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

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.

Honoring Parents

An emotional moment between father and daughter this past Sunday.

How did you celebrate Father’s Day? Here in Cambodia, the holiday is not nearly as well known as others (for example, the Queen Mother’s Birthday, which was yesterday). Cambodian culture places a high value on respecting parents and ancestors, but all too often this takes the form of gifts of money or offering sacrifices to idols on their behalf.

For many Cambodians, to honor their parents means to live in complete subservience to their parents’ wishes, in relationships more reminiscent of servant/master than child/parent. This unhealthy mindset has been modeled for generations and is deeply rooted in Khmer culture.

To truly honor someone from your heart means to revere them by recognizing their value. This is what honor means in Scripture when it tells us to honor our father and mother, and this is what we are trying to teach Cambodians who have for far too long seen honor wrongly defined as co-dependency or control.

Many in Saang have never heard of Father’s Day or Mother’s Day, which is why we choose to celebrate both of these special days in church. Below are some photos of this weekend’s Father’s Day service, where God as our Heavenly Father was honored in worship and earthly fathers were encouraged and blessed through songs, teaching, a drama, and small gifts. We pray that your Father’s Day was blessed!

- In His Steps

After the Flood

Transient

At 86 years old, Yay Phait (“Grandmother Phait” in the Khmer language) is the oldest member of our church. She is a sweet and joyful person with one of the most beautiful smiles you’ll ever see. Yay has survived the Khmer Rouge genocide, poverty, and abuse at the hands of relatives, and yet there is not a trace of bitterness or victimhood in the way she presents herself.

At our weekly women’s group meetings, Yay is often the first to exhort others to trust God and pray when times are difficult. She has the credibility to say these things because she lives them out and never complains. Even her stories of hardship and family difficulties are interspersed with thanks to God for his faithfulness and examples of his answers to her prayers.

When our staff saw that Yay Phait's house was growing dilapidated and offered little protection from the recent bad weather and flooding, we decided to help her by building a brand new house. Once the floods had receded and her land was dry, we moved forward as quickly as possible to construct a Khmer-style stilted house for Yay. It’s one of two houses that we have been able to rebuild this past month. Below are some pictures of the construction process and Yay enjoying her new home!

Pray for Yay Phait and her family, as her grandson recently passed away due to struggles with alcohol addiction. And keep the other elderly members of Gospel Community Church Saang in your prayers too, that they would be blessed with health and provision for everything they need. 

Transient
Transient

Light in Dark Places

PonLu with his caretaker, before the burn accident

Since beginning this ministry over ten years ago, we have felt called to reach those who are desperate: orphans, widows, the poor, the expoited, and the outcast. It has been amazing to see the practical ways in which God shows his compassion. 

In January, one of the orphans in our care suffered a serious burn accident in the home of his caretaker. PonLu, a six year-old boy, was reaching for something near a pot of boiling water and knocked it over, burning a large percentage of his body. Our staff rushed him to a children's hospital, where we learned he would need to spend some time recovering to reduce the chance of infection and let his skin heal.

Cambodian hospitals are often dark, miserable places, with few amenities and incompetent care. Doctors often withhold treatments unless they are bribed, and simple things like a glass of water or a clean bed can be very hard to find. We feared that it would be a difficult time for PonLu, especially since hospital staff made it difficult for us to visit him often.

Although the odds were against PonLu recovering easily, God used his situation to reach out to others. It was encouraging to see the influence that even a six year-old orphan could have on those around him: doctors, nurses, other patients and their families were all asking about him and talking to him, amazed at how he would practice the alphabet, sing songs, and interact with others so joyfully in spite of his pain.

Soon, "VIPs" such as government officials and wealthy businessmen began stopping by to visit PonLu, bringing him gifts and checking on his progress. This is unheard of in a society where orphans are considered second-class citizens, hardly worthy of notice. PonLu turned that way of thinking on its head by being one of the most friendly, intelligent, and cheerful patients that the hospital has ever encountered! 

PonLu recently was able to return to his caretaker's home, and his burns are almost healed. We are so thankful for his recovery! His name means "light", and it is clear that God wants to use him as a light to others. Please keep PonLu in your prayers, that he would have complete physical healing and that he would continue to be a bright light in dark places!