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

Maternity Makeover

As a ministry, we teach that every baby born is a precious gift from God. Yet many women in rural areas experience childbirth in terrible conditions that seem to contradict this wonderful truth. Their only choice often lies between having a home birth without medical care or going to a maternity center such as pictured below.

Transient

Obviously, this birthing center was in dire need of a makeover. We started talking with the staff there and learned that the roof and ceiling needed repairs. Dealing with the entire building was beyond their means, but we wanted them to have ownership of the change as well. So we made a deal with them: if they were willing to take initiative to work on their roof, we would come and do the rest. The birthing center director was so happy about this that the roof work was finished in short order!

We began having sheet rock ceilings installed in several rooms and replacing drop-ceiling tiles in others. Then our staff and a visiting team from Colorado worked hard sanding, painting, cleaning, decorating, and collecting trash for two days. The end result? What was once drab and grimy is now a bright and welcoming place. New educational posters, nature photos taken by Eric, fresh paint, and new ceilings have completely transformed the building. 

The clinic staff are blessed by how new and bright the atmosphere of their workplace has become since it’s makeover. We hope that every woman who enters will feel the same, and that their experience giving birth would be a joyful one. Life is a gift worth celebrating!

A Helping Hand

Today we want to share a little about a church member named Khom (pictured at right). Khom is has been attending Gospel Community Church Saang for many months, and has been a Christian for several years. She travels quite a distance to attend, yet is wearing a cheerful smile each Sunday when she arrives.

Recently, Khom told us that thanks to her micro-enterprise business sewing fabric flowers for Sak Saum, she had been able to save enough money to purchase all the materials to rebuild her small house. She was living in dilapidated conditions with her two sons, and wanted to know if we would consider helping her by paying for the labor costs to construct the new building.

In His Steps believes there is a big difference between a handout and a helping hand. We love to sow into people when we see true desire to grow and change. It was clear to us that Khom was not looking for a handout: she had worked hard to save money for materials and simply was asking for our help to complete her goal. So it was easy for us to say yes to her request, and give her the small sum of money that was needed.

Over the weekend, her little house was completed, and we wanted to see it firsthand. So this morning, Eric and some of our leadership team drove out to the rural village where Khom lives. Her new home is now a place where she and her sons can feel safe, with new tin walls and a lockable door (many provincial homes merely have a curtain!).

Our team spent some time fellowshipping with Khom, listening to her share more of her testimony. She faces persecution from her neighbors, and has often felt the sting of their unkind words and attitudes towards her as a result of her decision to follow Christ. Pastor Pheaktra and the others encouraged her to keep persevering and to respond in love to those that revile her.

Pray for Khom, that she would feel confident that God knows her needs and will never leave her or forsake her. The testimony of her trust and His provision will speak louder                                                     to her hostile neighbors than any argument ever could.

Khom's rebuilt house before the front door was installed.

Highlighting Health

Recently we had a small team visit, including one of our dear friends and some new friends as well. While they were here, they taught at Gospel Community Church, youth group, staff meetings, and our Pastors’ Fellowship, as well as providing valuable medical expertise and teaching.

Transient

Martha, a GP from upstate New York, taught several women’s health seminars at our Center and with other local churches, reaching over 120 women and girls. Superstition and ignorance surround the topic of women’s health in Cambodia, so it was wonderful to have many from Sak Saum and the Saang community receive this teaching!

At each seminar, simple lessons were given and many questions and concerns were answered. All those who attended received hygiene products and undergarments, and more importantly, were empowered to understand their bodies and make better health decisions for themselves! In addition to teaching seminars, Martha also did examinations and consultations with women in our programs, again answering questions and addressing individual concerns.

We loved having the opportunity to work with Martha in providing health education to women on this important topic! Individuals with specialized skill sets (medical or otherwise) can be a great blessing to the communities we work in. If you are interested in applying your skills through ministry with In His Steps, we hope you’ll click here to learn more!