is significant because I only have wifi on my phone, no data package, so I wouldn’t have gotten this message had I not returned. God softened my heart and I decided that it was my responsibility to serve those in need and I headed to the store with their list. In the end, supplying food for them for at least a few days cost me less than $30. But when we took the food to their family they were so grateful. After initial visits they shared that they had been going to the Seventh-Day Adventist church for 1.5 years since coming here but that no one had taught them anything about what we believe. They asked if Jessica would be willing to come and do Bible studies with them. They also said there were three other families that lived upstairs that would like to come to the Bible study as well. My hardness of heart could have led to such a blessed opportunity being lost, but simply “sacrificing” $30 led to many being open to the Gospel. Jessica has already been doing a Bible study and prayer meeting with a Pakistani family that lives on our road and they have shared an interest in visiting our church. Through simply serving people in their felt needs God is able to break down barriers and open their hearts to the source of True loving and Healing. Please keep these precious families in prayer.
In other news we have hired a manager for the center. Tong and his wife Wiang were mentioned a few months back as the couple we met at church having not seen her in over a year. Well her husband was put on our hearts as the manager and he humbly accepted. They are such a blessing to have and have already been showing their eagerness to serve in the research that they are sending on different items to get the center furnished and operational. There is a very dedicated worker in the South of
Thailand who has offered to come every month there is a 5th Sabbath and do training for our workers. Well she is also establishing a training school in the south and God impressed me yesterday to contact her and see if she would take Tong and Wiang to go through her training for one month to give them a solid foundation. While I can communicate in Thai somewhat and he has a good grasp of English having graduated from our International University, we just feel that having the training done in Thai would be much better. Please pray that God would open that door if it is His will.
I will attach some pictures below of the progress that has happened over the last few weeks. The building is really coming to be and we are so excited about the progress. We have currently surrendered the upper two floors, the gym and climbing wall, for financial reasons and are focusing on getting the rest of the center operational for our new Grand Opening date of October 22; the beginning of the national 10 day Vegetarian Festival. When God shows us that things are right we will take up that project again. It seems to be the most practical aspect of self-funding as there is very little overhead once the wall is built, but we know that God has His perfect timing that He has demonstrated to us over and over again this month. Referencing the movie ‘Faith Like Potatoes’ Jessica keeps saying we are “planting the potatoes” for the climbing wall and fitness center, God will bring the rain, sunshine, all that’s needed in His time.
Thank you again for all your support and prayers. This work would not be possible without each of you.
In His service, by His grace,
Brian, Jessica, Asher and Joseph
- That we can find the right workers with a heart to serve the Lord. (Praise God for sending a Manager and Bible worker)
- That we can remember where OUR actions brought us and that the only reason we are where we are today is because of His undeserved, unmerited grace that lifted us from there.
- That I can finish the first floor in the next month as the government will require pictures of a usable space before granting extension status on our visas.
- For donors to sponsor the fitness center/climbing wall construction (Roughly $40,000 needed to complete)
- For the funds to finish the renovations and furnish the center (Roughly $10,000 needed to complete) Praise God for knocking that number down 2/3 in ONE MONTH!!
- For extra protection over our marriage and family as the enemy seeks to discourage and destroy Christ’s work
- For humility of heart
- Please say a special prayer for direction. I have been studying the Loma Linda messages and feeling somewhat impressed that we are in a similar situation here and with the hindsight have an opportunity to follow the council in a clearer way.
- 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 climbing side of things. Please pray that God opens the right heart. If you know anyone with a passion for climbing, route setting skills and a heart for missions please send them our way
- For people to help support our sister project in the slums to bring education to these oft neglected youth. Only $1000/year could send them to a private Christian school with room and board, less than $85/month. They are also planning to start a Pathfinders program but have no experience with this. Any help in this regard would be much appreciated as well. 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. (God has impressed the team to try and establish a small business to give their members from the slums some work to do, practical ministry skills and provide them with means. Pray that they can know the Lord’s will in this.)