Equipping Youth for Success

Cambodia has a youth-skewed population and a fast-growing generation of teens and young adults who are looking to develop marketable skill sets. In rural areas like Saang they are often painfully aware of the flimsiness of their public school education, and are always trying to “catch up”. Although we are limited by some factors in how we can help them, we at IHSI do our best to provide opportunities for learning, character development, and skills training, through discipleship, community involvement, English classes, our Reading Room, cultural arts opportunities, and more. We are always looking for ways to sow into young people so that wherever they find themselves in the future, they will be equipped to do well.

That’s why this month we are very excited about our newly expanded free computer classes! Computers are such an integral part of so many different parts of modern life, and having basic proficiency in technology skills is a key to accessing a greater world of learning as well as a major plus for young people looking for jobs. We’ve been offering limited computer classes to some extent for a while now, but are now adding new classes so that twenty-four individuals can receive this training daily in our four-computer classroom. They will have five days per week of classes during each semester, something that most of them would never be able to afford if studying elsewhere.

Cambodia’s young people need parents, mentors, and churches taking active interest in their development both spiritually and academically. Whether or not this happens at home or in the larger community, IHSI is blessed to play a part in equipping this generation for success! God has good plans for each one, and we are excited to see where He leads them.

-IHSI

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

Marking Milestones

We are proud to introduce our first group of graduates from our KTC literacy program! These children have completed a course of Khmer phonics and reading, gaining a valuable skill that will be used for a lifetime. We celebrated this important milestone by having a little party for them and watching a fun literacy DVD together!

As we’ve mentioned before, literacy is a huge problem in Cambodia and a fundamental issue in combatting poverty and human trafficking. Education helps close the doors of ignorance and shame that can lead to poor life choice, opening new doors to confidence and success.

The children in our class were so excited to receive graduation gifts with new books and children’s Bible materials. For many, these are the first books anyone in their family has ever owned. Breaking the cycle of illiteracy will benefit not only them but others in their home and future generations! We look forward to many more “graduation parties” to come.

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Other News

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For the last two weeks a women’s team from Denver United Church in Colorado has been with us, doing ministry and building relationship in Sak Saum, teaching at an anti-trafficking seminar and church events, doing children’s outreach, and more. You can see pictures of team ministry here. And if your or your church is considering an outreach to Cambodia in 2014, now’s the time to start planning! Go to our outreach page to learn more.

- In His Steps

Playground Update

If you were to turn onto the little dirt road in Saang that leads to our Center, it wouldn’t be long before you’d begin to hear loud shrieks of laughter and excited shouting filling the air. Past the wooden stilt houses of our neighbors and a group of boys playing volleyball nearby, you’d turn to find ten, twenty, or even more children running and climbing all over our brand-new playground!  

This new playspace has been a dream of ours for several years: a safe place for children in the neighborhood  to enjoy and a great way for us to engage and connect with them. This dream became a reality through partnering with Compassion Acts and Blood-n-Fire ministries in the U.S., who raised funds and sent a team over this past month to construct the new playspace.

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As home to the only reading room, the only free literacy and English classes, and now the only playground in the area, we are so excited to offer these opportunities for both fun and education. Safe play is a gift to this region, which for years has been known for trafficking people and producing criminals. Who knows how much danger, temptation, and abuse these children are avoiding simply by coming to our Center rather than staying at home unsupervised or wandering in the streets?

It is a joy to observe the happiness of each child who swings on a swing, rides a slide, climbs the monkey bars, or simply plays in the sand. Along the way, they will be learning important skills like teamwork, sharing, following directions, and taking care of community resources. We believe that this playground is going to be a great blessing to families in Saang for many years to come!

-In His Steps