Is the perfect way to describe our progress. Both as a business and as Christians.
Growing little by little is the perfect way to describe our progress, both as a business and as Christians. With Jessica and the boys leaving, the plan had been for me to double down and get things working properly for the business side of the ministry and get more ministry-focused avenues opened up. Well, the day before my family left my visa expired and I had to leave the country. So I said my goodbyes to them and jumped in a taxi headed to the airport. I spent 5 days in Phnom Penh, Cambodia holed up in a nice hotel with the intention of dividing my time between relaxing in the sauna and bathtub and making a strategized plan for the coming months. Satan had other plans and as part of my ‘relaxing’ time I started to watch a youtube documentary and it started a youtube binge that lasted almost 4 days. That triggered shame and guilt for wasting this opportunity for quiet, uninterrupted time to focus on planning. But then one morning I decided to pray and study on the topic of God’s will. It is a commonly talked about topic, and “how to find God’s will for your life” will get you all sorts of answers. But what I
came away with from that study with is summarized in 1 Thessalonians 4:3. Mainly because it starts”For this is the will of God…” Our sanctification; and just to clarify in case you don’t understand what the word sanctification means he explains, “that ye should abstain from fornication” (harlotry or idolatry). I realized that Youtube had become an idol in my life. But more than that, the desire to disconnect; to run and hide from the giant tasks looming before me were the driving forces behind my actions. God gave me a first-hand glimpse at my heart and helped me to pause, recommit my life to Him, and surrender my idols. After that, I used the remaining day to brainstorm and a few fairly good ideas surfaced in that time. We have begun to implement them here already, from showing climbing documentaries at the Center to contacting local international schools and requesting permission to sell our baked goods on their campus. We are also doing more advanced advertisement of our outdoor trips which have been providing a solid income. We actually increased the trip cost since so many customers were saying it was too cheap, but that affords us to offer discounted rates (50% off) to university students.
I just changed the entire middle section of the above paragraph as it initially painted this false picture of me going and spending 5 days planning. As I read it God convicted me how fake it was. Sure, I hadn’t lied. I didn’t delete anything false that I said, but I had simply gone from what the plan of the trip was to the result without telling the real story. More and more God has been showing me that in my life if I start to only tell half-truths, it will soon transition to outright lies. Is it relevant for you all to know that I struggle with internet addiction and wasting time online? Maybe not. But I hope some of you will take it to prayer with me in seeking continued victory. The reality is that if I try to hide it then I am giving it power through the hidden shame. If I openly declare it then I take away some of the power. I am very grateful God has sent a godly older man to Bangkok and I am able to seek counsel and advice now when I am struggling. This has been something that has been lacking ever since our local GC representatives relocated a while ago. God’s will is for us to have victory over everything that the enemy throws at us and He gives the power to do it through His Holy Spirit.
Upon returning from Cambodia I heard that a “How to Study the Bible” seminar that had been scheduled was going to be canceled due to some political challenges with the venue. I prayed about it and felt impressed to offer use of our Center if they were interested. The group accepted and I am so glad they did as it was an amazing blessing. One of the huge challenges here is that very few people know how to study the Bible. Even though the seminar had been advertised as canceled and then minimally advertised just by word of mouth we still had 60 people on Sabbath and 38 on Sunday. The presentation was done in such a clear and practical way that at 11 am on Sunday when he was supposed to end the people all asked him to please continue. He went on until 2 pm, with everyone forgoing lunch in order to continue. If you know Thailand that is a big deal! So many people were so excited to study. One guy even said it was the first time he studied the Bible and it was actually fun, he didn’t fall asleep. It really opened my eyes as well. I used to teach how to study the Bible classes but this was even deeper into the revealed meaning of the text that I gained so much from it and I know the others did as well. The way He presented multiple stories and in the end, showed that the conclusion was for us to pray and study the Bible was amazing. From the comments I heard during and after the presentation, the clearness of righteousness by faith was something that really struck so many. In the end, many people were asking when the next one would be.
Out of that we also gained opportunities to rent our facility for events. We will see how that goes but it really brought home the conviction that we need to start holding worship services here. I have put it off because the church area is not finished (will explain that later), but we hosted this event in the restaurant area and it had plenty of room and then the fellowship meal was easily set up as well. Please keep this in prayer, as the fact that I am leaving in only a few months to be absent for several months is making me unsure how much to get going and leave on the shoulders of our team here.
We have focused our efforts away from fear of offending people—which caused us to in the end feel like we hadn’t done as much in trying to present Christ as we could have—to now praying for open hearts and sharing with the people that come. I have been able to share my personal testimony of how God led me out of the life of a homeless, drug addict, alcoholic felon that had nothing but disdain for Him, into a servant for His Kingdom on multiple trips now with groups. It sparks some nice conversation on the topic of faith, even with atheists. God is answering our prayers for boldness and showing us opportunities to give Him glory in never before seen ways, especially in the topic of the power of prayer, because I pray a lot when I am climbing; my fear of heights kind of necessitates it. Please continue to pray for God to send the right people to us.
Our team is doing amazing. As I mentioned in January’s letter I had realized I had been feeling threatened by that fact that they were actually getting better than me at the things I taught them how to do. Well after seeing that I was holding them back I was able to make a focused effort to encourage, rather than bring down. The result: amazing progress. Tong has now been making new routes in the gym that are very creative and some of them I can’t even climb. Remember he had never climbed before last year. Jun is doing a lot better in his confidence and is even leading routes (climbing while bringing the rope up, meaning if you fall you fall a fair way) he hasn’t done before. Wiang has been awesome from the beginning really, but she is doing better in taking breaks and not working herself to death. She is basically singlehandedly overseeing/running the entire food side of operations. She has one guy helping her with the baking but she is doing inventory, making sure we have enough bread on hand for orders, selling it out front, trying to find opportunities to sell our products in different places, etc. Breecha is continuing to run support wherever he is needed while focusing on helping Wiang in the bakery. God has blessed us with a wonderful team and while they aren’t perfect, neither am I, and they have been able to endure through the follies and trials and come out better for it. We are so grateful!
In regards to the business side of things; we have been growing there as well. We opened officially the last week of June but were not really making any money. We were trying to focus on getting everything else operational and only opened because the government wasn’t wanting to renew my Work Permit without showing income. Well, we started focusing on the gym and doing what we could and started to see improvement. Here is the last few month’s income:
(Oct- $275) (Nov- $205) (Dec- $680) (Jan- $785) (Feb $1,485)
You can see from Jan-Feb we almost doubled our income. That is when we started doing weekly outdoor trips and selling more bread at events. God is really helping us to be able to start making a dent in our expenses. The goal of this ministry was to use the business as a connecting point but also as the way to provide financial means to support the work. While we are still far from being in the black, we are making steps in the right direction with God’s help. That being said, we still are in need of help. I am saddened to say that over the last couple months our support has been very limited. I actually had to use money from our vehicle fund to pay rent for the Center and for our house. That is also why, even though we received a check to cover all the rest of the renovation expenses when we went to the US last year, there are still some things not finished, mainly the church. It is hard for me to have funds dedicated to a specific thing, but before they are completed bills come up and that is the only money we have, so I have to use it with the
intention of replacing it as soon as something else comes in. We don’t want you to misunderstand; we are overwhelmed with gratitude for the sacrifices you all are making to help this ministry. This isn’t your dream and you are not responsible for funding it. We don’t want you to feel like we are pressuring you. I hate fundraising and that was one of the main reasons we wanted to find a self-support method, aside from the fact that we are counseled to do it this way. But a long time ago someone asked me how I felt when I give to projects and I said really good. They told me when I hold back in telling others what our needs are I am robbing someone else of that feeling that comes from giving. So I decided to share with you our monthly expenses and if you feel moved to support we are grateful and if you can’t, we are grateful for your prayers. We have people that are faithful in sending us something, even $3 sometimes. We don’t often acknowledge that, but those donations are extremely meaningful because it shows that that person doesn’t have a lot but what they do have they are willing to sacrifice. Thank you to each and every one of you that has worked right alongside us here to make this place a beacon in this community. Please keep us in prayer to be faithful in staying surrendered to Him and doing His work well.
Thank you all for your support and prayers. We wouldn’t be where we are today without your partnership.
In His service, by His grace,
Brian, Jessica, Asher, Joseph & Baby Atwell
- That we can find the right workers with a heart to serve the Lord (We need to add at least 1 more for the gym and 2-4 additional once the cafe opens)
- That God can help us with the business side of things. There are a few business people giving counsel and advice and helping in connecting with schools but we could always use prayer in this.
- For the resources we need, preferably through income sources, to cover our expenses.
- For the air quality in Thailand. It has been at hazardous levels for weeks now and is getting worse. Schools are currently closed because of it. (Air quality has returned to ‘normal’ levels.)
- For extra protection over our marriage and family as the enemy seeks to discourage and destroy Christ’s work
- For us to have guidance in all the things we are needing to decide upon
- For us to be more intentional in our witness for God’s glory
- 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 restaurant. We are looking for a vegan chef/baker. If you know someone with restaurant experience, or restaurant quality skills please send them our way for an interview.
- For right interactions as we deal with a water leak that has caused 1000’s of dollars in damage to another shop below us (The chapter with the shop owner is paid and finished. Now waiting to see what the building owner will do and how much it will cost)
- For guidance for Josh and Chitlada (Directors of Jesus for Slum Kids project). They have many aspects of their project developing and also a new baby in the house so they could use an extra special outpouring of prayer. 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. You can also view their project featured on the program MissionTREK here