Thursday, December 13, 2018

December Update 2018

Dear Praying Family and Friends,

Christmas greetings! May you and your loved ones experience the true meaning of the holiday season, and may Christ fill your hearts with faith, hope, and love...

December in Cambodia is full of Christmas activities! The Khmer Evangelical Churches (Alliance) in the northwest region (and the entire country) had scheduled various dates throughout the entire month so that believers have options to participate at various churches' holiday celebrations. So far, we attended six village-church Christmas celebrations! Although we still have a few more events to go, we still want to share with you some stories now, before they all get piled up…

Manger scene at the rally.
December 3: First Christmas Celebration at Sanchey Village… 

We were deeply touched by the simple and humble, yet most God honoring Christmas event we had ever attended! Of the 32 adults who attended, 28 of them were first timers with spiritual ages ranging from 6 days to eight month old Christians! When it came time for “special songs," a few church members stood up to sing their favorite selections. Each of the songs chosen was not necessary a Christmas song, but the lyrics of these chosen songs gave special meanings as to reasons why these believers chose Christ as their Lord and Savior.

Of the 32 adults that attended the Christmas celebration, 28 of them were first timers
Lena, a six month-old believer, filled with joy and gratitude to God, shared the meanings of her selected song that, “Jesus is indeed the Jehovah-jireh, the provider God!” Lena went on to share that immediately after she accepted Jesus, her family experienced tremendous persecutions and hardships, but Lena clung tightly to Jesus! Full four months, she and her young family of four could not find any work and thus received no income at all, no saving money left, and in addition that this their rice crops failed miserably. Concerned about what become of her family, she held on tight to the promised words found in Philippians 4:19, “And my God will supply all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus." The couple roamed around daily at a local market hoping to hire themselves as labor workers and continued living a Christ-life in everything they did and said. At last, one kind business lady took notice of the young couple’s honesty and godly characters.

When the lady learned about Lena’s crisis, this complete stranger offered the young couple a field full of ripe rice saying, “Go ahead and harvest all the grains in my field and keep them for your family!”  Rejoiced, they did and collected 12 sacks (1200 kilograms) full of grains! With a grateful heart Lena continued her story, “In all my years of farming, we had never collected this much rice before! But this year when our crops failed, God cared for all our needs as He has promised, giving us much more grains than we could ever ask for or imagine!”

Lena sharing her song of gratitude for the Lord's provision
December 7-8: First Christmas at Mak-hoeun Village…

Families and members of Mak-hoeun Alliance church.
We had to spend a night in Poipet before we could join another first Christmas event in Mak-hoeun village! Although this small group of believers had been meeting as a church for a number of years, due to lack of supplies and inadequate funding, they kept finding reasons/excuses to postpone any major events or celebration until recently. BUT very early morning on the appointed date, unexpected heavy rains with thunder storms poured out continuously for nearly three hours! Since the church site is located about 3 kilometer off the main road, we were worried about how to get everyone to the village. While all the believing villagers were troubled and concerned, one brave young man, Chantha, volunteered to transport all passengers on his “mechanical cow” (a huge trailer pulled by a big engine). After we packed our vehicles on the main road, everyone climbed up to find seats or a place to stand in the trailer while each were whispering prayers for protection and hoping that Chantha would drive us safely to the church. He did! Chantha made four round trips, back and forth, safely delivering all passengers on his mechanical cow! Around 80 of us, all members and representatives from seven different Alliance churches of the Poipet areas, came to participate in this adventurous and exciting Christmas event. At the end of the service, one church leader stood up to pray and to give thanks to the guests for coming, but overwhelmed by the tremendous love and support from other Christians, (because even with difficult and muddy roads many people came to visit her remote village!), she could barely finished her speech. It was a beautiful service! To some visitors, it was their first time to ride in a mechanical cow!

80 plus church families visiting the Christmas celebration at Mak-hoeun village.
Ang Salaa church families came to join Christmas celebration at Mak-hoeun Alliance.
December 10: Regional Quarterly Youth Rally at Thmar Koul…

We knew that the trip from Anlong Veng to Thmar Koul, the Eden Center, in Battambang province, would be long, and thought that it may not have been worth the effort to drive there for just a one-day youth rally. But because the young people from the Anlong Veng areas were so excited and had anticipated about this trip, we did not want to disappoint them. At 4 am on the appointed date, we loaded up 29 youth into two vehicles and drove to the rally. After changing a flat tire on the way, a few restroom stops, in addition to two police check-points, we made it safely to the rally, driving more than five hours! By the time we arrived, the rally already started, but we got there early enough to participate in other events. Although some young people that went with us had participated in other youth events in the past, the rally at Thma Koul Eden Centre was everyone’s first time! Altogether, 215 youth and leaders from four provinces of the northwest region attended this rally.

29 youth from the Anlong Veng area joined the rally

215 people attended the youth rally.
Youth participating in games at the rally.
Noun and Kane’s Excitement…

With the busyness of the Christmas activities, all of our other weekly discipleship classes were postponed, except the Firm Foundation class at Toul Prich. Noun and Kane, new believers of the village, insisted that the class must go on. “We are so hungry for God’s words. Please don’t stop the class,” said Noun, age 40, a wife and mother.  In their excitement after discovering freedom in Christ, this newly believing couple constantly shared the Good News to all their relatives and friends!
And God, in His great mercy for saving the lost, chooses to reveal Himself by allowing signs and wonders to happen so that new and young believers may see and experience His miracles.
Syna teaching weekly Firm Foundation class at Toul Prich.
This allows opportunities for those who have not made the decision to follow Christ to see evidence and hear about stories that prove His existence, and that He is alive and active! All of Noun’s five adult siblings and her own mother knew that Noun had suffered chronic illnesses for many years. They all knew that, many times in the past, when Noun was too sick to get up, she would lay in bed for days and weeks at a time. However, in a just a few short weeks after her conversion, they all could not understand or believe the fact that Noun appeared much stronger and healthier! “What is happening to you? You were so sick before, but now you seem better! What medicines did you take? Who healed you?” These are the common questions and remarks that Noun kept receiving from her relatives and friends. All that Noun could respond was that, “It was Preah Yea-sue (Jesus) who healed me! I believe in Jesus, and He took away my sickness!”Noun and Kane eagerly invited those curious relatives to come to church. This week, Noun’s 78- year-old mother “Nancy” came to Syna’s Firm Foundation! She stayed to listen tentatively to the entire class! During a class discussion, Syna shared, “Because Jesus is alive and active, He is here with us as we are studying this class together.  He can hear you! Tell Him all your thoughts and concerns." With these words, the mother, when in prayer time, prayed in a soft yet audible voice, “Preah Yea-sue, if you are real, please show me yourself, as you did to my daughter."  She seemed reluctant when asked if she was ready to receive Christ saying, “I want to wait for a while, first." Nancy was invited to join us in the next class meeting. Please pray that God would honor Nancy's request by revealing Himself to her…

Kane helping Noun sounding out words as they read the Bible

Noun's mother praying to Jesus for healing.
More Christmas stories to be continued…

Merry Christmas! And a Happy New Year to all!

Soeuth & Syna