Tuesday, September 26, 2017

September (End) Update 2017

Dear Friend and Family,

Greetings from Anlongveng!

Here are some updates concerning Cambodian/An-long-veng ministries...

Lately, we’ve been traveling a lot with a few key regional church leaders to visit various groups of believers located at distant places of the northwest region. The reason for this was to hear and learn about the need for ministry in the area. As we went about visiting these isolated and distant places, the common question kept being repeated in every place we visited: “When can you come to teach us?” In most of these sites the Gospel was shared with and/or introduced by various Alliance believers from the Peoyop (northwest) region. On their own or sometimes with the help of visiting Alliance church leaders, these new believers met for worship on a weekly or bi-monthly basis. In some places, the new-believer discipleship classes have already been established. However, because of distant locations, the volunteer teachers could only come to teach once or twice a month. Clearly, the urgent need to establish ongoing weekly discipleship classes in each of these sites is very crucial. There are so many needs and requests that we could not possibly meet them all. Please pray for clear directions from and leading of the Holy Spirit as to which specific sites we should be focusing on first.

Apparently God has placed us in just the right central location! Anlongveng is located in the middle of three different major locations: Samrong (Odar Meanchey province), Sra-em (Preah Vihear Province), and Srae Nouy (Siem Reap Province).

Discipleship class at Sra Em
Each of these locations is about a one and a half hour drive away from Anlongveng. On the roads to each of these sites, there are a few other small groups of believers who are meeting along the way. To effectively plan some kind of discipleship/ leadership training classes at each of these major sites, we would need to plan an overnight stay. We (again) need clear directions from the Holy Spirit as to which sites we should concentrate on and make a priority.

After numerous requests from the Poipet church leaders, we visited the Living Water Alliance Church on September 15-16 and had a wonderful time of fellowship with our dear friends there. On Saturday morning (Sept. 16), more church leaders and people from other nearby Alliance church sites also came *a total of 38 key church leaders!) They all came hoping that we would begin leadership training classes soon. We praise God that even without any involvement of missionary works through June 2016 - July 2017, Poipet Khmer Evangelical Churches (KEC- Alliance) remained strong and faithful in their walks with God. But even as the number of new believers was being added to each group and while the church leaders continued teaching various levels of discipleship classes, the leaders themselves had not received any form of training.

Leadership training in Poipet
 These leaders gave similar complaints: “We are hungry (for spiritual food). We keep on giving and giving, but we ourselves are not being fed." And they also added, “When can you come to teach us?” So, at their requests, we agreed to start leadership training classes every other week, where we will need to plan an overnight stay for every appointed date. Between the three of us: Soeuth, Syna, and Mr. Hout Soheng (a leader from Living Water church), we will teach the following classes: How to Grow Spiritually, Apostle Paul and His Missionary Journeys, How to Preach, Theological Education by Extension (TEE), a few other classes as time allows. Please pray for these students-leaders as they desire to study and grow in God’s words. Also, pray for safe traveling for all.

Hak at Sunday School at Toul Prich Village
Anlongveng: Please join us in prayers for the young believers in Toul Prich village. Pray that their hearts would truly pursue God himself and not treat Him as just another religion.

Last week, after five attempts, we finally had a Living Water class (a course designed for new believers) that started where 7 students enrolled! The Bible-based adult literacy class is at lesson seven. But we had to cancel all classes this week and the following week because people were traveling to visit their hometowns during a major religious holiday: “Bon- Pa-jum- Ben." This has been going on for the past few weeks.
Bethlehem Church exterior
Bethlehem Church interior
From September 19-20, we traveled from Anlongveng to Battambang province to join the Bethlehem church dedication. Although it was only 260 kilometers distance, due to poor road conditions it took us nearly six hours to get there. But what a beautiful dedication service we had!

Bethlehem Church dedication

Dedicating Bethlehem Church
 All those who had any involvement in establishing the Bethlehem church building attended. Meing Pheap, a 76- year old widow and the founder of the church, gave an eloquent and heart-moving speech about the Bethlehem church history.

Meing Pheap sharing
Meing Pheap shared about her life journey and how she first met the Lord while still living inside a refugee camp in Thailand (December 1989). She also shared about her long and dangerous trips back to the homeland (in May 1992), and about her prayers and promises that said: “God, if you would just give me a roof over my head, I will bring people into Your Kingdom." She spoke about a story of perseverance, endurance, persistent prayer requests, and of hope and trust that God would answer prayers in His perfect timing. After 25 years of continuously praying and pleading, God finally answered Meing Pheap’s greatest heart's desire by granting her not only “a roof over my head,” but a beautiful church building where she and other believers could worship Him.

Shortly after Meing Pheap’s sharing, another regional church leader excitedly went up to share about God’s abundant blessing and the generous giving through His people! This leader proudly reported that the money raised came very quickly, and the total amount received was more than enough to cover for the cost of the building construction! They even had some extra money to (1) help repair the roof of Meing Pheap’s old house and to (2) purchase a small piece of property at Reach- Doun- Keo village where a small group of believers (Bethlehem’s daughter church) was meeting weekly for worship service!

THANKS to the many supporters who had financially contributed toward the cost of the Bethlehem church building project. On behalf of Meing Pheap and the Bethlehem Alliance church, we are very GRATEFUL for your generous financial support!

We had a great time visiting Jonathan at Dalat School in Penang, Malaysia!

While visiting Jonathan, we also had a great time connecting with Justin via Skype. Sadly, our daughter-in-law, Katie, was not able to talk with us then. While in Penang, we had the opportunity to connect with Jon’s teachers and learn about his progress reports. For those of you who take personal interests in praying specifically for our children, THANK YOU!  Jon is doing well and is happy being back at Dalat with his old dorm family again. Please extend your prayers to all the dorm parents of Dalat School who answered the Call to serve Him by loving and caring for all the dear children of International Workers.

Dates and events to pray about:

- Oct. 13-14 & Oct. 22-23:  Syna will escort the MKs to and from Dalat for mid-semester fall break.
- Oct. 14: All-day leadership training classes in Poipet.
- Oct. 21: TEE and Christian Education seminary/ workshop in Svey Sisophon.
- Oct. 26 - Nov. 4: A visiting team from Central Pacific District to the Cambodian mission field. The same team will visit Anlongveng on Oct. 30-Nov. 1.
- Oct. 27-28: All-day leadership training classes in Poipet.
- Oct. 28-29: Quarterly regional youth rally at Rattanakiri province.
- Nov. 6- 8: Field Leadership Team (FLT) meeting in Phnom Penh.
- Nov. 8- 17: Visiting team from San Francisco Chinese Alliance church to Anlongveng.

Please share with us what God is going in your life.


Soeuth & Syna Lao

Monday, September 4, 2017

September Update 2017

Dear Praying Friends and Family,

Warm greetings from the rainy and flooding land of Anlongveng!

With heavy rains pouring on red clay-like dirt almost everyday, all paths and streets are filled with mud.Yet in spite of dirty roads and muddy paths, there is great joy and excitement written on over children’s faces every time it rains! With nearly 100% humidity and constant heat waves, rain waters are refreshing to the body. People, children and adults alike would rush out to soak themselves under the cooling rain waters every chance they get. Because Anlongveng is located near the Dong Raek Mountain range, and because the areas still have a lot of tall tree remains, we‘ve seen more rains here than in any other parts of Cambodia. The famous local lake, Boeng Taa Mok Lake, is always full and often times over flows with rain water. We just had another major rain shower on the Sunday afternoon of August 27th, which flooded most parts of the town again. Fortunately, the floods remained for only a few hours.

With all the traveling we had these past few weeks, it seemed like the entire month of August just vanished off the calendar! But a lot of events took place during these times and we want to share that with you as well.

September 4th:

 I, Syna, returned to Cambodia after dropping off Jonathan and another Alliance missionary kid (MK) at Dalat International School in Penang, Malaysia.  The original plan was for me to remain in the capital city, Phnom Penh, until September 9th for a Field Leadership Team (FLT) meeting. But on the late afternoon of September 4th, Soeuth was sick and home alone in Anlongveng!  He was experiencing severe stomach pains followed by repeated cycles of high fever, chills and sweats. Because he was getting worse throughout that night, I had to make a trip home to Anlongveng, the next day; and it took me over 10 hours of road trips because there was no direct route for public transportations. Immediately after arriving home, I took him to a local clinic. Although his blood test showed no sign of malaria (which is very common for this town) his white blood count was very high. Since the Khmer doctor couldn’t specifically identify any cause of infection, the doctor just prescribed some antibiotics for Soeuth. The next day, Soeuth’s skin was breaking out with rashes and blisters! Later on after we saw a dermatologist in Bangkok, we discovered that Soeuth contracted a skin disease called Impetigo. Doctor said that this kind of illness is very common among small children who like to play in dirty waters. But Soeuth, liking children by nature, had no recollections holding any small dirty child from our recent arrival. We traced back to July 18th when we first moved from Poipet to Anlongveng. During this time, we had to collect water in bottles from ponds and rice fields off the main roads to feed the overheated truck, the Pajero. This explained why Soeuth contacted this skin disease that was typically rare in adults. Needless to say, we were very grateful that Soeuth was seen by a professional and received proper treatments for his sickness. All is well now.  Praise God!

August 23- 26:

We went to Phnom Penh for a national youth committee meeting and had opportunities to reconnect with other national Alliance church leaders of that area. We had a great meeting with the youth committees. The committees decided on dates for our next annual national youth camp, which would be April 6-8, 2018. We appreciate your prayers as the committees are doing research on locations that would accommodate a youth camp for up to 600+ people!

Even with all the traveling we had, we try getting back to Anlongveng for Sunday church services. Although that means we have to travel late in the night, we make sure we have time to go to church on Sundays. So far, we had four church meetings with local people in a village called Toul Prich, about 17 kilometers away from the central location of Anlongveng.

There are a number of ladies in their late 20’s to early 40s, mostly with small children, who have been faithfully coming to “church."  They seemed to be seeking the Way, but have not been formally or properly introduced. Many of them are illiterate. The “church” consists of mostly women and children, but no men except a few teenage boys and girls.

The more we spent time with them, the more we learned that these people, although they have been coming to “church," still lack basic knowledge of why they are coming or who they believe in and  follow. To them, all religions teach people to do good things; therefore, the more gods you have the better.

As requested by the church leaders from the Poipet region, starting September 16, we will begin a monthly class for the church leaders of the areas. Due to long distant traveling, we will plan to spend the night at Poipet for every time we go to teach. We look forward to have rich fellowship with our dear brothers and sisters in Christ of that region. Pray for safe trips on the roads.

August 29th:

We went to the village to start a Bible-based adult literacy class where seven ladies and A LOT of small children came!

All the mothers also brought along their nursing babies! It was quite a challenge to teach class with all the kids playing and talking loudly nearby and the little babies crying out for their mother’s attentions! And the end of the “teaching session," I spent some time reading/ telling Bible stories to them.

Praise God, the kids seemed to quiet down a bit when it was story time. After an hour or so of “class," the ladies asked, “Could you come back again, do this class more often?” As their request, we plan to go there three times a week.

Pray for open and receptive hearts as they listen to Bible stories. And PLEASE pray for creative ideas on how to calm those busy and noisy kids. While I taught an adult literacy class underneath a Khmer’s style house (typically built on stilts), Soeuth, underneath another house, also started another group for school-aged kids and teenagers in a class called Living Water, using a discipleship booklet designed for new believers.

I began this literacy class and also taught two others, “DL” and “S." The reason for this is that in the near future, I hope they will take over this class as I will begin another. DL & S, a young couple, both strong believers with three small kids, had willingly moved from Poipet to live and work with us in the church ministries in Anlongveng. Having worked closely with DL & S, we grew to admire their courage to walk in faith and their obedience to God’s calling. To them, DL & S are “missionaries” to their own people. When they decided to come and follow us to Anlongveng, they knew about the nature and of the sad historical and tragic events involved in this town; and even their close family members had warned them about all the dangers involved in or related to this place. Yet, DL and S declared to their concerning family that, “If teachers Soeuth & Syna are willing to come to work in Anlongveng, then we are willing to come as well” (as translated from their own words in Khmer).  We appreciate your prayers for this young family.

Although we still have ways to go in terms of fundraising for a ministry center for Anlongveng as indicated in an Approve Special (account #: 1-47200-46-64-01030), we began asking around and searching for a potential central location with hopes of purchasing a piece of property for the Anlongveng Ministry Center.

Please join us in prayers in this quest. If God is leading you to financially support this project, please send your donations to:

Christian & Missionary Alliance (The C&MA) National Office
8595 Explorer Drive, Colorado Springs, CO 80920

Also, enter the account number: 1-47200-46-64-01030.

Here are some events coming up that need your prayers:

1. September 4th -6th: Family retreat for the Alliance church leaders at National as well as Regional levels along with their families at Sihanoukville.
2. September 16th: Monthly leadership class for all church leaders in the Poipet region.
3. September 20th: Church dedication service at Bethlehem KEC in Battambang province.
4. September 21st to 26th: A personal trip to visit Jonathan at Dalat School and meeting with some of his teachers.

Thank you for your prayers concerning the Cambodian ministries. We are grateful for your faithful financial support to the Great Commission Fund (GCF), which enables us to keep on serving the King here, shining the Light of Jesus to lost people in this dark place.

Please share with us on what God is doing in your lives. We want to invite YOU to consider coming to visit us in Anlongveng for a short-term team trip to partner with us and see what God is doing in the lives of the Khmer people here.


Soeuth & Syna