An Answered Prayer And A Blessed Little Girl

 A few months ago we posted about Sokchea, a young girl with cerebral palsy in our area who we have been ministering to for about 7 months now. We shared that we were praying that someone with a background in physical therapy would be able to come and work with Sokchea, and also train our staff how to help her grow strong and more independent. That prayer was answered last week when not one but two lovely ladies from the U.S. came and spent a very busy seven days doing above and beyond what we could have hoped for!

After connecting with a friend of our Sak Saum ministryand hearing about Sokchea’s situation, Jennifer, a physical therapist, and Jen, her co-worker (who is also pursuing her degree in P.T.) took time out of their busy lives to make thejourney over to Cambodia. When Sokchea met them and was told they were to be her “exercise teachers” for a week, her eyes lit up and she smiled in response. Little did she know that not only would she be exercisingshe would experience whole new world of physical motion and stimulation that she could never have imagined.

Touching new textures, feeling the weight of her own bodyagainst her joints, learning more natural ways toaccomplish certain motions, batting at toys and a drum, practicing activating muscles in all areas of her bodySokchea had more variety in a week than she probably hashad in her entire life! Naturally, some aspects of what she was experiencing proved challenging in both physical and psychological ways. Yet there were many moments each day where she responded with interest, excitement, and even joy.

Jennifer and Jen gave a crash course in physical therapy for several of our church and Sak Saum staff, explaining the reasoning behind the many techniques they employed and helping them practice, first on each other and eventually with Sokchea herself. We feel so thankful that not only would Jennifer and Jen take the time to pour into her with love and their God-given abilities, but that they would also invest in our staff by providing a daunting amount ofteaching so well in such a short time!

It was such an incredible blessing for Sokchea to have this time with trained professionals, and even in such a short time we already see her moving differently, responding in new ways, even seemingly trying to vocalize more. In fact, when it was time for goodbyes, she rolled over and supported herself on her elbow for a moment without help.This is amazing progress for her! As we help her practice what she has been learning we are looking forward to many more moments of personal triumph for her.

Please join us in praying:

- That Sokchea will continue to progress as we implement what we have learned, and that having these new opportunities for her body’s development would also awaken more hope and more healing in her heart.

- That Jennifer and Jen would eventually be able to return to Cambodia to work with Sokchea again and provide even more training for staff

That those around her in her home and neighborhood would have their eyes opened more fully to the treasure that Sokchea is and the compassion and faithfulness of God as He expresses them to her in these practical ways.

- In His Steps

May Update

A few months ago we brought your attention to the situation of Sokchea, a beautiful young girl with what appears to be cerebral palsy. Since our last post, we were able to find a wheel chair for her to grow into! She had been getting used to it little by little and it's been very helpful for allowing her to experience more at our church services. This is an answered prayer!

 We also have continued to see many small steps forward with Sokchea's strength and motions. She can sit with support longer than ever before, and continues to show a strong desire to exercise, often lifting her arms and legs to practice movements even when we are not there.

A recent team visit was great for Sokchea because a team member who is experienced in caring for the disabled was able to give us a lot of pointers on how to help her more. Another friend on the team also helped connect us with a PT who had great advice as well. We are so thankful that God who knows Sokchea's needs is putting people in our path to help. Please keep her in your prayers!

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Recently we had the opportunity to celebrate the life of an amazing and special woman: Yay Phait, a 100 year-old member of the church and an inspiration to many. She has seen so much history, lived through deprivation and abuse, and knows firsthand God’s faithfulness. Yay is not at all shy about telling anyone she crosses paths with about Who her trust is in!

For Yay’s 100th birthday, we wanted to gather together so that we could honor her and express what a blessing she is to the church and community. Volunteers, visiting team members, and staff from every part of IHSI ministry pitched in to barbecue two whole pigs, make side dishes and tea, set up chairs and tables, and serve food. Yay Phait was seated at the place of honor with her children, grandchildren, and friends.

Yay Phait blew out her birthday cake candles for the very first time in one hundred years, surrounded by so many who love her! She also received some beautiful portraits as a gift from the Hansons. Then we had a time of testimonies where people young and old shared about how Yay has inspired and encouraged them.

It was a privilege to celebrate Yay Phait’s centennial birthday and see in a small way how her life and character have rippled out to influence so many. Join us in praying that Yay has many more years of health, provision, and joy ahead of her!

We hosted a church team from Illinois for an outreach this month, our second team from Rockford First! This all-women team was a great mix of individuals from all seasons of life, and they did a great job making friends with Sak Saum, local kids and youth, and the children in our programs. During their outreach, they taught English classes, did church/Sak Saum visitations to the sick and elderly, taught our staff new songs and games for ministry, shared in church and with our staff, did art projects with Father’s House and neighborhood children, helped with Yay Phait’s birthday, attending a Sak Saum anti-trafficking seminar, and more!

Below are some photos from their outreach. And if you or your church group is interested in learning more about doing outreaches with IHSI, please click here!



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