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