Wednesday, February 5, 2020

February Update 2020

 Dear Praying Friends and Family,

We are constantly amazed at the way God works among new believers. As lives are being continually transformed after each encounter with the Living God, curious unbelieving friends and neighbors flocked to visit small groups that met weekly at various village church sites just to see what was going on. Humbly led by Mrs. Rate, about 18-20 vibrant young believers in Ksach Ampel (see a related story in September 2019 update) village faithfully met together a few times each week to sing hymns, worship God, and prayAs a result, their faith increased significantly while God often revealed Himself through answering prayers about their daily provisions and protectionRecently at our weekly village discipleship gathering, young believers excitedly took turns to share about miraculous stories that each had encountered with the Living God and how Jesus showed up in time of their great need 


Toul Prich village church
Jetra & the Water Buffaloes…

Jetra, aged 34peasant farmer mother of 4 small kids, prayed to receive Christ just two months ago after watching the amazing changes in her neighbor’s life! Recentlyin her desperate need to find food for her family, Jetra took her young children to a nearby almost dried up swampy rice field trying to gather small fish, crabs, snails, and other edible proteins. While her children were joyfully playing in a puddle at the edge of the field, suddenly a group beastly watebuffalo stampeded at full force running toward her direction! Panicking, she screamed and ordered her children to run and climb onto a nearby tree for protection, while she was still trapped in the knee-deep mud in the middle of the field! With no place to hide she  realized her life was in danger. She bowed down in a prostate position and uttered, “Jesus help!” She then added, “And suddenly, the buffaloes came to complete stop at about 10 meters away from me! They just stood there and stared at me! Then, they all walked away!” Everyone in the room who heard this incredible story was at awestruck as Jetra excitedly described her miraculous experience. She went on to share, “And the Lord Jesus not only protected me and my children, He also gave us bucket full of fish!”


Jetra, in yellow top, described how God rescued her from water buffaloes
Rate & Her Neighbors…

Mrs. Rate, a one-year old believer who is also a designated spiritual leader for Ksach Ampel village, shared how God had used her, recently, to stop two angry neighbors from hurting each other. Two of Rate’s neighbors were constantly in conflicts with each other.  During their frequent fights, they often screamed and called malicious names at each other. At the sounds of their shouting and cursing, Rate would stop from whatever she was doing and pray for her friends. Recently, in a heated and explosive argument, each of the two rivals grabbed a machete and marched toward each other in an attempt to brutally hurt one another! Seeing the commotions and feeling led by the Holy Spirit, Rate rushed into the scene, stood in between the two angry ladies, and with her hands pushing each of the two ladies away from each other, Rate shouted, “In the Name of Jesus Christ, I command you to stop this fighting!” Suddenly, they both stood still! Rate went on to explain that she spent the next few minutes reasoning with her friends not to fight saying, “Think of your family. Stop thinking about yourselves. You should start to think about your children. If one of you got hurt or killed, what would become of your children?” With that, both ladies became quiet, dropped their weapons, and then walked away. And for the next few days, Rate frequently visited her friends, one after another, reasoning with them not to fight any more. She then invited both ladies to join her nightly worship services. They did. And they continue to join Rate and others in worshipping the Lord Jesus, where about 15-18 adults meet regularly at Rate’s house for nightly worship service…

At a recent weekly discipleship class in Andong Chan village, Rate and her two friends were among the 24 students who sat in and had lively participated in Syna’s Christian Family class discussions! As one of the two ladies boldly shared, “We are no longer enemies. The Lord Jesus is helping us to become friends”, and another lady added, “We are now sisters in Preah yea-sue!” 


Syna teaching a Christian family class at Andong Chan village
After hearing these two amazing stories, other participants in the class were also inspired to share their own unique versions of God encountering stories…

Lang: From Slavery to Freedom…

Among the 52 people who got baptized on Christmas day, some of them are on fire for God! They were very bold in their sharing and witnessing Christ to their unbelieving friends and relatives. And some of them have led others to the Lord! 

Before surrendering his life to Jesus Christat aged 32Lang was a party goer and a constant drunkard of the town for the past 10 years. Although he is married with two small kids, Lang was not a responsible person at all. Instead, he was always wasting away his family income through a partying and drinking lifestyle. He was a slave to alcohol. One evening in late November 2019 after a drunken party, Lang had a nasty motorbike accident. According to the police reports and based on the nature and the descriptions of his accident, Lang should have dead. How he was kept alive was beyond human understanding. While lying in a hospital bed awaiting doctor’s reports and while processing his life journey, Lang’s elderly believing parents  pleaded with Lang to surrender his life to Jesus. Realized that he was kept alive for a reason, Lang surrendered his drinking habits and his whole life to Jesus. The Holy Spirit began to do some amazing works in Lang’s life. Lang found completely freedom in Christ! He not onlstopped drinking, he got so excited about God! Lang was among the 52 who got baptized on Christmas Day, and he is enrolling in Syna’s weekly Abundant Life discipleship class in Srae Nouy village! In class, Lang is like a sponge, absorbing in every topic discussed! While attend the Srae Nouy Alliance church, Lang sits in the front row always taking careful notes so he could pass on sermon messages to those who are in his small group. Yes! Already at three months old Christian, Lang is leading and teaching a small group at his hometown where about 18-20 people come for fellowship every week!  These people, after seeing the changes in Lang’s life, are curious about and interested to find out the “secret” of his success. Please pray for Lang and other new believers to remain steadfast with their new faith in Jesus Christ.

Lang, middle in light blue shirt, enjoyed a meal with friends
On-going Persecutions Amidst Freedom in Christ…

While some of the new believers are on fire for God, many of them are facing on-going oppositions from their unbelieving friends and relatives. Sadly, because of the severe attacks of the enemy, some have already drifted away from the truth. While some, because of economic reasons, had moved away to neighboring countries in search for jobs. Those others who remain in the country are facing daily life difficulties as their basic needs are not met. And with the Chinese New Year holiday which took  place recently, and due to family pressure, some young believers had turned back to their old ways of ancestor worships. While we rejoice at the many who joined the Family of God every week, we are sad to see to some of them have willingly walked away from the One True God…

Leadership Seminar…

As the number of new believers keeps on increasing every week, the need for solid biblical teachers to come along side us is crucial. While are grateful to have Aide Rose Fernandez help us with the kids ministries at Toul Prich and Toul Krous villages, we could easily use 2-3 other Khmer speaking Bible teachers to come along side us now…  To train and encourage others to teach, Rev. Bo Samoeun, our national ministry partner from Sveysisophon, was invited to teach on “How to Preach/Teach” workshop to potential local key church leaders. But among the 32 workshop participants, about 20 of them could read and write at minimum levels. Because their limited education, Samoeun had to go very SLOW.  And we still have a long way to go yet.  We are just grateful that these potential leaders showed interests and they were willing to try.  Please pray that God would either send us more workers/ helpers soon, or that he would raise ups leaders from within.


About 30 key potential church leaders participated in “How to Preach/Teach”  workshop
Dates and Events Needing Your Prayers…
1. Feb. 14-28: two of our dear friends from New York City will come to to help teaching leadership seminars to key church leaders in Anlon Veng & in the northwest region.
2. Feb. 17-18 is our next Poipet leadership class.
3. Feb. 10-12: Soeuth to Phnom Penh for Field Leadership Team (FLT) meeting.
4. March 12-13: Annual Prayer Retreat for IWs in Phnom Penh.
5. March 24-25: Next workshop on “How to Preach/Teach at Srae Nouy.
6. Please continue to pray for a potential piece of property which we hope to purchase sometimes this year for the Anlong Veng Ministry Center.  Pray that God would direct us to the right location and with right price.
7. Pray for protection for the new believers to remain strong in their spiritual walks.
8. Pray for the seven national youth committees who are busy preparing for the coming youth conference in April 7-9.

Please share with us what God is doing in your life.  We are very grateful for your on-going partnership in prayer ministries as well as through financial support through the Alliance Mission.

Blessings,
Soeuth & Syna Lao

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

January Update 2020

Dear Friends and Family,

Happy New Year! I trust you had a wonderful and merry Christmas.

It has been a very busy December for us with a lot of traveling and participating in Christmas events in the northwest region of Cambodia. Overall, we’ve participated in 15 Christmas events in December! So glad that Christmas season is behind us now, until next year. Here are some of the events took place since our last update…

                                                Three Events on Christmas Day…

Early on Christmas morning, we drove to pick up 11 church people from Toul Prich village to a house-church dedication service and a joined baptismal service at Andong Chan village-- their first time to visit and meet other believers from other villages. Upon arrival, we were cheerfully greeted with so many other believers! Soeuth spoke a house dedication message based on 1 Kings 8:22-53 to nearly 300 people who traveled from 13 other villages! The people sat tightly on a wooden floor inside the nearly finished small wooden house building.

300 people participated in house church dedication on Christmas Day!

Since it was not enough room for everyone, some people had to stand outside the house while peaking their heads in through the open walls to participate in the serve and to pay close attention to the message spoken from inside the house.  While Soeuth spoke with the adults in the house, Syna kept the little children occupied and entertained underneath the shade of a mango tree with coloring pages, plastic toys, and jump ropes. It was a joyful celebration…

At the completion of the house church dedication, followed by a joined meal, the same crowds excitedly turned to a nearby “pond” to witness another joyful celebration as new believers anxiously waited in two lines for their turns to get baptized! Being it is a dry season where water is scarce, local church leaders did their best, the night before, to build a dam in order to collect drips of water from a nearby stream.  At the beginning of the service, the water was still decent enough for new believers to wade into the pond with muddy soil underneath, one after another.  By the time the last person was done, the color of the water resembled the dirt of the village! Despite of the circumstances, everyone seemed excited. Altogether 52 people got baptized on Christmas Day!

52 people baptized on Christmas Day!

About 50 kids said the sinner's prayer at Toul Krous village

At three o’clock on the same day, villagers hopped onto their designated vehicles (“mechanical cow trailers”, motorbikes, bicycles, ox charts, and cars) and traveled 27 kilometers to another joined celebration at Sray Nouy village! Soeuth spoke a Christmas message from Luke 2:8-20. The host church generously provided delicious home cooked meals with red and green curry with rice noodles. Altogether about 300+ people participated.

Surprised Visitors…

December 27: while helping with Christmas preparations at Ang Salaa village in Poipet, God graciously protected Syna from a huge poisonous and deadly snake! Syna was sitting in a hut for at least 40 minutes wrapping presents and doing other decorations. Minutes after she left, a 26- inch Russel Viper was discovered hidden underneath a pile of wrapping papers, next to the same spot where she was sitting! In the same night at another village Christmas event, an Alliance church member killed a king cobra weighting 2.6 kilograms! The Church families from both villages enjoyed a feast of snake soup!

A king cobra visited a Christmas service

This deadly snake was spotted nearby a place where Syna was sitting!

First Christmas Service…

December 31: The first Christmas-evangelism outreach event took place at Toul Krous village. About 150+ people (mostly school aged kids and their parents who were not yet professed believers) participated.  The Srae Nouy kids did an excellent job performing a Christmas skit accompanied by a special choreography song.

Kids perform a skit at Srae Nouy Christmas event

At the end of an evangelistic message, Soeuth asked if anyone would like to pray to receive Jesus. About 50 people raised their hands and recited the sinner’s prayer after Soeuth! Only God knows the true motives and the sincerity of the hearts of those who prayed.  We simply rejoice that the opportunity was given and that the seed has been planted…

Soeuth spoke an evangelism Christmas message to about 150 school aged kids at Toul Krous village!
Youth Ministry…

The National youth committees had a productive meeting on January 4th to discuss about the up-coming youth camp.  The annual youth camp will take place at Rawling Highland Camp in Kampong Speu province on April 7-9, 2020. The theme of the conference is “First Love” based on Revelation 2:4. Please pray for the youth committees for the overall preparations and other needs required to run camp including guest speakers and seminary/ workshop leaders.  The estimated cost for traveling from Anlong Veng to the camp site, including meals on the roads to and from and the registration fee, is $38.00 for each camper. We are hoping to bring as many young people from Anlong Veng to the camps as possible. For most of them, this will be their first time in a youth event. So, if you are interested in sponsoring some young people to go to the camp, please let us know.

Our desire is to bring some of these Toul Krous kids to the camp in April

A Growing Team For Growing Ministries…

As this writing, we rejoice that our new team mate, Aide Rose Fernandez, has returned from the Philippines and will soon launch into the children ministries to the two nearby villages: Toul Prich and Toul Krous. Aide will be teaching evangelistic outreach-English classes to school aged kids. Initially, we plan to come alongside Aide until she feels confident enough on her own, then we will devote our focus on teaching discipleship and leadership classes at villages of distant places. Words cannot express our deep gratitude toward God for providing all needs concerning Aide’s housing and other logistic needs.

Dates & events needing your prayers…
  1. It’s wedding season in Cambodia.  Soeuth was asked to do two weddings in January, both of which will be the first Christian weddings in their villages.
  2. Jan. 12-15: Soeuth will take Jonathan back to school in Penang, Malaysia.
  3. Jan. 13-27: Syna will go to Colorado Springs for meetings and to visit family in MN & WA.
  4. Jan. 18: Soeuth comes back Poipet to resume teaching leadership class.
  5. Please continue praying for the potential land site that we hope to purchase, this year, for the Anlong Veng Ministry Center. Some of you have been very generous with your financial support toward this ministry project, so thank you! We’re almost there, about 80% of the total amount requested already received! Pray for the right location that would meet the needs of the community.
  6. Pray for the new believers who recently got baptized to remain steadfast with Christian walks.
Please share with us what God is doing in your midst.  Thank you so much for being partnering with us in the overall the Cambodian/ Anlong Veng ministries through your continuous prayers and financial supports toward Alliance Mission. We appreciate you!

Blessings,
Soeuth and Syna


Wednesday, December 18, 2019

December Update 2019

Dear Prayer Warriors,

Christmas greetings! Trusting the Lord that you have a Blessed and Merry Christmas. It’s been a very busy time for us: a lot of traveling, planning holiday events, and among other things. Here are some of the events took place since our last update…

Out With The Old, In With The New

Sam and Thoeun, a husband & wife couple from Toul Krous village, now in in their late fifties were both were former Khmer Rogue-child soldiers and were ancestor worshippers all their lives, until recently, when Christ was introduced to them by a believing neighbor. Although the Good News of Jesus was lovingly and persistently shared by a concerned Christian neighbor since early August, Sam and Thoeun were hesitant, thinking that Christianity was just another foreign religion. During a recent Buddhist religious holiday, Sam took his family to a local Buddhist pagoda as traditionally and culturally required of them. At a main ceremony, Sam accidentally witnessed two prominent religious leaders help themselves to the collected offering! Shocked and disappointed Sam pondered, “What kind of religion is this that even the leaders would dare to steal? Don’t they have any fear for God or fear for men? Is this religion strong enough to save me?”

In the months of October and November, Thoeun’s chronically poor health was turning worse. The family spent most of their savings seeking help for Thoeun’s rapidly declining health.  No matter where they turned, no medicine man, no Kru Khmer (witch doctors) and no clinic or hospital could help them. In desperation and at his last and final attempt, Sam took his wife to a provincial hospital. After staying in the hospital for many days and paying $30.00 daily for hospital fees, Thoeun’s health showed no improvement, and their financial resource was running low! After learning about their dire situations, we contacted our medical teammates in Poipet and requested for an immediate appointment. Using our ministry fund, we arranged for Sam and Thoeun to meet us in Poipet, where Thoeun was seen by Christian medical staffs. The clinic staff treated Sam and Thoeun with the utmost kindness, respect, and dignity. While staying with a family at Living Water Alliance Church, Sam and Thoeun also witnessed genuine love and concern from the believers of the Poipet area.  Many Christians, when visiting the couple, spoke kindly to them and offered prayers for Thoeun’s health…

A month ago, Thoeun had tearfully and hopelessly said goodbyes to her five adult children and 11 grandchildren before leaving for the hospital-- not knowing if she would be alive to come back home. Through prayers and also kind and loving care treatments she received from concerned medical staffs and from church families, Thoeun’s health was improving! Both Sam and Thoeun were back in Anlong Veng! After she prayed to receive Jesus Christ, Sam, the head of the family, took charge to remove and to demolish all religious shrines and many worship items from and around the house! He also cut off all spirit strings from the bodies of every family member! Immediately after prayer, we supplied Sam and Thoeun with Bibles, hymnal books, and an MP3 radio which contains an audio Bible along with many Bible stories which they often had played out loud every day! Sam and Thoeun with some of their grand kids joyfully attend the Toul Prich Alliance church! Both Sam and Thoeun are studying with us and preparing to get baptized on Christmas Day!

Sam and Thoeun encountered Christ's love in action after visiting Living Water Alliance church in Poipet
 A New Team Mate
A new team mate: Aide Rose joining the Anlong Veng ministries
After over two years of asking for help, God answered prayers and sent us a new team mate! Aide Rose Fernandez, an International Worker serving in Cambodia with the Bethlehem Star of Peace (https://coverage.or/missionary/aide-rose-fernandez) from the Philippines, moved to join the Anlong Veng church ministries on November! We rejoice for the way God had graciously provided housing arrangements for Aide. Her rented house is located just 300 meters away from our place! After spending Christmas holiday with family in the Philippines, Aide will settle in Anlong Veng. Please pray for smooth transition and directions as she will begin ministries alongside us…

Hong Kong

We had an amazing time fellowshipping and connecting with church families at the Alliance International Church (AIC) of Hong Kong. Our dear friends and host family, Pastor Joel and Becca Arndt received us warmly. On a Saturday morning service, Syna felt a special bond and immediate kindred connection after speaking to and fellowshipping with the Filipino ladies! So many of them, because of financial needs, left their families and loved ones behind in the homeland and went to work oversea as domestic helpers.

Posing with new friends: Filipino domestic workers in Hong Kong
 While some of them were blessed to have kind and godly employers who treated them with respect and dignity, but some others were not as fortunate. Even though every worker has a day off each week (mostly on Sundays), there was no place for them to spend or to enjoy their rest day-- except in parks, in street corners, or under the shades of trees.

During our visit, we were blessed with mostly beautiful sunny and cool breezy days. When out for a walk on a Sunday afternoon, we saw many sitting on mats and set-up tents in every street corner and under every tree where small groups of ladies (average ages their 30’s from the Philippine and from Indonesia) were joyfully and comfortably sitting in the open space chatting in their own languages. We could not help but wonder, what would become of this joyful fellowship if it was on a rainy day… Everything in Hong Kong was fascinating to us, as first-time visitors…

So many tall buildings in Hong Kong!
Soeuth with Pastor Joel Arndt, our friend and host

Family

While still in Hong Kong we got words from dorm parents that our youngest son, Jonathan, had an injury during sports practice, at Dalat International School, Penang, Malaysia! Naturally, the parental instinct kicked in and we became worried and concerned. But through frequent and detailed updates from both dorm parents and from a school nurse about Jonathan’s progress, and through many prayers from concerned friends and family, God calmed our anxious hearts. After being seen by a specialist at a local hospital followed by an MRI, Jonathan had a knee surgery, on December 5th, to repair a broken kneecap and some torn ligaments on his right knee. It could have worse. Because Syna was needed elsewhere, Soeuth cancelled two speaking events and went to be with Jonathan before and after the surgery. Praise the Lord! With the help of physiotherapy and many PRAYERS, Jonathan is on the road to recovery. Doctor’s recommendation: no more sport activities for the next six months…

Jonathan at physiotherapy after a knee surgery

 Spain

While Soeuth was busy helping Jonathan in Malaysia, Syna attended and participated in the Alliance Global Leadership Conference (GLC) in Malaga, Spain. Her first time in this part of the world. The conference was packed to the limit with scheduled activities and meal-meetings with leaders, team mates, and with old /new friends. Syna enjoyed long morning walks by the beach as the conference site being located by the beautiful Mediterranean seas accompanied by spectacular sunrise views.  Having a Sunday afternoon off, Syna joined friends and teammates to explore some of the most beautiful sites around Malaga. Having no previous experiences to compare, everything in Spain was fascinating…

Youth Rally

Immediately after returning from Malaysia, Soeuth wrapped up his message and last-minute preparations for a long road trip to join the northwest regional youth rally at Svey Sisophon. Normally at any big youth or church events we had had, Syna was often the one to organize meals and sleeping arrangements for church people who are from remote villages needing to spend a night at our place, before and after traveling to and from events. This time, solo—Soeuth, not only successfully hosted and fed 11 young people from the Anlong Veng areas, he also arranged transportation for 32 Srae Nouy kids to join the big crowd at the rally!

Toul Krous kids stayed overnight at our house before the rally
 Soeuth spoke a message from John 3:16 to young people. Immediately after the message, there were opportunities for lively small group discussions with thought-provoking questions and life applications. At the end of the discussions, Soeuth gathered up the group for a closing prayer, followed by an altar call where five young people prayed to received Jesus! Altogether, 250+ people participated in this rally!

Five youth prayed to receive Christ at a recent youth rally
About 250+ people participated in the rally

 Christmas Celebrations

At this writing, we are still early in the Christmas season. So, please stay tune for our next updates to learn more Christmas stories. So far, we participated in sixth Christmas celebrations and will have about 9 more events to go.  For many of those who attended and will attend these joyful events, this is their first Christmas ever!

Dates and events needing your prayers:

  1. Please continue praying that the fundraiser project for the Anlong Veng Ministry Center would come through quickly. Lord willing, we hope to secure a piece of property for this project before we go on home assignment. Pray for the right location of the land that would best meet the needs of the community. Some of you who support this project, THANK YOU!
  2. The number is being added every day to those who prayed to receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior! Most of them will be attending Christmas celebration for the first!  Please pray that their faith to remain strong even as some of them already faced persecution.
  3. Please continue praying for Christmas events being celebrated in Cambodia would bring honor and glory to the ONE we are celebrating.
  4. The Anlong Veng and Srae Nouy church ministries will have a joined baptismal service at Andong Chan village on Christmas. About 60+ people are prepared for this event.
  5. Dec.20-Jan 12: We look forward to having Jonathan home for the holiday and winter break. We hope to carve up some time for family in early January.
  6. Jan.13-27: Syna will travel to Colorado Springs and them some extra time visiting family…
Once again, thank you for your on-going partnership with the Anlong Veng and the overall Cambodian ministries. Your financial support to the Great Commission Fund enables us to keep on serving the Lord in this part of the world, bringing the message of Hope to the hopeless.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Soeuth & Syna Lao

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

November Update 2019

Dear Prayer Warriors,

Autumn greetings! For those of you who are living in the four-season North America areas, please enjoy the beautiful fall colors for us. It is rice harvest season for Cambodia. Due to severe drought we had earlier this year, the crops are not as plentiful as expected by the many disappointed farmers. Sadly, our church families in the rural areas suffer greatly as a result. Despite the failed physical crops, God in His faithfulness is encouraging and blessing the young believers who are from the Anlong Veng and Srae Nouy areas with a season of abundant spiritual harvest!

Rice harvest season in Cambodia
Grabbing the Opportunities…

Recently, Soeuth spoke the same message about “Jesus Heals a Man Born Blind” to two different village churches. After explaining Jesus’ words found in John 9:4 “As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me," Soeuth challenged the believers with a thought-provoking question: “How can you make someone feel special this week?” During the next few days, church families took this challenge to the next level. Mrs. Noun, age 40, a mother of two school-aged kids, a vibrance young believer from Toul Prich village who sells vegetables for a living, had a golden opportunity to share Christ with two other sellers at a local market! Mr. Savy from the same village church visited sick people at a local referral hospital where he was able to share a message of Hope to some patients. Encouraged by Savy’s message, a middle-aged couple accepted Savy’s invitation to come to church. At the end of the service, this couple prayed to receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior! Still a few other members from the same church continued to carry out this challenge seriously. In a Firm Foundation class recently, we were greatly encouraged to hear new believers earnestly praying for their unbelieving friends and relatives!

Noun (in green top) prayed for unsaved relatives at Toul Prich village
Firm Foundation Classes…

After a season of “in and out” with their Christian walks, the families at Srae Kandal village are back on track, this time with a full determination to resume Firm Foundation class! During a church service recently, there was a precious moment of genuine prayers for confession from the entire congregation! And as Soeuth was about to preach, a believing young mother who was living and working in Thailand called just in time to listen to the message online! We were quite impressed and thankful for modern technology. The connection was working well even in this remote and far away village!

Youth Rallies…

Oct 14-16: Riding in two vehicles, we traveled with 10 other KEC people to join the hill-tribe regional youth conference/rally at Rattanakiri province. During the long road trips to and from, we encountered some mishaps on the way, but God protected us all the way through. 398 people came to participate in this youth event…

Youth rally in Rattanakiki
398 hill tribe people participated in youth rally
Oct. 24: We also participated in another youth rally in the big city of Phnom Penh where about 80 people participated. Although the number is quite small compared to those youth from the hill-tribe people, this rally was a significant milestone to the people of the city areas. Due to lack of time and interest, young people from the city areas hardly had time for fellowship. This was one of the first large-group gatherings for this region! And we hope and pray that there will be more to come…

Tuesday Classes…

We always look forward to teaching discipleship classes on Tuesday at the Andong Chan and at Srae Nouy villages! People came to class ready to learn and always with eager participation! Due to the lack of/limited education from the students, the lesson content and class discussions were often geared toward oral learning. Recently, in Syna's Christian Family class at Andong Chan where 21 students participated, there were lively discussions in response to the question: “How can one ‘Seeks first the Kingdom and His righteousness’ and trying to live a godly lifestyle in the community while struggling against extreme poverty?” Mr. Kong responded, “I did not have enough money to buy fuel for my motorbike, but we needed to visit for a sick family in a remote place. So, I just trusted God and went. And God allowed someone to pay for the gasoline I needed." Still another lady answered, “My rice fields need to be harvested before the rains come. But coming to class today is important. So, I am trusting that the Lord would hold off the rains for the next few days." And He did! We are amazed everyday at the way God works among these new believers. As believers continued to put their complete trust in the Living God, He is working mightily in their midst stirring hearts and answering their prayers!

Kong’s Passion…

Oct. 29 -Nov. 1: We had an opportunity to host two Alliance film crew members who came to do a follow-up story on Mr. Kong. In one village where they were filming, Kong was supposed to “act” evangelism outreach for the sake of filming. But Kong, being passionate about evangelism by nature, grabbed the opportunity in a genuine and sincere way. His true passion was revealed whenever opportunities allowed for him to share Christ with others. Instead of acting, Kong boldly shared the Good News of Jesus to the many onlooking villagers. As a result, three people prayed to receive Christ as their Lord and Savior!

Kong sitting by his old motorbike leading a prayer service before class
Poipet Class…

It is always a joy every time we visited our dear friends in Poipet! In our recent visit, 34 people came to participate in a lively class discussion. It was encouraging to hear that recently the 8 Alliance churches in Poipet came together for a joined baptismal celebration where 38 people were baptized! Under Pastor Chean’s leadership, the Living Water Alliance church is doing well. And by the grace of God, the other seven smaller groups are also thriving.

34 people participated in the recent Poipet leadership class
The Field is Ripe for the Harvest…

As believers were inspired and encouraged to live out and share the Good News to their friends and relatives, more people are coming to church every week! Some have prayed to received Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior! Through the faithful efforts of evangelism from Godly servants like Pastor Dy (from Srae Nouy), Mr. Kong (from Andong Chan), the newly convert—Samuit (from Srae Nouy), Noun (from Toul Prich), and from many other faithful servants from other villages-- overall in the past two and half months, 72 people prayed to receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior!

Field is ripe for harvest but the workers are few
Soeuth led a family of five to receive Christ at a floating village

Other requests, dates & events needing your prayers…
  1. As we previously shared about the need to purchase a piece of land for the Anlong Veng Ministry Center, please be in prayer for this need. We are praying for the right location that will  strategically meet the needs for the community. If you are interested in supporting this project, please send your donation to the C&MA Office at 8595 Explorer Drive, Colorado Springs, CO 80920, please designate it to Anlong Veng Ministry Center. You can also give online at https://www.cmalliance.org/give. Please designate your gift to "Anlong Veng Ministry Center" with account number: 1-47200-46-64-01030. 
  2. Please pray for the new believers to remain strong in their walks with God in the midst of persecutions. 
  3. As Sumuit (Srae Nouy) is being used mightily to draw many other drunken men to Christ, he is facing tremendous spiritual warfare. Pray for overall protection for him and for other believers.
  4. Nov. 23: Next Poipet leadership class.
  5. Pray for the Christmas celebrations coming up in December as Alliance churches are busy planning events and activities. In the business of planning events, may we all remember the true meaning for the season.
  6. Nov. 28- Dec. 2: We will be speaking with and sharing about Cambodian ministries at Alliance International Church in Hong Kong.
  7. Dec. 3-11: Syna will attend the Global Leadership Conference in Malaga, Spain.
  8. Dec. 20: Our son, Jonathan will come home  from Dalat school for winter break.
Thank you for so much for your on-going partnership with the Anlong Veng and Cambodian ministries.  We appreciate your prayers and financial support. Please share with us what God is doing in your areas.

Blessings,
Soeuth & Syna

Saturday, October 5, 2019

October Update 2019

Dear Praying Friends and Family,

Greetings! We trust that all is well with you. During the entire month of September, local Khmer (Cambodian) people were celebrating Pchum Ben, a religious holiday centered around ancestor and family worship. This was one of the testing times for new believers as they were being pressured by family to go back to their old ways of life. Sadly, a few young Christians had turned back, but praise God for many new believers who are still standing strong and firmly committed in their new faith to follow the One True and Living God! And MANY new and exciting developments including some sad news took place since our last update. Below are just a few of these events…

Youth Rally…

Sept 7th: Despite the many washed up, terrible roads because of too much rain, the recent regional quarterly youth rally went well. Riding in three vehicles, we brought along 38 young people from Anlong Veng and more from five other villages around Srae Nouy to join the rally. Pastor Chean from Living Water Alliance church (from Poipet) did an excellent job delivering an encouraging message to the young people challenging them to live godly characters in their communities. Altogether, 114 young people traveling from five different provinces participated in a joyful youth rally Svey Sisophon!

Damaged roads resulting from too much rains
114 people participated at a recently KEC youth rally
 A New Established Alliance House Church...

New believers from Popel village (about an hour drive north of Srae Nouy Church) have been crying out for help since early June requesting the need to establish a church gathering in their community.  While their request was legitimate and the need was obvious, we had no one available to go out to help this group of vibrant believers. While patiently waiting for church leaders to make a decision, this group of eager believers was willing to travel over an hour distance riding in a “mechanical cow” open trailer going over bumpy and red-dirt dusty paths to join the weekly church service at Srae Nouy Alliance church. To get ready for church day, the families would wake up at 4 am to prepare a meal for the long journey to church. Every week, about 20 people came to church consistently both young and old. Finally, on September 11th, their persistent request was honored. With Pastor Dy’s arrangements, we joined the first church service at Popel village. Five of us were riding in our truck traveling from Srae Nouy to Popel. Upon arrival, the generous host families (28 of them) received us warmly with seasonal fruits and soft drinks. Soeuth spoke an encouraging message from Matthew Luke 13:22-30, “The Narrow Door." They all paid closed attention to every word spoken! Those who could read and write took careful notes of the message they heard! It appeared that everyone of them was so genuinely hungry for the Word! At the end of the service as we were about to say goodbye, a middle- aged lady shouted, “Wait! Don’t go yet. We have food prepared for you!” And they brought out a three-course meal for everyone to enjoy. As of Sunday afternoon, September 15th, the Popel Alliance house church held their first Sunday church service with a young couple from Srae Nouy (through Pastor Dy’s arrangements) as their key leaders. Some of the potential church leaders from this village already enrolled in a new study discipleship class at Srae Nouy...

A new Alliance house church started at Popet village
Two New Classes Started…

Since early August to the end of September, at least 35 people (from four different, but nearby villages) prayed to receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior! In response to the needs, we added two new classes at Srae Nouy church. With everyone in agreement, and to protect our rest/ Sabbath day, the regular Monday classes are now switched to Tuesday. As often practiced at Andong Chan village, after a 9 am joined worship service followed by a time for “Share & Prayer” requests, we broke into two classes: Soeuth teaching Pentateuch level 1 while Syna taught Christian Family. And because Srae Nouy is only 30 kilometers away, we agreed to teach two more afternoon classes on the same day to a new group of students as Srae Nouy: Soeuth teaching Theological Education by Extension (TEE) to five potential emerging leaders while Syna taught Abundant Life class for new believers. Few students from Syna's class can read or write. But some of them were willing to sit through the entire classroom hours (through oral learning style) while staying engaged and participating in class discussions as much as possible. Pray that these students learn well and would be able to retain information and apply the lesson to their lives and pass on what they learned to others.

9 students enrolled in Abundant Life class at Srae Nouy church
Soeuth teaching a new TEE class at Srae Nouy
Funerals…

On Sept 11th, we received a sad new that one of our dear friends, Mrs. Nehm Youla, aged 60, a widow and a devoted mother of four young adult children, from Poipet, a faithful disciple and a humble servant of Jesus Christ, went Home suddenly to be with her Maker. Since our early days while serving in Poipet (since July 2003), Youla was our faithful student 16 years! She loved to study and then taught others God’s words. She was a not famous lady but a very poor yet very kind and generous and humble lady. At her funeral, more than three hundred people from around the country attended! Everyone who came to her funeral spoke highly of the amazing impacts she had on each of their lives. Since it had rained hard the night before and early morning before burial time (Poipet roads are famous for their black sticky clay like dirt), we thought not too many people would be willing to risk their way to the burial site. As it turned out, more than 200 people showed up at the site. It was a powerful testimony to believers as well as to local unbelievers watching the long funeral procession lovingly paraded by friends and family riding on 18 vehicles and 50 plus motorbikes! It was the biggest Christian funeral we had ever attended in all our 24 years of serving in Cambodia! Youla loved her God and loved His people so dearly, and God honored her on her going Home party…

Soeuth spoke at Youla's funeral
We arrived late on Saturday night from Poipet, a very exhausting trip, but had to get ready for two Sunday village churches. As we were waking up on early Sunday morning, Pastor Dy from Srae Nouy called to report that another funeral took place, this one at the remote village of Ksach Ampel! And “It needs to be done today!” An elderly man Laa, aged 72 years old had suffered from multiple chronic illnesses. After learning he had been laying helplessly in bed sick for very long time, Kong from Andong Chan village along with local believers from Ksach Ampel had made frequents visits to his house to pray for and to encourage the poor family. Through Kong’s passionate sharing about the One True God, Laa prayed to receive Jesus into his heart, just one week before Laa went home. Because of distant location and with the challenges of tropical weather, the funeral plans had to be done immediately. Being that “Uncle Laa” had genuinely and sincerely believed in Jesus, his two adult children, though not yet believers but through Pastor Dy and Kong’s encouragement, were willing to have the funeral done in a Christian way. It was the first Christian funeral in this village!

First Christian funeral service at Ksach Ampel
About 80 believers from seven different villages came to pay respect to Uncle Laa and to support his surviving family. Please pray for Laa’s family and for the believers in Ksach Ampel village. This house church just came together recently to start a church service in their community and already they experienced some challenges and difficulties as part of the Christian calling. And being that this time of the year (Pchum Ben holiday) is one of the testing times for new believers in Christ, pray that these newly Christians would remain faithful to the One True God…

More than 200 people showed up at poor a widow's funeral
9 Drunken Men Found Complete Freedom in Christ…

In our last update we shared (briefly) about Samuit, a drunken man, who found completely freedom in Christ.  Here is a short version of Samuit’s incredible and amazing journey…

Samuit, aged 43, a wife-beating husband and an abusive father to eight small kids, was always drunk. He started to sample beer and rice wine since his late teens. Soon he became known as the “king” of the addicts among the Srae Nouy community. Samuit was not only abusive to his wife and to his children, he was always a “trouble maker” in the community, especially whenever he got drunk, which was almost every day for the past 20 plus years! He was arrested “too many times to count." Sometimes, because the Srae Nouy jail was “always full” of drunken and violent men, there was “no room for one more." It was public knowledge among the Srae Nouy community that Samuit was a scoundrel, a forever drunken trouble maker,  always violent, abusive, and just a pure evil man. That was Samuit before he met the Lord Jesus Christ… In the late Sunday afternoon of August 18, 2019, after a few scary experiences of encountering with the Living God, Samuit finally surrender his right, his drinking habits, and his entire life to Preah-yea-sue! After Pastor Dy from Srae Nouy Alliance gently led Samuit in the sinner prayers, he experienced immediate transformation! Samuit not only stopped drinking, but said “Even the smell of alcohol makes me want to vomit!” Instead of drinking, Samuit was often found listening to the Bible stories from his small precious device, an MP3 bible radio! Since being sober and completely freed from alcoholism, Samuit is being used very powerfully and effectively in reaching out to other drunken men to Christ. As a result, 8 other drunken men prayed to receive Christ and they also experienced complete freedom from any urge or desire to drink! When approaching a friend or a relative and when persuading someone to consider Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, Samuit simply stated, “You knew who I was. And you can see with your own eyes who I am now. What more proof do you need to convince yourself that Preay yea-sue (Jesus) is for real? As a result, many people who had close relationships to Samuit came to church willingly and had prayed to receive Christ as their Lord and Savior! Already, Samuit brought 19 people to the Lord, including his elderly mother, his aunt, his 8 drunken friends, his two adult siblings, three of his own kids, and a few more! Samuit is currently enrolled in Abundant Life class for new believers at Srae Nouy Alliance church. Only the One True and Living God can transform lives!

Samuit, wife, and baby on their old bike with Pastor standing behind
A Special Need…

Although we already had an Approved Special by the C&MA National Office to raise fund for Anlong Veng Ministry Center (1-47200-46-64-01030) before we arrived in Anlong Veng, we purposely have not made it a public request for the following reasons: We wanted to come to meet with people of the areas, to observe first hand where the specific needs are, to scout out for potential ministries, and to explore the land first before making any decision.

As some of you who have been faithfully following our monthly updates, you would have realized that, before coming here, we were not even aware of any existing churches or any Alliance churches in Anlong Veng. But shortly after we settled down by early October 2017 and after we met with Pastor Dy from Srae Nouy Alliance and with Mr. Kong from Andong Chan village, we learned that there were already five existing young Alliance house churches located around Anlong Veng and Srae Nouy areas! The people in these house churches are either related to or have some connections to Mr. Kong. These groups of people, after hearing Kong’s powerful testimony of how God miraculously saved his life, prayed to received Christ as their Lord and Savior! So, for the past two years, we have been intentional in investing our time, energy, efforts, resources, and many prayers to training leaders and teaching discipleship classes ever since. And YOU have been our faithful prayer warrior and ministry partner in this movement. Through these joined efforts, God has been very gracious to stretch our ministry boundaries where we now have a total of 12 Alliance village-house churches scattered around Anlong Veng and Srae Nouy areas! Without a doubt, we firmly believe that God had sent us here at just the right time to join Him where He was already and is still at work stirring hearts and transforming lives for His kingdom purpose. And now, we sensed that God is calling us to the next step, to purchase a piece of property for the Anlong Veng Ministry Center with an Approve Special serial number provided above. Please prayerfully consider joining us in this next movement.  We are looking at a piece of property located between two primary and middle schools between Toul Prich and Toul Krous villages. If God is willing, we hope to secure this piece of land before we return to the States, June 2021, for our furlough/home assignment year.

Toul Krous village kids get warmed up before soccer game

Additional dates and events needing your prayers…

  1. Oct. 5: our next National KEC youth committee meeting in Phnom Penh.
  2. Oct. 12-20: Jonathan coming home for fall break
  3. Oct. 14-17: the KEC youth president and some National youth committees will be traveling with us to a youth rally at Rattanakiri Province
  4. Oct 19: We will join the northwest regional church committees to visit Alliance house churches in Mart Klaa and Kamong Klang floating villages.
  5. Oct. 29-Nov. 1: Alliance film crew to visit Anlong Veng ministries for a follow up story on Mr. Kong
  6. Nov. 1-3: Northwest regional Alliance women to visit Anlong Veng ministries
  7. Next Poipet leadership classes: Nov. 1 and Nov. 23
  8. We are so excited for Aide Rose Fernandez who would, soon, join us in the Anlong Veng ministries.  Please pray for the right-price, right location, and safe housing arrangements for her.
Thank you again for your on-going prayers and support. Please share with us what God is doing in your areas.

Blessings,

Soeuth& Syna Lao