Christmas came early this year at IHSI! Our staff and church volunteers have been working for two months planning and preparing for our third annual Christmas Program in Saang. Yesterday's event was the culmination of all that hard work, and it certainly paid off! About 2,200 people streamed into our Foundation Center land and for nearly three hours experienced the true meaning of Christmas through song, traditional dance, drama, and more. We pray that the message of Christ's birth and the hope he offers will resonate in the hearts of all who attended.
Sound familiar? Chances are if you've ever met Eric and Ginny or visited IHSI in Cambodia, you've heard this little proverb at least once. As founders of this ministry, the Hansons feel strongly about empowering those in need to provide for themselves.
Very often, families in poverty lack not only material provision, but also the confidence to try to change their situation. We encountered once such story this past spring, when our national director Theavy became aware of a family that was struggling to survive.
Their house was a ramshackle mess, flooding above a makeshift bed whenever it rained. Crippled by debt, jobless, and uneducated, the father and mother were trying to make a living cutting grass for neighbors' livestock and fishing in the nearby lake. But despite all their efforts, they could never seem to make ends meet. Five children and their parents had almost nothing to eat, and no way to overcome their seemingly hopeless situation.
With the help of donations from New Zealand and America, we began rebuilding the home, bringing food, vitamins, and hygiene supplies, and helping care for the children. We also helped the family pay off some of their loans, and counseled them on how to be responsible with their remaining debt.
When we found out that the father enjoyed working at the lake, we helped him set up a small eel-trapping business that is now bringing in more income than he has have ever earned before. Other men fishing nearby say they can't understand how he always catches so many eels! We know it is God's hand of favor as he demonstrates his love.
Meanwhile, the mother and some of her children have been coming to church regularly ever since, even bringing neighbors who used to persecute her. It is amazing to see others being drawn to God through "the least of these".
More often then not, the ways that God uses us to work are exceedingly practical: de-licing a child's hair, thatching a roof, or offering a tuk-tuk ride to church! No matter the task, we take joy in acting as the hands and feet of Christ on behalf of those in need. There is still much to be done as we walk with this family, but we are confident that the transformations we have seen are just the beginning of the great things God will do!
"Therefore encourage one another and build each other up..."
1 Thessalonians 5:11
When In His Steps began the process of planting a church in Saang last summer, we knew that area pastors were in need of a way to build relationships, be mutually strengthened, and work together. That's why we began holding monthly pastors' meetings, listening to testimonies and prayer requests, studying the scriptures, and seeking God for each other's churches.
With two American pastors (Bishop Rick Callahan and Pastor Jim Datri) visiting us this November, we felt it was a perfect time hold a seminar for pastors and their wives. So last Wednesday, we gathered in Saang for a day of teaching, food, and fellowship. Over 20 pastors and wives were able to come and hear messages of encouragement and exhortation from Ginny and our visitors. We got wonderful feedback from those who attended, and were greatly blessed to be able to minister to pastors who are spreading the gospel in their villages.
Check out the video below, and don't forget to pray for the Body of Christ in Cambodia!
Today is a very special day; one that has been life-changing for some! Every week, In His Steps gathers for our Tuesday staff meeting, a time of worship, teaching, prayer, and fellowship. Since all of us are very busy and involved in many different parts of IHSI programs, we feel that it's important to regularly be with each other as a group.
God often uses the times that we are together corporately to highlight something that's on His heart, both for our ministry and for individuals. This morning after worship, Eric shared about growing in God and walking in His love. As his message came to a close, Eric felt that he should ask if there was anyone who had not yet received salvation and would like to make that decision today.
Why would there be non-Christians at our Christian ministry's staff meeting? Because in addition to our regular staff and leadership team, we include all of the women in our Sak Saum program every time we gather as a group. Whether it's a general meeting, community event, or even a staff member's birthday party, we do our best to include those who we are working to reach. What better way to model God's love and Kingdom-oriented living?
After Eric's invitation to start a new life with God, Ginny briefly shared her testimony. Several young women (including some orphaned children who are living at Sak Saum temporarily until our safehouse building is complete) raised their hands to accept Jesus. Others also responded by expressing their desire to go deeper in God and experience more of his love. Pheaktra (pastor of our church and Foundation Center director) explained how to receive salvation and we gathered around them to pray. There was both peace and excitement in the air as each girl invited Jesus into her heart!
On this day, in a little country called Cambodia, four people made a decision that will transform their lives forever. As we at In His Steps rejoice on their behalf, we know that all the angels in heaven are rejoicing (Luke 15:10) with us! Please join us in praying for these young women as they begin their new journey with God.
- In His Steps