Saturday, June 23, 2018

June 2018 Update

Dear Friends and Family,

Jum Reap Sua!

Thank you for praying for us these past couple weeks. We sensed that God’s presence was at work as He answered prayers. Here is what took place since our last update…

May 26th: With great anticipation, we greeted our son, Justin, and daughter-in-law, Katie, at Siem Reap International airport. Our heart leaped with joy at the first sight of them. After spending one night in Siem Reap, they flew out to Malaysia the next day so Justin could show Katie his old school and dorm. But on June 1st, we joyfully and lovingly embraced all three kids at the Phnom Penh International airport! It was a true pleasure seeing and hugging all the kids at one time! Jonathan who had just finished 9th grade at Dalat International School came home for summer break.

All three kids arrived into Phnom Penh
Welcome to Cambodia Justin and Katie!
Visiting the palace in Phnom Penh
Enjoying our time with Justin and Katie
Because we still had some ministry business to take care of, we remained in Phnom Penh for the next few days. While Soeuth was busy with the youth committee meeting, I took the children sightseeing at different places in the big city. We also visited some of Soeuth’s relatives who live in Phnom Penh where Katie got to meet some family members for the first time.  

Even in the midst of a rainy season, we were able to visit Sihanoukville (the beach) and spend some family time together. Afterward, we headed out to Battambang province, our hometown and Syna’s birthplace, where we introduced Katie to more family members from Soeuth’s side.

Meeting family in Battambang province
We were so glad that Katie was able to meet her many Cambodian family members…

Justin and Jon on Bokor Mt, Kampot province, Cambodia
View Kampot province from Mt Bokor
All the kids with their kramas
May 30th: While the children were still in Malaysia, we celebrated our 26th anniversary in Siem Reap! Even though we requested for just a standard room, the hotel’s manager after learning about our special date from an "unknown source” had arranged our room to look like a suite complete with fresh flower on the bed and in the bathtub! It was very lovely.

Hotel surprise for our anniversary
Visiting Bontey Srey Temple on our anniversary
In addition to meeting family, throughout their two weeks with us, we were able to take Justin, Katie, and Jonathan to visit most areas of our ministries in Anlong Veng to meet some of our dear friends and church families in each of the villages. Although it was a bit risky, we took all three children to visit Mart Klaa Village floating church!

Boat ride to Mart Klaa floating village
Visiting Mart Klaa was one of the highlights of their Cambodia trip… Sadly, our time together was abruptly ended on June 14th as we said goodbyes to Justin and Katie. Even though the visit was short (but sweet), we are very grateful to God for every precious moment with our children. Both Justin and Katie are now back in Minnesota studying hard preparing for the NECLEX exam soon…

Justin and Jon enjoying brotherly time
Our family at Andoung Chan village
It was sad to see so many traffic accidents as we drove around the country. Last month, one church member from Toul Prich Village was in a serious accident where the other driver was killed on the spot. Sad! The young man was not a believer…

Common mode of transportation in Cambodia
Traffic accident
June 15-16: We had a very lively and exciting discussion time in Poipet during our recent bimonthly leadership class. Soeuth started the class by asking a few questions: Have you seen any miracle lately? Where and when have you seen the power of God is at work? Do miracles only happened in Jesus’ days? Then, people began to share their personal experiences and encounters with spiritual warfare. While all the stories shared were great, we were mostly captivated by Cham’s story. At break time, Syna asked Cham to retell his story slowly so she could scribble it down on paper. This is Cham’s story…

Last month, while Cham was sitting in the shade of a tree, a very distraught mother was running toward him crying and screaming for help! Her sixteen-year old daughter being manifested by evil spirits was acting inappropriately and violently.
Cham, a church leader from Ang Salaa, telling his miracle story
Sensing that her daughter’s mind was controlled by something else, the concerned mother (who was not a believer) took the daughter to a local Kru Khmer (witch doctor) for help. At the witch doctor’s house while he was chanting and performing his rituals, the demonized girl though very skinny and small in form screamed out in strange voices at the witch doctor cursing and mocking him saying, “You’re not strong enough for me!" The witch doctor then attempted to do a few other rituals; but no matter what he tried, the girl could not be contained. And she began to throw things at him! She also kicked the witch doctor where he toppled over and fell off the bed! Seeing that nothing else could be done, he yelled, “Take her away. Go! Go away all of you! And don’t come back!” The mother then took the girl to the government referral hospital in Poipet where medical staff gave her some sedative medication so she was able to sleep. Shortly afterward upon waking up, the demonized girl began to act violently all over again! But this time it happened in the hospital surrounded by many frightened patients with their families and medical staffs who were all staring at the girl! Then, some of the staff shouted “Take her to Kru Khmer. Kru Khmer will know what to do.” But the mother shouted, “No! We just came from Kru Khmer and he could not do anything to help her.” After a few moments of silence, someone in the same room said, “You should take your daughter to Pouk Yea-sue (meaning-- the Jesus people). They can help her.”  Feeling encouraged by these words, the frantic mother then asked a friend to watch her daughter while she returned to Ang Salaa to get Cham (because of his strong faith in Jesus, Cham is known to everyone in Ang Salaa Village as “Taa yea-sue," meaning-- the Jesus Man). At the mother's persistent requests, Cham reluctantly went along to the hospital where the girl was sleeping. Upon arrival, everyone was curious with great anticipation wondering what will become of Cham when the girl wakes up. Cham quietly began to pray in his heart asking God for strength, courage, and wisdom as he had never done anything like this before! Finally, Cham calmly called out to the girl, “Daughter, wake up. Do you know who I am?” When opening her eyes, she looked straight into his eyes saying, “Yes, I know who you are. You are Pou Cham (Uncle Cham). You believe in Jesus." And Cham responded, “Yes, I believe in Jesus. He is very powerful and stronger than all evil spirits in this world. And He can heal you. Do you want to be well?” She responded, “Yes!” So, Cham prayed with the girl to receive Jesus into her heart while everyone in that hospital room sat quietly watching and listening to the entire conversations feeling amazed at what took place. Since this incident, the girl is well again and has been coming on and off to the Ang Salaa Alliance house church. Her mother has not made any decision to follow Christ yet…

June 18: The regional quarterly youth rally went well! The newly elected Regional Director, Rev.  Nhear Phearum, preached about the story of The Lost Son found in Luke 15:11-32. He challenged the young people to identify themselves as one of the rebellious sons while recognizing that no matter what we've done in our lives due to sinful nature, God is always waiting with open arms and tender mercy to give us a second chance for any prodigal child who truly repents…

178 KEC youth attended the regional quarterly rally at Svey Sisophon

Youth rally at Svey
During the rally, various youth groups performed their special songs with choreographies. All of the songs (chosen by the various youth groups) had the titles or lyrics related to the message! Everyone in the room was amazed by this coincidence…

The night before the rally, due to distant locations, all 28 youth from Anlong Veng areas came to sleep at our house! At 5 in the morning of the appointed date, we loaded everyone into a rented van and into our pick-up truck. Some young people with carsickness had to sit outside the entire trip (a three hour drive to and from). Altogether, we had 178 people attend the rally. Everyone seemed to have a great time. Praise God!

Young people from Anlong Veng traveled with us to the youth rally

Some dates and events needing your prayer:
  1. June 30, Teacher Training Seminar/ Workshop for new Sunday school teachers for the Northwest region will be taking place at Andoung Thma Meas Alliance Church, Poipet.
  2. Our next bimonthly Poipet leadership class is scheduled for June 30.
  3. Earlier in June, a group of 9 new believers at Andoung Chan Alliance had finally completed their first new believer discipleship course called Living Water! It was no easy task for them to study and memorize God’ words since most of them could hardly read or write! But they made it and all did it so well! Next level, Abundant Life class, will begin on June 22!
  4. July 4-9: All Alliance International Workers in Cambodia will attend our annual Field Forum in Siem Reap province. Many of us will be traveling from far away provinces. Please pray for safe traveling for all. Pray that we will be open to receive and hear what God has to say to us.
Please share with us what God is doing in your life. As always, we are grateful to God for your prayers and finally support toward the Great Commission Fund. Thank you for your partnership with us in the effort to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to lost people in Cambodia everywhere around the globe.

Soeuth & Syna

Monday, May 28, 2018

May (End) Update 2018

Dear Praying Friends and Family,

Because you have prayed, here is what took place…

As mentioned in our previous update, immediately after the Field Leadership Team (FLT) meeting, Syna participated as one of the translators for the Inter-generation Leadership Conference in Phnom Penh with a conference theme called Multiplying Disciples and Churches. Altogether, 223 KEC representatives attended the two- day conference and participated in three workshop classes taught by a visiting team from City Light Alliance church from Omaha, Nebraska.

Syna with Poipet KEC members at Phnom Penh conference

Intergenerational Leadership Conference

223 KEC representatives participated in the Phnom Penh leadership conference
Syna translating at the Intergenerational Leadership Conference
Every workshop session was well attended. The KEC leaders express great appreciation for new insights on how to help their church grow. Immediately after the conference, Syna took a taxi to Siem Reap and then another taxi to Anlong Veng to get things ready for the motorbike mission trip…

Northwest regional annual motorbike mission trip
Initially, since we did not get any clear response from the youth leaders, we thought perhaps 20-25 other people would participate in this motorbike mission trip. Because of this we told the hosting villagers to prepare food for such amount of people. However, at around 4:00 pm on the appointed date, 64 people with all their motorbikes and gears showed up in front of our house! Quickly, we sent word to the hosting families to get more food ready. In addition to the 64 visitors (from Poipet, Bontey Meanchey and from Siem Reap), we also brought some young people from Anlong Veng to join us. Because of bad roads and traveling with such a big group, by the time we arrived into the hosting village it was late in the evening. Everyone was hungry and tired but very excited about the trip. The Srae Kandal Alliance church families worked together so well and had generously and very graciously prepared abundant of food: a four- course meal for the hungry bunch! Shortly after a time of fellowship, enjoyment with plenty of delicious meals, and with the help of a small portable generator, we showed the Jesus Film to the villagers. Many neighbors and friends from the areas came to watch. Originally, we had in plan to show just one movie, but the villagers kept asking, “Do you have any more movies to show us?” We did. That night, we showed a total of four Christian films of various titles. Even then, some villagers insisted on staying up all night just to chat with the visitors! Although no one from the areas had come forward to receive Christ in that first evening service, after three days and two nights of visiting and spending at various places, we led four people to the Lord!

Of course, it would not be our normal tradition for the northwest regional annual KEC mission trip if it was not accompanied by thunderstorms, accidents, and some other minor inconveniences:

- The first day on our way to Srae Kandal village, we had to stop a few times because of heavy rainstorms with flashing lightings causing broken tree branches to block off muddy roads. This caused a few delays with our traveling.

- Some motorbike drivers encountered accidents along the way where their bikes had flat tires or minor mechanical problems.

- We thank the Lord, however, that two young men were miraculously spared from major accident. If an accident did happen, it would have been a fatal one. Their story: Upon suspecting that something was wrong with their bike, the two young men immediately and wisely pulled over and parked their old raggedy motorbike in a borrowed shelter of a house in a nearby village. They then called us for help. Then, we sent out two other drivers with their bikes to pick up the two boys. The next morning, we drove back to the place where the boys had left the bike and were very surprised to see the condition of the bike! Upon lifting it up onto our truck, the bike snapped into two pieces! Everyone was amazed how God kept these two young men from major harm. Even unbelieving speculators of the area were amazed at this miracle.

The main body of a bike broken in half
The guys tied the broken bike onto our truck
- On the way to another location, Sanchey Village, our third targeting village, we parked all four
vehicles on the road side with Syna because the roads were so bad. An older woman volunteered to wait while those on motorbikes continued on as planned. Upon returning to the main road from Sanchey village, two vehicles had flat tires while another car suffered major mechanical problems. It had to be towed away and repaired at a nearby garage.

In order to participate on this mission trip, everyone was required and encouraged to contribute  a small financial fee in order to help pay for the cost of food and for other expenses at the hosting villages. In addition to the required fees, the visiting group decided to take two offerings for the building constructions of two shelters (for two different villages) for children Sunday classes. It was amazing to see the generosity among the participants in response to the needs of their neighbors. Those who had the means gave sacrificially from their own personal savings to help pay for the extra- unplanned expenses for the broken vehicles.

Those who had participated in this mission trip had eagerly expressed, “I will never forget this mission trip, ever!” or “I learned so much from this trip!” or “It’s the most memorable trip I ever had.” Among the visiting group, four older ladies from Svey Sisophon decided to join the mission trip saying, “Why let all the young people have all the fun. We want to be part of this trip too."  They were such adventurous and funny ladies! With their many years of life experience, these dear grannies offered many godly wisdoms and advice to the youngsters. And of course we let these dearly matured ladies ride in the cars. Altogether, we had 78 people participate in this mission trip with ages ranging from 1 to 81 years old riding on 22 motorbikes and four cars visiting a total of six village-house churches.

Mission Trip: Worship service at Sanchey village

Mission Trip: People praying for the land where the worship place is to be built at Andoung Chan village
Mission Trip: Young people participating in worship service at Srae Kandal viallage

May 18-24 was a whirlwind of long road trips around the northwest regions where many church leaders participated in leadership seminars in Tek Cho village, Poipet, and Srae Nouy village. Our two friends (husband-wife team) from New York City, also experienced Bible teachers, came to teach leadership workshop classes on topics like: Faith, Doubt, Disappointment, and How to Defend Our Faith/Apologetic. Those who participated in the seminars expressed gratitude to God for opportunity to learn God’s Word and to grow deeper in their faith.

Leadership training at Tek Cho village
Leadership seminar at Poipet

May 20: The Sunday church service at Srae Kandal brought great excitements to the church families as a prodigal son had finally returned home. Yuoun (age 22), currently a young husband and newly proud father, was a long-time rebellious son of Mrs. Heng and Mr. Tuon. However, he finally came to his senses and returned home to his family. His story: After a serious accident which resulted in multiple body injuries, Tuon realized that because of his mother’s persistent prayers, God kept him alive and well! That day, with an approval of his parents, Tuon’s young wife decided to dedicate their baby girl, their first born to the Lord.

A baby dedication at Srae Kandal Village
Realizing that his parents, his three younger siblings, his wife, and now even his baby girl--- all belonging to God’s family, Tuon did not want to be left behind. He wished to be part of this great family as well. With his mother's invitation, Tuon agreed to accept Jesus as his Lord and Savior with Soeuth leading him in the sinner prayer. There was great rejoicing among the church families as Tuon sincerely prayed to receive Jesus into his heart.

Soeuth leading Tuon in the sinners prayer at Srae Kandal village
So once again dear prayer warriors, thank you so much for praying. God heard your prayers and He is working, moving, and stirring the hearts of His children. Thank you for partnering with us in the Cambodian ministries. Please share with us what God is doing in your life.

With a grateful heart,
Soeuth & Syna

P.S. In case you don’t hear from us for a while, please know that we will be enjoying every precious moment with our children, because both sons and a brand new daughter-in-law are coming to visit us soon…

Monday, May 14, 2018

May Update 2018

Dear praying friends and family,

Greetings! We trust you are doing well.

It’s proven to be a busier schedule for us these next few weeks, so we want to update you on what took place recently before things get piled up…

We had a wonderful time visiting Japan! Our hosts, Soeuth’s niece and her Japanese husband, went extra miles and beyond in their efforts to host us. Having them as our own personal tour guides and interpreters, we were able to visit some exotic places within a few hour drive to each place from Tokyo. We had opportunities to taste some yummy, yet interesting food and to experience some of the local and cultural stuff…

Enjoying Japanese food with our hosts

Visiting tea farm
Beautiful flowers displayed in the park 
Enjoying shopping in Japan
Shortly after returning to Cambodia, we joined the Poipet CAMA staff retreat in Sihanoukville at the beach. It was a very long road trip (14 hour drive each way), but it was worth every effort after seeing all the excitements written on their faces. Some of the staff members had never seen the ocean before!

CAMA Staff Retreat
2 Timothy says, “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” These past few weeks as we returned and resumed our village classes, we learned a number of heartaches that some church families had encountered, and some of these other hard issues/ challenges are still taking place…

1. On April 30 at Andoung Chan village, Mr. Kong’s daughter suffered a few deep cuts and bruises on her body as a result of a severe domestic violence from the hands of her unbelieving husband!  She was immediately taken to a local clinic and was treated there. Sadly, her two young children (aged 4 and 2) witnessed the entire event. The husband left the house and got away without any charge…

2. A few days later during an evening family worship time while Mr. Kong was leading a devotion, an angry drunken man, Kong’s unbelieving’s brother-in-law, came by carrying a big machete pointing to and threatening Kong saying, “I will cut off your head, if you continue to poison my family with this foreign God of yours."  Seeing the severity of the situation, the man’s wife (Kong’s younger sister) and her two small children reluctantly left the worship place at her husband’s demands.

3. On May 1, also at Andoung Chan village, Mr. Raa’s two cows were hit and killed by a truck with a military license plate! By Cambodian law, if the cows cross the roads resulting traffic accident at a certain time of the day, the cows’ owner, if identified at the time of an accident, is responsible to pay for the cost of the vehicle damage. If the owner is not identified, however, the driver has the right to take the dead animals… Understanding the situation and realizing that he has no means to pay for the damage, Mr. Raa quietly hid behind a tree waiting while the driver searched for the cows’ owner.  After some time of questioning local people and not finding the cows’ owner, the angry driver left with one dead cow. Sometime later, Mr. Raa came out from hiding to collect the other dead animal...
Cambodian farmers, not trusting modern banks, invest their saving into buying and raising live stocks such us cows, buffalos, and or pigs. So, Mr. Raa and his family had lost a total of $900.00 worth of saving…

4. Two days after the cows’ incident, during a late evening walk home, Mr. Raa’s 13-year old adopted son, Sokhey, was bitten by a poisonous snake, a viper!  Raa was attending a worship service at Srae Nouy when this happened.  Hearing the news from his wife, Raa and a few other men left the service and rushed home to take Sokhey to the clinics. Since it was late in the night, all local clinics closed!  Panicked, friends and family lifted Sokhey up in prayers throughout the night. Next morning, Sokhey awoke healthy and alive! When asked what took place, Sokhey shared experience that immediately after he felt a sharp pain on his left foot, Sokhey looked down and saw a snake crawling. Next, he took his walking stick and killed the snake.  Then, he knelt down and prayed to God on the same spot asking the Lord Jesus to help. Finally, he walked home carrying a dead snake by one hand and a walking stick in another hand with his foot bleeding from the snake bite. When he reached home, he shared the sad news with his mom… After hearing Sokhey’s story and seeing a dead snake as proof, everyone was amazed. One neighbor surprisingly said, “No one had survived from such a deadly snake before," a few other nodded in agreement. On May 4th when we resumed our weekly class, Mr. Raa came to class with Sokhey sitting next to him, alive and healthy. Everyone praises to Jesus!

Mr. Raa (middle) and his son (right)
This past week, as persistently requested by the church families, Syna taught two baking classes at Srae Kandal and at Andoung Chan villages having nine female participants. The ladies give praises to Jesus for opportunities to learn to bake and to earn small incomes from selling their baked goods.

Baking class at Amdoung Chan village
Events and dates to pray for: 

1. This week May 6-12, Syna is in Phnom Penh attending Field Leadership Team (FLT) meeting and Intergenerational Leadership conference. The conference leads by the visiting team from Citylight church in Omaha, Nebraska. Syna will participate in the English-Khmer translation. Pray for safe traveling for all the participants and visiting team.

2. May 13-16, the northwest regional KEC youth will participate in an annual motorbike mission trips visiting four village Alliance churches in Anlong Veng areas. Pray for safe traveling and opportunities to witness Christ to those who are seeking.

3. This is the final and exam week for our son and his wife, Justin and Katie, at Crown College. Both will graduate from the same nursing program on May 12. Sadly, we will not be there in person, but will try to view this special event through a streamline. The young couple had worked hard and endured four long hard years of studies, and this week is their last! Pray that they will finish well…

4. Please pray for leadership seminars in Tek Choe village (May 18), at Poipet (May 19) and at Srae Nouy village (May 24-25).

5. May 26:  We are so excited that Justin and Katie are coming to Cambodia!  They both will be with us for a day then will fly out to visit Penang, Malaysia. On June 1, all three children (Justin & Katie and Jonathan) will come home!  We are looking forward to this reunion.

6. Due to conflicts in schedule, the National KEC youth committees had moved their quarterly meeting date to June 2 in Phnom Penh instead.

Please share with us what God is doing in your lives. Thank you for partnering with us in the Cambodian ministries through your faithful prayers and generous financial support to the Great Commission Fund. We are very grateful.

Soeuth & Syna

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

April Update 2018

Dear Praying Friends and Family,

Jum- reap su-a!  Happy Khmer New Year! We trust the Lord has been good to you.

The remaining days of April proved to be busy ones for us. Here are some brief updates of what took place since our last newsletter.

Early morning on March 19 as we were about to start a discipleship class at Ondoung Chan village, one young couple arrived at class late. Both of them were still yawning. When asked why they appeared tired they both answered, “We were up late until 4 o’clock this morning listening to the stories from our radio!” Then the husband added, “They were such good Bible stories that we kept listening to one story after another."  Shortly after this couple shared their story, another young wife started to complain. “Lok Kru” (teacher) she said motioning to Soeuth, “Could you please tell my husband (who is known as Mr. Raa) to stop reading his Bible at 3 o’clock in the morning?  I need to sleep, but he kept me awake by turning on the light just to read his bible out loud!” After a moment of laughter Soeuth responded, “You should be glad that he is reading his Bible at home and not visiting karaoke shops somewhere late at night."  It is a joy to see waves of excitement from among the new believers as they could not seem to get enough of God’s words through their daily bible reading or through listening to the audio bible stories played from their MP3 radio. Almost every week through phone calls, we keep hearing about one story after another how lives have been affected and changed as hearts are turning to God’s word.

Thank you for praying for the regional adult conference in Siem Reap which took place on March 28-30. Soeuth was one of the speakers for the conference with a theme that was based on Revelations 3:14-18 as “…Lukewarm…” Many who attended expressed appreciation and gratitude for God’s word in their lives. The messages they all heard were reminders that they should not take their faith and salvation for granted.

On Thursday April 5th, we left Anlong Veng early to pick up a total of 15 youth from various villages on roadsides and headed toward Kampong Cham province for the youth conference. We only traveled about an hour on the roads when some young ladies began to experience motion sickness and started to throw up in the car onto bags of clothes! We stopped a few times afterwards just to clean up the vomit. It was a great relief when we finally reached our destination. Once settled in their assigned sleeping quarters, every helping hand was needed to clean up the camp site and to get things ready for the conference to start in the afternoon of April 6th.

Cleaning crew before conference starts

These 15 youngsters attended the conference for the first time. When we left Anlong Veng, only 13 of them were professed Christians, while two young ladies came along just for an adventure, but God had other plans for them. After listening to the message at the first evening service, they decided to give their lives totally to Jesus! Now back at home, the girls are still radiant with joy as they continue reading their Bibles and praying every day.
Like every other youth conferences in the previous years, obstacles and challenges seemed to follow us everywhere:

Challenge #1:  Just ten days before the conference began, one of the morning speakers backed out on his speaking agreement. Because of this, we had to find someone quickly to replace him. Praise God, the committees found such a replacement just in time.

Challenge #2: At the start of the conference, we learned that there were issues with the city water.  How can we run a camp with over 500 youth and leaders with inadequate water supply? We improvised. Soeuth and a few guys began to dig holes in the ground to erect pillars to support plastic tarps as they attempted to make “water tanks." Then we called and ordered a few truckloads of pond water to fill up our new man-made water tanks.

Challenge #3: Of course, it would not be a tradition if we did not have a rain storm at every youth camp even as we are at the peak of a hot season! Yes, we had heavy rain showers three times on early morning hours of the second day, soaking the beautiful decorated stage and some banners and even part the of the sound system. The decorations were all washed out and damaged! Some of the sleeping areas were soaked from the rain. There were mud puddles everywhere. During the morning worship hour, we managed to secure only one working microphone for the speaker, but this was the only time in the entire conference where we needed at least two microphones; one for the English-speaker, another for the translator! Again, we improvised.  Since the majority of the youth did not understand English, we gave the only working mic to the translator.

There were other challenges along the way, but God was also there moving and stirring hearts towards Him. Since this was the most anticipating event of the year for young people, many groups had prepared their special songs or skits to perform at a given time.

Anlong Veng youth with their special song at youth camp
There were moments of funny laughter and skillful skits performed by various talented youth groups. There were also moments of tears as people were reflecting on and applying God’s words into their lives. The conference theme was “Finishing Well” based on 2 Timothy 4:1-8, and various speakers had challenged the youth to be faithful in keeping the faith in Christ and to finish the race well in their spiritual walk. One speaker even challenged older/mature leaders to "pass the baton" and help young people finish the race well by being willing to train, disciple, mentor, and invest their teaching and knowledge to the next generation. One of the steps to finishing well was presented by another speaker, Soeuth, who challenged the young people to start sharing their faith with people around them. At the last night service Soeuth challenged the youth to see if they were willing to step forward and publicly make a commitment that they would share their faith with others. If so they would come forward to receive an evangelism bracelet. That night we gave away more than 380 bracelets! Over all, the conference went well as it would be expected. In total, we had 498 people registered and paid for the conference, but more than 530 people attended. Of those who attended the conference, about 40% of them were first timers.

One youth comm selling T-shirts to help fund for extra cost at the conference

Morning service at youth camp
Tribal youth resting between seminar sessions
Evening service at youth camp

Dates and events needing your prayers:

April 15-22: We are taking a much needed vacation to Japan.April 14-16: Khmer New Year.
April 23-25: A young family with two small kids from Poipet will visit us in Anlong Veng for a few    days as they are seeking God’s will and direction for future ministry.
April 26-28: Poipet CAMA staff prayer retreat at the beach in Sihanoukville/ Kampong Sorm province.
May 3-5: The nine members- national youth committee (and some of their families) will come to our house for a committee meeting (May 4th) and for some fun time.
May 6-9: Syna is traveling by taxi to Phnom Penh for Field Leadership Team (FLT) meeting.
May 10-13: Intergenerational leadership Seminar in Phnom Penh is being led by a visiting team called City Light Team from Omaha.
May 13-15: Annual regional youth motorbike mission trip to visit various Alliance churches in Anlong Veng areas.  We are expecting about 40 people will participate in this trip.

As always, we are very grateful for your generous giving to support the Great Commission Fund (GCF) which enables us to continue spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ to lost people in Cambodia and around the world. Your continued partnership in the Cambodian ministries through prayers and financial support are much appreciated. Thank you.


Soeuth & Syna Lao

Monday, March 19, 2018

March Update 2018

Dear Praying Friends and Family

Jum reap sure! Greetings! We trust this newsletter finds you well.
Thank you so much for praying and supporting the Cambodian ministries. Here are some updates as a result of your faithful prayers…

February 27-28: Our team of International Workers had an amazing prayer retreat in the capital city, Phnom Penh. Our guest speaker, Rev. Joel Arndt from Community Alliance, MN, did an excellent job leading us into the presence of God through his messages in the Lord’ Prayer.  Many of the new like-minded seconding- International Workers who recently joined the Alliance team also attend this retreat, so it was a great opportunity getting to know some of our other additional team mates.
The day after the retreat, we returned home with our regional director and his wife who came to visit the various ministries in Anlong Veng areas. As planned for March 3, we had a leadership seminar in Srae Nouy where 30 KEC members from around the areas attended. Rev. Joseph Kong, an Alliance IW, led the group in Disciples- Making seminar.

KEC Church members playing Khmer traditional musical instruments at Srae Nouy
Discipleship seminar at Srae Nouy
IW prayer retreat
Discipleship making seminar at Srae Nouy

Kong and Tim Steinert at Srae Nouy
Shortly after the seminar/workshop, there were opportunities for personal testimonies where Mr. Kong, Mr. Raa and a few others shared powerful stories about the hand of God working in their lives.

Rev. Kong then challenged the eager group that “It is not to lead people to accepting Jesus’ salvation plan for their lives, but we must make an effort to disciple these newly converts to know his word for their spiritual growth”.

Sarom (right) with Pastor Dy at the Discipleship seminar in Srae Nouy
Syna praying for a little girl to receive Christ at Srae Nouy
On the way to Srae Nouy, as requested by Mr. Raa, we stopped by the roadside at a local market to pick up a lady to attend the workshop. We had no idea what she looked like. Raa gave us only her name and descriptions of her shop. As Syna walked out of the car to ask other sellers about the lady, she passed by many stalls/shops selling beef, fish, fruits, vegetables, and fried snacks/cakes. Syna noticed that while all those other shops had higher places for incense sticks and various worship idols the last shop sat a 62-year old named Mrs. Neang with an opened Khmer hymnal book on her lap. She was humming along with the Christian songs playing from a small red radio device!

Syna searching for Mrs. Neang's shop

Mrs. Neang with her radio on while making fried cake snacks to sell
After she got into the car with us, we learned that Neang was the lady that Raa had witnessed to (see Raa’s story in our February blog), and she was only a few weeks old believer! But what bold and courageous testimony she had demonstrated by singing songs and talking about Jesus in public!

Mr. Raa in black and Mrs. Neang holding her radio
March 8: A quarterly regional youth rally at Svey Sisophon went very well. 168 young people from three provinces at various ages attended. The youngest of the youth was only eight years olds! Before and after the message, there were opportunities for special songs with choreographies courageously  performed by various youth groups.

Youth rally at Svey
Bethlehem youth traveling to the rally at Svey
Regional youth rally at Svey

Youth group performed a special song at the youth rally
In his message, Soeuth challenged the young people to develop a consistent lifestyle based on Philippians 1:21 that say, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain”.

After four weeks of attempts, we finally had the first lesson of Living Water class begin on March 9 at Ondong Chan village (where Mr. Kong lives)! The Living Water class  is a five-week discipleship course for new believers.

Living Water class at Andong Chan village
Kids playing while their parents attended the Living Water class
In the first class, we had 17 people sign up and attend the class. Among them were 7 members from Kong’s entire family! Each student is given a book with home works to be completed before each class begins. Please pray that students would find time and courage to study. Many of them struggle with their inability to read and write well.

As words continue to spread, more and more villagers are requesting to have a small radio set for their own with some Christian materials to read. However, because the villagers are located at distant locations and because of poverty, many could never have proper medical, dental or eye cares checked. As a result, many older folks suffer terribly with poor health, especially with eyesight. So, every time we visit a village, Syna makes it a habit of bringing a long, extra pair of reading glasses at various prescription ranges for those in needs.
Reading glasses and small gifts being given to new believers/villagers
We find that by simply giving away small items such as radios, reading glasses, bookmarks, color pencils or highlighters, and even small Bible bags—these items not only bring tremendous joy to the villagers, they also motivate the new believers to read and study God’s word at their pace.

Illiteracy continues to be one of the major problems in most remote villages hindering new believers from growing in God’s word. The same problem is found at every village. The situation can be hopeless and discouraging. Passionate and committed literacy teachers are a rare treasure to find, but God in His great mercy and love for the needy often surprises us with such a treasure as we recently discovered in Mr. Sarom…  A few weeks ago at Andong Chan village, Sarom was among the 16 attendees who sat through and participated in an all-day adult literacy teacher-training workshop. Immediately afterward, Sarom took the literacy book and practiced teaching on his three small children and young wife. The students responded positively and Sarom was greatly encouraged. Seeing good results from teaching his family, Sarom felt inspired to invite neighboring children to join in his nightly classes. As the result, Sarom now has a total of 14 literacy students to teach at home!

Kids anxious to learn in the literacy class with Sarom at Ksaach Ampel village
In his excitement, Sarom went a step further by bringing the same book to a neighboring village called Ksaach Ampel where he then talked face-to-face with a village chief and some parents. After showing the book and its teaching methods to the people there, Sarom then asked if they would be interested in having him come to teach their children. The parents and village chief not only accepted Sarom’s offers, they began to put a collection of money from each family in hope to buy enough supplies to build adequate sitting areas for the kids. As a result, the parents signed up 70 children to be taught in Sarom’s literacy class! At this point, Sarom could only go and teach at Ksaach Ampel three times per week while he is searching for other potential teachers from within the village. We help with Sarom’s traveling expenses and small stipends.

Sarom teaching literacy class at Ksaach Ampel village
Kids walking home after literacy class

(FYI: Some background story behind this village. Ksaach Ampel is a newly established remote village located in an outskirt of Odar Meanchey province where many poor families moved there within the last 5-7 years in hope to find labor works in the rubber plantations. This village of 300 plus families is about 30 kilometers away from the nearest clinics and has poor/ inadequate water supplies. The nearest public elementary school is about 7 kilometer away. For families with means of transportation, they could easily afford ways to bring their children to and from school every day. Some older children often walk and bike to school on their own, but the majority of the younger children whose families are without any means of transportation, stay/wander around aimlessly at home while their parents are busy working in the plantations).

Dates and events needing your prayers:
March 19: Our next Living Water class at Andong Chan village.
March 23-24: Syna to Phnom Penh to accompany Jonathan home for spring break (March 24-31).
March 23-24: Soeuth to Poipet for bimonthly classes.
March 28-30: Northwest regional KEC church conference in Siem Reap province.
April 1-2: Syna accompanies two MKs back to Dalat International School, in Penang, Malaysia.
April 5-9: Traveling with some KEC youth to Kampong Cham for annual youth camp.
As always, we are very grateful for your ongoing and faithful prayers and supports.  Thank you, for being a committed a ministry partner with us for the Cambodian ministries.   Please share with us what God is doing in your life.  We want to be a blessing to your through prayers.
Soeuth & Syna