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

Team Time and a Prayer Request

YWAM New Zealand

Just when we thought our “team season” (aka summer months, our most popular time for outreaches) was about to wind down for this year, another great group of individuals arrived with a passion to serve and many blessings up their sleeves! A team from the YWAM New Zealand base visited Sak Saum Phnom Penh and our Center in Saang, jumping in wherever needed and joining in a variety of activities including working in our Sak Saum Distribution Center, teaching, women’s and children’s ministry, cleaning, painting, and more. 

Below are some photos from a painting day the team did with In His Steps. It is always a pleasure to meet service-minded believers willing to invest in God's kingdom in Cambodia! If your organization or church is looking for outreach opportunities in the coming year, click here to check our calendar and learn more!

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Prayer Request

With a major national election happening this Sunday, Cambodia is in quite a frenzy of political fervor. Never before has the average Cambodian had so much access to television, radio, and the internet, and people young and old are being stirred with excitement at their newfound ability to spread information, organize gatherings, and share their activities with the world via social media. 

While political gatherings have been largely nonviolent so far, the intoxicating momentum in these last days of campaigning is evident in every part of the country. We would like to ask that you keep Cambodia in your prayers, for safety, order, and heavenly guidance for all those who are voted in as leaders. Also pray that those whose eyes are being opened for the first time to the state of their nation would seek God, and discover firsthand His faithfulness to those who honor authority and place their hope in Him.

-In His Steps

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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

Hot Dogs for Jesus

It’s been a busy month for In His Steps: opening the Kairos Training Center, children in our programs starting the new school year, visitors passing through, and much more. With all the busyness, we thought it would be fun to have a party for local kids and share some hot dogs with them!

After sending word to the neighborhood that all children were invited for lunch on Wednesday, we wondered whether the recent holiday of Pchum Ben might negatively affect attendance. We needn’t have worried: an hour before the program started, our Center was already inundated with kids flocking in from the surrounding area!

Our staff and a great team of volunteers and Father’s House kids pitched in to prepare trays full of food and pass everything out. Over 220 children came, and after a short lesson from staff, received hot dogs, drinks, and snacks. The air was filled with a happy commotion as they and their friends enjoyed their hot dogs, a first for many!

We love kids: they are the future of Cambodia and a blessing from God. Please join us in praying for the children of Saang district, that they would grow to know Him through the small and seemingly simple acts of love that He has called us to.

- In His Steps

Teamwork - A Photo Update

Each year, we host teams from the US and other countries for short-term outreaches. Having teams is both challenging and energizing: it’s extra work for all of us, but often brings a breath of fresh air into the labor of love that we are busy with year-round!

These past few months have been packed with several teams visiting in quick succession. Multiple groups from Colorado Hong Kong, and Singapore all came with different backgrounds and skills but one shared goal: to bless Cambodians and share God’s love. They did everything from teaching English and preaching in church to helping with youth programs and taking children on a trip to the zoo!

If your church or group is interested in doing team outreach with IHSI, click here to learn more. Below are some photos of our most recent teams making new friends, doing ministry, and having fun!