This week I took a step back… from our building. I took a step back, looked into both open store fronts, and felt excited. On one side I can see the developing Bike Shop and on the other I see the profitable and popular Burger Restaurant.
In a sense I felt proud. I don’t say that to toot my own horn, I say that because it’s been a crazy difficult year. Instagram and Facebook show you the smiling kids, the waterfall pictures, and satisfied customers. But there have been moments where I wondered if it would all work out.
The truth is that my faith has been pushed to some new boundaries and beyond. Will we have the money to buy the grill this week? Where are we going to find a mechanic? How do the taxes for all this work again? Is this going to make enough money to pay these workers who are depending on us?
I stepped back and felt proud this week because despite all the hard questions, tough realities, and roadblocks along the way… it happened. And more than that… it’s worth it.
We had our Famous Ray’s employees over for Thanksgiving dinner. It was fun to introduce them to mac and cheese and stuffing while confidently saying how thankful we are for their friendship… for having a family in a world so far away from home. The relationships are so deep that we’re cheering for them at soccer and volleyball games, visiting their homes and meeting their families, and being involved in the development of their dreams.
Nali has recently used her savings from her job at Famous Ray’s to purchase a washing machine and start a laundry service to earn cash in her spare time. The long-term missionaries here helped her build a pricing list, work on a budget, and get started. We’re all so excited for her that we got her a business sign of her own! Paing is making and selling bracelets. He’s using his savings to take Thai language lessons in his spare time.
One of our team members this fall has been working with a local NGO to teach business to budding entrepreneurs inside the refugee camps. This week she arranged for the group to come to Famous Ray’s, eat lunch, and hear our business strategies. These are Burmese refugees who have fled to Thailand for a better life and are taking steps to create more opportunities for themselves.
It works. This model of missions and business is aiding our long-term partners, creating deep relationships with the opportunity to share Christ, and setting up ministry foundations to change more lives.
I’m hanging on to the hope and evidence of a working model because we need this bicycle shop to materialize and work. The young boy from the streets we’ve worked with these past several months is still fighting a battle for survival. He’s a prisoner of the poverty and mindsets learned on the streets and in the dump. Sticking him in a loving children’s home environment is good for him, but he doesn’t know that. So he has runaway to the streets so he can do life the way he knows and understands. This is a life where you take what you need, your dig through trash for a little cash, and sleep in the back of abandoned cars.
We want to help this kid and hundreds just like him out on Mae Sot’s streets. But honestly, without your help we can’t do it. We need to raise $21,000 to start the bicycle shop that will host a training and discipleship program for street kids within it’s doors. There are hundreds of other places to give this holiday season and I’m sure they are worth it too… I’m just telling you why THIS opportunity to give is worth your sacrifice and generosity. We still need $17,000. We’ve bought some inventory, painted and decorated the shop, ordered custom bike racks from the local welder, and paid for a marketing campaign. The next portion of funds will help us hire amazing employees that we can encourage and love just like those from the burger restaurant. Then we will be able to buy all the tools for repairs and maintenance that will set us up to train the kids. We can then use your donations to set the business up for success by paying for a second round of inventory, paying the initial building costs for a year so we know for sure the business is steady on it’s feet, and expand our marketing and influence.
These are the priorities that help us fulfill the vision. This is how we get kids off the streets and teach them to make better choices for their lives. Will you consider giving? Donate today via Papal on this page, http://www.changereality.org/projects or mail a check payable to Kingdom Inc. (memo – Bikes 4 Burma) to PO Box 98438 Atlanta, GA 30359.
I want you to be a part of this project, not just because we need funds to make it work, but because I want you to be able to step back, look at what you’ve been a part of building, and be proud of your efforts to change realities for those who desperately need help. Thank you everyone for your support – in all the ways you give it – I’m blessed by you.