Tuesday, July 24, 2018

July Update (Part 2) 2018

Dear Praying Friends and Family,

Although we just sent you a July update, there were other exciting stories that needed to be included as well but not enough space to write then.  Here are a few more stories that took place recently…

Sarom And His Radio
With only some help for fuel cost and other travel expenses, Mr. Sarom, a resident of Andong Chan village, drives his raggedy old motorbike to Ksaach Ampel village (around 12 km from his village) three times a week. Mr. Sarom does all this to teach 40 plus children how to read! Being a passionate lover of Jesus Christ, Sarom always shares his faith with anyone he meets, especially the children. To support his ministry, we often supplied him with coloring papers, crayons, other classroom supplies, in addition to some small toys and soccer balls.

Sarom teaching children at Ksaach Ampel village
Rain or shine, Sarom commits to going to Ksaach Ampel to teach children literacy classes. He always brings along his small MP3 radio device so the children could listen to Bible stories. Every day children returned home and reported to their parents what they learned. They often told their parents about exciting Bible stories they heard from Sarom’s small radio! With only fractions of the bible stories retold by the children, some parents became interested and started to show up at Sarom’s literacy class, not to learn literacy, but to hear the whole Bible stories!

The actual discounted price sold at the Alliance Literature book store is $11.50 for each radio (about two days earning for a local labor worker). But even with this lower rate, most poor families could not afford it. We often considered giving them away for free (and we had done so many times already), but this practice might be a more harmful type of “helping.” Instead, we encouraged the interested families to save up their money and make a weekly “down payment” at as low as $0.25 or $0.50 per week to add up to a total amount of 200,000 riels (about $5.00 US dollars) for each radio. With this reduced price, Sarom already “sold” more than 30 radios to interested parents at Ksaach Ampel Village! This week Sarom ordered 20 more radios! Thanks to the available money in our Work Special account (which some of you are our regularly and generously financial supporters), we can apply the same reduced rate for every interest buyer in every village we visit. It is a joy to hear that even people who live in the most remote and isolated places are having opportunities to learn about God through listening to Bible stories played from these radios!

Sarom in plain white sitting with Pastor Dy at Israel Nouy village

Marb From Maat Khlaa

Marb and Syna inside a floating house at Mart Klara village
Her name, Marb, means ‘chubby’. Marb (in her early fifties) is a resident of Maat Khlaa floating village, is a young believer who loves God dearly. She is among the many frequent callers who call us with questions about her faith in Christ (we encourage young believers to call us for any question related to their faith). In addition to her excitement and her genuine love for God, Marb has such a joyful and bubble personality! In her weekly phone calls, she always reports about exciting news on what God is doing in her own life, her family’s life, and the lives of the villagers around her.

She already bought two radios: “One for me and one for my husband!” In addition to radios, Marb often requests for extra pairs of reading glasses because, “I kept dropping them in the water!” Living on a cracked bamboo floor inside a floating house, one could easily lose small precious items, if not carefully kept. Syna can testify to this fact because she had also lost a pair of her most needed reading glasses during our last visit to Maat Khlaa! Recently, Marb and eight other believers braved their ways across the great Tonle Sap Lake, riding for three hours on an open-motor boat to join the funeral service at Kampong Klang village!

Marb, in striped blouse, traveled 3 hours on a motor-boat from Maat Khlaa floating village to join a recent funeral service.
                                                                 Seng’s Story… (Toul Prich Village)

Seng (in her early forties) is a young believer living in Toul Prich village. Although Seng has been coming to church on and off for the past six years, she was not growing spiritually. One reason for her lack of spiritual growth was because she could not read and had not been trained in God’s words. Another reason was that, like every “Christian” in her village, Seng (back then) only showed up at church every time visitors (from across the Thai border) came hoping to receive some hand-me-down gifts.
Seng (giving a peace sign with her hand) and Seingly at Toul Prich village
Shortly after we came to Anlong Veng, we made three trips a week to Toul Prich for literacy classes, discipleship classes, and for Sunday church services, but lately most people stopped coming to classes.  Only children and a few adults showed up at Sunday church. It was discouraging and we were wondering what to do with this village.

However, this past week, three adult ladies and some 20 plus children came to church! While Syna worked with the children, Soeuth began the “church” service with the three ladies. During a share & prayer time, one young mother, Seingly (in her early twenties) said that she wanted to give her life to Jesus! When asked why, this is what she told us…

Children ministry Toul Prich village

Toul Prich kids riding in our pick-up truck

Syna and the Toul Prich children ministry
“I have been watching Seng for a long time. She and her husband seem at peace with one another. Seng is always smiling and kind to everyone in my village. She and her family would always listen to Bible stories together every night. Sometimes, I came by their house to listen to the stories as well.  But I didn’t want to be a burden to them. I really liked what I saw in Seng’s life. I want what she had as well. Seng sometimes encouraged me to talk to Jesus, especially when I was feeling sad or afraid, but I didn’t know how. Seng kept asking me to come to church with her and that is why I came today… because I want what Seng has…”

Seng reading her Bible at the Lao's house
Since fall 2017, Seng has been studying a Bible-based adult literacy class with Syna. She has recently completed the 80 lesson course and is reading very well on her own! While being discipled by Syna, Seng often had many questions for her. Recently, Seng,  Seingly, and another young girl were studying in Syna’s Living Water Course for new believers…

At a crucial time when we were so discouraged and anticipating what to do about the Toul Prich ministry, God, in his great love for the people there, gave us another glimpse of hope. He assured us that all hope is not lost at Toul Prich. For the sake of the little children and for these few seekers, we will continue with Toul Prich ministries.

Every Monday, we go to Andong Chan village for weekly classes. Syna teaches an Abundant Life class- 14 students and Soeuth a Pentateuch class (3 students). In our weekly discipleship classes recently, Pastor Dy from Srae Nouy came to Soeuth’s Pentateuch class feeling stiff and severe back pains.  During a joined prayer & share time, Soeuth anointed him with oil and we prayed for Pastor Dy’s back. Immediately afterward, Pastor Dy was able to bend down and touch his own toes! Those in attendance, about 25 of us, all testified to this healing event!

Discipleship class at Andong Chan village
It is such an exciting time for church ministries in Anlong Veng! It is a joy to work closely with new and young believers! Through their sincere, basic faith and fervently prayers, we are seeing evidences of how God answers prayers!

Prayer requests:

Please pray that God would send workers to help us with the Anlong Veng growing ministries. The harvest is so plentiful here but there are only a few workers. Please pray to the Lord of the Harvest to send us extra helping hands.

Please pray for new/young believers to remain faithful in their walk with Christ even in the midst of testing time. Because of their professed faith, many of the church families are going through hard time of persecution.

As always, we are grateful to God for you and your faithful prayers and financial support to our Work Special account (which allows us to purchase radios and other Christian literatures) and to the Great Commission Fund (GCF) which enables us to keep serving God here in this part of the world.  THANK YOU for partnering with us with the Cambodia ministries.

Seouth & Syna Lao

Friday, July 20, 2018

July Update (Part 1) 2018

Dear Praying Friends and Family!

This month marked one-year anniversary since we arrived and began church ministries in Anlong Veng areas. It is an exciting time for church ministries as many new believers show a great desire to study God’s words! The best part is that these young believers apply every lesson learned to their daily lives!  As a result, we are seeing the hands of God stirring hearts and transforming lives. So much has happened recently related to church ministries that we are not sure what to include and what to leave out. Here are some of the key events that took place recently...

Srae Kandal Village

A few weeks ago, during a church service Soeuth was preaching about forgiveness. While he was preaching, Mrs. Sok Heng commented, “This is a very hard topic for me. I am not sure if I can do it.”  Soeuth assured her that with God’s help, she will be able to forgive her offenders. So the entire church prayed for Sok Heng. Recently, she reported that she had completely forgiven and even prayed prayers of blessings for her former “enemies!” She and her husband, Mr. Raa, are inviting her “new friends” to come to church!

Sok Heng, in pink blouse, telling her story about forgiving her enemy
Sok Heng excitingly telling her forgiving story at Srae Kandal village
Last week at the same village, Sok Chan, a 12 years old girl in Soeuth’s Firm Foundation class shared about her opportunity to share her faith with neighbors. While helping neighbors plant crops, Sok Chan heard some older ladies were complaining and making cruel remarks toward a small group of Christians in her village. Feeling convicted by the Holy Spirit, Sok Chan boldly shared her reasons for choosing and accepting Jesus as her Lord and Savior! Awestruck and amazed by Sok Chan’s bravery, an elderly lady of the group urged Sok Chan to “Go on, child. Tell me more about this God of yours. I want to hear what you have to say.” Having the support from the oldest of the group, Sok Chan then spoke boldly about the good news of Jesus Christ to all her neighbors!

Since we met Sok Chan almost a year ago, she is known among her friends and family as being very bold and courageous in sharing her faith with other people. Every so often, Sok Chan would ask Syna for extra bibles so she could pass them on to her all friends at school. So far, Syna has given her at least a dozen or more of the New Testament Bibles! Having attended and enjoyed the KEC youth camp (April 6-9) and the regional youth rally (June 18), Sok Chan is saving up her money so she could attend the next youth rally (September 24th) and the next annual youth camp (April 2019).  She is also telling and encouraging her friends to save up money for these youth events.

Sok Chan (in yellow jacket) attending discipleship class in Israel Kanal village
Andong Chan Village

A few months ago, we asked you to pray for the persecutions that Mr. Kong and his family were facing.  As a result, God did something AMAZING! The drunken man, Mr. Moun (please see our May update), who had threaten to cut off Kong’s head is now a brand new child of God! Kong had the privilege of praying for Moun to receive Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior! This is Moun’s conversion story as told by Kong…

Early in June, Mr. Moun needed to plow his fields in preparation for planting rice, but he had no money to rent a tractor nor did he have other plowing supplies to do the job. So, he reluctantly came to Kong hoping to borrow Kong’s “mechanical cow” a big mechanical engine used for pulling plows or pulling a large trailer. Aware of his friend’s needs, Kong readily and willingly lent his precious machine to Moun.  Not only that, Kong took a step further with his generosity. Kong had offered to pay for all the cost of fuel needed and to help plow for Moun’s fields! Kong’s kindness had left such an impression in Moun’s life.  “I could not believe it! How could he be so kind to me?” stated Moun as he later on shared in Syna’ Abundant Life class a few weeks later. “Even after all the evil things I’d said and done to him,” continued Moun, “Bong (meaning brother) Kong was so kind to me! He was treating me as if I was his own brother!”

Since his conversion, Moun is reported by all who know him well as a “new man!” “He’s has changed so much,” added his wife, Martha. Moun used to yell at and beat up his wife and children whenever they joined the weekly fellowship. In early May, before his encounter with Christ, while Martha and the children were listening intensely to the Bible teachings from a small MP3 radio in the privacy of their own home, Moun was so furious with his family that he took the precious audio device and smashed it to pieces! Since his encounter with God, however, Moun is recognized by friends and family as “gentle” and “soft spoken” to his family! Recently, Moun was so remorseful by his past sins and for the harsh ways he had treated his family, he actually went and apologized to both Mr. Kong and to Moun’s own wife, Martha! Last week, Moun even gave his wife some money to buy a new radio so he and the family could listen to Bible stories together!

For the last three weeks in a row, Moun has been sitting in and listening intensely to every discussion in Syna’s Abundant Life class! Recently, during a classroom sharing time, he asked the entire class to pray for healing for his elderly mother! Such a beautiful transformation that God is working in Moun’s life.

Moun, in orange shirt, sitting next to wife and baby in the discipleship class
Discipleship class at Andong Chan village
Srae Nouy Village

Recently in our weekly classes and during a “share & prayer time”, Pastor Dy excited reported that the Srae Nouy KEC Church had witnessed and experienced the amazing healing power that God had displayed among the church families. “This week at church was amazing! I’ve never seen anything like this before in my whole life!” Declared Pastor Dy to the listening group. He continued on saying, “People were weeping and praying and shouting and giving praises to God for miraculous healings!”

Pastor Dy (front) leads the group towards funeral home
Pastor Dy shared that there was a healing service at church recently where people were coming with their sick so they could be prayed for. Some people were experiencing immediate healing! He also shared about a middle-age lady who had nursed an old grudge against her neighbor for many years. So strong was her bitterness that it had affected her health, causing insomnia and constant headaches. In addition, for some unexplained reasons, her right arm was slowly crippling! However on this particular Sunday (July 15) the lady came forward and confessed her sins! Then, she asked the entire church to pray for strength and courage to forgive her enemies. As she was confessing, she broke down and sobbed uncontrollably. The whole congregation then went forward to lay hands over and prayed for her. As a result, Pastor Dy also said, “She was laughing and giving praises to Preah yea-sue (Jesus)! And she was able to straighten her arm!” Shouted Pastor Dy and then added, “If I did not see it with my own eyes, I would not believe it!”  Those who attended that same church service and witnessed the miraculous event nodded their heads in agreement.

Field Forum

Thank you for all your prayers for the Field Forum that we had with other International Workers in Siem Reap! We all had a great time fellowshipping with and meeting new team mates. It was good to see old friends who recently returned to field after their home assignment years in the USA. We also appreciated hearing the solid messages from our guest speaker, Pastor Bruce Konald from Eagan Hills Alliance, MN.  He challenged us with God’s words based on the Book of Revelations chapters 2-3, which we are still convicted by these messages. We appreciate the Eagan Hills Alliance church for sending their pastor and wife along with six other teammates to help us with our FF week.  Over all, everything went well as it could be. All praise to Jesus!

Sad News

Monday morning of July 16, while teaching our weekly classes at Andong Chan village (where Mr. Kong lives), we received numerous phone calls from church families with some emergencies: Srey Poev, a young wife and a daughter in-law of Pastor Dy (from Sra Nouy village) was rushed to a private clinic in Siem Reap province for complaints of severe abdominal pains. Later, they discovered that she suffered from ectopic pregnancy where immediate emergency surgery was required. After hours of waiting, Srey Poev survived the surgery. Sadly, after a few years of trying this was their first child/pregnancy, but now it is no more. Srey Poev, her husband, Pearum, along with Pastor Dy and his entire family are grieving deeply for the loss.

First Christian Funeral in the Village

Sixty-five years old Auntie Vern, a young believer originally from Mart Khlaa floating village, suffered a massive stroke a few months ago where she was completely paralyzed and bedridden since then. Seeing that her health was not improving, the family took her on a motor boat and kept her in a relative’s house in Kampong Klang floating village. (This village is located closer to the shore of the Tonle Sap Lake). But at 3 pm of July 16, the Lord Jesus took her Home. Immediately after hearing about her death, we tried to get few KEC church families to come and support the grieving family. Because this was the first Christian funeral service, we were hoping and praying that some of the KEC church families would come. On Tuesday morning (July 17), we left the house very early to pick up church families along the ways. 18 other KEC church people traveled with us in a pick-up truck! It was raining hard all the way through!  Those who sat outside were soaked to the core, but there was no other choice. We had to go to that funeral, rain or shine. We did have many concerns, however, as we were driving to Kampong Klang village. Being it was a heavy rainy season, would other people would come at all to this remote village?  If some people come, how would we be able to do a funeral service inside a very tall and shaky house supported by unsteady stilts/ pillars? What if the house collapse while the service is going on? And how would we be to get our vehicle to the village with all these heavy rains?

Upon arriving into the village, we were amazed to see so many other Christians from the northwest region come to show their support to the grieving family! Altogether 62 people attended the funeral!  And God even held off the rains for a four hours! With the help of Christian families, some people took charge of making the coffin while some others borrowed wooden planks from the neighbors and plastic tarps to make shelter for outside service. It was a beautiful testimony for the unbelieving neighbors to see as the Body of Christ working together helping the family in need.

62 church families showed at first Christian funeral in Kampong Klang village

Church families helped lower the coffin from a tall house for outdoor funeral service on dry ground.
People helped carry coffin for funeral service
Curious unbelievers observing from a distant on how Christian funeral is done
Heavy rains at the burial site
Family News

We praise God for Justin (son) and Katie (daughter-in-law), who are now officially registered nurses!  Both had passed the NCLEX exams! While visiting Cambodia in early June, Katie had a job offer in the pediatric ward in the Twin City, MN, where she began working on July 16th. We are praying for a job opening for Justin. We enjoy having Jonathan, our youngest son (aged 16) at home for the summer break. Jon will return to Dalat International School for his 10th grade beginning August 13th. For some of you who take special interest in praying specifically for and loving our children, we are very grateful.

Prayer requests:

Pray for safety and protection for all the people in Cambodia especially at the end of the month, July 29th, as the country will hold a national election day.
Pray for two new believers from Toul Prich village to remain faithful in their walk with God.
Pray that God would raise (or send us) children workers to help with village ministries.
Some of our teammates who recently returned to the field are looking for houses to rent for the next 3-4 four years. Please pray for God’s lead for them to find just the place with the right price and with good and kind landlords!
Pray for Mr. Kong, Mr. Moun and for many other new believers to remain strong and faithful in Lord even in the midst of persecutions. 

Soeuth & Syna Lao