Monday, March 19, 2018

March Update 2018

Dear Praying Friends and Family

Jum reap sure! Greetings! We trust this newsletter finds you well.
Thank you so much for praying and supporting the Cambodian ministries. Here are some updates as a result of your faithful prayers…

February 27-28: Our team of International Workers had an amazing prayer retreat in the capital city, Phnom Penh. Our guest speaker, Rev. Joel Arndt from Community Alliance, MN, did an excellent job leading us into the presence of God through his messages in the Lord’ Prayer.  Many of the new like-minded seconding- International Workers who recently joined the Alliance team also attend this retreat, so it was a great opportunity getting to know some of our other additional team mates.
The day after the retreat, we returned home with our regional director and his wife who came to visit the various ministries in Anlong Veng areas. As planned for March 3, we had a leadership seminar in Srae Nouy where 30 KEC members from around the areas attended. Rev. Joseph Kong, an Alliance IW, led the group in Disciples- Making seminar.

KEC Church members playing Khmer traditional musical instruments at Srae Nouy
Discipleship seminar at Srae Nouy
IW prayer retreat
Discipleship making seminar at Srae Nouy

Kong and Tim Steinert at Srae Nouy
Shortly after the seminar/workshop, there were opportunities for personal testimonies where Mr. Kong, Mr. Raa and a few others shared powerful stories about the hand of God working in their lives.

Rev. Kong then challenged the eager group that “It is not to lead people to accepting Jesus’ salvation plan for their lives, but we must make an effort to disciple these newly converts to know his word for their spiritual growth”.

Sarom (right) with Pastor Dy at the Discipleship seminar in Srae Nouy
Syna praying for a little girl to receive Christ at Srae Nouy
On the way to Srae Nouy, as requested by Mr. Raa, we stopped by the roadside at a local market to pick up a lady to attend the workshop. We had no idea what she looked like. Raa gave us only her name and descriptions of her shop. As Syna walked out of the car to ask other sellers about the lady, she passed by many stalls/shops selling beef, fish, fruits, vegetables, and fried snacks/cakes. Syna noticed that while all those other shops had higher places for incense sticks and various worship idols the last shop sat a 62-year old named Mrs. Neang with an opened Khmer hymnal book on her lap. She was humming along with the Christian songs playing from a small red radio device!

Syna searching for Mrs. Neang's shop

Mrs. Neang with her radio on while making fried cake snacks to sell
After she got into the car with us, we learned that Neang was the lady that Raa had witnessed to (see Raa’s story in our February blog), and she was only a few weeks old believer! But what bold and courageous testimony she had demonstrated by singing songs and talking about Jesus in public!

Mr. Raa in black and Mrs. Neang holding her radio
March 8: A quarterly regional youth rally at Svey Sisophon went very well. 168 young people from three provinces at various ages attended. The youngest of the youth was only eight years olds! Before and after the message, there were opportunities for special songs with choreographies courageously  performed by various youth groups.

Youth rally at Svey
Bethlehem youth traveling to the rally at Svey
Regional youth rally at Svey

Youth group performed a special song at the youth rally
In his message, Soeuth challenged the young people to develop a consistent lifestyle based on Philippians 1:21 that say, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain”.

After four weeks of attempts, we finally had the first lesson of Living Water class begin on March 9 at Ondong Chan village (where Mr. Kong lives)! The Living Water class  is a five-week discipleship course for new believers.

Living Water class at Andong Chan village
Kids playing while their parents attended the Living Water class
In the first class, we had 17 people sign up and attend the class. Among them were 7 members from Kong’s entire family! Each student is given a book with home works to be completed before each class begins. Please pray that students would find time and courage to study. Many of them struggle with their inability to read and write well.

As words continue to spread, more and more villagers are requesting to have a small radio set for their own with some Christian materials to read. However, because the villagers are located at distant locations and because of poverty, many could never have proper medical, dental or eye cares checked. As a result, many older folks suffer terribly with poor health, especially with eyesight. So, every time we visit a village, Syna makes it a habit of bringing a long, extra pair of reading glasses at various prescription ranges for those in needs.
Reading glasses and small gifts being given to new believers/villagers
We find that by simply giving away small items such as radios, reading glasses, bookmarks, color pencils or highlighters, and even small Bible bags—these items not only bring tremendous joy to the villagers, they also motivate the new believers to read and study God’s word at their pace.

Illiteracy continues to be one of the major problems in most remote villages hindering new believers from growing in God’s word. The same problem is found at every village. The situation can be hopeless and discouraging. Passionate and committed literacy teachers are a rare treasure to find, but God in His great mercy and love for the needy often surprises us with such a treasure as we recently discovered in Mr. Sarom…  A few weeks ago at Andong Chan village, Sarom was among the 16 attendees who sat through and participated in an all-day adult literacy teacher-training workshop. Immediately afterward, Sarom took the literacy book and practiced teaching on his three small children and young wife. The students responded positively and Sarom was greatly encouraged. Seeing good results from teaching his family, Sarom felt inspired to invite neighboring children to join in his nightly classes. As the result, Sarom now has a total of 14 literacy students to teach at home!

Kids anxious to learn in the literacy class with Sarom at Ksaach Ampel village
In his excitement, Sarom went a step further by bringing the same book to a neighboring village called Ksaach Ampel where he then talked face-to-face with a village chief and some parents. After showing the book and its teaching methods to the people there, Sarom then asked if they would be interested in having him come to teach their children. The parents and village chief not only accepted Sarom’s offers, they began to put a collection of money from each family in hope to buy enough supplies to build adequate sitting areas for the kids. As a result, the parents signed up 70 children to be taught in Sarom’s literacy class! At this point, Sarom could only go and teach at Ksaach Ampel three times per week while he is searching for other potential teachers from within the village. We help with Sarom’s traveling expenses and small stipends.

Sarom teaching literacy class at Ksaach Ampel village
Kids walking home after literacy class

(FYI: Some background story behind this village. Ksaach Ampel is a newly established remote village located in an outskirt of Odar Meanchey province where many poor families moved there within the last 5-7 years in hope to find labor works in the rubber plantations. This village of 300 plus families is about 30 kilometers away from the nearest clinics and has poor/ inadequate water supplies. The nearest public elementary school is about 7 kilometer away. For families with means of transportation, they could easily afford ways to bring their children to and from school every day. Some older children often walk and bike to school on their own, but the majority of the younger children whose families are without any means of transportation, stay/wander around aimlessly at home while their parents are busy working in the plantations).

Dates and events needing your prayers:
March 19: Our next Living Water class at Andong Chan village.
March 23-24: Syna to Phnom Penh to accompany Jonathan home for spring break (March 24-31).
March 23-24: Soeuth to Poipet for bimonthly classes.
March 28-30: Northwest regional KEC church conference in Siem Reap province.
April 1-2: Syna accompanies two MKs back to Dalat International School, in Penang, Malaysia.
April 5-9: Traveling with some KEC youth to Kampong Cham for annual youth camp.
As always, we are very grateful for your ongoing and faithful prayers and supports.  Thank you, for being a committed a ministry partner with us for the Cambodian ministries.   Please share with us what God is doing in your life.  We want to be a blessing to your through prayers.
Soeuth & Syna