Wednesday, November 22, 2017

November Update 2017

Dear Praying Friends and Family,

“The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field” Matthew 9:37-38

A young mother harvesting her crops
It is harvesting time in Cambodia and many villagers are busy harvesting and collecting their crops.  As the result, Syna’s afternoon literacy classes at Toul Prich village were postponed for the time being. However, the children having nothing much to do were very restless. Every helping hand is needed at the rice paddies. The responsibilities, which fall into the hands of the older siblings include, cooking, taking care of the house, and caring for little children.
Older sibling taking care of younger siblings while parents are harvesting
 It is very common to walk through a village at this time of year and find only small kids (as young as eight or nine years old) taking care of their little brothers or sisters. Thus, the risk for potential dangers or accidents is high.

Thanks to your generous financial support toward our Work Special account, we have some funds available for adding the foundation and walls to the adult church building. We will soon begin the building construction for the children center at Toul Prich village. With the help of visiting team San Francisco Chinese Alliance church (SFCAC) along with some local volunteer workers from the church families, the ground of the church site was leveled up with dirt. The rocks, gravels, and cement were added to the foundation of the adult church building.It will be a while before the construction is completed. Meanwhile, it is a bit of a challenge finding good locations with adequate shade for worship service and for children Sunday school classes.

November 5th, I (Syna) traveled in a public bus to the capital city. Although the bus company sold 32 out of the 40 seats to passengers from Anlongveng, the driver, in an attempt to earn extra money, kept picking up more and more passengers along the way. By the time we were close to Phnom Penh there were about 60+ passengers in total! Being cramped in a bus full of people along with their sacks, bags, and suitcases of goods it felt very unsafe. People were actually sitting on little plastic chairs in the middle isle of the bus! There was nothing I could do and there was no other way, but to remain in the bus for the entire trip to Phnom Penh. On top of that, the bus kept breaking down... four times!  We left Anlongveng at 6:50 am, but did not get to Phnom Penh until 8:30 pm! Some passengers had bad cases of motion sickness while few others were coughing and sneezing madly. As the result, I caught a nasty cold.
Passengers inside the public transportation
It was quite an experience! BUT even as I didn’t enjoy the long road trip, I embraced the many opportunities to share the good news of Jesus Christ with other passengers, taxi , and bus drivers!

Thanks to your prayers, the November 9th youth rally went really well! Thirty young people from the Kui tribal village (one of the minor ethnic groups in Preah Vihear province) came! After arriving at Sra Em, we learned that 30 other Kui kids could not come due to lack of transportation. A total of 76 youth from five different local Alliance churches of the northwest region attended the rally! Mr. Heng Sambo, one of the Khmer Evangelical Church (KEC) leaders from Preah Vihear province gave an evangelistic message. After the morning service, we had relay games, group activities, and a fellowship of meals for all to enjoy! Although the altar call was offered, no one came forward, but the majority of the youth requested to have more frequent rallies in the near future.

Youth rally at Sra Em
On November 11th, the bimonthly leadership classes at Living Water Church in Poipet went very well. Despite of a heavy rain the night before and more rain that morning, 32 leaders from five different KEC churches of that region came! Although the trips to Poipet twice a month are very long and tiring, we often feel refreshed and encouraged by the hunger of the students eagerly waiting to study God’s words.

Bimonthly leadership class in Poipet
Sunday, November 12th, we took the SFCAC team to visit Srae Kandal village in Odar Meanchey province, one of the new church sites that we recently discovered. It was also planted by Mr. Kong.  Mrs. Sean (Mr. Kong’s younger sister) and her husband, Mr. Raa, are among the leaders of this group. Although the new believers came together and had fellowship twice every Sunday, they did not fully understand what a church service was all about. The believers came at the appointed time to sing some selected songs. The few who can read took turns reading passages of the Bible out loud, gave tithes, and prayed. At the end, they all went back to their homes. The same order of practices was observed twice every Sunday at 7:30 am and 2:00 pm. Since the majority of the believers are illiterate, we are praying that God would raise potential leaders from the local areas to help teaching literacy classes.

On November 15th, we were on our way to Siem Reap province.We took the visiting team to an Alliance house church at Ondong Chan village in Siem Reap province where Mr. Kong lives. We also visited Ksaach Ampel village a bit further than Kong’s village. This Alliance house church was also recently planted by Mr. Kong! As we visit these newly planted Alliance house churches, we were overwhelmed by the tremendous needs in of each of these new sites! Mr. Kong continues to passionately and boldly sharing about Jesus to every person he meets! Those who received Christ through Kong’s sharing, also began sharing their new faith to others. As a result, the number of new believers were increasing every week! Most of them are very NEW in their faith and need to be discipled. The Holy Spirit is moving powerfully among the new believers in these remote villages. As local farmers are harvesting their crops, we are going through a season of spiritual harvesting as well, but with only few workers! PLEASE PRAY that God would provide extra helping hands to Anlongveng soon!

On November 16th, we returned to Mart Klaa floating village Alliance house church where Mr. Kean (Kong’s younger brother) is the church leader of the areas. Knowing that we were coming, the believers had waited for us with great anticipation!

Road to the shore on the way to Maat Klaa floating village

Boat ride to Maat Klaa floating house church
Upon our arrival, one sweet little auntie burst out with tears of joy as she was overwhelmed by the sheer excitement of having visitors saying, “I had waited for so long to see you!” Another dear lady, who is just a few-month-old Christian said, “I am wearing my best (traditional Khmer) outfits for this special occasion!” After a time of fellowship and meal, Mr. Kean quickly led the service in songs and praises.

Syna with an auntie at Maat Klaa

Kean (in red) leading a worship service
While Soeuth translated the message for a visiting pastor from English to Khmer for the adults, I kept the little children occupied in a cramped corner of a tiny floating house church with coloring papers, nail polish, balloons, and candies!

Children class inside a floating house

Kids displaying their art work in the floating house
Shortly after the service, Mr. Kean took us to yet another floating village where a group of new believers were meeting every week for worship.
Church families at Mart Klaa

Mr. Kean's floating house/church viewed from the boat
Believe it or not, this floating Alliance house church was planted by Mr. Kean. It is also the daughter-church of Mart Klaa floating church! As his older brother, Mr. Kong, is passionate about sharing the Good News to everybody he meets or talks to on the phone. Moreover, Mr. Kean, a well- respected person and local police for Mart Klaa floating village, spent most of his efforts witnessing for Christ to every local authority figure he met. Being a former Buddhist priest for many years Mr. Kean now spends a great deal of time and effort speaking of Christ with interested local authorities including village leaders, local police, Buddhist monks and priests! As the result, more new believers were being added to the floating house churches every week! It is such an exciting time for ministry opportunities. Once again, the pressing reality is the same: we need workers to help disciple these new believers.

Last week, during a discussion in an Abundant Life class at Toul Prich village, Soeuth asked the students if they remember the dates when they first said “yes” to Jesus. Immediately, three teenage boys (aged 14- 16) shouted in agreement that they got serious with Jesus about two months ago! When asked how or why it was so all three boys said, “Although we've been coming to church on and off for a few years already, we didn’t know much about Him. After we studied God's word in the Living Water book, we invited Jesus into our hearts!”

Workers laying the foundations of Toul Prich church

Children class and adult church service at Toul Prich (building under construction)
So, THANK YOU for praying for the people in Toul Prich. While the adult remain staled and uninterested, we are seeing small fruits from among the little children and teenagers of that village.

Here are dates and events needing prayers:

November 24-December 5th: a visiting team from Detroit Lakes, MN
November 25th: Bimonthly leadership classes in Poipet
December 2nd: Leadership workshop/ seminar at Psaa Leur church in Siem Reap
December 9th: Quarterly regional youth rally at Svey Sisophon, Bontey Meanchey province.
December 15th: Jonathan comes home for winter break. Yay!!!!

The Khmer evangelical churches (KEC) are very busy with Christmas activities. Already, Soeuth accepted seven invitations to preach at various Christmas programs in the northwest region. Pray for strength and safe traveling. This will be the first Christmas celebration ever for many new believers who will attend the service. Pray for openness and receptive hearts.

Please share with us what God is doing. As always, we are very grateful to God for your loving and faithful prayers and your generous financial support to the Great Commission Fund which enables us to continue serving Christ among the Khmer people in the northwest region of Cambodia.


Soeuth & Syna

Friday, November 3, 2017

October (End) Update 2017

Dear Praying Friends and Family,

“Jesus said, ‘Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’” Matthew 19:14

Lately, more and more little children of Toul Prich village have been coming to the wooden house where Syna teaches the Bible-based literacy class. Although these loud, playing, and screaming kids were often a great distraction to the class, these little ones keep on coming every day with great expectation and anticipation to hear more of the Bible stories. Then after each class, the kids wait to receive candies as a reward for good behavior. Last week, a young father, who is not yet a believer, came to the house to let us know how appreciative he was for teaching his child how to read! A few other parents also expressed similar gratitude. We are seeing fruits on how God is using this Bible-based literacy program to reach out to women and children of Toul Prich village!

Nine students, who completed Book 1 of Literacy class.

These people came to Toul Prich Church for a morning service
After each class session and during story telling time, I (Syna) have been sharing/ discussing about our Emmanuel, the God who lives in us. I always encourage students to talk with and to relate to God in a personal way. As the result, last Sunday service during a testimony time, a young mother, Sokha, shouted “God heard me and answered my prayers!” She shared when her husband one night came home late and was drunk cursing loudly and making commotions around the house.

Sokha and her baby in a hammock.
Since her four little children were sleeping beside her, Sokha could not go out and meet his demands. In desperation she pleaded, “Preah Yea- sue (Lord, Jesus), if you are indeed living in me as my teacher had told me, then please do something about my husband. He is waking up my children and my neighbors!”  After a few minutes of quietness, her husband gently asked, “Do you have something to eat? I am hungry.”  Sokha was so amazed by his sudden change in behavior and tone of voice  that she also told the group, “It’s been a long time since he had said any kind words to me.”

Shortly after this, feeling inspired by Sokha’s courageous testimony, another lady, Nouv, a young mother of three small kids, also shared how God answered her prayers. One day, as Nouv and her kids were coming home from the rice paddies and they could not find the key to go into the house. It was also raining outside! She and the children looked everywhere, but didn't find the key. In desperation, she was about to break the door with an ax; but her seven- year-old son interrupted, “Mom, do you remember what teacher Syna said about Preah Yea-sue?” Feeling convicted, Nouv and her three children began to kneel in front of their house in prayers asking Jesus to show them where the key was. “After we all said ‘amen’, I found the key on the ground right in front of me!” Nouv was very excited as she shared how she found her missing key and then added, “It is true!  Preah Yea-sue answers prayers!”

On October 25th, after many long weeks of endurance and perseverance, we celebrated the completion of the first Living Water class at Toul Prich Alliance church where a total eight (8) believers successfully completed the five week Living Water new believer discipleship course!

Students graduating from Living Water, who are now moving on to Abundant Life class.
On the same day, the nine students from a Bible-based literacy class also completed the first of the three books! Syna baked banana muffins and shared with all the students and their families!

The baking class at Sra Em village on Oct. 10 was a big hit! Nine ladies and two men came to learn how to bake. One lady drove from her home on a raggedly old motorbike with her 4 year old son riding behind her for two hours! Another man came all the way from Kampong Thom province (about 180 kilometers away)! Every participant took great pride in learning the art of baking using local products. Throughout the following week after that class, we kept hearing one report after another from participants that the selling of their Noum- jake (banana muffins) was going really well.  Everyone gave praises to Jesus.

Baking class at Sra Em village.

Also on October 10 while the baking class was going on, we received sad news of the passing of, Mrs. Chan Rate, our dear friend. She was a loving mother of nine children and a devoted wife of Pastor Buth Nhan (the Peoyope northwest regional director). Syna was able to attend funeral service that evening before she flew to Malaysia to pick up Jonathan, while Soeuth stayed for the rest of the three-day funeral services.

As frequently requested by very interested young people from Toul Prich, we had our first music class at our house on October 17th, where four young men from the village attended! Seyha, aged 31, youth director for the northwest region, a godly husband, and a loving father of two small children is also a gifted self-taught musician! After learning about the youth’s desire in learning music, Seyha was willing to commute from Siem Reap and spend a night at our place every week so he could teach music lessons to young people from Toul Prich. So far, the young people seem to bond very well with Seyha. Praise God for this timely and divinely provision!

Seyha and the music class.
As previously planned, from October 26-27 we continued traveling with regional church leaders to visit three other new church sites that were recently established after the local people heard about the powerful testimony from Mr. Kong!

Mr. Kong and the little boy, Judah, who were both trapped in the broken cave along with Mr. Kong's wife, who prayed for their rescue.
Mr. Kong is playing the two string Cambodian violin during a church service that was at his house.
Bridges to Mr. Kong's village.

A typical house in Mr. Kong's village.
Mr. Kong's house view from the roadside.

These new sites were all located about 50 minutes to each other and a half hour drive away from Anlongveng! And as shared in our last update, in every one of these new church sites there also live Kong’s relatives! So far, we already met four of Kong’s nine adult siblings! Every one of them seemed to have an exact duplicate of Mr. Kong’s characteristic trades: They all are very passionate for Jesus, very bold, and courageous in sharing the Gospel to those around them. They were very hospitable in opening their humble homes, getting involved in church services, and generous with sharing what little they have with others around them. In every one of these new sites, as soon as we arrived, at least 25 to 30 people all eagerly waited for us with hearts ready to learn God’s words. When there were opportunities given for testimonies, they boldly shared about what God had recently done in their lives: His miraculous healing, protection, and His timely and divinely provisions! Because they are so poor, most are peasant farmers live in shack like homes with holes and leaking roofs, so we had somewhat expected that their prayer requests would be something related to material needs. But in each of these three new sites, their requests were the same: “Please come and teach us God’s Word.”

Believers met Mr. Kong's house church
We count it as a privilege and such a great honor to be in Anlongveng at such a time of this. Hearing numerous and repeated stories about powerful testimonies on how God is consistently at work among His people feels like some of the wonders and miracles we read about in the Book of Acts. The stories from the Bible are being re-enacted, right here, in northwest region of Cambodia! We even got to meet and talk with the people and also visit places where these miraculous events took place!

BUT we are in a very short supply of extra helping hands! We desperately need at least another couple who could work alongside us to teach literacy and discipleship classes. As ministry opportunities increase, we also encounter some personal and ministerial challenges. Recently, the young family that had previously moved from Poipet to live with us has now returned to Poipet! So, in one week, we lost a children-Sunday school teacher, an assistant literacy teacher, and a house guard; and now, we are back to searching for yet another trust worthy house guard. AND just when we had no more Sunday school teachers left, this past Sunday church service, we had a bunch of new people from another village with A LOT of little kids who decided to visit the church for the first time! In addition to our regular attendees, a total of nine other ladies with 28 little kids riding on mechanical trailers all decided to visit Toul Prich Alliance church this past weekend! Quickly, I (Syna) had to come with some creative lessons and ideas for games on the spot! So, with the help of a large spreading plastic tarp as our seating areas underneath a cashew tree, I began to teach the children some songs followed by the story of creation.

Surprisingly the kids quickly learned and were willing to sing the “This is the day” song for the adults…  We know that the God who sent us here will provide all the details of our needs. Please continue to join us in prayers for these needs.

Okay, that is enough news for now.  In addition to list mentioned in our previous newsletter, here are some other dates and events that need prayers:

1. Nov. 5-8, Syna will be traveling to and from Phnom Penh for FLT meeting (Nov.6 &7)
2. Nov. 7, Soeuth goes to Siem Reap to pick up visiting from San Francisco Chinese Alliance Church.  The team will be with us until November 18.
3. Nov. 9, a Cambodian national holiday, we will have a youth rally at Sra Em village for churches from Preah Vihear province, Sra Em, Srae Nouy, Anlongveng, and some youth will come from the newer sites.  This will be the first big youth event that has ever taken place in this region!  So far, we are expecting at least 70 young people will come! Many of these young people are first timers to church gathering.  Pray that hearts will be tendered toward God.
4. Nov.11, bimonthly leadership classes in Poipet.
5. Nov. 18. National KEC youth committees meeting in Phnom Penh.
6. Nov. 24 to Dec. 4th, visiting team from Detroit Lakes, MN.
7. Nov. 25. Leadership classes in Poipet.

As always, we are very grateful for all your prayers and support.  Let us know what God is doing in your life.


Soeuth & Syna