Wednesday, December 23, 2015

December Update 2015

Dear Friends and Family,

Warm Christmas greetings!  As you celebrate the birth of our Lord this Christmas, may you experience the true meaning for the season.

The KEC churches all over Cambodia are in full swing with Christmas activities! For the northwest region, Soeuth has been invited to preach at village churches, and so far, he spoke at 5 villages out of 8, only three more Christmas events to go for this year.  Not too bad compares to what we had last year…  As we visited distant villages, we intentionally invited some young people to come along with us in order for learning opportunities as well as for a chance to visit new places.  Though the visit was an all- day event, and the ride was not pleasant, young people would always excitedly look for such opportunity! And every time we go to villages, we would always have a truck load full of kids coming along!  Upon each return home, the kids would often share their excited experiences of adventures to their friends and relatives. Last week, one young boy, Gideon, aged 12, was in tears as he passionately shared with his family about a recent visit. “Mom, their church building is much smaller than our house!  And the people there don’t have anything much”.  He paused to wipe away some tears from his eyes and then continued, “But they love God so much.  They walked a very long way just to come to church!  We live next door to the church building, yet some of us don’t even bother to go to church!”

As church people are encouraged to invite their unbelieving friends and relatives to the Christmas celebration, at Kampeing Poy Village last week, a young man, Phillip, and another youth had invited their high school friends to the celebration; 22 of their friends came!  These young people took half of the church seats!  At first we thought that these young people would not be staying throughout the entire service since they were not yet believers; and some church leaders even had half- expected that somewhere along the service that these young people would begin to leave. But all 22 of them stayed and paid close attention to every word spoken!  Soeuth had prepared an evangelistic message based on Luke 1:26-38, where he’d challenged the listeners to put aside their weariness, heavy burdens, and other life struggles, but to come willingly and accept the free gift of eternal life that the Son of God has for each of them, because in spite of all our struggles or what we are going through, “Nothing is impossible with God”.  At the end of that service, all of these young visitors stayed long enough to ask us some very insightful questions. We have reasons to believe that these young people had clearly heard the Gospel!  Now it is up to God to work in their hearts.  Please pray that the seed planned would be begin to sprout at God’s timing.

December 10 was an exciting day for the Peayope (northwest) regional youth ministry!  The Poipet/Malay kids had waited with much anticipation.  On the 9th of December, as the numbers of those who registered were reported, we‘d expected that about 140 kids would be traveling from Poipet/Malay to Svey Sisophon, (the place where would have the rally).  But on early morning of the traveling day, a total of 186 people showed up in front of our house!  Where to find the extra vehicles for these many kids at such a short notice?  At the last minutes, however, God provided! A young man from Living water who had not planned to go but was just happened to come by our house for such an early morning visit!  And he was driving his new truck!  And when seeing the need, he willingly decided to give up one day of business (from selling coffee) in order to help drive the kids to the rally!  One problem solved.  Now, we just needed to find another truck or van!  Praise God, again, for answering prayer; we called the van company, and they were able to send us another van immediately!  Finally, we had a total of 7 pick-up trucks and 2 vans to load up all 186 people from Poipet/ Malay to join other youth at the rally! 

At the rally in Svey Sisophon, since there were too many people (a grand total of 296 people attended this rally), not enough chairs or space, everyone sat on tiled floor!  Music and the entire worship service, all were led by young people!  Soeuth spoke a message from Luke 2:8-20 (and comparing with Matthew 25), entitled: The Touch the Untouchable.  Soeuth asked the young people to identify who are some of the “untouchable” people in their community?  The list included those of the poor, the street kids from along Thailand-Cambodia border or at local markets, the beggars, the homeless, the massage girls, and or the prostitutes, the prisoners, and so many other groups.  And when challenged, “Who would be willing to go out and share the message of hope to these “untouchable” people?” many youth had raised their hands…  Following the message, there was time for skits, testimonies, and special songs with choreographies from various groups.  Many of these youth used their gifts and talents well as each group took turns to demonstrate/ perform their presentations in the “KEC Youth Got Talents”.

The KEC youth not only got gifts/talents, but they also got great hearts!  In order to help make it sustainable for this on-going youth ministry to continue existing, we’d tried to use minimal fund as much as possible. At each rally, though poor as they already are, we’d encouraged the youth to be responsible for their own traveling expenses (each youth from Poipet was required to pay a small amount, about $1.25 each for traveling expense) and to pack their own meal.  For this event, the youth committees provided only the services, facilities, and drinking water.  And at each rally, we often took a special offering and received small amount of cash to help pay for any extra expenses.  But at this particular rally, however, the offering collected was over $100.00!  Nearly twice the amount normally collected!

Family:  We are excited to have Jonathan with us for the Christmas season.  With lots of prayers and with God’s help, Jonathan, aged 13, grade 7th, has made it successfully for yet another semester!  We rejoice at what God is doing in Jon’s life.  Justin, aged 19 and second year in Crown College, will be staying with friends in Minnesota for the winter break.

Please remember the following dates and events in your prayers…

n  Dec. 22, Monthly classes in Phume Prey Village.  An all-day event with three Bible classes, one class after the other, following by a baking class.  We are expecting about 12 ladies will come for a baking lesson.  And on that same evening at 7-9 pm, Syna will teach a class on Paul’s Life and Letter. Pray for strength and energy for such a long day.

n  Dec. 25, Christmas service at Living Water Church.  This will be the first Christmas every for many new believers.  Church families are encouraged to invited their unbelieving friends and relatives for the service.  Pray that God would touch hearts. Rev. Jeff Williams, our team mate from Phnom Penh, will give the message.

n  Dec. 31, annual youth Christmas/ New Year’s Eve party at our house.  Usually we had about 60-80 young people attended every year.  And the same amount is expected for this year.  Pray for opportunity to share the Gospel with unbelievers.

n  Jan. 2, Soeuth will preach and officiate a wedding at Phume Prey village. This will be the first Christian wedding in this village!  The girl’s parents and relatives are not yet believers but willing for her to get married the Christian way!  Pray for outreach opportunities.

n  Next regional youth committee meeting in Battambang province (Jan. 7th) for the northwest region. And the next National youth committee meeting, Jan. 9th in Phnom Penh.

n  Jan. 13th -14th is our next Field Team Leadership (FLT) meeting in Phnom Penh.

n  Jan. 14th -30th, Syna will attend the Leadership matter Course (LMC) also in Phnom Penh.

n  Jan. 12th - 15th, Soeuth will take Jonathan back to Dalat School.

n  Jan. 27th -29th, KEC National Women retreat in Siem Reap Province, the committees are expecting about 600+ KEC women will be there.

n  Feb. 17-26, visiting team from Crossroad Alliance from Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, will come to Poipet.

Thank you so much for you faithful and continual prayers and support!  Your sacrificial giving the Alliance Great commission Fund enables us to continue serving in this part of the world, sharing the message of HOPE and the Gospel of LOVE to Lost people, because matters so much to God.  Please share with us what God is doing in your life. Have a blessed and merry Christmas!  Jesus is the reason for the season!

In Him,

Soeuth and Syna Lao

Monday, November 9, 2015

November Update 2015

Dear Friends and Family,

As Thanksgiving holiday (for Americans) is upon us, we’re reminded again and again of how grateful we are to God for you!  Throughout the past 12 years of ministries in Poipet, we could not possibly endure it alone if not for your constant prayers and support!  You have been a well spring of support to us in so many ways.  Stories below are a result from your on-going partnership through prayers and financial support to the Great Commission Fund. We want to affirm that through your partnership, God is doing some amazing things in the lives of Khmer people…

Recently, at a regional quarterly youth rally, because of a distant location and extra cost of traveling we did not expect many young people would show up, but we were quite surprised to see more than 150 youth came!  Because this event fell on the same time as memorial week for the late Cambodian king, local authorities had banned all loud music or any form of celebration!  So, to lead these many hyper active youth into a meaningful worship required some creativity from the youth committees.  Because we could not use a microphone and since we did not have a whistle at the moment, one leader routinely banged two lids of cooking pots in order to get the young people’s attention! With just a flute, a hand drum, and an electric keyboard as musical instruments, the worship leaders led the crowd to sing heartfelt songs of worship. Then to find ways that the speaker (Soeuth) could effectively communicate his message to such a big noisy crowd without the aid of a microphone was a bit of concern.  

Again, with the help from some youth, the leaders arranged plastic chairs into “U” shaped setting where the speaker was able to see people’s faces at eye level.  Soeuth had prepared a message entitled “Be Thankful” and challenged the groups that, “In so many ways, all of us have been selfishly taken God for granted”.  The message seemed to hit the core of the hearts as many young people, without feeling any shame, were seen crying and shedding tears of remorse as they reflected back to all the sinful things they’d done, and the ungrateful attitudes they had toward God.  Sensing that the Holy Spirit was moving, toward the end of the message, Soeuth challenged the group to spend sometimes praying to God.  And they did.  Some in quiet while some others in loud audible prayers; many youth cried their hearts out to God, confessing their sins, pleading for forgiveness, and asking God for a second chance.  To wrap up the message, the youth were broken into smaller groups.  

Each group with an appointed leader, and with less than 10- minute time frame, they were to come up with a song or poem of “Thanksgiving”, they were to give reasons to support their chosen poem or song, and that all members of each group would come up to sing or recite their song/poem!  Everyone was up to the challenge.  With these many smaller groups and so little time to prepare, we’d thought for sure they would end up repeating or choosing the same song.  Not one song was repeated!   The most beautiful part of all was the descriptions of reasons why each group left led to choose their song or poem… 

Coming to this rally, the youth knew that there would be a green papaya- salad making contest.  So, each church group leader had brought needed ingredients and spices and supplies ready for the making of papaya salad on the spot! With a one- hour given period, each group quickly prepared their salad and presented their proud products on a displayed table to be judged by designated key committee members. The youth from Living Water Church came in fifth place…  It was a very long exhausting day for all of us.  That particular day, we’d left Poipet at 6 O’clock in the morning, and after dropping everyone off, we’d made it safely home nearly 8 O’clock in the evening!  But as we’d looked back, at the end of the day, fully aware of what took place among the young people, we’d realized then that it was worth it all!

Shortly after Soeuth’s message, I (Syna) was approached by two sisters, “L” and “S”, who were in their early 20s, from a distant village in Battambang Province.  Still with visible tear drops on their faces and heavy burden in their hearts, the sisters asked if I would pray for them.  Feeling convicted by the message and in between sobs, the older sister “L” said, “Naak krue (teacher), we’ve been playing with God for so long. 

We used to be very actively involved in church and youth ministries.  But we got carried away with materials of this world.  Now, we want to be right with God again.  Won’t you pray for us as we are looking to get back helping with youth ministry in our home church?”  I’d spent sometimes in prayer with the sisters… Little had I known that in just 10 days after this meeting, however, we’d received very sad news from the KEC leaders of the areas saying that the wooden house belonged to this family had accidentally burned to the ground!  Their whole life savings and every valuable goods they’d ever owned were totally destroyed in that fire! Praise God that no one was hurt!  Words began to spread quickly among believers.  In response to the needs, this past Sunday, every KEC church from across the country had taken a special collection in order to help this family!  Please lift this family in your prayers.  As the result of the fire, some members of this family and some new believers from the areas have many questions concerning this tragic incident, but only God alone knows the reasons why…

We’ve been richly enjoyed visiting village churches, teaching monthly classes in Spiritual Leadership (by Soeuth in the morning), How to Preach (by Pastor Bo Samoeun from Svey-- afternoon), and a Women Bible Study (by me-- morning).  So far, there are three locations that we visited each month.  Other KEC village churches from the same region have heard about this and requested similar teachings to be done in their areas.  But our schedule is already tight!  Pray that other capable leaders would be willing to step up and response to the needs… On the average, those who regularly attended were 13-15 men and 15-18 women. After the morning classes were dismissed, the entire group joined together for fellowship of a potluck meal.  Everyone brought his or her own food and some extra to share.  Shortly after lunch, Pastor Samoeun quickly regrouped the men so that his class could begin and end on time. After cleaning all the dishes, some women from nearby areas began to leave in order to care for their families, but some who came from distant places chose to linger a bit longer, just for a chance to reconnect with one another…  Lately, the ladies have been talking among themselves and requested that, “Since we are committed to take this whole day off from other responsibilities, won’t you find other classes/ lessons to teach us as we wait for the men to finish?” Okay. So we’d added onto our monthly classes the preventative basic health lessons including lessons about nutrition, hygiene, and family planning, and among other interested health topics as requested by the group.  “But we want to do something to help our family”, remarked one middle aged lady.  “We are mostly rice farmers, and the crops have been poor this year”, added another lady. “I need to find ways to help feed my family”, voiced a concerned young mother with four small kids… After sometimes of thinking I’d asked, “Do you want to learn how to bake?  You can make snacks for your kids, or you can sell them to your neighbors and friends or to kids at local schools.”  All was very interested.  And so, we added another “class” to our monthly meetings.  Except for vanilla, baking soda, and or yeast, most other cooking ingredients or supplies were local bought.  Using local products and local resources including charcoal ovens, the village ladies now enjoyed making yummy baked goods for their family as well as for selling, allowing them to earn small incomes to help subsidize their family’s needs… 

Last year when Soeuth and I visited Alliance churches in States, I’d share this idea with some of the church ladies.  Many of them were so excited and very supportive of the idea that they went the extra miles just to collect light- weight spatulas, whisks, and other cookies items.  So much was the supplies collected that upon our return trip, we came home with a duffel bag full of them!  Thank you dear Alliance Women!  Your prayers and support to the cause help to make tremendous differences in the lives of your Khmer sisters in Cambodia…

And lastly but not least, we continue to enjoy the rich time of discussions and teaching in evening classes (Monday-Wednesday) at our house!  Currently, the three nightly classes are: Making Disciples (taught by Soeuth-- Monday), Paul’s Life and Letter, (Syna--Tuesday), and Spiritual Leadership (Soeuth-- Wednesday).  The greatest joy (or reward) gained from these evening classes is when we get to hear powerful rich stories about how God is at work in the lives each of the students.  Since many of the students involved in various localized ministry services, this is also a great opportunity for fellowship among the leaders, a chance to gain and or offer support and encouragement to one another. The class discussions were often very lively and if not carefully monitored, it could go on all night! 

The Poipet KEC Church’s Christmas activities are on schedule: Ondong Thma Meas Church (12/12), Santepheap Church (12/19), and all other smaller KEC village churches will join the Living Water Church on Dec. 25.  Please PRAY for open hearts and for opportunity to witness Christ’s love to our neighbors! Church families are strongly encouraged to invited their unbelieving friends and relative to join these festive services.

Once again, thank you for your continual prayers and support.  Please share with us what God is doing in your life.  And please remember these dates in your prayers…

Nov. 8.  The Poipet KEC youth will have a sleep-over camp at Living Water Church.  There will be worship service, a short (???) devotion follow by games and bond fire and roasting sweet potatoes… We praise God for a good turnout for this youth event. Last night, more than 80 youth came.  During a bond fire service, a number of youth volunteered to give personal testimonies, so did special songs and event telling good clean jokes. This activity was so well received by the young people that they had all requested it should be done more often.

Nov. 14.  National youth committees meeting in Phnom Penh (PHN), pray for directions and wisdom as the committees will set goals for the coming year as well as will discuss about when and where the next youth camp would be.

Nov.16-17, some International Workers will be traveling across the country to attend the “Shame/ Honor” seminar in PHN.  Pray for safety during road traveling.
Nov. 18-19, Next Field Leadership Team meeting in PHN, pray for wisdom and guidance for our field leadership as they will discuss strategies and goals for the coming year.
Nov. 21, is the next monthly Poipet men ministry meeting.
Nov. 28, all the KEC churches in Poipet will have joined service to celebrate Thanksgiving holiday.
Nov. 23-29, we will go to Penang to visit Jonathan-- yeay!!!
Dec. 10, is the next regional youth rally and quizzing meet taking place in Svey.

With a grateful heart,

Soeuth & Syna

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

September Update 2015

Dear Praying Friends and Family,

We trust that all is well with you. It has been a very busy time since the last update we’d sent you.  There were some good ministry opportunities as well as some challenged issues took place. In spite of the good and the not- so- good moments, however, God was and is at work among the lives of the people in Cambodia.

Below is an update of events took place during the last weeks and month…

As requested for your prayer support, we had a regional quarterly youth rally on August 28, where 205 young people from the Peoyope (northwest) region attended the rally; and of those who attended, 99 of them were from Poipet!  The community soccer kids from Living Water church were able to join this youth event for the first time.  Because these boys had never been in a big gathering group before, they were a bit restless and noisy at first.  But they’d managed to stay still throughout the entire service.  During the rally, beside the amazing sermon message given by Rev. David Manfred, Alliance Field Director and International Worker, to challenge the young people to grow deeper in the Lord, there were opportunities for special songs and testimonies that gave much inspiration and encouragement to the young people.

Toward the end of the service, one key youth leader felt compelled to lead a special prayer service for three young men who were answering the CALL into future ministry.  As preparation for future ministry, these three young men decided to study full time at the Alliance Elim Rural Ministry Training Center.  The beauty about this special prayer service was that it was done in front of over 200 youth! And to show their support, upon this leader’s encouragement, many young people came forward to lay hands on and prayed for their three friends!

On Sept. 25-27 Soeuth took an 8- hour taxi ride to the capital city to join the Nearadey (southeast) regional youth rally.  Altogether about 130 youth attended the rally.  There was time for lively worship, a sermon message, and time for personal testimonies.  One young man courageously and openly shared about his life struggles against sexual sin as a young single man living in the big city.  He went on to share that while the temptation is great, he found inner strength and help when fully relied upon the power of the Holy Spirit.  His raw honesty gave encouragement to his peers as an assurance that they are not alone in facing similar struggles…

For the past two weeks, the Poipet church families have been busy attending and lending extra helping hands in various parts needed at the two funeral services of their loved ones.  Since both were first Christian funeral services ever performed in each of the villages, words had been spread among the unbelievers, “If you choose to believe in Jesus, you will not be welcome any longer to the Buddhist temple!” And “When you get sick, no one will come to visit you," or “If you die, your body will not be allowed to burry or cremate in the temple areas." At the same time questions had been raised from among the Buddhist communities, “What will the Christians do when there is a death among them?” Or “Will they invite the Buddhist monks or the Achaas (Buddhist priests) to do their funeral service?” They also wondered, “Where will they get the money to pay for the cost?”, or “Who will come to the service?”  Sadly, many new believers quietly had similar concerns of their own.  To answer their many questions, God, in His merciful way, allowed two of His children to go Home, so that the believers would have the opportunity to demonstrate His love as an answer to the unbelieving relatives and neighbors…

Because the first funeral service took place on a Monday (Sept. 28), many Christian shop owners decided to close their businesses for the day in order to help at the funeral site.  Those who have jobs with local NGOs traded in their own personal or vacation day for time off in order to lend a helping hand to the grieving family.  Many who attended the services came very early in the morning and stayed on till late evening to offer helps in various ways.  Once arrived at the funeral site, the men took charge in gathering planks and beams of wood and nails and other tools needed to build a coffin, while ladies busied themselves with food preparation.  In both funerals, two ladies from out of the province willingly traveled for two hours each way so they could help with flower arrangement.

The youth also helped in many different ways: the young men helped with chopping fire wood and gathering water from the well while the young ladies helped with house cleaning, watching small children, and helping the older ladies with cutting up vegetables.

Those with other gifts helped with preaching and leading worship service and other logistic needs.  At the time for funeral procession, trucks and trailers and motorbikes all loaded with people and were headed to the burial site, where some church people had already dug up the grave and waited for all to arrive.  It was quite an impression to the many unbelieving onlookers to witness how the Christians came together and helped one another in time of needs…  The second funeral service took place on Sunday (Oct. 4), in a different village, but similar helpful actions were also lovingly demonstrated by the Christians.  Many church families came to offer helps as well as to show support to the grieving family.  At the end of each funeral service, when the money given by church families were counted, each family collected just enough to cover for all the expenses needed during the funeral service!  In spite of pouring rains, at each of these services at least 80 plus church people showed up to support the grieving families!  It was quite an amazing sight to witness how the Body of Christ came alive together in order to help one another in time of great needs.  While the unbelieving relatives and neighbors just sat and waited and watched to see how the Christians would react during a crisis, the believers got busy showing them how Christ’s love was done through the demonstrations of their loving and caring actions toward one another…

After months of hard work and studying the most difficult book in the TEE (Theological Education by Extension) program, Soeuth’s Monday night leadership class has finally come to a completion with the Jeremiah course, the Prophet of Hope!  For the most part, many students did well considering the difficulties of this course.  And now everyone is asking, “What are studying next?”  These students (who are key church leaders of their own localized church) have been faithfully studying most, if not all, the theological books translated by the Alliance!  And similar situation also took place in Syna’s Tuesday night class, where the 10 students had successfully completed the two books of Pentateuch, and now they are in the third week of Paul’s Life and Letters.  While the late evening classes can be tiresome sometimes, we rejoice at the knowledge that these students love to study God’s word.

Although “Bun Pjum Ben” a Khmer religious holiday is on October 11-12, the celebration began two weeks before and will go on for the next two weeks after the actual holiday.  This is one of the most testing times for the new believers as they are being pressured to return to their old ways of life.  The main celebration of this particular holiday is that the people not only worship the spirits of their ancestors, but they would actually cry out to and worship the demon spirits!  From personal experiences, all the evil stuffs that had ever happened to us, most of them took place during this time of the year.  Please pray for protection for the missionaries as well for the local believers…  As a diversion for the believers, we often created activities to accompany the holiday so that the church families would find reasons not to return to their old ways of life…  The Poipet church families have plans to get together for a day of fun celebration with traditional games and sport activities at the Living Water church, October 11.  And the northwest regional KEC youth ministry will have a full day of fun and fellowship, Oct. 13, at Thma Koul District, in Battambang Province.  Again, please pray for safety and protection for all, and especially for those who will be traveling to and from provinces in order to visit families…

Thank you for some of you who have been supporting for the Bethlehem church building project.  The church has an Approved Special Project to raise a total of $45,000.00 before the actual building project could begin.  So far we still short about $15,000.00.  If you are interested in supporting this project, please send your donation to the C&MA National Office.

Please share with us what God is doing in your life.  We would love to be prayer support to you as well.  We are very grateful for your partnership with for the Kingdom cause as you faithfully pray for and support the Alliance Great Commission Fund, which enables us to continue serving in this part of the world.  May God richly bless you and your family in a might way.

Soeuth and Syna Lao

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

August Update (part 2) 2015

August update continues
Dear Friends,
Some amazing things happened this past Sunday among the church families in Poipet, and we want to share them with you as well.

Event #1: Immediately after a weekly pot-lock Sunday lunch with the church families at Living Water Church, Soeuth headed straight to the sport room where he has been meeting with the soccer kids for the past couple weeks.  It all began a few weeks ago when one of the soccer kids (U14) who happened to be playfully holding a 1- year old baby girl named “Alpha”. Curiously he asked, “What does the word Alpha mean?”  Soeuth, who happened to be standing nearby, took the opportunity to explain the meaning of the word to him while a number of other soccer kids, standing nearby, heard the same explanation!  Soeuth went on boasting that, “Oh, there are many other amazing words in the Bible--all describing the natures and the characters of God!” And he listed a few names of God to them. Then one kid shouted, “That is so cool!  I want to know more about these words.”  And others joined in, “Yeah, we want to know about these cool words, too!” Sensing a given opportunity, Soeuth immediately invited the kids if they would be willing to meet with him, on a regular basis, right after lunch, so they can learn more about God and about these amazing “cool words”.  And they all screamed, “Yessss!” So, yesterday was the third time that these community soccer kids met with Soeuth.  During the meeting Soeuth asked, “Since God is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, then what is happening in between?”  To Soeuth’s amazement, Gideon, who usually is a very shy and quiet boy, aged 12, began to slowly standing up and quietly yet profoundly explained, “We are living in the time between the Alpha and the Omega.  One day, God will come to take us to heaven.”  “That’s right!” Soeuth told him, while the others nodded in agreement. Soeuth went onto explain further that, we are all sinners and fall short of the glory of God.  Because the wages of sin is death, we will all die and deserve hell as punishment.  But God, because of His great love for the world, does not want anybody to perish eternally, so He’d made a salvation plan for us through Jesus Christ. But this same God, who is the Alpha and the Omega, is also a Judge.  And all of us will have to give an account to God one day.  And only He will decide who can enter heaven or not”.  Soeuth continued, “So, how can we be accepted into heaven? Can good deeds or being a good person is enough to allow us to enter heaven?” A few reluctantly nodded “yes”, but many of them were quietly in deep thinking.  After a few seconds passed by, Soeuth repeated the same question. Then all of them shouted as in one great voice, “The only way to heaven is through believing in Jesus!”  “Then, do you believe in Jesus?” Soeuth shouted back. “Yesssss!” screamed the class. “Do you want to invite Jesus into our hearts and have this assurance of a guaranteed passage for entering heaven?” Soeuth added. “Yesssssss!” they all shouted.  As the result, 16 soccer kids, from one U14 team, all accepted Jesus into their lives that day!  It was an exciting experience to watch as the soccer kids rushed out of that sport room cheerfully singing, “I am going to heaven!”

Event #2:  Shortly after the kids got saved, Lydia (a woman leader from Living Water Church) led a group of church ladies to visit and pray sick people in a nearby referral government hospital, as the ladies had often done in the past.  About an hour later, I got this urgent call from Lydia, “Naak Kru (teacher), there are some people here who wanted to Thwai Kloun (give themselves to Jesus)! Can you come and lead them to the Lord?  We don’t know how to do it? Can you come?”  Since I (Syna) was in the middle of teaching a class, I assured Lydia (on the phone) that she could do it herself and gave her some suggestions on how to ask questions.  She reluctantly agreed. That afternoon, the women group returned to the church group grinning from ear to ear!  All at once the ladies shouted their exciting experiences, “We led four people to the Lord!  And two of them were willing to cut off their own spirit strings! And we were so afraid.  But we kept on praying and asking Jesus to help us.  And it was our first time ever of leading people to the Lord!”

Event #3:  Toward the evening hours of the same day, we’d received yet other repeated urgent calls, this time, from a key church leader from Ondong Thmar Meas church, requesting a medical help for an elderly widow who had recently suffered from a stroke.  (This woman, because of her illness, has been a regular patient at the Wednesday clinic).  But the signs and symptoms described by the leaders did not match what was troubling, and we sensed that there was something more than just the sickness itself.  So we’ urged the church leaders to go and pray for her.  They went.  But we did not learn anything more until last night, when the some of the same leaders came to our weekly Monday night class… That Sunday night as the story unfolds, four key church leaders went to pray for the sick woman, but before they prayed, the leaders asked the woman to acknowledge her sins and if she was willing to get rid of the shrine and worship items within and surround her house.  She agreed.  They’d removed all the shrines and tore away all other spiritual worship items from the house. Then the leaders laid hands on the woman, anointed her with oil and praying to the power of the Holy Spirit to heal and cleanse her inside out.  Very early on Monday morning (the next day) the same leader received phone call from the woman family declaring, “My mother is healed!  Jesus healed my mother!  And she is out there walking and singing and praising to Jesus!”

It is an exciting time to be serving God among His people in Cambodia! We have the greatest honor of being in the front- row view witnessing God at work in the lives of the Khmer people!
Please be in prayer for the coming youth event, this Friday, August 28, as regional youth ministries will be having their own regional youth rallies.  For the northwest region, we will have the rally at Svey Sisophon are area.  In addition to the regular church youth, we’d invited 22 boys from U14 soccer teams to participate in the coming youth rally.  This will be their first time in big event like this.  Please for safe traveling for all and good outcome.  Our Field Director, Rev. David Manfred will be the guest speaker for the event.


Soeuth and Syna Lao

Thursday, August 13, 2015

August Update 2015

Dear Friends and Family,

Once again, we send you warm greetings from Poipet!  We trust you all had a great summer.
Lately, there have been too many times already that unexpected circumstances/events conveniently happen.  So before another “surprise” show up, we want to send you our August update…

Recently, while teaching in monthly leadership classes (at Battambang Province and at Teok Cho village) and also at the Poipet weekly leadership class, the church leaders from all three groups gave the same exciting report! In spite of the facts that: we are in the middle of a heavy rainy season, the roads are at their worst, many roads/paths leading to the KEC house churches are impassible, yet in the past few weeks, there was a full house in every church service!

Last Sunday at Ondong Thma Meas Village according to a report from one key church leader that, the church people, not willing to take risks driving through muddy paths, decided to park their bicycles and motorbikes at the main road, while the men rolled up their sleeve pants and the women tugged up their sarong, and they all trotted in the mud heading to the church! A few hours later on the same day, a lady at Living Water Church of the KEC shared, “Rain or shine, I would not dare to miss one day of work at my NGO job.  Otherwise my boss would mark me absent, and he would give me a deduction for my salary.  I need that job.  But Preah Yea-sue (the Lord Jesus) gave me so much more!  Shouldn’t I show greater respect to God by coming to worship Him on Sundays?”

Similar situations took place on Saturday, August 1, when the Poipe KEC women had their quarterly meeting a Maak Hoern village church. Since it was raining hard the day before, we wondered if any people would show up for the meeting.  But the same thing happened. At the appointed time, the ladies, carried their little children and personal belongings, walked in muddy paths about 2 kilometers distant from the main road, and headed to the house church! Upon arrival into the village, the host families gave us buckets of water to wash off our muddy feet! Since there was no church building yet, all 60 of us had to sit on blue and green plastic sheets with only two small trees stood nearby as a shade.  That day, I had prepared a message based on Ephesians 6:10-20, reminding the ladies that to overcome the schemes of the devil, we need to daily put on the “full armor of God."  After the sermon, some leaders warned of a false group that is spreading lies about the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

Meing Ree (right)

Suddenly, Meing (auntie) Ree, an elderly widow at the meeting for the first time, shouted, “What group are we in now? Can somebody tell if I am in the right place?”  Some ladies sitting next to her gently told Meing Ree who we are and assured her that she was in the right place.  Meing Ree said, “Then I need to be protected by Preah Yea-sue (Jesus) as well. I want to wear this armor of God, too.” And she did, because immediately after the service, I had the privilege of leading Meing Ree to the Lord!

Last week, I had a meaningful conversation with a dear friend, Chhee, a gifted evangelist from Living Water Church.  (Every day, Chhee peddles her old ragged bicycle around towns and sells food goods from “Chhee’s portable market."  Follow Chhee’s story in our November 2014’s blog).  For the past 11 years since I’ve known her, through the passionate sharing of her faith to all her customers, Chhee has brought many people into God’s Kingdom! In spite her many accomplishments, however, on this particular day, Chhee was down hearted and very discouraged to the point of tears saying, “I just could not seem to retain anything I’ve learned!”  Chhee’s one main desire is to be able to read God’s word from her own Bible and to be able to sing some of her favorite songs from the Khmer hymnal book.  Her many learning disabilities, however kept her from accomplish this goal.  But I’d encouraged her to continue learning God’s word by listening to recorded Bible passages in a small portable MP3 radio that I gave her; this radio comes with recorded Khmer hymnal songs as well. Recently, Chhee had an opportunity to share the Good News of Jesus Christ to one of her customers, a Cham lady (one of the Muslim ethnic minority who live in Cambodia).  This Cham lady, after married for more than 7 years but unable to conceive a child, had asked if Chhee was willing to pray for her. Chhee was willing.  As the result, the woman is now 4- month pregnant!  Though this woman secretly gave praises to Jesus for an answering prayer, she is living in fear because of her religious background.  Please pray that God would use Chhee powerfully and mightily to draw this Cham lady to the One True God, in Christ.

A few weeks ago during a Sunday church service, two wonderful surprises took place at Living Water Church!
Surprise #1: For the past few years, a number of church people suffered greatly because to the “fire of gossip” that has been spreading among the church families, resulting two key church ladies in conflict with one another.  Recently, however these two precious women chose to honor God in their lives by reconciling their differences and now became closer friends!  During the service, the two ladies went up to sing a special song as a public declaration that they are FRIENDS!!!
Surprise # 2: Earlier in the summer, two guys from the same soccer team had lost their temper against one another during a soccer match.  Although these guys came to church every week afterward, they were not at eye-to-eye level with one another, until that particular Sunday… Feeling inspired by the ladies, these two young athletic men reluctantly went forward and asked one another for forgiveness!!! And they did it in front of the whole church!  WOW! What a beautiful day that was!

Last month, July 17-28, we had a privilege of hosting a visiting team from Crossroads Alliance, Brooklyn Park, MN.  This team not only came to help us with the English camp but also with preaching and leading two husbands-wives seminars in Teok Cho village and in Poipet!  And the team even financially sponsored Justin’s entire trip so he could be with us for the summer!  Thank you, Crossroads Alliance!

Well, the summer is over for our children.  We were blessed to have some quality time with our kids during the break.  On August 3-8, it was with bitter sweet time that I (Syna) accompanied Jonathan back to Dalat International School where he is enrolled in a boarding school program, in Penang, Malaysia.  Jonathan is now in grade 7.  He seems to have a good beginning so far, familiarizing with school routines and knowing what to expect, meeting all new- male teachers, having a good set of class mates, and being able to stay in the same dorm where he is happily reuniting with his dorm siblings and friends.  We pray that the year continues to give Jon many more positive experiences…

 After spending an entire summer with us, Justin went back to America with the visiting team, on July 28, where he will soon resume his second year at Crown College. We are very thankful to God for taking great care of every detail concerning the needs of our children!  And much thanks to many of you who have been very faithful in praying for and loving our children in so many ways. We are very grateful.

Please remember to pray for dates and events below:

1.August 20-22, regional and National key youth leaders will have a family retreat in Siem Reap Province.
2.August 31- September 4th, representatives from the regional C&MA (International Workers) will visit each individual IW or unit of IWs working in Cambodia.  Pray for safe traveling as well as good meetings with each IWs as well opportunity to learn new insight.
3.August 28- will be our next youth ally for the northwest region in Bontey Meanchey Province.
4.September 5, is the next Field Leadership Team meeting in Siem Reap province

Please share with us what God is doing in your life.  Thank you for your faithful prayers and your continual support to the Great Commission Fund (GCF), which enables us to keep on serving, bringing the Light of Jesus to lost souls in this part of the world.

Soeuth and Syna Lao

Friday, July 10, 2015

June/July Update

Dear Family and Friends,

Greetings from Poipet!  We hope you are having some fun times with your family this summer.  THANK YOU for patiently waiting for our news update.  There have been so many things happening in Poipet that before we realized it, the entire month of June has completely gone by! And we are still "on the road again" for the next couple weeks, but we just want to give you some brief updates of what took place before another month gone by, again...

FAMILY:  We are BLESSED to have this summer time spent with our children!  After visiting a week in Europe with friends, Justin arrived into Bangkok on early morning of May 29th.  Because we needed to get things ready at the house for baptismal service (the next day), we went straight home to Poipet on the same day!  We'd enjoyed  a few days alone with Justin before Jonathan joined the rest of the family.   June 3-6, Syna went to Malaysia to accompany Jonathan home for the summer break.  By the grace of God, Jonathan has successfully completed his grade sixth year at Dalat!  This coming August, Jonathan will return to Dalat for his grade 7th year.  Because of schooling, both Jonathan and Justin have been separated from each for a while, and it was/is so thrilling to see the interactions between the two brothers!

This summer also, May 30th, Soeuth and I celebrated our 23th anniversary!  To celebrate this special occasion, God has graciously provided a way where we can spend a week , June 8-15,  in Japan (staying at friends' house). Thank you so much for loving and caring for our family through your constant prayers and support.  We especially appreciate many of you who have been intentionally praying for and reaching out to our kids!  Ministry wise, we can do a lot and are motivated to do greater things knowing that our kids are safe and that they are in the protection of God!

MINISTRY:  Early on Saturday morning of May 30th, still feeling groggy from jet-lag, Justin had managed to get up and joined the baptismal service.  Altogether, we had 36 people  who willingly stepped forward to get baptized in a pond nearby our house.  The newly ordained Pastor Chean of Living Water Church along with Soeuth waded in deep water as people lined up in two rows awaiting their turns to be baptized.  We could not have asked for a better day!  Even though it was in the middle of a rainy season, the sky was clear and the weather was just warm enough for everyone to enjoy the celebration.  It was exciting to watch as families and friends cheered from afar as their love ones were publically making a big decision to follow Christ!  As the church's custom, the celebration was followed by a feast of traditional Khmer rice noodle served with green curry.  The church ladies had spent many hours lovingly preparing  the feast for everyone to enjoy.  Although we had 36 people baptized, more than 150 church people came to join and cheer for this special celebration!  God is good!

 As soon as we got back from Japan, we were "on the road again", the road of business... As our kids would say, "Vacation time is over.  Now it is time to work!"  On Thursday, June 18, we had our next quarterly regional youth rally at Living Water Church followed by the next Bible quiz meet!  Usually, the regional youth leaders often notified some of the key youth group leaders about the next coming youth event as a reminder to share with their youth groups.  But for the past few months with so many things went on that most leaders forgot to remind one another of the coming youth activities.  As the result, a few youth groups "forgot" to show up for this recently youth rally.  Even then,  the number of those who attended was more than 150!

During the rally,  Soeuth spoke a passage based on 1 Samuel 17 about David and Goliath, challenging the youth that, like David of the Old Testament, we all have many "giants"  or voices in our lives who often tormented us with their many unkind remarks or telling us to go against God's plans.  But unlike many of us, David, however, knew his true identity in God/ Christ.  Relying on the strength of God, and using the right strategy, with just one small stone with a ready sling shot in his hand, David was able to kill the mighty giant of his time.  In accordance to the message, each of the youth was encouraged to identify one main giant in their lives, and if he/ she was willing to slay those giants.  In exchange for every "giant" /sin they were willing to slay, each youth was given a wooden cross necklace to represent their "giant slaying".
The only catch was that the youth had to also summon up the courage to publicly declare the congregation as to what "giant" they were getting rid of. At first, we had some moments of doubt that perhaps these young people would be too shy to go up and publically confess their sins in front of a big crowd.  But the truth was just the opposite!  About 40+ young people went up to the front, one after another, both boys and girls, boldly told the crowd about their commitment to not sin any more.  One girl said, "With God's help, I am slaying my giant of gossip".  A young man from a soccer team said, "I am asking God to help me slaying down my giant of bad temper".  And the list went on and on as young people were willing to slay their many giants of "pride", "anger", "laziness", "selfishness",  "too much time spent on facebook",  "disobedience", "talking back to parents", "cutting classes", and etc...  As the youth publically shouted their identified giants, each person was given a necklace of wooden cross as a testimony to their peers that they had publically slain a certain giant in their life.  To those who were too shy to go up, they came to us in front of a smaller groups and requested for a cross as well.  After telling us their identified giants, all of them received the same reward.  That day, we handed out about 90 crosses!

At least 90 "giants" were slain that day! Even to this day, when a youth is seen wearing a wooden cross around their neck, one is immediate asked, "What giant did you slay that day?"  And this same question was often heard around the soccer field, at the valley ball court, while some young people chatting with one another in front of the church, or at the youth group meetings!  We have reasons to believe that some young people clearly got the message that day!  As the message is being processed in their minds/ hearts please pray that God would reveal Himself to them in a powerful way.

Saturday, June 20, was a busy day for the leaders of the northwest region, a day where many married couples from the region came together for a full day of husband-wife seminar.  Altogether there was 110 people showed up.  Many came with their spouses and their small little ones, but a few came by themselves.  Since both Soeuth and I were among the presenters, we can't really say whether the seminar was good or not so good.  But we can share with you about what we have seen and the testimonies heard. One young wife with four small kids from Living Water church, after learning about the "five love languages" of a human heart, began to apply or "speak" the right language to her husband, and he practically "fell off the bed" in pleasant surprise! A young husband of three year-marriage commented, "Naak Kru (teacher), whatever you said to my wife during that one- hour seminar, she came home a changed woman!   And I am glad that we went that day!" Still an older man who went without his wife said, "I've been married for more than 30 years, and I thought I did it okay.  But it seemed that I still have a lot to learn!"  Please pray for these married couples of the KEC church as they are learning to apply God's words into their marriage life.  Pray that their marriage would be a true witness, a testimony, to their unbelieving neighbors and families.
Some news and upcoming events to be prayed for:

- All Cambodia C&MA International Workers will have our annual Field Forum at Sihanukville, July 6-12. Pray that we will hear chat God is leading us for the coming year.  Pray that we'll have a fun week with each other.

- July 17-28, a visiting short- term team of 8 people from Crossroad Alliance of the C&MA, Brooklyn Park, MN, will come to partner with the Poipet ministry in soccer camp, English camp, leadership seminar, including husband-wife seminar as requested by the local KEC. Pray for health and protection for the visiting team, and that things would good smoothly with transportation, teachings as well as translation.

- July 28, Justin will return to the USA with the visiting team for another year at Crown College.

- August 1, Next quarterly women 1-day seminar for the Poipet KEC churches.

- August 3-6, Syna will accompany Jonathan back to Dalat school where Jonathan would begin his grade 7th year in the 5th. pray that Jonathan would have a great year ahead of him.

-August 20-22, The northwest region youth committees will have a family retreat at Siem Reap province.

-Please pray for all the IWs and local CAMA Services workers in Poipet as we have been facing tremendous changes, in the past few weeks, in areas of responsibilities with regard to the medical and ambulance projects.  Since all IWs are planning to exit out of Poipet by June 2016, and will some news and extra tasks being added on, pray that we have the strength to carry our areas of responsibilities and that we will finish it well.

Please share with us what God is doing in your life.  As always, we are very grateful to God for your Prayers for the Cambodian ministries as well your continual financial support to the Great Commission Fund (GCF) which enables us to keep on serving here in this part of the world.  Lost people matters to God and He want them found.  Thank you for partnering with us in bringing the Light of Jesus to lost people in Cambodia.

In Him,
Soeuth and Syna Lao
with Justin and Jonathan