Tuesday, April 17, 2018

April Update 2018

Dear Praying Friends and Family,

Jum- reap su-a!  Happy Khmer New Year! We trust the Lord has been good to you.

The remaining days of April proved to be busy ones for us. Here are some brief updates of what took place since our last newsletter.

Early morning on March 19 as we were about to start a discipleship class at Ondoung Chan village, one young couple arrived at class late. Both of them were still yawning. When asked why they appeared tired they both answered, “We were up late until 4 o’clock this morning listening to the stories from our radio!” Then the husband added, “They were such good Bible stories that we kept listening to one story after another."  Shortly after this couple shared their story, another young wife started to complain. “Lok Kru” (teacher) she said motioning to Soeuth, “Could you please tell my husband (who is known as Mr. Raa) to stop reading his Bible at 3 o’clock in the morning?  I need to sleep, but he kept me awake by turning on the light just to read his bible out loud!” After a moment of laughter Soeuth responded, “You should be glad that he is reading his Bible at home and not visiting karaoke shops somewhere late at night."  It is a joy to see waves of excitement from among the new believers as they could not seem to get enough of God’s words through their daily bible reading or through listening to the audio bible stories played from their MP3 radio. Almost every week through phone calls, we keep hearing about one story after another how lives have been affected and changed as hearts are turning to God’s word.

Thank you for praying for the regional adult conference in Siem Reap which took place on March 28-30. Soeuth was one of the speakers for the conference with a theme that was based on Revelations 3:14-18 as “…Lukewarm…” Many who attended expressed appreciation and gratitude for God’s word in their lives. The messages they all heard were reminders that they should not take their faith and salvation for granted.

On Thursday April 5th, we left Anlong Veng early to pick up a total of 15 youth from various villages on roadsides and headed toward Kampong Cham province for the youth conference. We only traveled about an hour on the roads when some young ladies began to experience motion sickness and started to throw up in the car onto bags of clothes! We stopped a few times afterwards just to clean up the vomit. It was a great relief when we finally reached our destination. Once settled in their assigned sleeping quarters, every helping hand was needed to clean up the camp site and to get things ready for the conference to start in the afternoon of April 6th.

Cleaning crew before conference starts

These 15 youngsters attended the conference for the first time. When we left Anlong Veng, only 13 of them were professed Christians, while two young ladies came along just for an adventure, but God had other plans for them. After listening to the message at the first evening service, they decided to give their lives totally to Jesus! Now back at home, the girls are still radiant with joy as they continue reading their Bibles and praying every day.
Like every other youth conferences in the previous years, obstacles and challenges seemed to follow us everywhere:

Challenge #1:  Just ten days before the conference began, one of the morning speakers backed out on his speaking agreement. Because of this, we had to find someone quickly to replace him. Praise God, the committees found such a replacement just in time.

Challenge #2: At the start of the conference, we learned that there were issues with the city water.  How can we run a camp with over 500 youth and leaders with inadequate water supply? We improvised. Soeuth and a few guys began to dig holes in the ground to erect pillars to support plastic tarps as they attempted to make “water tanks." Then we called and ordered a few truckloads of pond water to fill up our new man-made water tanks.

Challenge #3: Of course, it would not be a tradition if we did not have a rain storm at every youth camp even as we are at the peak of a hot season! Yes, we had heavy rain showers three times on early morning hours of the second day, soaking the beautiful decorated stage and some banners and even part the of the sound system. The decorations were all washed out and damaged! Some of the sleeping areas were soaked from the rain. There were mud puddles everywhere. During the morning worship hour, we managed to secure only one working microphone for the speaker, but this was the only time in the entire conference where we needed at least two microphones; one for the English-speaker, another for the translator! Again, we improvised.  Since the majority of the youth did not understand English, we gave the only working mic to the translator.

There were other challenges along the way, but God was also there moving and stirring hearts towards Him. Since this was the most anticipating event of the year for young people, many groups had prepared their special songs or skits to perform at a given time.

Anlong Veng youth with their special song at youth camp
There were moments of funny laughter and skillful skits performed by various talented youth groups. There were also moments of tears as people were reflecting on and applying God’s words into their lives. The conference theme was “Finishing Well” based on 2 Timothy 4:1-8, and various speakers had challenged the youth to be faithful in keeping the faith in Christ and to finish the race well in their spiritual walk. One speaker even challenged older/mature leaders to "pass the baton" and help young people finish the race well by being willing to train, disciple, mentor, and invest their teaching and knowledge to the next generation. One of the steps to finishing well was presented by another speaker, Soeuth, who challenged the young people to start sharing their faith with people around them. At the last night service Soeuth challenged the youth to see if they were willing to step forward and publicly make a commitment that they would share their faith with others. If so they would come forward to receive an evangelism bracelet. That night we gave away more than 380 bracelets! Over all, the conference went well as it would be expected. In total, we had 498 people registered and paid for the conference, but more than 530 people attended. Of those who attended the conference, about 40% of them were first timers.

One youth comm selling T-shirts to help fund for extra cost at the conference

Morning service at youth camp
Tribal youth resting between seminar sessions
Evening service at youth camp

Dates and events needing your prayers:

April 15-22: We are taking a much needed vacation to Japan.April 14-16: Khmer New Year.
April 23-25: A young family with two small kids from Poipet will visit us in Anlong Veng for a few    days as they are seeking God’s will and direction for future ministry.
April 26-28: Poipet CAMA staff prayer retreat at the beach in Sihanoukville/ Kampong Sorm province.
May 3-5: The nine members- national youth committee (and some of their families) will come to our house for a committee meeting (May 4th) and for some fun time.
May 6-9: Syna is traveling by taxi to Phnom Penh for Field Leadership Team (FLT) meeting.
May 10-13: Intergenerational leadership Seminar in Phnom Penh is being led by a visiting team called City Light Team from Omaha.
May 13-15: Annual regional youth motorbike mission trip to visit various Alliance churches in Anlong Veng areas.  We are expecting about 40 people will participate in this trip.

As always, we are very grateful for your generous giving to support the Great Commission Fund (GCF) which enables us to continue spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ to lost people in Cambodia and around the world. Your continued partnership in the Cambodian ministries through prayers and financial support are much appreciated. Thank you.


Soeuth & Syna Lao