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