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

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

February Update 2018

Dear Praying Friends and Family,

Jum Reap Sure! Greetings from Anlong Veng, Cambodia! We trust the Lord has been gracious to you watching your every coming and going.
A little boy sending greetings in jum reap sure
You have been following in our monthly updates concerning Mr. Kong, who is very passionate about sharing Christ with everyone he meets. Recently, Kong and his wife have been visiting more friends and relatives and leading many of them to the Lord! Earlier this month, Kong was closer to our areas again so Soeuth joined one of Kong’s evangelistic outreaches in Tra-pang Kra-sang villag where they led two families to the Lord!

Soeuth sharing an evangelistic message at a village
As the result, on February 9th, one family invited us to help knock down shrines and remove their other worshipped items.

Idol removed and soon destroyed
Incense ticked removed and ready to burn
In addition to the two of us, those church leaders who attended this event were Pastor Dy and Mr. Aaron from Srae Nouy, Mr. Kong and Mr. Raa from Andong Chan village, and few other local leaders. After a time of sharing and singing praise and hymnal songs followed by Scriptural reading, we prayed for protection for every member of the host family including their house, laying hands inch by inch on every part of the entire house.

Because many of these new believers are poor, illiterate families who live far away from already existing church sites it is a challenge to find ways to help these new believers grow spiritually. In addition to this challenge, it is not possible for us to teach them on a regular basis. To answer this need, we have been giving away or sold to church families small radios (one of the Alliance literature productions) that included memory chips of audio scriptural reading in Khmer. It also included traditional hymnals, many topics of preaching messages, and Bible lessons for women, men, youth and children ministries.
Small radio with memory chip containing Bible stories and songs
Radios given out to church leaders
It is a very small and inexpensive device, but it is being used powerfully by God to reach lost people for His Kingdom. Here is one example…

This past Friday at Tra-pang Kra-sang village, we gave one radio to Mr. Raa, who is a passionate evangelist just like his friend, Kong. The next day, excited about his new gift, Raa took his radio along to a local market on his way to sell papayas. While parking his wagon in front of a market waiting for potential buyers, Raa blasted out his radio to a passage where scriptural reading was being played. Soon, curious customers began to move closer and closer to Raa’s wagon, not to buy the fruits, but to hear what was being said from the small device! Grabbing the opportunity, Raa began to boldly share the Good News with everyone. As a result, one elderly grandmother (aged 78) burst out with tears of gladness at the sound of this Good News of Jesus Christ that Raa was sharing. At Raa’s persistent invitation, the dearly elderly grandma went to Srae Nouy Alliance church that Sunday with Raa. At the end of the day, she completely gave her life to Jesus! “She kept on crying and crying the whole time!" exclaimed Raa. “And we cut off a lot of spirit strings from her body," added Pastor Dy.

Sadly, we had to constantly remind Kong and his friends to “slow down” in their attempts to win new converts into the Kingdom! Kong and his evangelical “buddies” are on fire for God and we can hardly keep up with them!

Kong (far left) with his evangelical buddies
Kong (far right) sharing to a young man (middle) with Kong's partner, Mr. Aaron (far left)
Kong sharing
Truly, God’s spirit is upon Kong as seen in his giftedness and his passion in sharing the Good News with everyone he meets! Almost every week, we receive phone calls from Kong to report that so and so had recently received Christ!

Kong and his wife eating dinner at our house after one of his evangelistic outreaches
Adult literacy teacher trainer seminar
Monday February 12th at Andong Chan village, we had an all-day teacher-trainer workshop for a Bible-based adult literacy program. It is our prayer that out of 16 attendees at least 12 or 13 will begin teaching literacy classes in their homes and community soon…

Syna teaching a literacy workshop
New believers prayed to received Christ at Toul Prich village.

We were so glad to have Cori Heck, a young lady from central California to live with us and help out with teaching English to kids and youth at Toul Prich. On February 13, due to health related issue, Cori returned home. In just a few short weeks that she has been here, the kids and youth really connected well with her and were sad to see her go.

Cori teaching English to teenage girls in Toul Prich
Cori playing games with Toul Prich kids
Now, that we got them interested, pray that God would send us another person with similar passion as Cori to continue on with this ministry outreach through teaching English and sport ministry...

We continue on with bimonthly leadership classes in Poipet. As tiring as the long road trips may be, we often feel refreshed by the eagerness of the students coming to class all excited to learn! We often have at least 20 or more students every time we go there and they always arrive early waiting for us.

Leadership class in Poipet
In our meeting, Mr. Moul (age 60+) a one-leg amputee from Ang Salaa village, rode his old ragged bicycle over 17 kilometers so he could attend class! Three teenage girls (ages 15-16) from Andong Thma meas village, all dressed in school uniform, took time off from their tutoring classes so they could study God's word with other adult leaders! The class discussions are often very lively and could go on and on if we're not carefully monitored. Having gone there on a regular basis, we were able to hear more of church struggles and issues within the church bodies. While Chean and Heng and other godly leaders of the areas are doing a great job caring for their flocks, but when it comes to resolving conflicts, they find it challenging beyond their abilities. This is partly because of their age and lack of experiences (most of the Poipet church Leaders are in their mid to late 30's). So far, during these five months that we've going there, we were able to help deal with resolving three marriage conflicts, all of which are on the road of recovery! We told the Poipet church leaders that we will commit to going there another six months to a year, then we will let them go on their own... Pray that the leaders and church families will continue looking to Jesus for answers.

God is doing something awesome in Srae Kandal village! Earlier in December, due to some conflicts within the church that caused division, Mr. Kong (from Andong Chan village) and Pastor Dy (from Srae Nouy) went to spend a few nights there reasoning with the church families and with a few key leaders.

Kong (far left), Dy (middle), and Mr. Chen (far right) all practicing how to teach literacy class
Worship service at Srae Kandal village
Kong was a disciple of Dy during his earlier days as a new believer, then, it was Kong who planted a church in Srae Kandal. So, when conflicts arose among the new believers, Kong and Dy stepped in to help. As a result, two other families now joined the church service! In addition to the Sunday church services, families will come together on Wednesdays, for all new believer discipleship classes as well as adult literacy classes for the illiterate.

Weekly visitation to new believers at their home
Syna has been teaching baking classes to village ladies using local products. The ladies are grateful and giving praises to God for opportunities to earn a small extra income ($5.00 to $8.00 per day) from selling their baked goods. She always looks for other opportunities, creative ideas, and or any small projects to share with the village ladies/families. Syna’s latest “project” is raising home-grown straw mushrooms! As word began to spread, the church ladies from Andong Chan, Srae Nouy, and from Srae Kandal villages are also requesting for the same opportunity.
Home grown mushroom project

Please pray:

February 25-28: We will head out to Phnom Penh for Field Leadership Team (FLT) followed with a field team prayer retreat. Pray for safe trips for all who will be traveling from provinces. Pray for a good outcome of the FLT meetings as well from retreat.
March 3: Leadership seminar at Srae Nouy village.
March 8: Northwest regional quarterly youth rally at Svey Sisophon.
April 6-8: National annual KEC youth camp/conference at Kampong Cham province.

We cannot thank you enough for your prayers! Thank you for being ministry partners with us through your prayers. Your generous giving to the Great Commission Fund enables us to keep on serving God in this part of the world bringing the message of Hope to lost people. And your financial support to our Work Special allows us to purchase radios and baking supplies and other needed items for doing church ministries. Please share with us what God is doing in your part of the world.

With a grateful heart,
Soeuth & Syna

Mango season is here

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

January Update 2018

Dear Praying Friends and Family,

Greetings and Happy New Year! We pray the Lord’s abundant blessings for you and for your family.

Life continues to be a fast pace in relation to church ministries. After a month full of Christmas activities at various places, we can now return to our “normal” schedules.

Christmas event at Toul Prich
Christmas event at Toul Prich under a newly built children's center

Christmas service at Srae Nouy village
Christmas play in Poipet wth a real baby acting as Jesus
But a lot has happened since our last update and we want to share it with you…

In our last update, we shared with you and asked you to pray for a new believer, Naat (aged 36 married and a father of four small children), and for his new found faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Here is a continuation of Naat’s story...  Before his conversion, Naat was (still is) a gifted carpenter making beautiful furniture to sell and earned a good income to support his entire family. His family owned a few pieces of properties where they raised cashew plantations. About 8 years ago, however, Naat got involved with the wrong crowds and he became an alcoholic since then. As his drinking continued, Naat lost his job and sold off his tools and properties in order to support his alcoholic lifestyle, a habit which nearly destroyed his marriage and life. When sobered, Naat attempted many times to quit drinking on his own, but had failed miserably. Depressed and feeling completely hopeless, Naat grudgingly accepted his lot in life saying, “This is who I am. I can never change." But his sixty-five year old widowed mother had refused to give up on Naat. She had prayed for him continuously until that glorious day in December when God demonstrated His power upon Naat’s life. On this past Christmas’s Eve Sunday, Naat attended church at Toul Prich with his mother and younger sister.

Naat excited and ready to attend church for the first time
During that church service a leader asked if anyone had anything to share with the group. Naat excitedly took the opportunity to share how Jesus had delivered him from the bondages of alcohol and of evil spirits. It just so happened that on that particular day, two other men from Toul Prich also attended church for the first time. When they heard Naat’s story, they were amazed. Now six weeks after his conversion, Naat has not touched one drink since and seemed so in love with Jesus. He is noted by his friends and family as, “Always singing praises to Preah yea-sue all the time!” People around Naat’s life were surprised by the transformation they saw in Naat’s life. As a result, Naat’s wife and their four children also accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Other carpenters and Naat’s former “drinking buddies” also expressed their astonishments at the changes in Naat’s life. Some asked, “What happened to you? You look different.” Naat only responded, “I met Preah yea-sue, that’s what happened. Jesus changed my life.”

Naat (back row on the right) joined the men's choir at Srae Nouy's Christmas event
During the Christmas season, we attended a total of 11 Christmas events, and of these places we saw 32 people come forward to receive Christ as their Lord and Savior!

20 people came forward to receive Christ at Sra Em vilage at the Christmas event
On January 13, we welcomed Cori from central California to live with us for two months. Cori is here to help out with children and youth ministry in Toul Prich.

Cori teaching English to Toul Prich kids
God is truly at work! We are so blessed to be part of His kingdom movement in this part of the world. Please pray for the new churches in the northwest region and around the Anlong Veng areas. Since we moved into Anlong Veng in July, we visited a total of five newly planted Alliance churches; each place located about a 1.5-2 hour drive from us. The new believers seem very excited and are requesting for solid teachings of God’s word. Please continue to pray that God would send us some experienced Khmer-speaking discipleship teachers to help teach new believer classes.

Upcoming events needing prayers:
  1. January 19th, meeting with Thai C&MA pastor and his team to discuss issues concerning Toul Prich ministry.
  2. January 27th, bimonthly leadership classes in Poipet.
  3. February 10th, National youth committee meeting in Phnom Penh.
  4. February 16th, Leadership classes/workshop in Tek Cho village in Bantey Meanchey province
  5. February 24th to March 2nd: Field Leadership Team (FLT) meetings and prayer retreat in Phnom Penh.
As always, we are very grateful for your prayers and financial support toward the Great Commission Fund, which allows us to continue serving in this part of Cambodia. Thank you for partnering with us in the Cambodian ministries.


Soeuth & Synna