Sports in Saang

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

Boxes of Blessings

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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!

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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! 

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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

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Saang Fire Safety Day

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Stop. Drop. Roll! These words have been familiar to many of us since kindergarten. Fire safety, hand-washing, stranger danger: childhood lessons that Westerners take for granted are completely foreign concepts to Cambodian children. Those children grow up to be adults, who still have never learned these basic concepts.

Helping to fill in life-skills gaps is one of the many functions that we serve in the community here. Earlier this week, IHSI staff had an educational morning with over 45 men and women of Sak Saum/Brother’s House. There were lots of laughs as they practiced their new fire-safety skills! And this week our English teachers will be teaching the same to students ranging in age from 9 to 25. Simple lessons such as these are just one of a variety of practical ways that IHSI is trying to educate the community! We hope you enjoy the photos below of Saang Fire Safety Day. 

Looking Back

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At the start of a new year, it’s always good to revisit the previous year’s highlights and lessons learned. Through highs and lows, challenges and changes, the faithfulness of God is always evident! And for IHSI in 2013, we experienced many challenges and changes indeed. Several staff members went through the loss of loved ones, meanwhile many in Sak Saum brought beautiful new children into the world. Traffic accidents and health scares tried to steal joy and instill fear, but instead we are walking in peace and blessing. Political upheaval in the region has continued for many months, yet through it all God has protected each person in our care.

It’s hard to know where to begin when recapping an entire year, but below are a few of the many things that God has been doing in our church, Father’s House, and international ministry!

Gospel Community Church Saang

  • This has been a fruitful year for the church, with many new believers, a baptism, a baby dedication, a new Sunday School class, and lots of empowering opportunities for young people in the church to develop service and leadership skills. Building families and equipping young people for ministry are an important calling of the church!
  • Our staff organized not only a boys’ soccer team in the spring, but also a young women’s volleyball team at the end of the year. In addition to holding practices and playing games, both our teams have discipleship meetings and are involved in church ministries as part of their team-building activities. It’s a great way to grow each team member individually as well as build camaraderie in the community!
  • We are becoming a hub for helping smaller rural churches that do not have much support. Bibles, devotionals, books and audio Bibles from Messengers International have all been distributed to the Body of Christ in our area. During rainy season we collaborated with several churches to find families and widows in need of emergency relief, preparing and distributing 25 care packages with food and other supplies. We also provided training space for Operation Christmas Child to train  30 churches for their shoebox gift program!
  • Fulfilling one of last year’s church goals, we started a monthly group for married men to fellowship together, pray, and encourage each other.
  • GCCS staff and members of Sak Saum did repair work on several homes of elderly church members this year, as well as coordinating visitation to elderly and sick people in the area. We also donated food staples, clothing, hygiene supplies, and other items to those in need.
  • We held many events this year, including seminars, educational programs, a church barbecue, a free health clinic at three locations with a visiting medical team, educational, youth fellowship gatherings, our yearly Children’s Christmas Program for almost 400 children and a beautiful Christmas service for the congregation.

Father’s House

  • An exciting new partnership with Mission Community Church in Gilbert, AZ has allowed us to enroll Father’s House kids in a private school, a great step up from the school they had been attending and an answer to prayer! They are still adjusting to the newer, more challenging learning environment, but we are confident that this will be of great long-term benefit to each of them.
  • In addition to starting the kids in a new school, we were blessed to be able to trade in the Father’s House car for a van! This is great not only for transporting them back and forth to school, but for bringing the soccer and volleyball teams to games, transporting church members, and doing outreach.
  • In November we welcomed our newest child into Father’s House. Makara is a sweet boy who just this week made the decision to become a Christian. He loves coloring, art projects, singing and dancing, and playing soccer. Although he has some catching up to do academically and socially, we already see growth in leaps and bounds!
  • All Father’s House children are active in the church according to their abilities and personalities: helping with ushering, worship, children’s outreaches, Sunday School, visiting the sick, and being a part of church events. Several of them show great leadership potential, and many of them say their future life plans include wanting to be in ministry and help others like they have been helped! We are thankful for them and can see exciting things ahead for each one.
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International Ministry and Teams

  • In the fall the Hansons completed a whirlwind tour across the U.S., teaching at churches and colleges, meeting ministry partners, sharing the vision of IHSI, and doing fundraising work. This trip was very fruitful in terms of building relationship with new partners, and we believe that there will be more traveling of this nature in the future as God allows! To contact the Hansons for booking information, please email them at erich@ihsionline.org | ginnyh@ihsionline.org.

 

  • In 2013 we hosted many outreach teams, short-term volunteers, and visitors from all over the United States, as well as Russia and Australia. A few highlights of their visits included:
  • Children’s ministry at our Center and at other area churches
  • Dramas/songs/teachings at church services
  • A YWAM medical outreach with free clinics at three locations
  • Prayer ministry/teaching
  • Maintenance/service projects
  •  Visiting the elderly and the sick
  • Games and activities with local children
  • Constructing a playground at our Center
  • Human trafficking awareness seminars
  • Sak Saum English practice and relationship-building
  • Helping teach Center English classes
  • Attending women’s group and overnight stays with Sak Saum
  • Outings/educational activities with Fathers’ House and Loaves and Fish children

 

What has the Lord done in your life in the past year? What prayers has he answered and how did he demonstrate his faithfulness to you personally? Feel free to comment below, and tune in again soon for our next post, to hear about some of the exciting things in store for 2014!

-       In His Steps

Baptising Believers

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them

 in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit...”

Matthew 28:19

As a church and a ministry, this past weekend was one of much joy and celebration! Staff, volunteers and church members all joined together at a poolside in Phnom Penh for a time of worship, testimonies, and a public declaration of faith through the water baptism of new believers. In our midst were elderly ladies, men and women from the Sak Saum, teenagers from our youth group, and one of the children of Father's House: a gathering that without God would have very little in common but that in Christ has formed a family and community!

It was so encouraging to see Christians young and old embracing the transforming new life they have been given, and sharing with others what God has done in their hearts. From testimonies of a newfound love for other others and being set free from destructive behaviors, to the witness of watching someone who once almost drowned and had held a lifelong fear of water overcoming that fear, the day was a reminder of the Lord’s faithfulness and steadfast commitment to His creation, always with their good in mind.

We hope that as you look at the photos below, you would be encouraged by the work that only God can do!