Sunday, October 23, 2016

October Update 2016

Dear Friend and Family,

Greetings! We trust that the Lord is the provider for your needs. I, Syna, love everything about the fall season: the colorful leaves, the mild weather, the apples, the pumpkins and so on. Autumn is also a season to remember God’s goodness and provision. It is a season of thanksgiving for all He has done in our lives. This year, my family is thankful to be on the Stateside to enjoy the rich beauty and abundant blessings that God gives. In the midst of everything else, I hope you have a chance to enjoy and to reflect His goodness in your life…

August 2008:
Upon returning to Poipet, Cambodia, with an intentional effort to reach the youth for Christ, we initiated a soccer ministry on a rented property where we lived.  Many kids from around the community came to play every late afternoon. Makara, aged 16 then, was among the many youth who came to play soccer. Even with the intensity and excitement of the soccer match, Makara, unlike most of his peers, was always the first to leave the soccer field. After a few weeks of seeing him leave early, we began to ask around about who this young man was. We learned that Makara was a third child of five children  and was from a poor family with a single mother. His father was out of his life since he was seven years old. His mother and two older siblings went to find work in Thailand in order to survive. When his mother was caught breaking the laws of being an illegal immigrant, she was arrested and sentenced to five years in prison. Since age 13, Makara was left to care of his two younger siblings in Poipet, while receiving monthly financial support from his older siblings.

As a restless teenager living in the spiritual darkness of the city of Poipet, without any parental supervising, Makara was often prone to wander.  Although he was attending school, cutting classes was among his many bad habits.  He was involved with gangsters and experienced drugs and alcohol among other things.  In his village and school, Makara saw the dangerous paths where many of his friends were heading, and he did not wish to end up like them!  But no matter how many times he vowed to be a good person or how hard he had tried to stay away from trouble, constant daily peer pressures caused Makara to fall repeatedly into the same vicious cycles of being “clean” for a few days, and then back to his old ugly habits. Hopeless and out of desperation, Makara stumbled into an Alliance church service one Sunday of February 2009.  “I felt as though some strong unseen force was pulling me! Whatever it was, I felt compelled to walk into the church building!” Makara recalled his first encounter with Christ. Being new to the church service and naturally inquisitive in nature, Makara sat still and tried to pay close attention to what was going on: “That’s when God made Himself known to me!”

Recalling a sermon that he had heard on that Sunday morning, “Pastor Soeuth said that only Jesus can change a person’s way of life."  Immediately, this news offered an invitation to Makara's longing heart. He began to pray, “Pheah Yea-sue (Lord Jesus), if you are real then help me! If you are able as the pastor said you are, change me! And if you can use me for whatever way you wish, show me! I am tired of being on my own man. I need your help."

Though the transformation in Makara was a long process, we saw the tremendous changes that God did and is still doing in his life!  During our missionary services in Poipet, Makara had enrolled and studied in many discipleship and leadership training classes with us. When confronted with challenged circumstances about life, financial struggles, or inner struggles of temptations, Makara was not afraid to ask even hard questions! Numerous times, when pressured by unbelieving family to turn back to their old religion, Makara remained faithful to the one true God.

Makara met Sopheak in April 2013, and the got married. They then devoted themselves to volunteer services in God’s kingdom ministering to street kids within the Poipet community. Recently, Makara (with Sopheak’s support) took on a coaching responsibility overseeing 22 boys age 12-14 (all of whom are from broken families), in a Khmer Evangelical Church (KEC) soccer team.  In June 2016, under Makara’s coaching service, 16 boys gave their lives to Jesus!

On March 2016, Makara became one of the five newly elected committee members for the Poipet sport ministry. Makara has a deep passion to serve God in sport ministry in an effort to reach kids for Christ. Of the five committee members, Makara could truly relate and understand well of the type of trouble kids are going through. Makara’s life verse is Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." When asked about the significance of this verse he said, “I am eternally grateful to God for rescuing me from trouble. But I think God has another plan in mind when He kept me alive in all those years when I was on my own. He wants me to help other kids who are walking in the same destructive paths as I once did."  Please pray for Makara and Sopheak as they continue ministering to soccer kids.  The young couple is expecting their first baby in December 2016.

Family:  We appreciate your prayers and support concerning our children. This year, we rejoice having Jonathan stay home with us as he attends the local public school. But we miss not having Justin with us and are anxious for his return coming home from college in December during winter break.

Praises and prayer requests:

- We were blessed to attend the Metro District conference, October 17th-19th.  It was such a rich time for us to just receive solid theological messages related to the conference theme THRIVE.
- We were thankful for safe trips, thus far, as we are in the full swing of fall mission conference tours, mostly throughout the Metro District areas.
- Please continue to pray for the rest of tour year that we would represent God well as we share with the supporting churches and tell the stories of the lives He has touched.

- Please remember to our KEC brothers and sisters throughout Cambodia that they would remain steadfast in their spiritual journey even without the presence of missionaries.  Pray that they would keep their eyes only on Jesus, the Provider of all their needs.

Please share with us what God is doing in your life. Thank you for partnering with the Poipet and Cambodia ministries. Lost people still matter to God and He wants them found. We appreciate prayers and financial support to the Great Commission Fund!

Soeuth & Syna

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

August Update 2016

Dear Praying Friends and Family,

Just wanted to update you of what took place with the Poipet church- planting ministries.
Earlier in the spring, there were some concerns among the Poipet Khmer Evangelic Church (KEC) leaders as to what would become of the distant location- village- house churches after the missionaries leave town.  Because of the lack of personnel, the leaders had decided to “let go” of the smaller village churches for a season, but to focus on those of more “mature” and “stronger” ones…

Lately, however, the church leaders were convicted by these promised words found in 2 Peter 3:9: “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise as some understand slowness: He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance."

As a result, one church leader from the Living Water church, Mr. Hout Soheng, in agreement with his wife, Moum, answered the Call to reach lost people for God’s kingdom.  This young couple with two small girls decided to face the weekly treacherous motorbike trips (68 kilometers each way) to do ministries in one of the remote places in the northwest part of Cambodia.

Heng with his two girls on the motorbike
To do this, the family would need to spend a night at Beong Beng Village of the Malay District.  While spending two days in Beong Beng, the young couple took turns to teach discipleship classes, lead a preaching club for potential leaders, and have children ministry for community kids and youth ministry of the areas.

Heng, Moum, and their two girls

Because Heng and Moum are willing to invest their time in the Malay District, God stirred the hearts of potential leaders from the areas, “And they are coming every week to study in preaching club."  Heng said, “A total of 17 leaders from the Malay District are having fun studying in the preaching Club!”  Before this class began, there were few small groups of believers scattered all over the Malay District, some are from the Alliance churches and a few others are from other denominations. But because these leaders had no former training, their Sunday messages or any form of Christian education were stale and “boring” putting their congregation/students to sleep.   Now, with the help from preaching class the leaders as Heng observed, “Began to show passion and added fire to their messages!”

As with other church leaders who answering the call into a specific ministry while facing daily hardship and struggle in life, Heng also had many moments of doubt asking himself if “it's all worth it?” and  “am I crazy as to risk my family safety by traveling to such a distant location?”  Heng is fully aware that to accept this ministry in Malay, he would lose two full days of any potential earning (from a labor job) for supporting his young family… But Heng also knows that “Our Heavenly Father knows” what his family needs…  As the result, in response to Heng’s weekly commitment and aware of his family’s needs, at the end of each class, the students take a collection/offering to help cover for Heng’s cost of fuel and food.  Some students even brought in a few kilograms of rice or some kinds of gifts from their village to support “Kru- Yoerng” (our teacher).  To Heng, “Seeing the joy and excitement and watching a new sense of passion sparked in these leaders as they shared their stories, gives him much encouragement! And “Now, I know. It's all worth it.”

Please pray for Heng and Moum and their two little girls for safety on long road trips, for open doors in ministry opportunities and for continual JOY in the journey of answering the Call of the Malay ministries…

In May’ update, we shared with you about physical and spiritual needs for the people in Sraa Aem Village at Preah Viheas Province.  Many of the young people who participated on the motorbike mission trip before also witnessed such needs.

Sraa Aem Village
 In response, the KEC church leaders of the northwest region have been praying and seeking for ways to help impact the lives of these 300 plus soldiers and their families.  After weeks of praying, researching, and planning the Northwest regional leaders appointed four committee members to oversee the Sraa Aem Village project.  The new committee, led by Rev. Bo Samoeun of Svey Sisophon Alliance church, took a three-day trip, August 8-10, in a rented taxi to initiate an Agriculture Project in Sraa Aem village.  The committee brought with them selections of chickens and vegetable seeds.

Agriculture Porject

Upon arrival, Mr. “V”, the 1-star Military General (see May’s update) of that village was so excited and so grateful to the committee for coming to help his people that he and his wife had graciously welcomed and hosted the visitors warmly.  Not only that, Mr. V provided for all meals for the fours visitors and for the 25 ladies (military wives of the village) who were participants of the agriculture project! The committee spent two days to teach and cover all the lesson plans including the step-by-step and hands-on practice lessons on how to raise chickens and to raise home grown vegetables.  Because of distant location, the committee will commit to do a follow-up visit every three month, but they are willing to answer any question or concern through phone calls…  Please pray for wisdom and discernment and directions as the church leaders of the northwest region are responding to the needs of the people in Sraa Aem Village in Words and deeds.
More Praises and Prayer Requests:

- Justin passed a road test and has a New York Driver License! No car yet, just a license.  He is back at Crown College for early soccer practice.  Classes begin on Sept. 18th. He is a junior in the nursing program.  Pray for a good year for Justin.

- We had a great time participating in the Cambodian District conference in Florida where Soeuth a chance to share with the Cambodian men and Syna with ladies.  Also attending HAMS in Colorado Springs was a great learning experience for us.

- Jonathan, our younger son will be in 8th grade at the Nyack public school.  Please pray for a good year for Jon.  School starts on September 6th, (scary for the parents more than for the student!)

- In between conferences in this busy summer, we’d managed to visit and reconnect with Syna’s two younger brothers and their families: One family live in Chester VA, and another in Massapequa, NY.  Please pray for Syna’s brother, “V”, not yet a believer, who is going through a dark time right now.  Syna is making every effort to reach out to him. Pray that V’s heart would be responsive to God during this difficult time.

- August 21-25, we will head to visit Washington, PA, to visit supporting friends and church families of the areas.  Pray for safe trip and good reunion with friends there.

- Fall mission tour will officially begin on the first week of September.  We will be visiting and speaking among Alliance churches of the Metropolitan District, with a few exceptions to Long Beach, CA (Sept.9-19) and to Detroit Lakes, MN (Oct.1-7). Pray that we will be used mightily by God as we go about reconnecting with church families, sharing and telling stories of what God has done and continue doing in the growing ministries of Cambodian mission field.  Pray that lives would be stirred and touched and be responsive to the Call that God has for each of listeners.

As always, the ministries in Poipet, Cambodia, would not be possible if without God empowering and if without your faithful prayers and financial support to the Great Commission Fund.  Thank you for being true partners in the growing Cambodian mission field and ministries in the effort to bring
Lost People into God’s Kingdom.

With a grateful heart,
Soeuth & Syna Lao

Thursday, July 7, 2016

July Update 2016

Dear Friends,

Greetings from Nyack, New York!  We have landed and are now settled down in our new apartment in Nyack!  Things went as smoothly as can be with our traveling from place to place.

For the past two weeks, it has been a whirlwind of moving stuffs from the storage place to our apartment, doing grocery shopping, getting this new apartment into a live-able one, processing and reapplying for documents and among other paper works in order to re-establish our statuses as residents, and registering Jonathan into the Nyack public school system.  It was a bit a challenge, at first, trying to do these things without the help of vehicle. But God has been good to us!  He sent godly people to help us in every way including care packages and gift cards!  And we’d moved into an apartment that was completely furnished! We are very grateful for friends who drove us to and from airports, and who were willing to lend us their vehicles until we got one of our own.  YES, we got a car!!!!  The Metropolitan District graciously loans us a brand new (almost) car for the year! It’s a NISSAN, Sentra 2016!  PTL!!!

Our greatest joy is having both our sons with us this summer!  Justin came to join the family on June 23rd, a perfect timing when a BIG muscle was needed to help carry heavy boxes from the storage place!  June 24th, Justin passed a learning permit and is learning how to drive with Soeuth!  His road test is schedule for August 9.  Justin’s greatest desire and prayer is to have a New York driver license as his own identification when traveling back to Crown College by mid August.  He is also grateful to have a good summer job doing yard works at Living Christ Church.

For the last two Sundays, we’ve been enjoying worshipping God, in ENGLISH, with our home church, the Living Christ of the C&MA!  And this week, we’d enjoyed a warm fellowship of a church family picnic by the Hudson River and then to watch the spectacular display of fireworks on Independence Day!  The last time we’d seen fireworks was in July 2012!
For the coming year, we will be visiting and speaking at Alliance churches in the Metropolitan District.  We look forward to see some of you again really soon.  Thank you for all you prayers and support.

Please pray for safe traveling as we’ll be traveling to Florida, July 10-15 for a Cambodian District Conference, and July 20-25 for HAMS at Colorado Springs.

Syna & Soeuth Lao
12 South Blvd, Apt. S                                                                                                              
Nyack, NY 10960                                                                                                                        

Phone (Soeuth’s): 845-518-9466                                                                                        
(Syna’s): 720-799-5070

Monday, June 13, 2016

June Update 2016

Dear Friends,

We look forward to be on American soil soon and to see some of you again! Yes, we’d left Cambodia at around midnight of June 12 and are now waiting (12 hours) in Korea for our connecting flight to Seattle, WA.  But YOU have been praying for the ministries in Poipet, Cambodia, and there were so many things happened lately that we must to share the news with you as the results of your faithful prayers…

Monday, May 23rd: Soeuth concluded his nightly leadership class with the KEC church leaders from around Poipet. It was a bitter-sweet moment for us.  Being with this same nightly class for the past 12 years, we felt a strong connection with each of the students.  Most of them had left their home towns from many different parts of Cambodia and came to live in Poipet since they were in late their teens and in early 20’s.  Throughout the course of time, we got to watch how they grew physically and spiritually, to walk with and stand alongside them in their up and down times, to offer advice and to do pre-marital counseling when they’d met and married their spouses, and later on to dedicate their babies to the Lord…

Missionaries giving farewell advice.
Now, most of them are young adults married and with kids of their own, loving and walking faithfully with God and passionately serving Him in various part of ministries, and becoming strong godly spiritual leaders of their regional locations where 8 KEC churches of the C&MA and over 600 believers are locating all over Poipet.  We cannot thank God enough for such rich opportunity for allowing us to be part of HIS kingdom movement in Poipet. And we THANK YOU, dear Prayer Warriors and Partners in ministry, for your faithfulness and on-going supports and encouragement…

Farewell celebration for the parting missionaries.
May 24th: The Peoyop (northwest) District had an election, in Svey Sisophon , for the new regional KEC youth committees where five representatives/ leaders were chosen to lead the youth ministry of the areas, and  Mr. Hout Soheng of Living Water Church became a district youth leaders…  Later on that same evening, Syna also concluded her Tuesday night leadership class in Paul’s Life & Letters, book 2.  And the same bitter-sweet feelings as mentioned above were also shared…  Beginning July 5th, Mr. Hout Soheng of Living Water Church will take over in teaching this same class to book 3 level and beyond…

Syna with a Tuesday night leadership class.

May 30th: Having no more nightly classes to teach for a change, Soeuth & I went out for a nice dinner and celebrated our 24th anniversary!  We took time to reflect of the many ups & downs times of our own, to look back to the beautiful life and journey that God has graciously allowed us to walk through, and to look forward to the future, to the next chapter, even to the more adventures and excitements that HE already has in place for us…

June 1st: While Syna went to Malaysia to be with Jonathan, Soeuth and some youth leaders went to Phnom Penh for regional youth rally for the areas.  Comparing to the Peoyop regional youth rally, this was a much smaller one, only about 60 youth attended.  BUT it was an excite youth event since it was FIRST time for everything! This was the first joined youth meeting in over a year!  It was the first time that the city youth had Bible quizzing!  To help them getting started, we brought along some young people from the Peoyop District to show them how to study and prepare for the quizzing. Although for this first time quizzing there was only three teams to compete, other youth groups who saw how it was done got really excited and agreed that it is also a DO-ABLE even for them! And it was the first that the city kids were willing to come to a youth event on their own personal expenses in traveling and for meal!  And they even had their first offering for this meeting!  This got the regional youth leaders of the areas very excited! Seeing how it can be done, now the leaders could easily plan and schedule for the next youth event without having to worry about raising money for running any youth activity…  For a very long time, there were almost non-existent or was hardly any activity going on for the youth ministry in this region, and this had caused great concerns for the National Church Committees (NCC) and for the mission...  Praise God, after this meeting, the Nearadey regional youth leaders found encouragement that there is still HOPE for the city youth.  Please join us in prayers for this regional youth ministry.

June 4th: Due to conflicts in time schedule, the missionary farewell party was moved to this date at Living Water Church.  Again it was an emotional time for all of us.  Our beloved Field Director and friend, Rev. David Manfred, bravely took the night bus from Phnom Penh to join the fellowship where he gave an eloquent message based on 2 Kings 2:1-15 reminded how God was and is and will continue to be at work in and around Poipet and beyond...  And as Elijah, the prophet of the Old Testament, after being taken by God to heaven, had left behind his cloak for Elisha to carry on the ministries, Dave challenged and encouraged us, the leaving missionaries, to leave behind Kramas (Cambodian- checkered scarves) as ‘cloaks” to those godly leaders who will stay behind to continue with and carrying on the Poipet ministries… It was beautiful tearful and yet joyful moment…

KEC church leaders received Kramas ”cloaks”from leaving missionaries
June 5th: The Poipet sport ministry had another friendly soccer tournament at Living Water Church where 9 teams of U13 met and competed!  Among these teams, there were 4 girl teams!!!! Over all about 150+ kids from around Poipet came to play and to cheer for the soccer tournament!  It is an exciting time to see how God used the sport ministry to reach kids for His Kingdom!  The other day, after long hours of soccer practice, Pastor Chean of Living Water Church was not in a hurry to go home yet but stayed around at church ground “just to chat with the kids”.  After a few quiet moments, some kids asked if Pastor Chean would share with them his testimony, his life journey, on how he came to know the Lord.  So, Pastor Chean shared that he was raised pretty much in similar conditions as many of these kids are now going through: Many of them come from a broken family; some have never seen their parents but are growing up and living with aging grandparents or with extended relative members; and many of them have alcoholic and abusive fathers or are from poor families where these youth, though young as they are, had to drop out of school for various reasons or personal needs…  So when Pastor Chean took time to share his story, there were genuine tears rolling down their little cheeks as a realization that finally there is someone who understands what they are going through! Pastor Chean, then, went on to share that there is HOPE and LOVE that can be found in Jesus Christ!  He told them that Jesus is the True FATHER in whom they can trust and that HE would never leave them or abandon them or abuse them as their earthly fathers would.  As the result, 11 soccer kids gave their lives to Jesus that evening!  Soccer is a one of the tools that God uses to build His kingdom. It (soccer) is like a magnet attracting and drawing kids to the church field! Every late afternoon, there are at least 20-30 walking or bicycling to the church yards looking  for opportunity to play soccer or other games or just hanging around at the church’s playground.  These kids are coming to the church yards searching and seeking and hunger for something bigger and greater than what they have at their homes… Please pray for the five sport committee members to have clear vision in reaching kids for Christ through this ministry.

Soccer kids prayed before tournament.

Sunday June 12th: Soeuth preached his last message at Living Water (LW) Church.  During the farewell celebration last week, a few smaller distant KEC house churches could not come to join the fellowship. So this week, they’d asked the leaders to LW if they could come to join the morning service.  And they came by the truck loads of them!  This year, the LW has been doing series messages through the Books of Acts.  And since it is our last service in Poipet, Soeuth prepared a farewell message based on Acts. 20:17-38 encouraging to walking faithfully in God no matter the circumstances by keeping their eyes only on Jesus…  The church families and visitors stayed for a joyful fellowship of potluck meal afterward…   It is hard to leave friends behind, but at the same time, it is also encouraging to see what they have become.

Soccer kids came to farewell party
Village kids came to say goodbye
Church family came to say goodbye
 It is our prayers that many of them will remain steadfast in their walk with God even after we leave.

Please join us in prayer with this…

Please pray:

- For a smooth transitions and adjustments for the KEC churches in Poipet.  This is the first time in 13 years, that this region is without a missionary behind. These young KEC churches have been encouraged to “stepping out of the boat” into the deep water and are now “walking by faith” on their own.  Pray that they would keep their eyes on Jesus, and only on Jesus.

- Pray for smooth transitions of our parts.  We look forward to have both of our children under one roof again, even for just the summer break.

- Pray for Jonathan’s school this coming year.  We are not sure where God is leading, but at this point in time we plan on having him attending the Nyack public school for his 8th grade year.  Please pray for good friends and for godly and understanding teachers.

We look forward to see some of you again soon.  I will be a while yet before you hear from us.  Have a blessed and safe and cool summer time.

Soeuth & Syna

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

May Update 2016

Dear Prayer Warriors,

Greetings from Poipet, Cambodia! We trust that all is well with you. With all that is going on, this is probably the last newsletter from Poipet as we are wrapping up the ministries and packing up the house to be ready for our trip to America on June 12! After spending a week with Syna’s family in Washington (June 13-20), we look forward to see some of you again really soon, especially those of you who are from the east coast! Meanwhile, after a very long season of extreme heat and humidity and dusty, we are thrilled to welcome the first few rains of the year!!! Though the average daily temperature is still between 92-94 degrees the rains help to cool things down.
Below are updates of what took place since our last newsletter…

April 30-May 18: A teammate and I (Syna) left Phnom Penh, Cambodia, for a leadership conference at Colorado Springs (May 1-6) and for visiting friends and family in Minnesota (May 6-18). The day we’d left Cambodia, it was 106 degrees hot and humid only to be landed, 35 hours later, into Colorado Springs at 32 degrees, with heavy rains, icy roads, and about 6 inches of snow already on the ground! With a 12-hour different in time change and a totally different climate, it was quite a challenge to adjust to the change!!!!

After the conference, I was thankful for a chance to reconnect with friends from Crossroad Alliance of Brooklyn Park, MN! These friends had come to Poipet for short term mission trips during the past few years. Because our son Justin was in the middle of final exams at Crown College at Saint Bonifacius, MN, the plan was that I would go and spend a few days with him during the later part of my visit. Instead, I was surprisingly presented with an early Mother’s Day gift!!! A church family there made secret arrangements by bringing Justin to spend a night with me (May 7) at Maple Gove, MN, and after church service on Mother’s Day they drove Justin back to school so he could finish his final exams! Thank you dear friends! Your loving actions brought tears of joy to this mother’s longing heart…

May 13-15: Many of you have been praying for the northwest regional KEC youth motorbike mission trip and this is the results of your prayers…  Although God was at work and was quietly woven stories behind the sense, the Devil was also working overtime as well… Just days before the trip, almost all of the participants were experiencing many different kinds of attack from the enemy! The night before the trip, a number of team members called in to report that they were experiencing some unusual and unexplained sicknesses, but we’d urged to keep on praying and trusting God for healing. And He did! Some of the youth encountered strong oppositions and lack of support from family members. A few others, due to lack of finance and among other personal reasons, had questions of doubts and concerns of whether or not this trip was worth it.  Still a few others said that they were battling with nightmares and even had seen visions of scary images during the night before the trip reporting that these demonic figures/ images had repeatedly warned them of potential dangers IF they (the youth) chose to go on this trip! Nevertheless, despite of threats and obstacles, however, very early morning on the appointed day, 43 people showed up and were ready and willing to embark on this long awaited, most anticipating mission trip!

After brief orientation, loading and tiding up sleeping supplies, the exciting participants quickly hopped onto 16 motorbikes and two pick-up trucks to begin the adventure of a life time, driving over 450 kilometers distant toward Preah-vihear province! But problems followed them throughout the long journey…  Problem #1: As the team passed through Odar Mean Province (about 1/3 of way), the team leaders got two phone calls, back to back, from the home churches that two KEC church members went HOME to be with Jesus that morning, and immediate funeral arrangements must be done! As the result, one leader had to return to Siem Reap Province for one funeral, while the other funeral was left to the cares of other stay-at home church leaders! Problem #2:  Two other young men from Soriyaa Village all were geared up and ready for the mission trip!  But for whatever the reasons, these two got lost completely from the rest of the group!  Sadly after spending hours of unsuccessful searching and calling, they had to return home! Problem #3: The original plan was that the team would visit and spend a night at a Kui village church  (one of the minor tribal ethnics of the region), but with just two days before the trip, the team leaders learned about some political problems related to land issues that cause significant conflicts  in that village. As the result, the leaders redirected plans to visiting another village church called Abundant Life Church, also located in Preah-vihear Province!

Abundant Life Church
Of course, only God knew this ahead of time!  You see the believers in this remote village have been enduring a long period of loneliness, isolation, and feeling “left out” because of their distant location from any other KEC groups of that province.  There were many young people from this village, but none of them had ever been to the KEC annual youth camps or to any of the regional quarterly rallies!  In fact, this was the first encounter that these village youth had the chance to meet and fellowship with other youngsters of their peers! And because of this, these few new believers had been quietly nursing seeds of doubts concerning their decisions of becoming followers of Jesus Christ.  But the surprisingly changed plans of the visiting team brought much encouragement to the Christians in this village! With the local believers’ persistent pleas, the visiting team ended up staying overnight where two joyful worship services were held for both Friday night and Saturday morning! Although the Abundant life House Church held regular services and fellowshipped every week, and for whatever the reasons, the people there had never been taught about nor practiced giving tithes and offerings! So at the suggestion of the visiting team leaders, they had their first offering, and a total of $140.00 was collected! That is about a month salary for the average local income!!! As the total money was presented to that house church leaders, the visiting team leaders took time to carefully explain the biblical reasons on how God’s money is to be used.

Immediately after the Saturday morning service, the visiting team headed to yet another remote location at Sraa Aem Village! Unlike any other villages, Sraa Aem is a very newly established village for the military families! Because of on-going political tensions over border issues, the Cambodian governments had recently assigned about 300 soldiers (and their families) to settle in this newly remote village along the Thailand-Cambodia border.

Children service at Sraa Aem village

Another beautiful story behind this unique place is that, about 6 months prior to this particular mission trip, some Cambodians from the USA became friends with the one of prominent military leaders of the areas!  This leader, “Mr. V”, is the 1-Star General overseeing some 300 soldiers in that region!

In the course of times, these US friends had made a few trips to the region and as relationship established and trust built, Mr. V. along with his wife became believers and committed followers of Jesus Christ!!!  And in this past March, during one of our across-country ministry related trips, we’d stopped by to visit Mr. V. at Sraa Aem!!!  When he and the family learned about our mission trip, they’d pleaded with us repeatedly that “You must bring the entire group to spend a night here!” And so we did…
Visiting members worshiping at Sraa-aem village
By the time they’d arrived into Sraa Aem Village it was toward the evening hours. With weariness and bone-tired and exhausted from a very long road trip, the team leaders gave the visiting group sometimes of rest but urged them to be ready and on time for the morning service. Early on Sunday morning, as the worship service was about to begin, about 300 plus people from that village came for the service!
Soldiers and families worship at Sraa Aem village
Group worship at Sraa Aem village
All who came excitedly exclaimed, “This is the first time that we ever had seen so many people in one worship service!”

Soeuth’d prepared and preached a message based on Luke 7:1-10 about The Faith of the Centurion.  How fitting was the message that seemed to apply to the faith and life of this military leader… After church service, lunch was generously prepared and provided by Mr. V’s wife feeding over 300 villagers plus 43 visitors!  “What an amazing woman!” was a common response from everyone who attended that service.  After enjoying a hearty, delicious and satisfying full meal, the visiting team headed back to Bontey Meanchey Province, the point where this journey began three days earlier…

By the time the group arrived into Bontey Meanchey Province, it was already around 7 pm!  But not in a hurry to come home, the group met to share about their adventurous experiences at a local KEC church in Svey Sisophon!  It was at this debrief meeting that the entire visiting team clearly understood the FULL capacity of how the POWER of GOD was at work but also how much the Enemy had tried with his many schemes and tactics in order to stop this mission trip! You see, in addition to the problems and obstacles described above, during the ride home from Sraa Aem Village, the entire visiting team was surprisingly met by a vicious violent rainstorm and thunderstorm!  The fury violent windstorm was so strong that big trees were being uprooted and felt down to the left and the right of the weary travelers!  One motorbike driver with his young wife, in the midst of a heavy rainstorm, stopped in hope to find shelter under a big tree, only to be discovered that just a matter of seconds after they decided to leave the “shelter” that this huge tree suddenly fell onto the main road! Soeuth’s truck full of young people was swerved dangerously and finally came to a completely stop when another giant tree felt right in front of the truck!  One person had counted and reported that a total of 8 huge trees felt on the main road in that storm! And the stories went on and on, one after another, all testified as to how GOD had miraculously delivered them all from the harm!  At the end of that debrief meeting, there was not a dry eye to be seen in that room!!!

A young woman moved by the testimonies
All gave praises to GOD! As the result, one of participants, Pheap, gave his life to Jesus!  When that mission trip started out three days earlier, Pheap was the only unbeliever among the group. But by the time it ended, Pheap came home with a joyful heart safe and SAVED!!!! Over all, a total of 43 people riding on 16 motorbikes and in 2 pick-up trucks embarking on this adventurous mission trip traveling across four provinces covering over 900 kilometers in distant, but not even a single minor accident took place, and not even a tiny flat tire! Amazing!  All praises to JESUS!!!!!
Oh, we got much more to share but that is enough for now…

Soeuth & Syna

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

April Update 2016

Dear Friends,

Greetings from the land of the tropics!  Happy Khmer New Year!  We trust you are well and are enjoying the COOL beautiful spring weather for those of you from the State sides.  Cambodia is at the peak of a very HOT season! The average daily temperature is between 104-106 degrees!  Last week, it was 113 degrees!

There were so many things happened these past few weeks that if this letter does not send out to you soon, those news would become “old news."  So here is the latest updates for the Poipet ministries ordering from the most recent and onward…

Saturday, March 19: 
We had our first membership seminar at Living Water church!

Leadership village class

 Though the seminar was for Living Water church families, other KEC church leaders from the surround areas were also invited.  Altogether, about 80 people attended!  The English version seminars were led by Pastor Joel Arndt with the help of translation from the Laos.  On hearing about this, other KEC church leaders made repeated requests that same courses be taught at their regions as well

Saturday, March 26: 
The Poipet Alliance churches had a friendly soccer tournament at Living Water Church!  There were 8 soccer teams in all, ages from U13 to U16.  The Malay kids took first place!

Girls team playing
Soccer girls praying
Soccer kids getting ready for competition

As of present, this soccer ministry is focusing mainly on church kids or on those who come to play through the connection of a local KEC church.  We rejoice at the newly established 5 members for the sport committees, all are representatives from various KEC church throughout the Poipet areas!  The committees see significant values in reaching kids for Christ through soccer ministry.  Please pray for the committees as they meet monthly to plan ahead for the upcoming monthly competitions.

EASTER Sunday, March 27: 

Soeuth leading five people to the Lord on Easter Day

the Poipet KEC church had an outdoor- joined service at the Living Water Church under 2 newly made tents and on a newly built FUTSAL soccer field!  About 250 plus attended!  Pastor Joel Arndt (and his wife, Becca) of Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, were our visiting guests and speaker.  This was the first Easter service for many new believers! At the end of the service 5 people gave their lives to Christ!
Joel & Soeuth giving a message
Saturday, April 2: 
As mentioned in previous update that there was a wedding at Living Water Church.

Having been faithfully committed to their relationship and patiently waited for 5 years, Timon and Sokhary finally became husband and wife!  Their marriage was a beautiful testimony for all other young people in town!  No matter the temptations or how great the struggles in life, this young newly wedded young couple chose to honor God by remaining pure until their wedding day!  Timon, the youngest of 6 kids and an orphan since aged 16, had struggled a great deal and sometimes had many questions of doubt of whether or not he could find enough money for his own wedding.  Sokhary, on the other hands, being the youngest of 5 kids and the only believer in the family, had endured many persecutions from her own mother and older siblings! From both sides of the families and on many occasions, the family members had pressured this couple into married the Buddhist way! But they decided to save up enough money and paid for their own Christian wedding WITHOUT any family support!  It was true that this couple did not have any support from their own family, but they had a BIGGER Church FAMILY!  More than 200 Christian people came to their wedding! And the giving was very generous!  After all the cost was added up and paid for, they even had some money left extra to start their life together!

Sunday April 3: 
After spending a week of spring break at home, our son, Jonathan flew back to Penang Malaysia for his last quarter of grade 7th year at Dalat International School.  His nose was healing nicely and was looking more like normal again! Since we could not be with him on the actual date, we celebrated his 14th birthday early in Poipet. Just this past week, we learned from his dorm parents, that the Jackson Dorm family gave him a big birthday surprise at his favorite restaurant in Penang, the Nandos!  Thank you for all your prayers and support for our children!

APRIL 6-9: 
An annual National KEC youth conference/ camp too place at Kampong Cham Province where Alliance young people from all over Cambodia attended!  Although only 572 officially registered and paid for the conference fees, 650 plus people ate at each meal and attended the worship services!

Group picture of the youth camp

Some of those extra people were hired bus/ van drivers who drove the kids to the camp.  Even though these drivers were not yet believers, many of them chose to hang around on campus for three whole days! Many had opportunities to hear God’s Word from well prepared sermons! Some drivers even participated in all 4 four seminar classes! The theme of the conference was based on 1 Timothy 4:12, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity." Throughout the conference, there were opportunities for personal testimonies, special songs, and skit performed by various youth groups, all gave similar message related the conference theme!  We encountered some minor issues along the ways as expected for running a camp for a large group as this; but overall, things went as smoothly as can be.
In applying to the conference theme, some young people were exceptionally willing to give extra helping hands to whatever was needed!  For the past two years in a row, Vichet, a former National KEC youth committee, felt call to serve God with the KEC youth by using his gift and talent as being a chef!  As he had done this in the previous youth camp, this year, he also volunteered to cook for a total of 9 meals feeding some 650 plus people!!!  Of course he could not do it all by himself, so he’d recruited 32 young people from Snoul, Kratie province, who were willing to help prepare, serve, and wait at tables during meal times, and the cleaning afterward, so that other campers could enjoy the conference! And they continued serving throughout the entire conference! About 10 young people from various provinces arrived a day early in order to help the National youth committees put things together and ready for the conference! 18 students from the Elim Rural Ministry Training center (RMTC) spent 5 full-days before the conference clearing & cleaning camp ground,  building temporally 5 bathrooms including digging 5 large holes in the ground (a meter deep each) for make-shift outhouses!

To run this conference, the committees depended entirely on the finances received from registrations, and some donations from the Alliance mission and from Cambodian Evangelical Church (CEC) from the United States.  The committees also printed and sold 490 colorful T-shirts for small profits to help with financial needs.  Even with this effort, we still ran short about $1500.00 in US dollars!  BUT overall the KEC youth camp went really well this year because of God’s help, and because He had empowered some AMAZING young people to step up and gave us their extra helping hands!  As the result, this past Sunday, some young people from Living Water gave tearful testimonies of their personal encounters at the youth camp.  It is our prayer that these young KEC “Timothy” would continue to live lives of faithfulness to God and continue to set good examples to other believers in words and conducts…

That is enough news for now.  Here are some dates and event to be prayed for.

- This month, Khmer New Year falls on April 13-15!  Please pray for safety and protection for church families who will be traveling.  We will open our house, April 13-14, to church people and to those who are interested in water fights and traditional games.  The purpose of this event is as a diversion for new believers so that they would not be tempted to go back to their old ways of life, going to the Buddhist temple…

- April 15-17, about 12 of us (KEC youth leaders) will be traveling to Rattanakiri province, again, for a quarterly youth rally and for the FIRST time Bible quizzing for the Jari KEC youth!!!!
- April 23, next National KEC youth committees meeting in Phnom Penh
- April 25, 26: Next monthly classes at Pume Prey village/ at Toek Jo village, Bontey Meanchey province.
- April 30: FIRST time Bible quizzing for the Phnom Penh KEC youth!!!!
- April 30- May 18: Syna Lao and David Manfred will be traveling to America for a SUMMIT meeting at Colorado Springs (May 2-6), then May 6-18, both will be at different places in Minnesota visiting family & friends.
- May 2: Next friendly KEC soccer tournament at Living Water church, Poipet
- May 12-15: Our next annual KEC youth motorbike mission trip to Preah Vihear Province.
- May 21: A wedding a Living Water church.
- May 24: Northwest regional election for the new committee members.
- May 28: A fair-well service for all missionaries leaving Poipet

In between all these events that will take place, we hope to find time and energy to pack up the house and put things into storage in preparation for our departure for America, June 13th.  For those of you who are interested, we will be staying in Nyack for a one-year home assignment.  We will be visiting and speaking at Alliance churches in the Metropolitan District.  Please pray for the upcoming transitions.  Pray for our sons, Justin and Jonathan, but mainly for Jonathan as he will be entering into the Nyack public school for his 8th grade year.  First time in a big public school! Scary! Please pray for kind and understanding teachers and for good friends for Jon.  Justin had just taken an entrance exam, April 9th, into the nursing program at Crown College, awaiting the result…

Thanks again for all your prayers and financial support!!!  Your giving to the GCF enables us to keep on serving in this part of the world, bringing the message of Hope in Jesus Christ to lost people in Cambodia and all over the world.

Soeuth & Syna

Friday, March 4, 2016

March Update 2016

Dear Friend,

Here are some more updates concerning Poipet ministries and our family...

First of all, we are deeply grateful for your many prayers and support for Jonathan and for his recent nose injury!  Because the air ticket (to Malaysia) was purchased in a rush, we did not have many options.  As a result, Syna had to wait 6 hours in Kuala Lumpur!  When she’d finally arrived into Penang, Malaysia, at almost midnight, she’d waited another 6 hours before seeing  Jonathan!  Jonathan’s nose surgery, on February 18, went very well!  He was put under general anesthetic, and after a few hours of waiting while the hospital staffs worked on him, Jon was soon wheeled back to his room some bandages and a nose brace!   He was able to return to his dorm a day after surgery, and Syna returned to Poipet a day later...  According to what was being reported about the nature of the accident, it could have been much worse! Thank God for sparing Jon’s life!  And we THANK YOU for praying!!!

Earlier in February before leaving for Phnom Penh, and while playing soccer at Living Water church, a group of young girls from a nearby community, aged 9-11, boldly approached Soeuth and asked, “Do you only have boys to play soccer?  How come there is no soccer team for girls?” “We don’t have many girls who show interest in playing soccer”, Soeuth answered and then added, “But if you find 15 girls, come and see me later.  Maybe we can form a team for you”. The next day, February 4, we’d left for our long road trip to Phnom Penh and to other provinces across the country as mentioned in the previous newsletter.  And with all that took place last month, the thought about soccer ministry in Poipet did not cross our mind, nor did we think about these girls… Two weeks later as we were back in Poipet, the exciting news about soccer ministry was being reported…   The news was that, shortly after we left, a small group young girls were seen wandering around the church ground for a number of days!  When finally asked by some church members of what they were looking for, one of the girls answered, “We are looking for the man who drives (Soeuth).  He’d told me that if I find 15 girls, I was to come and see him.  Well, this week, I found 11 girls already!  Can he give us a coach and teach us to play soccer now?”  As this request being shared among the church leaders, in respond to the need, SOKHARY, a young lady from Living Water church, was willing to lead this new girl soccer team for U14!  From what we’d learned, these young girls are not yet believers but are willing to abide by our Christian rules and conducts just for a chance to play soccer! Please pray that hearts would be opened to the Gospel as these girls keep coming to play at the church ground.  Please pray also for MAKARA & SOPHAEK, a young married couple from the same church, who are working closely with a boy team.  We now have a total of 22 boys, all from the same community, aged 11-14, who have been coming to church every week!  And MAKARA has been teaching them on a weekly LIVING WATER discipleship class.  As of February 2016, we now have a total of 18 soccer teams, from U11 to U16, representing all KEC churches in Poipet! The next friendly tournament will be March 26 at Living Water Church!  As usual, we will have a short evangelistic message before the start of the games.  Please pray for a good outcome of the day and that hearts would be responsive to Christ.  Pray for a newly formed sport committees, five members from different KEC churches in Poipet. Pray for a spirit of unity as they serve God together in working with these young people.

As mentioned in a previous update, a team 7 people from Crossroad Alliance, Minnesota, came to Poipet, February 17-26, to help constructing/building a FUTSAL field for an on-going sport ministry!  To help cut down the cost, many local church members came to help and offered free labor services, including many kids from soccer teams and even little children also helped!  Some church ladies took turns to cook meals for the visiting team while some other ladies generously donated food items and snacks and cool drinks for the working crews!  Praise God, the Living Water Church now has a small but new FUTSAL field for the growing sport ministry! THANK YOU Crossroad Alliance for you generous support!!!!

At the completion of a FUTSAL project, we took the visiting team to yet another church site, at Maak Hoeun Village, to help with some manual labors, where a construction church building project has been taking place.  This village church, a small group of about 20 adults, has been meeting since August 2006 in a small grass hut belonging to a church leader!  

Last year, two different visiting teams (from First Alliance Church, PA, and from Community Alliance, MN) also came to Poipet and had opportunity to visit this church site.  Seeing the need for a church building, each of the teams willing donated certain amount of fund so we could start a construction building project which began since June 2015 but to postpone due to rainy season…  Again, to help cut down the cost, local volunteer church workers were encourage to give free labor service to the work site.  Mr. Hout Heng, a leader from Living Water Church, is overseeing this church building project!  The building itself may not be grand, but it will be the BEST building the villagers ever had, and the FIRST church building ever constructed in this village! Lord willing, we hope to have an entire construction project completed by end of April.

Maak Hoen Church Building

February 22-24, another team of 9 Alliance church leaders, from San Francisco, CA, also came!  This team, accompanied by very own Field Director, Rev. David Manfred, came to Poipet for church visitation and for future ministry opportunities.  During their visit, however, we had some mechanical difficulties with our “OLD FAITHFUL”, 1993, Land Cruiser! We’ve been using this truck as the main ambulance vehicle to pick up patients from distant villages.  After countless repairs, at 12:30 AM of Feb. 23, this old beat-up car finally died!  And the ambulance team was still in the middle of the roads somewhere on the way to Ang Salaa Village!  A backup vehicle from a referral hospital was immediate called to pick up a stroke patient at Ang Salaa village!  Soeuth was called to help with this broken truck! But because of a distant location and bumpy roads along with some other challenges driving in the dark night hours, it took sometimes before a rescue team arrived!  And after towing a broken vehicle back to a Poipet’s garage, Soeuth finally got home safely after 2 O’clock in the morning!  No more sleep for the remaining night…  The next morning, after hearing about our “rough night”, this group of visitors was so convicted by what they had heard and seen about what God is doing among the Poipet ministries, their team leader boldly declared, “This is a matter of life and death!  And we are called to help people in Jesus’ Name! Go! Buy another truck!  And our team will cover for the cost!” WOW!  And just like that, God answered prayers for the need to raise fund for an ambulance truck!

Looking ahead, we will be very extremely busy for the next few weeks/months.  In addition to on-going ministries, please be in prayers for these coming dates and events…
-        March 4, we will be heading to Phnom Penh, again, for a wedding (March 5) where Soeuth will preach and officiate. 

-        March 8-9 Field Leadership Team (FLT) meeting (Phnom Penh)
-        March 8, next northwest district regional youth rally at Svey Sisophon.  All International Workers will be at the prayer retreat in Phnom Penh. Please pray the regional youth committees as they will oversee the many youth at this rally and Bible quizzing.
-        March 10-11, annual missionary prayer retreat (Phnom Penh)
-        March 12, an all-day youth leadership workshop/ seminar (Phnom Penh)
-        March 19, church membership seminar/ workshop at Living Water Church (Poipet)
-        March 26, Friendly soccer tournament for the KEC teams in Poipet
-        March 26- April 2, our son, Jonathan will be home!!!!  (spring break)
-        April 2, Soeuth will preach and officiate at a wedding at Living Water Church (Poipet)
-        April 3, Jonathan returns to Dalat School
-        April 6-9, next annual national KEC youth camp at Kampong Cham province
-        April 14-16, National Khmer New Year
-        April 16, first- time Bible quizzing at Rattanakiri Province!
-        April 23, National KEC youth committees meeting (Phnom Penh)
-        April 30, first- time Bible quizzing for the Phnom Penh youth!
-        April 30, Next quarterly women seminal (Poipet)

We appreciate your continual prayers and support! Your faithful and generous giving to Alliance Great Commission Fund (GCF) enables us to keep on serving God in this part of the world, bringing the Good News of and the message Hope in Jesus to Lost People.  Thank you!  Please share with us what God is doing in your life!


Soeuth & Syna