Hope, in Life and in Death

Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints. Psalm 116:15

This past Friday we received news that the father of Sokra (married to Sana), a staff member at IHSI, had passed away. Thun was a hard-working, soft-spoken man who cared about his family and was kind to his neighbors. He had a reputation for being gentle, persevering, and dedicated. At the age of 90, after witnessing war, hardship, and much change in his nation, Thun had quietly and peacefully died after a brief conversation with his wife.

As soon as we heard what had happened, staff and youth from the Church and community sprang into action, helping to work through the practical needs of the family in order to plan a funeral that would honor Thun’s memory and comfort his loved ones. Though mourning with them for their loss, we knew that for Thun this was a joyous occasion, because nearly two years ago he began attending church and made the decision to accept Jesus as his Savior. In fact, Thun was the oldest man we have ever baptized at Gospel Community Church Saang!

Traditional Khmer funerals are full of superstition, veneration of the dead, and rituals that perpetuate curses, fear, and despair. But Thun’s funeral was in a completely opposite spirit. Words of encouragement, comfort, and exhortation were offered, and beautiful hymns reminding of the Lord's faithfulness were sung, all amid a gathering of friends, family, neighbors, and many church members. Truly our God is one of hope, in both life and death!

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We are blessed to see the beautiful witness of Thun’s life and death, and believe that the local community has seen a glimpse of the love of Christ in action as His Body worked together to honor Thun’s memory. Please join with us in praying for those still grieving, that God would comfort them as only He can. 

- IHSI

Spreading the Word

As the rain and the snow
 come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth
 and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire
 and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
— Isaiah 55:10-11 - The Holy Bible
Transient

It is rainy season in Cambodia: roads are getting muddy, fields are turning green. Farmers rely on this time of year for enough water to flood their rice paddies as part of their yearly planting cycle. From now until September, we could see anywhere from 5-8 feet of rain each month!

In this time of seasonal flooding, it is perhaps appropriate that we have received what can only be described as a flood of Khmer-language Bibles: 1,000 to be exact! Through communication with Messengers International, we were able to receive this huge donation from the Cambodian Bible Society for distribution to our church and others in our area. 

This gift is a wonderful opportunity to get the Word of God into the hands of many who have had little access to it before. Last Friday at our Pastor’s Fellowship meeting, our leadership team gave out over 400 Bibles to many different churches, who in turn are free to distribute them to anyone in their area who needs one. On Sunday, we had a chance to give even more Bibles, as members of our church young and old came forward to receive their very own copy! 

It’s a joy to be able to provide this precious resource to so many, and we believe God’s promise from Isaiah 55:11: his Word will accomplish what He desires and achieve the purpose for which He sent it.

Please pray with us for each person receiving a new Bible, that the Holy Spirit would help them understand, receive, and apply what God wants to speak to them. Who knows how many hearts will be touched and lives will be changed by having the Word of God in their hands for the very first time? 

-IHSI

Building Pastors

Transient

Today we want to tell you about a man whom we recently had the privilege to bless in a small way. His story is one of faithfulness in the face of tragedy, hardship, and isolation.

In the group of church leaders that join us for our monthly fellowship meetings, there is a certain pastor who attends somewhat sporadically. He stood out to us because the first time he attended the fellowship, he arrived more than four hours early! Pastor Pheaktra chatted with him for a while and discovered that he had ridden a bicycle for more than two hours to our Center, simply to receive teaching and spend time in fellowship with other local church leaders.

This man has had more than his share of difficulties: a handicapped leg, the loss of two young children, and a life of relative poverty could have left him embittered and withdrawn. Yet he chooses to walk in the calling that God has placed on his life, despite the hardship that he faces daily. He finds joy in service to God through ministering to the people in the small rural village where he lives as assistant pastor.

His salary is small and he and his family have sacrificed much to continue in ministry, so when our leadership team discussed his situation we knew we wanted to help. We decided to target one of his biggest needs: transportation.

Below is a photo of the pastor enjoying his new moto, brought to him as a surprise by Eric and Pheaktra. We are also committing to provide him with some gas money each month, to make sure that this gift remains a blessing not a burden.

God has seen this pastor’s labors, his long bicycle rides around the countryside, and his uncomplaining spirit. We’re so happy to have been able to help him in a small way. It truly is more blessed to give than to receive.

~In His Steps

Working Together

As a ministry, we’re constantly on the lookout for ways to bless and mutually strengthen those in church leadership in Saang and neighboring regions. That often takes the form of training seminars and church visitation, as well as benevolent giving to meet needs in various congregations in Kandal province. By working together with other area churches, In His Steps can bless a much larger group of people than simply those in our own congregation!

We recently received a donation of 200 Khmer-language copies of the book “Bait of Satan” through Messenger International. Having already partnered with John and Lisa Bevere for other projects, we were excited to have an opportunity to bring this resource to Cambodians in their own language. After meeting with their Asia contact in Phnom Penh, we loaded up a tuk-tuk full of books and brought them out to Saang for distribution.

Even in Phnom Penh (Cambodia’s capital city), there are not a lot of quality Christian resources available in the Khmer-language. In rural areas like Kandal province, many pastors have little or no access to Christian books and teaching materials. When we arrived with “Bait of Satan” in hand, these pastors were quick to open their copy and begin reading, hungry to learn more.

As we made our rounds delivering the books, we heard many stories of how devastating flooding in the region has challenged pastors and their congregations dealing with the aftermath. Although things are getting better, many families still have a lot of work ahead repairing homes, cutting down waterlogged crops, and trying to resume life as normal. Eric and Pheaktra were able to offer some advice, but more importantly, listened as pastors shared their concerns and struggles.

The following week, we continued with our next initiative: giving away eyeglasses that had been donated from a family in New York. Re-visiting each pastor and again spending time to encourage and advise them, we also distributed glasses to them, their families, and congregation members with vision problems. It was perfect timing, since many of them had their books on hand to test out the new eyeglasses!

Whether visiting pastors in their homes or meeting with them each month at our pastors’ fellowship, we want each church leader in our area to know that we love and care about them. Being in ministry can be a lonely calling, which is why we emphasize listening to and encouraging each other, not just giving resources or dealing with ministry business. We want each pastor in Kandal province to know that their service to God is not for nothing, and they are not alone! Today, please join us in taking the time to pray for the Body of Christ in Cambodia. 

- In His Steps

Transient
Transient

Strengthening the Body, Building the Kingdom

"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!