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