Monday, October 8, 2018

October Update 2018

Dear Friends and Family,

Bon Pjum Ben…
As many of you (in North America) enjoy and celebrate fall holiday season, Khmer people celebrate a religious holiday called Bon Pjum Ben. Although the actual three-day holiday is October 8th, 9th, and 10th, the long meticulous and ritual preparations began since October 1st! This is a time where Khmer families make special food offerings to presents to Buddhist monks and Buddhist priests at local pagodas.
Variety of traditional food especially made for Bon Pjum Ben holiday
Rice cakes specifically made for Bon Pjum Ben
Because it is a family obligation to celebrate this holiday, Bon Pjum Bin is one of the testing times for new and young believers in Christ. The believer's dilemma is either moving forward fully with Christ by taking the risk of being labeled by family as a “traitor” to the long-time family custom/tradition OR turning around to their old ways of life to avoid family pressure. Despite persecutions, however, it is “No turning back” for many of our friends! Please pray for courage as well as for protection for many who are committed followers of the Way!

Youth Rally…
September 24th was a blast for the northwest regional quarterly youth rally at Living Water Alliance church in Poipet! We collected a total of 41 young people from seven different villages from around Anlong Veng areas, riding in three vehicles (two vans and a pick-up truck), and driving over 3 hours each way to join the fun and most anticipated youth event. All of the young people who went with us were first timers in Poipet, and many of them were first timers participating in a large youth event!

Srae Nouy kids joined youth rally for the first time

Srae Kandal youth attend youth rally
Toul Prich youth: first timers at youth event!
We had rains and thunderstorms along the ways, to and from, but everyone was kept safe and dry…

Syna and her "grandchildren" watching game activities at youth rally
The first part of the rally day was filled with special songs performed by various youth groups, two powerful testimonies, hilarious short video clips from previous youth events, relay games, competitive activities, a challenging message, and a great fellowship with meals. In the late afternoon, we broke out into smaller groups for volleyball games (four teams), soccer friendly competitions (four teams), try-out for first timers-Bible quizzing (three teams), and a variety of different relay games.

Three teams competed in Bible quiz at youth rally in Poipet
Young people from five different provinces within the northwest region attended the rally. Altogether, 196 youth participated in this rally…

196 people attended youth rally in Poipet
On that appointed day, we left Anlong Veng at 4am to pick up youth along the ways and then dropped them off after the rally. By the time we got home it was after 10 pm! It was a very long day, but seeing all the joy and excitement written all over their faces is worth every effort. We would gladly do it again. Next regional youth rally is December 10th, at the Thmar Koul Eden center, in Battambang province.

23 soccer kids attended youth rally for the first time
Long trip to youth rally
Uncle Toun…
Last week, during a visit at Srae Krasang village, it was very encouraging to learn about young believers' commitment and devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Villagers eagerly greeted us during a recent visit to Srae Krasang
Soeuth shared an encouraging message to new believers at Srae Krasang village
Srae Krasang village: Uncle Toun and wife, former witch doctors are now children of God!
We stopped by Uncle Toun’s house, a new believer who used to be the most sought after “medicine man” (a witch doctor) for his community. Upon arrival, we noticed that his many other family members (from the capital city) also visited him and his wife. One of the visitors was his oldest daughter. Assuming her parents were still devoted Buddhists Toun’s daughter had spent over six months of her precious time delicately making a beautiful cross-stitch picture of a Buddha. Having traveled in a cramped shared taxi for nine hours, the daughter carefully hand-carried the golden framed picture of Buddha and then presented it to her elderly parents as a gift appropriately for Pjum Ben holiday. But her parents politely turned down the gift. “I am sorry, child, for disappointing you," Uncle Toun gently apologized to his daughter. “We appreciate your loving gesture" he continued. “But your mother and I no longer worship Buddha. We are now children of the new God, Jesus
Uncle Toun turned down a daughter's gift
Martha’s Lost and Found…
In September after a weekly class at Andong Chan village, Syna noticed that something was not right with Martha, one of the Abundant Life students. From our weekly interactions, we learned Martha suffers chronic high blood pressure in addition to some problems with her heart. Due to lack of finance, however, Martha had unwisely stopped taking her all prescription medications. After praying for her, Syna gave Martha some traveling money and encouraged her to visit the Siem Reap provincial hospital. She did. As they were riding on a motor dupe (motorbike taxi) on the busiest streets of Siem Reap city, Martha’s infant daughter began to fuss uncontrollably. In the process of trying to calm the baby, Martha must had accidentally dropped her money. They had already crossed at least 4 major intersections before Martha realized that the entire money was gone! Panic, Martha pleaded the motorbike driver to turn around, but he argued, “Look lady, this is a big and crowded city! By now, your money is long gone.” But Martha insisted, “No! I need that money! Jesus gave it to me. And He will keep it safe for me. Just go back to the same place, please.” The driver reluctantly turned around. Sure enough, just as Martha had believed, she found all her money!

Discipleship Classes…

Kids entertained themselves while their moms study in Syna's discipleship class
1. The 16 school aged children at Srae Noy village had successfully completed the five-week course of Living Water class! The class will move to the next level, a 19-week course of Abundant Life class.

2. Considering that most students could hardly read and write, all 17 students at Andong Chan village did very well on their recently mid-term exam of Abundant Life class! The beauty and highlight of this class is seeing students eagerly applying every lesson they learned to their daily lives!

3. We had a lively class discussion recently in a Firm Foundation Wednesday morning class at Srae Kandal village. God has truly been using the tragedy of Baby Keziah’s death (see August update) and turning it to something beautiful and very good! Mr. Reth, Keziah’s grandfather, is a changed man!  He has not missed one class since the funeral and was always eager to participate in every class discussion! Last week, he was moved to the point of tears when we discussed about the redemption plans that God has for human race.

Firm Foundation class at Srae Kandal Village
4. Slowly but surely, God, in His mercy for the lost, is calling some sincere seekers from within Toul Prich village. Syna has been teaching and discipling three ladies in Firm Foundation class. After learning that there is a baptismal service that will be at Srae Kandal (Oct. 11), two ladies were interested in getting baptized as well.

5. At their request and with everyone's agreement, a new Firm Foundation class will begin after Bon Pjum Ben to new believers at Srae Krasang village. This class will take place on Wednesday afternoons, after Srae Kandal weekly classes. Please pray all would go as plan.

Please share with us what God is doing in your midst. And thank you, as always, for your faithful prayers and support. Your on-going partnership in the Cambodian ministries is much appreciated.

Soeuth & Syna

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