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

Father's House Field Trip

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Last week was an eye-opening one for the children of Father’s House! In the Western world, experiences like visiting historical monuments or going on field trips are often an integral part of one’s childhood education. But for the children in our care, brief mentions in dry textbooks were as close as they had ever gotten to their own rich and unique cultural heritage. That’s why we decided to take them to Siem Reap province to witness firsthand one of the wonders of the ancient world: Angkor Wat.

Cambodia was once known as “the Pearl of Asia”, a place of beauty where great architectural and artistic achievements were a prominent part of the cultural landscape. The 1970’s Khmer Rouge genocide, though purportedly a return to the agrarian glory of bygone days, in effect stripped Cambodia down to poverty and survivalism, a far cry from what it had once been. In out-of-the-way places lie preserved only remnants of what was once a thriving civilization.

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Angkor Wat and the other ancient ruins in the surrounding region were all originally part of a bustling city where a system of aquifers enabled year-round crop cycles, impossible anywhere else in the region. Ceaseless building projects were meant to demonstrate the wealth and power of neo-Hindu “god-kings”. But as Christians, we see the incredible ingenuity of our Creator reflected in these stony structures and ancient art. Though the craftsman and laborers who built these places may not have known it, their creativity and problem-solving stands as a testament to the One in whose image they themselves were made. 

Though the drive to Siem Reap was over 8 hours long, it was well worth it to see the amazement on the children’s faces as they walked through palaces and roads hewn from gigantic boulders and stood beside life-sized carvings of their ancestors (see more photos here). Exploring, climbing, and wandering through acres of ruins..... It was an experience that our Father’s House family will never forget!

-In His Steps

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Unlocking Potential, One Person at a Time

In our Father's House ministry to at-risk children, each child in our care is a unique individual. We teach them that every person has a future wide open with possibility. Whatever they have experienced in their past, and no matter what society may say about them, our kids can choose to live their lives with purpose. 

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Like any big family, we have a range of personalities, talents, and interests represented at Fathers' House. Some are quiet and shy, others are fun-loving and feisty. They want to be teachers, actors, doctors, artists, accountants, and more. Some find great enjoyment spending time in our reading room or practicing their instruments, while others prefer more concrete tasks like cooking, building, or hunting. 

John, our oldest boy, is a hands-on learner who has many gifts and shows great potential. Recently, we began having John attend one-on-one cooking classes at the Hanson' home, practicing his English with Ryan while honing his cooking skills with a friendly woman named Singuon. (Team members from 2012 may remember her from many a delicious dinner!)

This is an incredible opportunity for John, who has a natural knack and love for cooking. Marketable skills are so important for young people to develop, and in a safe, positive environment he is developing his God-given abilities in a practical and useful way. His confidence is growing, and he also gets to pass on the new recipes he is learning to others! In fact, this past Sunday John taught a group of friends how to make delicious fried spring rolls at a youth gathering after church!

We are encouraged to see John learning and growing, for the goal of Father's House is not to institutionalize children but rather to raise them God's way and release them into adulthood empowered and equipped for their future. Please keep John and all of our children in your prayers. And stay tuned tomorrow for an update on our new Sunday School program for children!

- In His Steps

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Discipline: A Lifelong Practice

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Hebrews 12:11

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

Discipline isn't easy or fun, but Scripture tells us that the results often yield wonderful fruit. It’s a practice that is applied in our work, studies, personal development and our pursuit of God. Often, though, it can be difficult to apply and maintain. The battle that happens in our minds can lead us down a path of defeat and repetitive negative cycles or it can help us choose paths that lead to victory!

There are thirteen young men in Saang that are learning to be victorious together. The idea is to start cultivating discipline through physical training. Cambodians are often not used to physical exercise. They live arduously – rural life in Cambodia is full of challenges. However, they don't usually run, lift weights or do squats – it's hot here! This committed group is learning what it means to push their bodies beyond preconceived limits and go further then what they possibly imagined. Applying discipline in small doses builds a strong, realistic foundation with attainable goals. Whether it’s doing 5 pull-ups one day and pushing out 7 the next – it’s about training their minds and bodies to persevere. Why? Because we want to see young Cambodian men finish well the most important race they will ever do – their walk with God. 

That's why the group is also responsible for memorizing and following several key principles. Together, they hold each other accountable for knowing and practicing the following:

  1. Love God, Love Others
  2. Be Honest and Have Integrity
  3. Read Your Bible Every Day
  4. Respect Each Other and Your Teachers
  5. Be On Time
  6. Be Safe
  7. Try Your Hardest
  8. Don't Speak While Someone Else Is Speaking
  9. Don't Put Down Your Brothers

There is plenty of grunting, sweating, and solemn faces but the results are satisfying and fruitful. And, at the end of each session, a sense of accomplishment settles on everyone’s faces. 

This summer we plan to add some additional teaching to strengthen body and spirit. Look for more updates to come!

Small circles!

Jumping Jack time.

Benjamin using all his strength to keep that chair up!
Benjamin using all his strength to keep that chair up!

Keep those chairs high! Don't bend your arms!

Always end with prayer.

Always end with prayer.

Stepping Up

One of IHSI's ministries is a discipleship group to the boys of Father's House and Loaves and Fish. It's a time to grow, learn, challenge each other and have fun too. In a country where virtually everyone is engrossed in Buddhism and other various beliefs, it's crucial to disciple new Christians.  

From learning Biblical values to important life skills, the Boy's Discipleship group strives to help shape the lives of young men so their foundation is strong.

Every year, we have the boys complete a project during the summer months. This summer, the project theme was kindness. One part of their project was to put together a drama and teaching for Youth Aflame (the church youth group). Each team had a leader and was responsible for ensuring their team was on board, show up for practice and make sure everyone participated. It was great seeing them rise to the occasion and communicate important lessons from the Bible using drama and teaching from the Word. Here are a few photos.

Beggar along the road

Transient

Sarak sharing the Word.

The Second Group

Getting ready for the big production

Getting ready for the big production

Jesus waiting for his entrance.

Jesus waiting for his entrance.

I'd say, what Jesus did for us on the cross if the ultimate act of kindness.

I'd say, what Jesus did for us on the cross if the ultimate act of kindness.

John sharing the lesson.