Monday, December 25, 2017

December Update 2017

Dear praying friends and family,

“Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord"- Luke 2:11 NIV

As you hear again the story of the first Christmas and how the Child of God lay in a humble manger, may your heart be filled with gladness and with peace, and may this Christ Child bless you and those you love.

Here are some more updates from the Anlong Veng and the northwest regional church ministries:

As previously mentioned, we had a visiting from Detroit Lakes, Minnesota where they came to minister with us among the Khmer Evangelical Churches (KEC) in the northwest region of Cambodia. This is where we had three leadership seminars at Living Water Church: in Poipet, Srae Nouy village and Psaa Loer church (the last two are both in Siem Reap). In addition to ministering to the KEC churches, the team was very helpful to us with household works inside and around the yards. Up until last month, since moving into this house, we had been facing problems with termites, ants, and many other pests! They were everywhere! But since we did not have an adequate time to unpack our things since moving here and did not have proper places for storage, we kept postponing the unpacking process until last month!  What we finally discovered was horrible! Termites literally destroyed many boxes of our precious books and Bibles! After trying everything we found here, nothing seemed to work.

Khmer bible destroyed by termites.
We asked the visiting team to bring us insecticide chemical from America. Once they arrived, the team began spraying gallons of mixed solution inside and around the house. So far, it has been a few weeks since they left and we have not seen any trace of insect! Praise God! Thank you Community Alliance for sending your pastor and team to Cambodia!

December 1st: On our way from bringing the team back to Siem Reap, we stopped by at Andong Chan village, an outskirt of Siem Reap province where Mr. Kong and his family live. Our plan was to have a worship service at Kong’s house, but once we arrived Kong was not home! We were told then that since four O’clock that morning, Kong had to leave for Maat Klaa floating village as some people were interested in Twai Kloun (giving their lives to Jesus). So instead, we held a worship service at Mr. Raa’s house, a neighbor of Kong. During the service, we had opportunities to hear more of some amazing testimonies from other new believers including a powerful testimony from Mr. Raa, (which we will share at another time). By late afternoon upon arriving into Siem Reap, Kong called to report that he had led three families to the Lord!

Mr. Raa and his family
Children class at Mr. Raa's house
Worship time at Mr. Raa's house (from the left: Raa's wife, Raa, Pastor Dy)

Soeuth and the children class at Toul Prich
Almost every week we would often receive phone calls from Kong and Kean (Kong’s younger brother) and from other believers from surrounding villages to report that more and more people are coming to Christ! God is using both Kong and Kean in a very powerful and effective ways in reaching villagers for Christ. Please pray for overall protection against the enemy’s attacks upon Kong and his entire extended families.

December 9th: The regional quarterly youth rally at Svey Sisophon went very well. Due to conflict with the public school schedule, only 96 young people attended the rally, a much smaller gathering than we normally had.
December 14th: Because of the coming holidays and conflict with travel scheduling, we reluctantly had Jonathan (age 15) to fly alone for the first time from Penang, Malaysia, to Bangkok, Thailand!  Syna flew from Siem Reap, on the same day, to meet up with him at the same airport in Bangkok.  After encountering a few minor problems with the Thai immigration security that caused some delay, Jonathan was able to meet up with Syna at the baggage claim. Phew, what a relief! For personal reasons, Syna and Jonathan spent a few days in Thailand and enjoyed doing some Christmas shopping.

December 16th: Tired and weary after all-day ministering in a village, Soeuth was shocked to see unpleasant surprises awaiting him at home; a drunken man was walking around our yards talking nonsense! What do you do in a situation like this? His initial response was to call local police for help, but the man’s mother kept on pleading, “My son has been in situations like this too many times already. No matter what we tried, nothing worked. No one can free him from this bondage, except Preah Yea-sue (the Lord Jesus)!” So, after talking on the phone with Pastor Dy and at his request, Soeuth reluctantly agreed to drive the drunken man and his 65-year old widowed mother to Srae Nouy village, about 86 kilometers away.  Soeuth was praying that during the hour-and-half road trip , the man would not behave violently and interfere with his driving. After arriving at Srae Nouy, Pastor Dy said, “Just leave him here. We know what to do." Since we already had other plans in Anlong Veng, Soeuth returned home. Late in the afternoon on the next day, we received news that Pastor Dy and some church leaders had gathered around the man singing hymns and worship songs to Jesus. This was followed by hours of prayers for deliverance and casting out demons from the man! As the result, that man, called Naat, is now a new believer in Christ! He prayed to receive Christ immediately afterward! A few days later, Naat returned to our house, but this time he was walking and talking like a normal person! He came by to thank us for not turning him away. Both mother and son expressed deep gratitude toward Jesus. The mother went on to say, “Just like the story I read recently in the Bible where Jesus cast out demons and He drove out the devils and sent them all into pigs (Matthews 8:28-34), those evil spirits that tormented my son all these years came out of him! And they (evil spirits) all went into a cat!” Before leaving, Naat asked if he could have some Christian tracts to read. We gave him both a Khmer Bible and a hymnal book with specific instructions on where to begin Scriptural reading and how to pray…  Looking back, we thank God for keeping us from calling the police. Had we done so, Naat would lose the opportunity of knowing and receiving Christ as his Lord and Savior. Naat was invited to come to church this Sunday and also to join the Christmas celebrations at Srae Nouy (Dec. 27th) and at Toul Prich Village (Dec. 29th).  For Naat, his mother and younger sister, Pesey,  along with many other new believers in the Anlong Veng areas, this will be their first Christmas celebration ever!

A background story:  In October, we shared with you a personal need to find workers/ helpers who are willing to live on the same property as we do so they could watch the place while we were away doing ministries in distant villages. On November, through referral by local church leaders, we hired Pesey (Naat's younger sister) a young single mother, age 25 with an 11 month-old baby boy. Pesey, in addition to her widowed mother, agreed to try out for a few months.

Pesey with her mother and son.
Pesey's mom reading a Christian tract, while watching her grandson.
To our relief, the family arrived on November 8th. But even with good living arrangements, quality living conditions, a handsome monthly allowance including reasonable workloads, this family decided to leave Anlong Veng in a few weeks! They left due to their many other family and personal needs. They are willing to stay on, however, until we find another person/ family to take their place, hopefully by the end of January.  Pesey and her mother both received Christ in May where Syna has been teaching them in new believer discipleship class. 

It will be sad to see them go. And so once again, we are back to the process of searching for yet another house helper…

Last week at Toul Prich village as we were about to end a literacy class, a respectful middle aged man walked to the house where the class was being held.

Literacy class at Toul Prich

Politely the man greeted us, “Jum-reap sure" and then said, “Thank you for coming to my village every day to teach the children and my grandchildren how to read.”  Being new to the area, we had no idea who this man was, so we simply said, “min- ay- te” (you’re welcome). As we continued chatting with him a bit longer, we learned that he is a village leader! The church families had already invited him along with all the men from Toul Prich to join the Christmas celebration on December 29th. Also last week in Toul Prich, when asking one of the kids if his mother was still playing cards/ gambling, one believing lady shouted, “We hardly ever seen any person gambling any more since you prayed! But the men are still drinking.” She then added, “So, we must continue praying for the men to stop drinking." We agreed. We still don’t know what God as in store for the people in Toul Prich village. So far, still only women and children are coming to church.
And since the harvest season for rice and other crops are still in progress, there were fewer people who showed up for church. Sometimes it can be discouraging to not know what else to do or how much more we could be effective for this village. However, God, in His caring mercy and His great love for the lost souls of the people in Toul Prich village, keeps on encouraging us by allowing a village leader to suddenly and unexpectedly show up. This is God’s way of reminding us to “…not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest, if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9)

Thanks to your generous financial support toward our Work Special account, and with the help from villagers, we were able to fill up dirt on the property, add concrete, lay foundations, add walls, windows and doors to the adult church building for the Toul Prich village.
The children place was recently erected with only roofs on. The concrete and cement are yet to be added toward the children's building center. Our main goal was to have a roof over the children center so we would not have to worry for when the raining season comes. One step at a time. That is all we could do and hope for.

Villager workers adding walls and doors to Toul Prick adult church
Working progress of church buildings in Toul Prich Vilalge
Children center building at Toul Prich
Adult children building at Toul Prich
This coming January, we will have a young lady from California, who is taking a gap year from college so she could come and help us do ministries in Toul Prich village for two months. She will be working closely with children and youth teaching English and doing sports ministry. Please continue praying that God would send us Khmer speaking helpers/ workers to help teaching new believer and Bible based literacy classes.

Dates and events needing your prayers:

1. Continue praying for the Christmas celebrations that are still going on all over Cambodia. We have four more to go. Pray for receptive hearts of those who will be attending for the first time. Many not-yet believing friends and relatives including prominent community leaders are invited to join this special celebration.

2. After the Christmas season is over (the last one is on Jan. 2), we will take a family vacation to spend time with Jonathan.

3. Jan. 9th to 13th, Syna will accompany Jonathan and another MK back to Dalat.

4. Jan. 13th: Bimonthly leadership classes resumed at Living Water church in Poipet.

5. Jan. 15th to 16th: Seiha from Siem Reap will resume music lessons to youth in Toul Prich.

6. Jan. 19th to 20th: Meeting with the Thai C&MA pastor with regard to Toul Prich ministry. Pray that we will discuss ministry matters with truth and in love. We will need an English-Thai speaking translator to help communicate in this meeting.

Please share with us what God is doing.  As always, we are very grateful to God for your financial support toward the Great Commission Fund (GCF) which enables us to keep on serving God in this side of the world sharing the message of Hope to lost people in Cambodia. Thank you for being our partner in the Cambodian ministries.
Until we write again, wishing you a blessed Christmas and very happy New Year.

Merry Christmas,

Soeuth & Syna