The Bottom Line
Reaching Bangkok – Through Business
Thaddeus J Lozensky
Bangkok, Thailand, has a population of 14.5 million people. Less than one percent profess to be Christian, and the Seventh-day Adventist Church has a membership of only 1,500, most of whom are foreigners working in Bangkok as teachers for English-speaking students! Millions have never heard the name of Jesus!
Brian and Jessica Atwell have dedicated their lives to reaching the unreached in Bangkok. How did they come to be in Bangkok? Well, in 2012, they attended FaithCamp, a camp meeting devoted entirely to missions, organized by Jesus for Asia, a Seventh-day Adventist supporting ministry and ASI member, and were shocked by what they heard!
As Bible workers, Brian and Jessica had been taught and were teaching others that the work was almost finished, but in Bangkok the work had just barely begun! They knew immediately God was asking them to be a part of the solution and in 2013, with their baby boy Asher, they made the move to Thailand.
God directed Brian and Jessica to start a business that would enable them to build relationships with the souls in Bangkok. The Thai people are very relational and it takes much time invested in building relationships before it is appropriate to share the gospel. They found great encouragement in these statements from Ellen White:
“From India, China, Korea, Japan, South America, and Africa comes the testimony that the future successful missionary must himself be self-supporting and must teach his converts to earn their living” (PH012 12.3). “The old method of supporting missionaries by a salary from America is being superseded by the saner method of self-support. God is instructing Seventh-day Adventists to adopt this plan. We ought not to cling to the old method and let other denominations outrun us in this matter of reform” (PH012 12.4).
Stepping out in faith, Brian and Jessica registered a company called “New Start Foods,” which will be operated as a health and fitness center with the goal of reaching the Thai people with the health message. As the Thai people have adopted a western lifestyle, their health has degenerated greatly and because it is hot, they don’t like to exercise. As a result, issues such as depression, addiction, cancer, diabetes, and heart disease are destroying millions of lives.
The vision is to create a working model that can be reproduced by indigenous believers so the work can go forward in different parts of the city and country. They will have Thai young people serve alongside them during the start-up of New Start Foods, so they will understand how the business works and be discipled to carry it to other areas of Thailand and beyond.
This vision is materializing as you read this article! They have found a 14,000-square foot property very near Ramkhamhaeng University in Bangkok, and by God’s grace, the owner has agreed to rent the property for only $865/month on a five-year lease! Their plan is to renovate the four-story building to include a juice/smoothie shop, a fitness center with a rockclimbing wall, classrooms to teach English, and a house church.
Soon the paperwork will be finalized and work can begin on renovations. The project requires around $3,000/ month in financial support to pay the staff and overhead costs. As revenue increases, the need for financial support will decrease and these funds can be used to open new locations.
“Our heart’s desire,” says Brian, “is to show the Thai people a working model of how their businesses can be the starting point for sharing the love of Jesus with their community and the people they interact with every day.” God is taking them forward toward this goal one step at a time.
“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4).