It’s amazing how easily we can forget God’s providence and working in our lives. But I guess when we have an enemy who knows his time is short (Rev 12:12) and is like a roaring lion seeking to destroy us (1 Peter 5:8) then we should not be so surprised.
Up until last year we had been pretty faithful to write an update each month and I thought that we did that for you guys. But as I sat here reviewing our last update which was a recap of all of 2020 I again found myself in tears and remembered once again that these updates are just as much for us as they are for you. We get so focused on the day to day that we forget the big picture sometimes and just the last couple weeks I have been struggling with my faith and feeling like we are doing nothing here. We have spent almost 7 years here and what is there to show for it? Then I saw all that God had done just in 2020 and I was humbled again that I can see only the step ahead of me but God knows the end from the beginning. Things won’t happen in my timing or the way I think they should but that is for the best because my timing and judgment are faulty at best. If I fail to keep His faithfulness in my view then I will be led to focus on ‘all’ the negative things and get discouraged. But in John 15:20 Jesus reminds us “Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you.” Somehow I feel like I deserve better than my Lord. Like He suffered so that my life would be easy and nice and I would have no problems. I’m so glad God is patient with us in teaching these basic lessons and exposing the lies in our thinking. Again I have something to be grateful to you all for as I would not be taking the time to have recorded all these last 7 years here if there were no one to read them.
Brief update on last newsletter; the Pakistani family we mentioned being reunited last December has even greater news now. After 8 years of waiting and being repeatedly denied asylum they have received a sponsor in Canada and they are processing the paperwork to finally be free. They have been illegal here after their first 30 days and basically have to hide out in an apartment probably smaller than most of your master bedroom, parents and 2 teenagers, for 8 years. the father spending a total of 5+ years of that in a detention center. Now they will have the chance to start a new life. We are so happy for them. This process will still be long, up to 2 years, so please continue to lift them up in prayer. Also in regards to our working solo here, that is soon to end as well. Will mention that later though.
So our prayer request last time mentioned the of another lockdown, well it came right at the new year, we never reopened the Center after Christmas break until the end of January. Seeing it coming though and remembering how horrible it had been to be stuck in this building unable to go outside with the kids for 3 months we packed up what would fit in the truck and drove south 2.5 hours to a small beach town (Hua Hin) in the same province as the property we are buying so we could still do the paperwork process as only interprovincial travel was banned. Well, it turns out the property being in the father’s name and him being deceased the children had to process the inheritance before they could sell. I know, no surprise to most of you I’m sure, but things work differently here and I’m sure at other times it has been able to just jump that step. So we were told we would have to wait up to 90 days for the process to be complete.
So we extended the airbnb and had a real family holiday. We used the time to connect as a family but also to go out a couple times a week to the property and explore around, meeting neighbors and then clearing the perimeter for the land survey. That proved to be quite the job with giant fire ants and hairy tamarind (super itchy hairs worse than poison oak) everywhere but it gave us time to be out of the city and that was wonderful. This past Friday the survey was completed and now we are just waiting for an appointment to transfer the title. Oh, I forgot to mention that JFA loaned us the remaining funds that were needed to purchase the land and so we have been sitting here with all the funds just waiting for the paperwork. We just heard we received a large donation just this morning and now are only $1,100 away from paying them back for the total amount! We are so thankful to you all for your generosity and support.
It was great to be at the survey as the neighbors whose land borders ours had to come out and sign off the survey as well and it gave us a chance to meet them. One side is a large mango orchard that has been abandoned for a while and the jungle has reclaimed the land. The owner was very excited about us coming out and said that we will work together to make this area nice. He then was asking others how he can get someone out to help him clear the vines and jungle growth all over his trees. The neighbor on the other side said he will plant a lot of sugar palm trees and try to make his land nice as well. We had been out there at least 3 days/week for the last month with the tractor and chainsaw clearing the land and mowing the ‘grass’ to make it clear for the survey and it inspired them to do he same. Such a blessing. I also had the opportunity to share my testimony and reveal the power of God in His ability to change a life. We look forward to seeing what God will do in his new community.
In relation to sharing testimony; while we were staying in Hua Hin I met a young Thai guy on FB looking for a climbing partner. We connected a climbed a few times and then he wrote and said that it was his birthday the following week and he wanted to bring a group of friends to the gym to climb. We opened special for them on a Friday and I just spent the morning climbing and hanging out with them. They eventually took a break and were discussing the partying they were going to be doing over the weekend and I sat down with them. Somehow a transition came and I took the opportunity and started sharing how God had worked to bring me from a life of homeless drug and alcohol addiction to where I am today. A couple of the guys walked off but 2 sat and listened asking questions. At the end one guy said he had heard of stories like that but never actually met someone and that it was an inspiration to him. The other guy, who happened to be going to college near where I had grown up and was just here because school was online and “why not”, said that he was here searching for answers. His family was agnostic and never talked about anything beyond the scope of life but that this was something he was looking for. We had a good talk and I gave him the book Steps to Christ. He said he was interested to read it and we would connect again. When I asked how he came to be with this group of guys he said he had just met them at a party and they invited him along. God has amazing ways to draw us by His Spirit. Please pray for Luc (Luke).
Saw this guy at a local park.
While we were in Hua Hin we also spent a lot of time praying and planning for the property. We sought counsel from many people and then all of a sudden one day a couple was recommended to talk to about a gardening question I had. Later that day they were mentioned again about something else and I started praying. We knew this couple a little but but hadn’t really had much time together. We know one of their daughters very well as she would come and help out when Jessica was pregnant and then again when Asher was in the hospital for surgery. Jessica and I prayed together and talked and then contacted them. Jessica felt impressed to invite them down as we had an extra room in the house we were renting and they accepted. They came down for about a week and we had time to pray and talk together. Another few weeks of praying and Harvey and Brenda Steck accepted the call to join us! We were so excited. They have been here for about 10 years, most of that time serving as principal (Harvey) and nurse of the clinic (Brenda) at a refugee school on the border of Myanmar. They have a lot of assets to bring to the table and we are so grateful not only to have partners in this work but also a mature Christian couple that can also help guide and mentor us in this work together. Please pray for them as they prepare for the transition and that God can help us to unite together by His power and Spirit.
I will start digging out a septic system and building a standalone bathroom so we have some facilities to use and then my family will move onto the property in a 3 bedroom tent we purchased a few months ago. In the weeks following we will be leveling some areas and building some guest cabins first so we have a place to live while we build a house for us and the Stecks. Travis Sharon and his wife Becky who are serving up north have offered to come down and help us build off and on as time permits for them. They have built their own home and have experience with various other building projects. It is such a blessing to have their help and expertise. We plan to hire some local help to assist with the work and also to act as an introduction to the community. The local village headman that has been helping us this whole time says he will help us find honest workers that won’t take advantage of us based on our skin color. He has been an amazing asset as well. 3 years ago when we started guiding outdoor trips to this area and decided to bring all of our customers to his restaurant to get breakfast we just wanted to support the local community rather than big chain shops. We never could have guessed how much that support could have come back to help us. Praise Him for knowing the end from the beginning.
As we move forward we intend to (try) to get back to the monthly updates. We could really use a lot of prayer right now as we see so many things that God is doing and relationships that He is building and we want to be connected with Him so that we can be used by Him. Beginning building in hot season sounds terrible but God is faithful and it is better than trying to do it in rainy season. We are grateful for God’s provision and have some funds to begin the development. The current idea is to get a solar array set up and a solar pump for the well so we have power and water and then build as we have funds. Our goal is to be operational by the new year but we will keep things in God’s hands and not run ahead of Him. The renovation of the F5 Center took 18 months but the workers were only working part time and renovation is more time consuming than new construction, especially in a fully concrete set up; we had to run all new water and power lines through the whole building, etc.
Please continue to join us in prayer for this new aspect of the project. We will share a little more of what we are planning to do out there next month.
Lots of extra videos linked after the prayer requests
Many thanks for your continued and untiring support for the work here in Thailand. May you be rewarded abundantly through His grace.
Brian, Jessica, Asher, Joseph and Prudence Atwell
- That we can find the right workers with a heart to serve the Lord (we currently need one more to meet gov. requirements)
- For the resources we need, preferably through income sources, to cover our expenses. You can learn more below.
- For extra protection over our marriage and family as the enemy seeks to discourage and destroy Christ’s work. Pray especially for our children
- For guidance as to what we should do about the property for an outpost center and that the funds can come in to purchase it before the government calls another shut down and we are stuck in this city again. (Praise God we received a loan to buy the land and only owe $1,100 toward being fully paid off!!)
- Praise God. Some friends that have shifted directions in their ministry have offered to sell us their full size tractor with 4 implements for only $3,000! As soon as the property is secure we can take possession and pay as the funds are available. This will be a huge help in development (Due somehow to a misunderstanding on my part the tractor price was $5,000 not $3,000. We have taken possession but have not made any payments yet. It has been a huge blessing.)
- For time. We are told that the final movements will be rapid ones but there are so many here that have not had the opportunity to hear the gospel. May we have more time
- For guidance for Josh and Chitlada (Directors of Jesus for Slum Kids project). They have been seeing many changes in their work and they could use an extra special outpouring of prayer. Pray especially for their daughter Evangeline who they found out has Cystic Fibrosis and there is only a couple drs in Thailand that know anything about the disease. 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 (Thank you to those that have been praying. God has been doing some amazing things and helping these kids see and understand the love that God has for them through the love Josh and Chitty are showing them.)
These were wild in a local park by our AirBnB
Grass may be a bit overdue for a mowing
What things looked like a couple weeks ago
No animals were harmed in the filming of this
Those vines are amazingly strong
Just watch Asher (knew it would happen) he was fine after a while
Hauling out trees with retired climbing ropes
Pru and her family