Wednesday, July 8, 2020

July Update 2020

Dear Praying Friends and Family,

For those of you from America, Happy belated Independence Day! In Cambodia, we are at the beginning of a monsoon season. It rained hard every day, mostly in the late afternoons, causing landslides, erosions, and damaged roads making traveling difficult as we tried to do weekly village ministries.

We were confronted by damaged roads on our way to Rohaal village
Rains, Roads, and Floods...  

Earlier this week in an attempted to a weekly discipleship class at Rohaal village and after an hour of twists, turns, and bumpy pot-holed paths, we had to turn around due to severely washed up and damaged roads. And since we were stuck in a remote location with no cell phone connections available, by the time we got back home to Anlong Veng to let the expecting host family know, the villagers had been anxiously worried and waiting for us two hours with everyone wondering why we did not show at the expected time. Through a phone call, we learned that the villagers had been expecting us and had gone into much trouble to prepare a three-course meal ready for everyone to eat at lunch time. About 20 people were waiting for us including 2 new God-seeking ladies! These ladies were interested and hoping to hear what we had to share about Jesus. Our hope and prayer is that these two (and more) will remain interested when we go see them again next week this time by motorbikes. Please pray for spiritual protection upon these new believers as they continue to worship God on their own in a faraway location.

After two days of rains, floods water nearly reached floor of the Anlong Veng bridge.
Abundant Spiritual Harvests…

In our last update, we shared about four new village churches planted during Covid restrictions. At this writing, God added three more villages to the list! For the past few weeks, we had the joy of seeing so many people coming to Christ! On an average, about 3-5 people prayed to receive Christ every week! From all 17 Alliance village churches in the entire Anlong Veng Ministries, at least 50 plus people prayed to receive Jesus in the past 10 days! Every week during evening worship or during classes as believers saw God at work (people with demon possessed set free, people with chronic illnesses became healed, and a young man severely lame from birth got healed right in front of a large crowd), Christians and not-yet Christians were talking among each other about these miracles and wonders. As a result, at our discipleship and leadership classes, more and more people joined in the existing classes every week because, “We cannot wait any longer for you to start a new class! We want to study God’s word now." These were commonly expressed by new believers. Between the two of us in addition to Pastor Dy from Srae Nouy and his oldest son, Po, we have 11 discipleship and leadership classes going on every week. During evening times, every potential emerging church leader split into small groups with two or three “leaders” per group leading/teaching smaller groups in Bible studies and prayer meetings at every village church. Currently these potential emerging leaders are diligently studying with us 1-2 classes per week while they themselves are learning and practicing their spiritual gifts to lead and teach others during the evening small group services.

Believers were anxious to attend a weekly discipleship class
An 81 years old elderly lady prayed to receive Jesus in Sanchey village
Disciples Making Disciples…

During the early stages of Covid restrictions where large group gatherings were banned by local authorities villages classes cancelled. Still we encouraged our students to review and practice the lessons they learned and then to share the information with any interested believers in the areas.  Shortly upon resuming classes in early June, Syna gave a mid-term exam to 9 students in her Abundant Life class at Srae Nouy. Everyone not only passed the exam, but also did exceptionally well. Lang from Srae Nouy (please see Lang’s detailed story found in Feb 2020 update “From Slavery to Freedom”) received 100% mark! A week late, Lang surprisingly asked for copies of a new test exam. Syna gently explained that in order maintain the quality of the course, no student was allowed to keep any copy of the test sheets at home. Lang responded, “Oh, these tests are for my students. You told me that I could teach other people about God using the lessons I learned. During Covid, I taught people in my village about God. And now they are ready for the test.” When asked how many people he was teaching, Lang answered, “Oh, only about 30 people. But, some of them cannot read or write yet, but they were willing to sit in and participate in class discussions while I taught. So, can I have the test sheets?” Surprised and amazed about the wonderful news but trying hard not to reveal her inner excitement, Syna reluctantly gave the test copies to Lang in addition to a copy of a teacher guide booklet while encouraging him to strictly follow every instruction found in the teacher guide manual in order to protect and to preserve the quality of the course.

Seeing the opportune moment, Vanna from Popel village (See Vanna’s story in “The Well of the Living Water” in June 2020 update) found courage to ask for the same privilege. Like Lang, Vanna also led a group of 12 students in his village using the same Abundant Life materials to teach others in his village about Jesus. Then, Martha from Trapang Krasang village, one of the 28 students in Christian Family course, has been faithfully sharing every lesson she learned to all her brothers and sisters at home. Similar stories also happened to Noun, Kane, Savy, Pheap, and to Seng-- all of whom are from Toul Prich village. These people have been memorizing Biblical stories they learned from Firm Foundation class and then shared the stories with all their relatives and friends in the community and are winning souls into the kingdom of God.

Christian Family class at Andong Chan village
It has been an on-going prayer request for us, and we asked YOU to join us in prayers, that God would send us workers and that He would raise up emerging leaders from within to help us teaching new believers among the Anlong Veng growing church ministries. Because you prayed, God raised up godly leaders like Pastor Dy, Kong, Poss, Po, and few others to help teaching and guiding new believers in the truth of God’s word. Thank you for your prayers.  Please do not stop praying for more workers.  The spiritual fields are ripe for the harvest.

Toul Prich Youth Ministry…

Because schools remain closed due to Covid, local kids are feeling restless at home with nothing much to do. Since early June as the country is slowly reopening, especially in the countryside areas, Aide Rose (see Aide’s story found in “A New Teammate”, Dec. 2019) gradually resumed her kid ministries in Toul Prich and Toul Krous villages.

Aide in (black top) washing dishes with Toul Prich youth after a youth party
Instead of meeting in large groups, Aide went to meet and to teach small groups of kids at homes, visited 2-3 homes each day, spent an hour at each place from Monday to Friday, teaching them English (sometimes Math) and Bible studies. Some of these kids (ages 9-16) have not yet professed their faith in Jesus, but they were always eager to study with “Teacher I-D”. As Aide started and ended her classes with prayers, kids often shared their prayers requests. We encouraged and invited the kids to join in the Sunday services. Many of them came. Lately, Soeuth encouraged the kids to memorize Bible verses and to recite them during a church service. Seeing the kids excitedly recite Bible verses, the adults joined in with the challenges. Now, during church service at Toul Prich, we set a time for Bible verses recitation. To encourage on-going fellowship with youth ministry, for the past two months, we hosted youth events for all age groups with food and refreshment and games and fellowship. Please pray for these kids to have a personal relationship with the one true God.

Sunday worship service with adults and youth at Toul Prich house church
Aide teaching English to Toul Prich kids
Oppositions

As God is at work among believers, the enemy has been busy cunningly stirring conflicts, raising suspicions, and causing division among believers. Apparently, prosperity gospel and cultic groups had been slyly sneaking their ways to visit many of the Alliance village churches in remote places alluring unsuspecting young believers to join their groups. As rural believers are battling against on-gong poverty and desperate needs for water, these conniving prosperity gospel people deceitfully offered to build a well, dig a pond or build a house in the believers’ property, IF they (the believers) joined their groups. A few families who had left the Alliance church groups and joined these other groups, after months of unfulfilled promises, they left the cults but were too ashamed to come back to join the church fellowship. And sadly, instead of keeping up the faith, they not only abandoned their belief in Christ, but also willingly returned to their old belief of false gods. Pastor Dy from Srae Nouy, Mr. Kong from Andong Chan villages, and a few other emerging leaders, had been busy visiting believers in remote villages warning them of these false groups. A few weeks ago, Dy and some leaders had an opportunity to personally confront one of the false leaders. Please pray for spiritual protections for the church families. Pray for daily wisdom and discernment for leaders as they shepherd God’s flocks.

The enemy has also been cleverly and connivingly attacking families of key church leaders. Although no moral or adulterous sins took place that we knew of, members of key church leaders’ families have been unusually in conflicts with one another at an alarming rate. For the past few weeks, we have been called to counsel troubled couples going from one home to another. PLEASE join in prayers against spiritual warfare as we and the church families in Anlong Veng ministries are facing.  Pray for physical and emotional strength, for wisdom and discernment to help troubled families.

Anlong Veng Ministry Center and More…

As previously shared in the May update, God had graciously allowed us to purchase a piece of property at a very good price. Using the remaining money, with our Field Leader’s approval, we purchased two more plots of land having all three pieces land connected to each other and they located in a close proximate to two nearby public schools.  One piece of properties came with an already built stilted Khmer’s style house with an outdoor toilet. With some additional fixing and adding indoor plumbing, we hope to get the house ready for Heng and Moum and their two girls to move in by mid-September this year. For those of you who have been sacrificially and generously financially supporting the Anlong Veng Ministry Center (phase 1) project, we are proud to announce that this project is now fully funded! This makes Anlong Veng Ministry Center phase 1’s objective (to secure a piece of property) completed.

Meanwhile, taking advantage of the abundant waters during a rainy season, using money from Work Fund, Syna had been employing and overseeing some local high school aged youth to plant trees and flower plants on to the property. We hope to use money from Work Fund money to help build simple fences around the property using cement posts and barbed wire in order to keep off neighbors’ domestic animals from gracing the nearby fields thus upsetting the newly planted trees. Please let us know if you are interested in financially supporting this project.

Also, during Covid restrictions, with money that some of you had generously donated toward our Work Special (also known as Work Fund), with the help from a few trustworthy key church leaders, we did a third round of food/rice distributions to needy families, built two deep wells (in Popel and Skaach Ampel villages), dug two ponds (in Andong Chan and in Srae Kandal villages), built three simple buildings for worship centers (Srae Nouy, Popel, and in Ksaach Ampel villages).

Because you trusted us with your financial support toward Alliance Mission and toward our Work Fund, we are working closely with a few trustworthy key church leaders helping them to be good stewardship with God’s money. More than words can describe, we are grateful for your on-going financial support.

Praises and dates & events needing your prayers…


1. July 1-3: Though we missed being with our fellow teammates during our traditional annual gathering, it was good to see smiling faces of our teammates through a Zoom field forum.

2. June 20: Even with Covid restrictions, a church family in Trampang Krasang village was able to obtain permission from local authorities for the first Christian wedding ever performed in the village. Next Christian wedding is to be officiated by Soeuth and is scheduled for July 18.

Martha and Vong  took the Christian wedding in their village

3. July 21: If all goes well with his student visa and other government required traveling documents from both Cambodia and Malaysia, Jonathan is hoping to fly to Kuala Lumpur on July 21, to complete a 14-day government required quarantine (in a dorm), and then be ready for school to start on August 5. Pray that God would make this possible.

4. Pray for spiritual protection on believers who are undergoing spiritual attack as mentioned above.  Pray for the spirit of forgiveness and for unity to be at work among church families

5. Regional church leaders and as well as members from National youth committees have been meeting monthly via Zoom meetings. We hope to have in-person meeting in early August.

6. Please share with us what God is doing in your areas. Thank you for your partnership with the Anlong Veng church ministries.
In midst of busyness, we took a few days if rest visiting the beach, a 14 hour drive away...

Enjoying beautiful sunset at the beach


Blessings,
Soeuth & Syna

Monday, June 8, 2020

June Update 2020

Dear Supporting Friends and Family,

In our most recent update, we shared about four new births of Alliance house churches planted during the Covid restriction. Each of the four sites has a unique and interesting story of its own deserving to be told. But for the sake of time, here is how one church site was planted…

Rohaal Village

Poss, age 43, married, a father of 5 school aged kids, and a rice farmer is a nine-month old Christian who heard the gospel of Jesus Christ through Mr. Kong. In early May, some distant relatives came to visit Poss’s family in Andong Chan village. While spending a night there, Poss shared the Gospel to the family. Although everyone seemed interested, when asked to be prayed for, no one was willing to admit the need for a Savior saying “Not yet”. But they all saw the Sawyer water filter that Poss was using. The family requested if they could have the filters as well. Poss said that he would find out if this request was possible. After the relatives left, he called us to request for filters. We gave him 15 filters with a request, “Please share with them about Jesus and about kind Christian people who sent these filters” (Please refer to March (Part 1) Update story "Water and Filters"). A week after this request was made, Poss invited his friend Mr. Kong to go with him to his relatives’ village for support and encouragement. On May 9th, the two friends rode on their motorbikes across the dusty red dirt paths traveling 50 kilometers distance to visit Poss’s relatives in Rohaal village. When they arrived at noon time, Poss and Kong were surprised to see many adults and children of the villagers who were already waiting with eager anticipation for the visiting guests! Apparently, whatever bits and pieces of Biblical stories that the relatives had heard from what Poss was sharing, they passed on the stories to other villagers and added, “The Jesus people will be coming to our village today! They will tell more us about the God called Preah yea-sue. And they are bringing water filters!” At the mentioned of water filters, everyone erupted with shouts of joy.

Shortly after a time of greetings and introductions, Poss’s relatives remarked, “Since we came back from your village, we’ve been telling our friends here that you believe in a new God called Preah yea-sue. Can you please tell us more about your God?” Seeing a given opportunity, Poss shared about “Jesus Christ who came to Earth die on the cross for our sins. He is the truth and the living God.” There were more questions and discussions about why the God of the universe would die for sinners. Poss and Kong took turns to answer their questions. At the end, upon invitation, 9 people prayed to receive Jesus as their Savior!

Because of the long journey back, Poss and his companion decided to stay overnight to encourage and fellowship with Poss’ family. That night, as they sang and shared, 7 more prayed to receive Christ! Because Poss and Kong needed to return to their village early in morning, they left the newly believing villagers with some Christian tracts, Bibles, hymnal books, and with instructions on how to read the Bible and what songs to sing and how to pray. They also promised, “We will be back”.
Upon returning home to Andong Chan village, Poss excitedly called Soeuth and reported about what took place in Rohaal village. He then added, “Teacher, you must come and see”. We did. On May 15th, we visited the village. After Soeuth spoke an evangelism message, nine people prayed to receive Christ! Then, a week later at another visit four more people invited Jesus into their hearts! It was incredible! In a matter of two weeks’ time, 29 people prayed to receive Jesus, all from the same village! Even though Poss and Kong didn’t get a chance to tell the villagers about the people who sent the filters, they gave the filters to fifteen families of the areas. Because the nature of these new believers, we and some church leaders from Andong Chan are taking turns to teach Bible studies to new Christians in Rohaal village. Please pray that God would raise up leaders to help with the overall Anlong Veng growing ministries…

Kong and Poss initiated and planted the Rohaal village Alliance church

A young boy enjoying the fellowship at Rohaal village
A man paid close attention to an evangelistic message at Rohaal village
A Modern-Day Good Samaritan…

Through our weekly interactions, we noticed that Mr. Kong from Andong Chan village was using his own personal, earthly resources and possessions to advance God’s kingdom. He and his wife donated a portion of land so we could build a wooden shelter (please refer to our January 2020’s update where this building was dedicated on Christmas Day) specifically designated as a house of worship on Sundays and a place to host weekly discipleship classes. In addition, Kong has been faithfully using his old beat-up motorbike, his only mode of transportation, for every evangelism outreach. Although Kong hardly had any complaints nor did he ever ask for any financial help, every now and then, we gave small amount of cash from our Work Special to help covering for the cost of fuel and other travel expenses. Recently, we noticed that his motorbike was in constant need of repair. Having the approval of and full support and encouragement from Pastor Dy (a designate spiritual leader for the Anlong Veng region), we decided to buy him a second-hand used motorbike.

Kong with his "new" bike on his way to evagelize at Rohaal village
Elated with excitement, Kong and his wife drove their old bike to Siem Reap province in order to bring their “new” motorbike back. The next day while driving home, Kong drove on his new bike while his wife drove their old one, about 30 minutes away from Siem Reap, Kong saw a young man (in his early 20s) walking aimlessly and tiredly in the middle of the heat along the National Highway 6! Seeing there were no houses nearby, Kong stopped and asked, “Young man, why are you walking by the highway? Where are you going?” Exhausted from the heat and trying to catch his breathe, the young man responded, “I am going to Anlong Veng”. Kong then added, “That is a long way to go (the distance between Anlong Veng and Siem Reap is 120 kilometers). And why did you not take a taxi?” The young man replied, “I was working at a construction site in Siem Reap. But everything is now closed because of Covid. I lost my job as a result. I remained in Siem Reap a bit longer hoping to find other works. I had used all my money for food and rent. Now, I don’t have any money left, not even for a taxi fee. So, I am walking home”.


Overwhelmed with compassion for the young man, Kong reluctantly invited the young man to get on the back of his motorbike, together, they drove toward Srae Nouy with Kong’s wife driving closely behind. Around noon time, the weary and hungry travelers stopped for lunch at Srae Nouy central market (Srae Nouy is about half through between Siem Reap and Anlong Veng). After paying for lunch for the three of them, Kong arranged and paid for a taxi ride so the young man to go on his way to Anlong Veng. Then Kong and his wife headed off to Andong Chan village… Immediately after arriving home, Kong called to report about their recent journey to and from Siem Reap. When asked, “Were you not afraid to pick up a stranger from the middle of the road? You could have been robbed”. Kong admitted that, “The thought did occur in my mind as we were driving. And the guy was young and physically stronger than I. But I could not let him walk at such a distance. So, I kept asking God to help and protect us along the way. And besides, if this situation happened to my son, I hope and pray that someone else would offer the same kindness and help to my son as well…”

A Testing Time…

Noun and Kane, husband and wife, believers from Toul Prich village (read their story in our November 2018 update called “Kane and Noun’s Searching”) have been on fire for God sharing the Good News with everyone and to anyone they met. Through her amazing testimony of God’s healing power, Noun had led many of her friends and relatives to Lord. In addition to their ongoing concerns and caring love for their neighbors, relatives, and friends, this family has a natural and unusual gift of generosity! During the early Covid crisis, when learning that other families were going through a hard time, Noun and Kane generously donated rice, live chicken and ducks, some fresh vegetable, and money to help families in need. They were gracious despite their poverty!

Kane and Noun with other believers at weekly Firm Foundation discipleship class
About 8 months ago, Kane had been battling with the chronic sickness of join pains and other illnesses which progressively robbed him of daily strength and energies. Their livelihood had depended entirely on Kane’s massive strength to help clear the fields and prepare soil for vegetable gardens. Since Kane’s health was getting worse, all laborious garden works were put on hold. Noun and the two children did their best carry on with garden for the family to survive. However they could only do as much as their strength allowed which cut the production of produce short.  As locally and commonly practiced by all villagers as ways to store family saving and investment, this family owns and raises a few working cows to save for a “rainy day”. Recently, one of their adult cows was stolen! To make matters worse, most recently, their young son, Jetra, was sick with dengue fever and other sicknesses where the family ended up spending all their remaining money on Jetra’s medical needs. This week (June 4), when teaching a Firm Foundation class at their house, Noun quietly worked up the courage to confide with Syna that the family had ran out of food! In response to the need, we bought fresh meat and eggs, some canned food and other cooking ingredients for the family leaving them some spending cash. Meanwhile, we are working closely with Noun and Kane to find other ways for them to make a living…


Noun and Kane (middle) with Savy praying before studying in Firm Foundation class
During their time of testing, it was encouraging to know that both Noun and Kane remained strong in their faith and committed to God. For courage and reasons to stand firm in faith, the family have been reading and meditating on the book of Job and clinging on to the promising hope that God knows all things and that He would not abandon them…

Praises and Prayer requests…

  1. Farmers in every village are giving praises to God for the abundance of rains. Every family is now busy working in the field plowing, planting, and hoping for a good year of harvesting crop to come.
  2. Pastor Dy’s eldest son, Po, and his young family had been working with another Christian organization for the past 10 years. Recently, after visiting the overwhelming church growth in Srae Nouy and Anlong Veng areas, and seeing the overwhelming need for Christian workers, the young couple had prayerfully considered to remain in Srae Nouy to help out with church ministries.  Please pray for the couple as they are looking for ways to make a living while helping voluntarily with church ministries.
  3. We are slowly resuming discipleship classes in most designated sites as believers are constantly crying out, “When are you coming to teach us?” Pray for wisdom to teach and guide new believers in the truth of God’s words and for protection on the roads.
  4. With four new church sites planted recently, we are very much short of helping hands. We look forward with much anticipation mid-September when Heng and Moum would be finally done from their studies in the city, then they would join the Anlong Veng team. Please pray for their family with two small kids and another one coming in December. They face major transition moving from the big city to start a new life in quiet countryside rural areas…

As always, thank you for your on-going support through prayers and financial support toward Alliance Mission.

Blessings,
Soeuth & Syna Lao

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

May Update 2020 (part 2)

Dear Praying Friends and Family,

Greetings! We trust you are enjoying the remainder of the spring season. In our last update, we shared some prayer requests and God answered us amazingly…

Rains

Immediately after we sent out those prayer requests, God literally opened wide the skies and poured down rains upon his people! Church people gave amazing reports that they had rains all on the same day from most of the affected villages where Alliance house churches were located. Since then, there have been a few more heavy rains. In one village, the rains came down so fast and so hard, that it flooded the areas! It was a blessing to see some smiling faces of our friends who had been patiently waiting for rain…

The Well of the Living Water

Last month while visiting Popel village, after learning about the need for clean drinking water, the church families gathered outside standing in a circle on a portion of donated land (this part of land was specifically donated by a local family for the purpose of building a house of worship) to pray. After many failed attempts, the families were desperately crying out to God to show us where to drill a well. Two weeks later, the well people arrived. After testing a few spots for where the potential source of water underneath might be, the workers finally agreed on a particular location.

Workers drilling a deep well at Popel village

But, before they begin the actual work, the workers (who were not yet followers of Jesus Christ) asked that the host family would offer food offerings to the evil spirits of the region. Traditionally and culturally, superstitious Khmer people would often fear and worship evil spirits of the land. To avoid offending or upsetting the evil spirits, before any major construction works took place, local people were obligated to give food offerings or animal sacrifices to the evil spirits of the region. They did this with the hopes of pleasing , asking the spirits permission to do the work, and gaining favor from the surrounding evil spirits for a successful project. Because of these imbedded traditions and century old cultural practices, the workers naturally and automatically asked the host family for food offerings before beginning their works.

But Vanna, a fearless designated church leader of the village firmly responded, “No! We already prayed to the Living God for this well. Jesus was the one who answered our prayers and gave us the money for it. And He alone will see to it that the well drilling will come to be a successful project. Now, you (referring to the workers) must decide what you must do. Are you to take this job or not? For us, there will be no sacrifice to the evil spirits on this land, but only prayers to Preah yea-sue, the Living God!” Seeing the believers’ determination, the well workers reluctantly agreed to accept the job offer. When they drilled past the 80- meter deep, they hit the spring underneath the ground! The water immediately gushed out from underneath! Seeing the abundantly overflow of fresh water, Vanna called to give us the exciting report, “Teacher, the water is so fresh and clear! It is clean enough that we could drink it directly! And the people are singing and dancing and giving praises to the God of the Living Water”. Vanna paused to sob then added, “We prayed to God for help, and He answered our prayers”. The Popel church families appropriately named their precious well “Andong Teuk Rous” meaning “Well of the Living Water”.

The amazing part is that in early March of this year, Vanna and his family, seeing the need for a place to worship God, had willingly and generously donated a portion of their own land specifically for a church building for the community of Popel village. To make the transaction legal and official, the names appeared on the original land and was officially transferred to be the property of the Cambodian Alliance church of the areas. This transaction was witnessed and signed by local church families and some official KEC church leaders of the northwest region. Then, last week (May 19, 2020), when the workers were testing the ground to drill the well, they decided on the very spot where church families had encircled to pray! God miraculously led the workers to the right location! What’s more, this was the first deep well ever built successfully in this entire village! Other homes and families had attempted many times before trying to build a well for the community, but all attempts failed, until this time, when God showed up…

Before the well was built, poor families of Popel village who could not afford to buy water had to collect waters from a faraway stream. They would collect the water into 20-liter containers, transport the water-filled containers one container at a time on the back of their motorbike, and then drive 15 kilometers across the dried dusty red-dirt paths. If any attempted to bathe or clean oneself in the stream before heading back to village, the motorbike driver or passenger holding the water container would be completely covered with red dirt by the time they arrived home. To keep oneself cleaned, the family had to carefully measure out the amount of their precious water so that each family member could get a chance to bathe; a small bucket of water would be divided among three or four people. Each person bathed about once every two to three days! But since the establishment of a new well which provides abundant fresh water, Vanna joyfully shared, “Now, we can bathe as many as five times a day! And we don’t have to worry about the shortage of water anymore!”

A group of church families celebrating the successful of the well
Rice Distribution: Round 2

Because of an ongoing and overwhelming need from church families, in agreement with the local church leaders, this week, we are doing a second round of rice distribution to a few village churches around Popel and Srae Nouy areas. With the early coming rains, farmers can begin to plow fields and prepare soil for planting season, hopefully the fields would yield much crops this year…

Second round of rice distribution
Field Director’s Visit

We were thrilled for an opportunity to host our dear friends and Field Director, Rev. David Manfred, and his lovely family in Anlong Veng this past week. Upon learning that our “boss” was coming to town, the Toul Prich church families insisted on, “You must share them with us too!” Even though the Manfred stayed in Anlong Veng for only one night, the church families determined to prepare a feast of a four-course lunch meal for “our guests”. After visiting a few families in Toul Prich village, the Anlong Veng International Worker team enjoyed a relaxing time of a traditional Khmer meal on the Dong Raek mountain, along the Thai border. Before heading back to Phnom Penh the next day, the Manfred stopped by Srae Nouy where Dave was able to share an encouraging message to some church leaders in the areas.  Thanks for visiting us, Manfred!

Manfred visiting Anlong Veng mimistries
Manfred fellowshipping with Srae Nouy church families
We Got The Land!

After many months of prayers and waiting on God's timing, we are now in the final process of purchasing and securing a piece of property for the future building of Anlong Veng Ministry Center!  We had an unanimous agreement and approval from local Alliance leaders. The new land is located in Toul Prich village, a walking distance from the church community but a much closer distance to two public schools in the area. It has a good enough size (42x107 meters) and we bought it at a great price! With some money left over, we hope to expand and buy smaller plots nearby in order to enlarge territory to meet the original purpose of the future need. For the past six months, we had openly shared this vision and dream with church families in Anlong Veng region asking them to join us in prayers. They did. When they finally heard that purchase had come through, everyone was so excited and gave shouts of praises to Jesus. Upon hearing this news, some church families even donated fruit trees and flower plants to be planted on the land. It is a joy to see local church people shared and embraced this vision. They have prayed for and participated in the purchasing process, Now they are taking ownership of the property calling it “our land”.

A newly purchased land for the Anlong Veng Ministry Center
The purchase of this land could not have come at a better timing. We sensed that God was leading us in the right direction as evidenced in the number of new believers coming to Christ recently resulting the birth of four new Alliance village churches, even in the midst of Covid restrictions! When we first arrived into Anlong Veng back in July 2017, we only knew about the existing group of believers at Toul Prich village. But having met leaders like Pastor Dy and Mr. Kong, and through the ongoing efforts of evangelism outreach and discipleship training, as of this May 2020, we now have a total of 15 Alliance house churches scattered over the Anlong Veng and Srae Nouy region! So, we celebrate that God graciously allowed us to begin (and almost complete) the process of Anlong Veng Ministry Center Phase 1--- obtaining and securing a piece of property...

Mr. Kong sharing the good news to some men at a newly planted village church.
Thank you, dear friends, family, and faithful supporters, for your partnership with us in the Anlong Veng Ministries. Your prayers and financial support to the Alliance Mission allow us to continue serving our God here in this part of the world sharing the Good News to the people who are lost and without hope. Please share with us what God is doing in your life…

Blessings,
Soeuth & Syna Lao

Monday, May 11, 2020

May Update 2020

Dear Supporting Friend and Family,

In our previous update, we shared about an overwhelming need as church families in rural areas were desperately crying out for help as the result of Covid crisis. Some of YOU took immediate actions with your generous financial donations to support our Work Special fund. With this fund available, we bought three tons of rice, dried and canned food goods, medical supplies, and other basic needed items to distribute to many needy families. Working closely with some key church leaders, all distributions were done in a low-key setting in villages where each unit of recipients was personally contacted ahead of time by the designated leaders of the areas. The recipients were asked to come at a designated time and location to receive their donated portions, one unit at a time. On behalf of the church families in Anlong Veng areas, thank you!

Rice distribution at Ksach Ampel village
Home “Surprise” Visits

Because of Covid restrictions, large group gatherings were reinforced by local authorities, especially for those who live in big city areas. But for many people who live in rural regions, life is being carried on as “normal." People are encouraged to wear facial masks and to practice social distancing when they go to wet markets or participate in public gatherings.

In relation to church ministries, for the past few weeks, we’ve been doing “surprise” visits 2-3 times each week to check up on church families always bringing along bags of rice and food/medical supplies on each visit. We surprised them because if aware about our coming ahead of time, the church families might be tempted to gather in large groups just for a chance to see us. Lately, during those unannounced visits, we were amazed at the way God ordained his perfect plans in allowing for us to be in the right place at just the right time.

Last week, upon arriving into Srae Kandal village, we noticed three couples/families sat together under a mango tree, heads bowed and teary eyes in prayers. After a brief time of greetings, we learned that all three families had run out of rice. Desperate for answers, the families comforted each other in a time of prayers asking God for help. And God sent us. Our timing of the unannounced visit bearing loads of food supplies turned their worries into a time of celebration with joyful tears...

Rice distribution at Srae Kandal village
Soeuth giving cookies to village kids during a home visit
Kids entertaining themselves during Covid restrictions
A little girl trying to cool herself during a heat wave
At another surprise visit to Ksach Ampel village in April, our timely visit allowed us opportunity to help a troubled young couple work out their disagreements. Because of on-going unresolved marital conflicts, the young wife had already decided to leave her husband. Just minutes before we arrived, the angry frustrated young wife and her small child were packed and ready to leave her husband giving up their seven years of marriage! But God was not finishing with them yet. He sent us there at just the right time to give them some sound advice. We ended up spending an afternoon with the couple counseling and praying for them. A week later when we called to check in on them, the young couple were still living together. This couple were heard laughing joyfully together. God saw their needs; He sent us...

Love in Actions…

Aware of the overwhelming needs among believers in other villages, church families from Toul Prich village generously donated rice, live chickens and ducks, dried salted fish, fish sauce, canned food, cooking ingredients, including homegrown fruits and vegetables with other basic but necessarily household items. A few people even gave money for us to buy supplies. The amazing part was how these donors were poor peasant farmers who gave out of their own poverty! They were poor and did not have much to offer, but they were rich in love. Knowing that someone else was in need, these farmers took immediate actions and responded generously and sacrificially. It was a privilege and a true joy for us to see believers sharing their possessions with other families in need, just like the early church people did in a story found in Acts 4:32-36!

From Restrictions to Opportunities...

Despite Covid restrictions in city places, church people in remote villages not only were out and about carrying on daily life as peasant farmers, but also becoming bold in sharing the Good News of Jesus to others. Before Covid restrictions, some Christian villagers took a day off from their busy and much needed farming works in order to study God’s words in a weekly discipleship class. Since Covid restrictions, however, each student continued taking a day off from classes and instead visited and evangelized to family and neighbors in small group settings. As a result, the report of those who came to Christ recently was overwhelming. As of mid-March, four more Alliance village-house churches were planted! At one village, after a sweet time of worshipping God and sharing, 32 people prayed to receive Jesus! Still at three other villages, 19, then 14, and then 9 people accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

Four Alliance village-house churches started during Covid restrictions
14 people prayed to receive Jesus after an evangelism outreach in Popel village
After Mr. Kong explained the salvation plan, 9 people invited Jesus into their lives
Now, all these new believers are pleading for someone to teach them God’s word! Because of lack of personnel, some potential key emerging leaders were being assigned and instructed to lead and teach small groups at these new villages. To help lessen their financial burden, we used our Work Special money to pay for motorbike fuel and some travel expenses for each visiting leader. Because of the increasing number of those who came to Christ recently, believers are praying for the Corona pandemic restriction to be lifted soon, so we could have another joined baptism…

Soeuth shared an evangelism message at Rohal village
Lost & Found…

Two weeks ago, upon accepting an invitation to do an evangelism outreach in a new village, we got lost along the dirt roads in the middle of tall, thick cashew, cassava, and rubber plantations. There were no road maps, no post signs, or a GPS to tell us where to go. We stopped a few times at houses located by isolated roadsides to ask for directions. After two hours of attempts, we decided to quit. But before turning around, we stopped at another house only to discover that this was a believing family that we knew of from Ksach Ampel! Due to economic reasons, a young believing couple with two small children recently uprooted their family from Ksach Ampel hoping to find jobs as labor workers in the cashew plantations. For the past for 4 months, they were the only Christians and were desperately hoping to meet other believers in this new place. So, while we were lost in middle of nowhere, God had other plans in mind. He amazingly directed us out of the path so we could find this seeking family. As for the village that we were originally hoping to visit, we finally found it a week later where got to share with many people and afterward, 9 people prayed to receive Jesus (same 9 people as mentioned above)!

Dates and events needing your prayers…

  1. While we are grateful to have our son, Jonathan, home with us during this Covid pandemic, he longs to return to Dalat International School in Penang, Malaysia, so he can finish his junior semester by early June. But Malaysia still has its borders closed. The original plan was that Jon would fly out from Penang to Minneapolis to spend a summer with his brother in St. Paul, MN. This plan now depends on Malaysia’s Movement Control Order will be lifted, hopefully soon.
  2. Pray for daily wisdom and discernment as we constantly respond to requests for help from every village. Rural villagers are struggling to find works and to feed their hungry families. Unless God steps up and does something soon, we are not sure how long we can keep up with the overwhelming needs all around.
  3. Please join the desperate farmers in prayers for rains. Crops and plants are drying out and livestock animals are sick dying from lack of adequate water supplies.
  4. Next week, it will be a fourth attempt for the well people to drill/build a deep well at Popel village. The people in this village are desperately crying to God for clean drinking water. In past failed attempts, the well people kept on hitting hard rocks underneath.
Believers in Popel village prayed for rains

5. It feels like the hot season is unusually hotter and is lasting longer this year than ever before, with average temperature in the mid 90’s to low 100’s. In addition to the extreme heatwaves, we also experienced frequent and daily electrical power shortage! It was a constant challenge for our Jonathan and other local Cambodian students trying to do online schooling.

Thank you so much for your partnership with us in the Anlong Veng church ministries. We appreciate your on-going prayers and financial support to the Alliance Mission which enables us to keep on serving in this part of the world sharing the message of Hope in Jesus Christ to the Cambodian people.  Please share with us what God is doing in your midst.

Blessings,
Soeuth & Syna 

Saturday, April 4, 2020

April Update 2020

Dear friend and family,

At this writing, our thoughts and prayers go out to the many of you, especially those from the Tri-State (NY, NJ, CT) areas who are deeply impacted emotionally, socially, physically and spiritually by the effects of the corona virus.

While the Cambodian government is putting restrictions on those who travel internationally through border crossing or by airplane, local Cambodian people continue with their “normal” life in obedience to federal social distancing rules in efforts to lessen the spread of Covid-19. While being socially isolated in this rural part of northern Cambodia, we had plenty of time to study the
Word and pray/encourage (through phone calls) many believers who live in remote villages. Through these modern technological interactions, here are some uplifting stories to share with you hoping they would bring encouragement to whatever you are going through…

Family Worships at Homes…

Before corona virus hit Cambodia and everywhere else around the world, many young adult
Cambodians from the rural areas left their hometowns and their small children in the care of their aging parents in order to find labor works in Thailand or in big city places. Now that these factories,
businesses, and construction sites closed people lost their jobs and these young parents reluctantly
return to be with their children and parents. They are restless and understandably anxious and
concerned about unknown future. While these adults were away working and earning meager incomes to send home regularly, their elderly parents and small children became followers of Jesus Christ and attended our weekly discipleship classes. Now, having all family members under one roof in each home again, these aging parents took the opportunity to share Jesus Christ to everyone. These elderly believers were once timid and shy about their faith are now bold and rising up to become
spiritual leaders in their own family! These past few weeks, every time we were on the phone
talking to someone from a remote village, we kept hearing that someone’s son or daughter had recently prayed to receive Jesus! And people are asking for more Bibles and hymnals and other Christian literatures.

Closed Doors, Opened Windows…

Due to new government regulations resulting from Covid-19, we are not allowed (at least for a time
being) to meet in large groups as we had normally done for weekly village discipleship classes. With this new “closed doors” movement, God conveniently allowed “windows” of opportunities for church
families to meet in smaller groups! Having extra times on their hands with nothing much to do, believers began to meet regularly for worship services with family and neighbors, each group consisting of 10 people or less, sitting on wooden benches or on grass mats in open space underneath stilted homes or under the cool shades of mango trees. At the sounds of singing during a worship time, other neighboring villagers flocked to join these small group gatherings as well. In each new group gathered, there was a “designated leader” to lead the group into a time of singing hymns, sharing testimonies, reading Scripture, and praying for the current needs. Recently, we received frequent requests (from church leaders like Pastor Dy from Srae Nouy village, Mr. Kong from Andong Chan village, or other emerging leaders like Sally from Ksach Ampel village and Lang from another village) that more and more people from neighboring villages want to hear the Gospel as well. Although these poor godly leaders have the passion and the willingness to go and to proclaim Good News to other people, they lack the financial means to go. At their humble requests and using money from the Work Fund that some of you have faithfully supported, we offered to cover for the cost for fuel in their motorbikes and for some travel expenses for each of the leaders. At the end of their ministry trips, each leader gave amazing ministry reports on how God was at work in their midst… Through this experience, for the first time in our Christian walks, we began to get a better and clearer picture of what the Scripture was saying about the story found in Luke 10:1-24 where Jesus sent out the seventy-two…

Overwhelming Needs…

As our phone kept on ringing many times each day from church leaders reporting to us many good
news, we also heard their constant cries for help. Many of our church families and other villagers are
from poor farming families with small children and elderly parents, 2-3 generation family living under the same roof. Usually, in between the times for planting or harvesting crops, young adult family members would go out and hire themselves as labor workers in plantations and fields, in business shops, or at construction sites either in Thailand or in local major city areas. These labor- workers often send back portions of their monthly incomes to support elderly parents who are watching their children at home. With the impact of Covid-19, people are crying out for help. Some church families had already run out of food! Recently, immediately after learning about this overwhelming need, some Cambodian-American church families from Tacoma, Washington, took a collection and sent their generous donation to our Work Fund where we were able to distribute 1.5 tons of rice to 30 plus families! On behalf of the Khmer Alliance church families in Anlong Veng areas, thank you, Tacoma CEC! Your immediate response along with the sacrificial and generous donations you gave are greatly appreciated.


New Kinds of Ministries…

Since we could no longer hold large group meetings (at least for now), we’ve been busy doing home
visitations, targeting 2-3 homes each week. Every time we visited a home, we always brought along 1-2 sacks (50 kilograms in each sack) of rice for the needing families.

Sacks of rice to be distributed to needy families at Srae Nouy village
Soeuth shared a message at a home visit to Srae Nouy village
Soeuth prayed at a a recent home visit to Toul Prich village
Syna teaching a small group at Toul Prich village
Also, at their requests, we brought along bags of Bibles, hymnal books, Christian literature, in addition to MP3 radios containing audio Bible, reading glasses, off the counter medicines, and among other requested items. While Soeuth always brought with him a prepared message and was always ready to give encouraging words to expecting host families, Syna brought along home baked goods to share. Although we missed meeting with our students and friends from our regular village ministries, surprisingly enough, we actually and really enjoy this new way of doing ministries! Recently, having tasted and enjoyed Syna’s home baked goods, many church families asked to learn how
to bake using local ingredients found from local resources and charcoal ovens. Since it is mango season, the ladies enjoy making mango breads and mango muffins...

It's mango season!
Syna's baked goods to share with church families
Village people learning how bake mango breads/ muffins
Toul Prich ladies baked mango muffin using charcoal ovens
School aged girls proudly showing off their new baking skills
Family Updates…

Many of you have been praying for Syna’s sister, Nay. Thank you!!! After a few weeks full of anxieties and unknown, Nay was recently discharged from an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) to a medical unit awaiting to be transferred to long term skills nursing facility. Nay is able to use her upper arms, but she is completely paralyzed from below waistline. After weeks of waiting, it was relief to receive a message directly from my sister! Nay shared, “Pray for the long-term nursing home before go to rehab," and “How God kept me alive after falling from a 28 ft roof top is still an amazement to all the doctors and nursing staffs who cared for me." Though Nay still has long battling roads ahead we are still grateful that she is alive…

Even though his spring break will end on April 5th, Jonathan will remain with us in Cambodia a bit longer because of Covid-19 travel restrictions from both countries, Cambodia and Malaysia. He will resume online school effective April 6th  Please pray for sufficient electrical powers for his online schooling...

As Corona virus continues on its full course, no one is exempted, globally, from being impacted by the effects of Covid-19 pandemic, though some of you may have been severely impacted more than others. At these times of darkness full of unknown and uncertainties, we continue to trust in the ONE who knows what tomorrow may bring and to hang on tight to His promised words that He “would never leave us nor forsake us," and that “… in all things, God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose,"  Below are the actual words from our Alliance leaders:

"Our ministry and the work of The Alliance is impacted by the economic realities that
come with the Covid-19 crisis. Like many of you and your churches we are significantly
reducing spending, including having all workers like us live on 10% less for the months
ahead. We’re grateful to remain where God has called us, and for new opportunities to
serve in this unique moment. Thank you for partnering with us, especially to those of
you continuing to give online. Let us know how we can pray for you, too, in the
challenges of your experience in these days."

As we all go through this hard time together, we want to acknowledge your commitment to remain as
ministry partner through your prayers and financial support to the Alliance Great Commission Fund. We continue to practice good stewardship toward resource that God entrusts in our care through the
sacrificial gifts that some you have been faithfully supported.

To support us, please visit https://cmalliance.org/give/. Under Gift Type, choose “give to The Alliance” or “to a worker you love.” Under the latter, find “[Soeuth & Syna Lao]," and then select the fund(s) of your choice. Then enter the amount you want to give and scroll down to continue with your information.

Standing in the gap together,
Soeuth and Syna Lao