Serenity Prayer

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Oh how much this prayer has meant to me lately.

I feel like every month I sit down, open my computer and go to the newsletter from last month to see where I left off and what answers we told you would come this month. Every month I feel like I had forgotten an entire month’s worth of ups and downs that as I read them sound more like some kind of adventure plot from a movie than someone’s actual life, let alone my own. I can read through the Bible and see so many stories of incredible things happening and write them off as being from “back then.” The reality is that God still does amazing things when we let Him. But so often I am the biggest hinderance to His progress. Last month I shared about how so often I wish that we could have been called to something “easier.” Honestly I wouldn’t have it any other way than it has been. God knows what we need to learn and what will help us grow and He allows those things in our lives. Most of the trials in my life lately have simply been hard because they cause me to step out of myself and let God have control and control is something I don’t like to give up. That little prayer above has been recently brought back to my attention and I have used it regularly. I spend so much time and energy on things that I have no power to change and then I seek to hide from the things that I could change. Regularly I don’t ask for wisdom because I think I am wise enough already. God has really been providing experiences lately to help me see just how much I need Him and bring me back to a place of surrender. Looking through our newsletter archive I feel that my experience very closely parallels the book of Judges while I am all along wishing it paralleled the book of Acts. Don’t misunderstand me, we are not worshipping idols or anything like that, but the fact that God does amazing things for us one month and the next I can be so fearful about a bill or something is just beyond me.

We had the blessed opportunity to see God convert a heart this last month. A young friend of ours, Chompoo, has been really struggling for a while. She was raised in the Church; her father was a pastor actually, and she has gone to church and been involved 24879291_485475961853195_1107686549_o.jpgever since we have known her. But she has also been in a very bad relationship with a man almost twice her age who is an atheist and very against her service in the slums. Every week at church she would cry during the sermon and afterward would talk to whoever the speaker was and say God was telling her to end the relationship. But the next day that would be forgotten. It came to a point that one day in my morning prayer I felt God clearly say that she needed to be removed from her leadership role. She is in charge of the kid’s program in the slum church and it was a very bad witness to those kids that she knew she was doing something wrong but continued doing it anyway. She was asked to step down. She cried a lot; she loves the kids, but she wasn’t willing to follow the Bible’s counsel. It was probably close to 3 months later that we went to the church campout and the leaders announced where the kids should go for the kid’s program and then turned to this young woman and said, “We didn’t plan a kids program, can you do one?” She asked the leader of the slum project and he asked, “Have things changed?” She said no. “Has God changed?” he asked. “No,” she replied. “Then I think you have your answer.” She sat down and listened to the testimonies and near the end approached Josh and said she wanted to take the first step toward God. Well over the last month she broke up with that man and has moved forward in building a relationship with the One Man that truly loves her. One thing that amazed me was when she shared that the first time she ever heard about having a personal relationship with God was at our house. She had never heard about a personal relationship with God as a Christian for 26 years! Well this last Sabbath I felt impressed that during my sermon time I should share about the pearl of great price and then ask her to come up and share her testimony. It was powerful and this time I sat in the audience and cried as I heard how God had changed her life. She 24826025_485475975186527_419571066_o.jpgsaid it was the point she was asked to step down from helping that she knew something had to change but she decided she liked the relationship more. Shortly after she realized she couldn’t hear God’s still small voice anymore and was afraid God had left her. Then one week I was preaching and Asher was playing on a chair in the front row. I told him to stop playing on it. Shortly after he fell off the chair and bumped his head. She told the story this way, “I expected you to be angry with him and yell at him for not obeying you. But you jumped down in the middle of the sermon and picked him up and hugged him and checked to make sure he was ok. I thought that maybe this is how God feels about me.” She had always thought she served an angry God out to punish her whenever she failed. She learned the reality through that experience. It really showed me the impact of the idea that we need to preach the Gospel, and when necessary use words. I went through all kinds of studies with her about God’s love but SEEING love is what she needed. This was almost 4 years in the making but God’s timing is always perfect.

I have been shown that a lot of my faith has been in man. I have believed that we will have what we need when we need it because Jesus for Asia is promoting us on t.v. and the internet. I know that someone’s heart will be touched and they will support, but my thoughts haven’t been on the One touching the heart. Well this last month I was stressing on filling out applications for the GC funding grant for Urban Centers of Influence. We are going to need money to operate and I thought that this would be the “easy” way to get some funding for a while. While I was doing research trying to get the proper information ready I received a message from a guy I had heard from a month or so before. He had said he and his wife would be heading to Thailand for a vacation and wanted to see if there was any way they could volunteer. We talked and agreed to stay in touch. He wrote me that morning asking how we were doing on the $8400? I shared that we had just gotten ANOTHER $10,000 and told him the main renovation cost we still had was the flooring in the church and the rest was furnishing. He responded with “That’s great you received that $10k! I have some more great news. I just settled a big case which I had promised God I would give half of my portion of the settlement to your ministry. So the good news is I’ll be sending you about $35k. The bad news is it will take 2-3 months before I get paid. But hopefully I can get it by late January.” We had scheduled the team to come out in March (6 flights already booked) to build the climbing wall not yet having a single dime donated toward it and in one day almost the entire amount needed was pledged. Talking with Jessica afterward she said that God had given us almost $50k in the last 30 days. God really spoke to me through this AGAIN that I don’t need to worry about the finances. Somehow satan is able to regularly block my memory of all that has been provided thus far to make this project a reality and it hasn’t been because of my promotion or Jesus for Asia’s tv show (no offense guys) it is because there is a God in Heaven who loves these Thai people and desires them to know it. He is carrying this forward and He will continue to as long as we stay out of the way. If you are not familiar with it, read the history of the founding of Loma Linda University. All it took to build that giant place was one man, John Burden, that was just wise enough to trust God’s leading and move forward regardless of the circumstances. {Side note: John Burden is number 8 in the list of people who received the most letters from Ellen White and not once was he rebuked or corrected, he just followed the counsel given.} While I am not comparing myself to brother Burden I do know if I step back from the helm and focus on swabbing the deck every now and then, God can direct us in amazing ways.

Jenny, the nanny that came back with us from our last trip to the States, has decided to move out. Shortly after arriving she shared with us that she didn’t like children so naturally that left us in an awkward place. We sat down and discussed it a month and a half ago and listed some options. She informed us the other day she chose to find her own place and continue language study on her own. She moved out this last Sunday. Thank you to all who supported her with your prayers and financial gifts. We have informed Jesus for Asia she is gone and will not be accepting any more donations for her so if you would like to continue supporting her please contact her personally to work out how best to do that.

I also mentioned last month about the accident that Josh and his wife (the directors of the Jesus for Slum Kids project) were in on their motorbike. Praise God they were able to raise the money needed to buy a vehicle and they got a nice one. They have had some other hard-hitting situations to their ministry with one of the students they sent to Chiang Mai Adventist Academy attempting suicide in the dorm. Some other missionaries took her to the hospital where her stomach was pumped and then Josh and Chitty flew up the following day. They found out that she had been sexually abused by her father figure and had told a doctor who prescribed her Zoloft. That drug has been banned in America to people under 20 or so because of the high rates of suicide attempts on it. When they took her back to the doctor they said they didn’t know why she did that but 24819192_485474015186723_1331194049_o.jpgfor her to keep taking the meds and they would run a test next month to see if there was any issues, they also suggested locking her up for 30 days in a psyche ward. Josh and Chitty prayed and felt God wanted them to move up with her and take her into a home with them as their child. They moved last week and are trying to settle into this life. This has put a hard strain on the ministry in the slums as they were carrying a majority of it on their shoulders. Please pray for God to strengthen the other members to rise up and stand in the gap. Also for Josh and Chitty to have the love of Christ flowing through them to show this young girl that she is valuable and there is something to live for. I also mentioned I would be running a half-marathon to help raise money for the scholarship program. With the setbacks here I have prayerfully changed the cause I will be running for to support a Pakistani refugee family from our street. Jessica is going to write a newsletter about them in a week or so but just to get the info out since time is short; they have been in Bangkok for a long time waiting for the UN to process their application for asylum. Just over a year ago the father was placed in a detention center as they have no visa and are here illegally. The two children, 16 and 14 live in a studio apartment with their mother. They are needing to raise the equivalent of around $1,600 to get their father out. The only catch is that they have to wait for the UN to send their card showing they have a case open. Please keep them in prayer and if you are willing to support this family by sponsoring me in the half marathon you can do so at this link. Please mark the donation “Refugee Run.”

I want to ask for special prayer. In prayer God has revealed to me just how scared I am. During this YEAR of renovations I have felt stress, worry, anxiety, etc. Well now we are basically at the end and I am terrified. I felt comfortable with the construction aspect of things; I have a lot of experience in that line of work. But now we have this giant Center and I am supposed to run it. I need to get uniforms made, business cards for the management staff, get the right appliances for the kitchens, come up with a menu and275245 then just go through the daily operations of things. I am so uncomfortable with that idea and feel so unqualified. But that is why God has placed me in this position I know. I know that the fear I feel is the fear of failure and that worries me because I feel I will lose the approval of others. God is really showing me the motivation in my heart and the fears that I struggle with and for that I am so grateful. But self-knowledge isn’t enough; it then requires action. So I am asking that you would all please lift my family and I in prayer as we begin this phase of our journey. Please pray that I can give everything over to God and allow Him to direct this Center. That I would be able to move forward not thinking about the thoughts and opinions of others but focusing solely on bringing honor and glory to God alone.

As for the building; we have had the a/c installed and are doing final finishing work. We still need to furnish the kitchens and apartments, the church needs flooring, chairs and PA equipment and we need a few sofas and coffee tables for the cafe. We are moving forward and will be open by the new year but have given up setting a date as it has IMG_1349.jpgfailed every other time. We will open when everything is finished. Tong and Wiang, our management team, have been awesome and very resourceful. He has used all the old teak wood from the old door and window frames and made a few coffee tables, some frames for mounting counters in the control room, a desk for his room, a bathroom counter and now is working on beds for the apartments. That is saving a lot of money and getting us quality furniture.

Thank you all for your continued prayer and support. This work would not be possible without each and every one of you.

In His service, by His grace,

Brian, Jessica, Asher and Joseph Atwell

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Prayer requests:

  1. That we can find the right workers with a heart to serve the Lord.                             (We have had many applicants lately, please keep us in prayer to know the right ones.)
  2. The team building the climbing wall is searching for a welder still. Please let us know if you know someone capable and willing.
  3. For the $8400 still needed to pay off our open bills with our contractors by Nov 19.         (Praise God $10k was given and we closed the contracts with the General Contractor)
  4. For donors to sponsor the fitness center/climbing wall construction              (Roughly $5,000 needed to complete) (PRAISE GOD FOR THE INCREDIBLE ANSWER TO PRAYER IN $35,000 being pledged!
  5. For the funds to finish the renovations and furnish the center                        (Roughly $10,000 still needed to complete) After our last newsletter we received a donation of $10,000 toward renovation costs!
  6. For extra protection over our marriage and family as the enemy seeks to discourage and destroy Christ’s work
  7. For the planning of TYC (Thai Youth for Christ) conference at the end of July
  8. 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
  9. For our website development. I have very little experience with this but God has been guiding and it looks pretty good. You can view it here F5BKK.com
  10. 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. 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.                                                            (Pray as the directors seek guidance in their new mentorship role that they may reflect Christ’ character more fully)
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3 thoughts on “Serenity Prayer”

  1. Dear Brian & Jessica,

    Wanted to take the time to let you know I’m very proud of you.

    I enjoy getting to read about all your lives. The way you describe it all makes me feel as if I’m right there with you.

    I appreciate your honesty Brian about what you go through and your true feelings about it.

    Your fear of failure is such a common feeling when stepping out of your comfort zone. There is no doubt in my mind that you both will be wonderful at running the center along with those you have chosen and will choose to help you.

    And awww, the serenity prayer is an amazing prayer!!! Every single time I’m feeling overwhelmed with the uncertainty and worry about something and unable to get to sleep because of it i remember, yes the serenity prayer will bring peace. I’ll say it once, then I’ll say it again and the next thing I know I’m waking up in the morning. Is quite remarkable…..

    Wishing you continued success with all you have been called to do.

    We of course, as always miss you!!!

    Love you and think of you daily.
    Aunt Robyn

    P.S. Please give those little sweet sweet boys hugs and kisses from me.

    Like

  2. Amen. We are SDA Filipino Community here in Thailand. We pray to be actively involved in GOD’s ministry among the buddhists.
    GOD bless

    Like

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