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Early this year, our staff encountered a family in a nearby village that needed literacy training help for their children. Difficult life circumstances had left this family focused on survival, not education, yet the children wanted to learn to read and write. They were shy and nervous about leaving their home to come study at our Center, so staff member Aly began visiting them daily along with older kids from Father’s House. Soon Aly had started a small new literacy class in that village, with three of this family’s children plus four others from neighboring houses!
After a little while, Aly also began introducing English phonics in addition to Khmer language. Each day she would carry a small whiteboard and some toys for the family’s baby to play with. A few youth from Gospel Community Church began volunteering each afternoon to help. Some outreach teams also visited the class, much to the interest of the neighbors!
Soon it was time to invite these children to come study at our Center, something that they had been quite fearful of before. But not anymore! They told Aly they were now so excited to come and to be able to learn more and make new friends. Just a few months of intentional kindness and teaching had helped them conquer their fear. The next day their little group of seven arrived at the Center all smiles and excitement, ready to study!
Now almost seven months after our staff first began visiting them, these children can read and write basic Khmer and are learning basic English as well. What a turnaround from where they were at the start of this year! Aly and our group of youth volunteers have done a great job sowing into these children. We pray this is the start of many good things to come for them and their families!
- In His Steps
This month has flown by like a whirlwind, with so much going on in many different areas of ministry!
IHSI founders/directors Eric and Ginny recently went for a weeklong trip to Bangalore, India. They were able to spend time with Gopi and Marites Kumar, who will be joining our team of staff early next year! They also got to meet with several Christian organizations, glean helpful ideas from them, and experience some of the culture of the region while they were there.
India has been on Ginny’s heart for many years, and we feel that it is a place where the IHSI/Sak Saum model of ministry could be replicated in the future. This is one of several other countries in the region that IHSI envisions ministering to in the future, in addition to the work that has already been planted and thriving in Cambodia. As God reveals more we look forward to what He has in store for IHSI/Sak Saum in India!
We recently welcomed our newest Khmer staff member to the IHSI team! Meet Kiri, a young man who has been a part of the GCCS youth group and soccer team for some time now. We’ve known him since before he was a Christian, and have seen much good fruit in his life as he has grown up over the past couple of years. Kiri has a sister in the Sak Saum program and his half-sister is Aly, our youth pastor/children’s program director.
We’re excited to have Kiri join our ministry family, and he is doing a great job as he shadows other staff and gives general assistance at our Center. We look forward to great things as he learns to use his time and talents to bless his nation!
This month we did a fun but informative class for the men and women of Sak Saum. What was the topic? One of extreme relevance here in Cambodia: moto driving safety! Everyone who attended enjoyed seeing the “do’s and don’ts” of driving taught by Eric, with plenty of on-the-spot demonstrations to drive each point home. We love sharing practical life skills with our community!
Last week we hosted two visitors from Mission Community Church in Arizona. MCC has been very instrumental in our latest expansions and we are thankful to have them as ministry partners and friends. It was great to meet Sheli and Audrey, have them see the ministry, and learn from them during the time they were here.
This is the third year that our staff have attended the Global Leadership Summit, a great opportunity for them to hear renowned Christian men and women teach on a variety of leadership-related topics, all translated into the Khmer language! This year several Sak Saum leaders were able to attend in addition to IHSI core staff. Everyone felt blessed by what they learned and is excited to apply and share with others!
The Hansons are now in the US for 6 weeks and will be visiting 5 states: speaking, meeting with board members, and raising awareness. Please keep their travels, health, and meetings in your prayers!
Last week we hosted a two-day seminar and sports tournament at our Center in conjunction with EFC (the Evangelical Fellowship of Cambodia). Four churches from our area sent multiple soccer and volleyball teams to learn about sports ministry and play a series of games against each other at our Center and the local high school. Some great lessons and discussion times led by GCCS and EFC staff were followed by girls’ volleyball games on Thursday afternoon and a full day of soccer on Friday.
This tournament was the first opportunity for our girls’ volleyball team to compete, so naturally they were nervous and extremely excited! It is fairly unusual to have sports competitions for girls in Cambodia, so it was great to see our girls growing in confidence and holding their own on the field. Despite their lack of experience and some threatening thunder and rain, after several intense playoff games they went on to take first place!
The following day there were a series of soccer games, and our GCCS boys’ team gave their all, playing hard and maintaining good attitudes despite some injuries and facing intense competition. In the end, they scored second place in the tournament, and our goalie won the title of MVP!
We are so thankful to be able to hold these kinds of events, and to have a great group of youth on our teams and great staff to coordinate and facilitate. What a great way to build camaraderie between churches and involve local teens in a positive pastime! We plan to have many more such events in the future, but in the meantime we hope you enjoy the photos below (click the gallery to view more).
- In His Steps
This morning we held a special children’s program for kids from impoverished families who live in a nearby village. We’ve been looking forward to giving out the Samaritan’s Purse OCC (Operation Christmas Child) shoeboxes we received this year, and after completing a children’s Bible study initiative from OCC with a core group of children, it was time to give out the gifts to a larger group!
The kids were clearly excited about the event, some of them arriving early by an hour or more. There were 85 of them, ranging from age 2-14 years old, with some of the littlest ones accompanied by parents or older siblings. While waiting for the program to being, they ran around outside and played at the playground in a frenzy of anticipation!
After short lesson from Solomon came the main event: giving out the shoeboxes from OCC. It is always fun to see the looks on children’s faces as they open presents and discover everything from toys and school supplies to toothbrushes and new clothes! Many of them carefully surveyed the items in their box one by one with delight, before placing them neatly back inside for safe-keeping. Most of these children have few personal possessions, and even the simplest of gifts is treasured!
We are thankful for Samaritan’s Purse and their giving to our
community and many others. Please join us in praying that the children who received a shoebox today would feel blessed, would begin to attend church, and that they and their families would come to know Christ as they experience His love.
- In His Steps