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Jesus Comes to Anlong Veng

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As a Christ-centered, Acts 1:8 family, The Alliance is committed to providing gospel access to the least-reached peoples of the world. We do this by uniting around three strategic themes: serving communities, multiplying church networks, and developing people. They were first articulated during Alliance Council 2019, but they are not new concepts to Alliance international workers—including Soeuth and Syna Lao.

For more than 25 years, the Laos have been committed to developing people in Cambodia, where they currently serve in Anlong Veng, the district that was once home to the country’s infamous dictator, Pol Pot. It is also an area where God has been at work in ways that are reminiscent of the Book of Acts. Churches are growing exponentially, and the Laos have had their hands full discipling the hundreds of people who have come to Christ and equipping them for ministry.

In mid-January 2021, Syna reported the following:

From March 2020 to December 31, 2020, 1,158 people prayed to received Jesus, and a total of nine new village house-churches were planted. Each of these sites holds weekly worship services and nightly prayer services. All nine locations are still going strong. On December 28, new believers from four of the groups gathered for a baptismal service where 102 people got baptized in ice-cold stream water. New believers in other locations are currently being discipled and prepared to get baptized sometime in the next couple of weeks. Because of COVID restrictions, we cannot hold large group gatherings, so the next baptisms will be held in smaller group settings.

The Laos teach weekly discipleship and leadership classes and encourage the students to introduce the gospel to family and relatives. Syna said, “As international workers sent out by the U.S. Alliance to work in Anlong Veng, we also are ‘sending’ our students to bring the gospel to places where no church existed and to their communities.”

The students are accompanied by the Laos’ local ministry partner, Pastor Dy—a Khmer Evangelical Church* pastor. Typically, Pastor Dy will preach an evangelistic message to a waiting audience, their interest having been piqued by the signs and wonders God has been doing among the new believers. “Everywhere they go, they share boldly about the good news of Jesus Christ,” Syna reported. All the Laos’ students have agreed that the more they proclaim the gospel, the more they see God work—and they have often witnessed miracles after they shared His truth with or prayed for others. The Laos have been amazed daily by the faith of the students whom they are developing for ministry.

Instant Miracles

According to Syna,

I have been a Christian for 40 years, and I have never seen such faith anywhere else as I am now seeing in our students. Because of extreme poverty, many of them do not have any earthly materials to offer or to rely upon, but they have great faith in the Lord Jesus. When one of their littles got sick and there was no money to buy medicine or to take the child to the hospital, the parents just surrendered the sick child to the Lord in prayer. In the authority of Jesus, they boldly proclaimed the power of Jesus to their child, saying, “Fever (or toothache, or headache, or even bad dreams), by the authority of the Lord Jesus, I rebuke you. Get out and don’t come back again!” And just like that, in a short time afterward, the child was healed. These believers often take God’s Word at face value. As a result, God revealed Himself to them, and they saw instant healings and miracles afterward. Both Soeuth and I just love their favorite one-liner, and we never get tired of hearing it: “Satan, I bind you in the name of Jesus Christ.”

The students, who range from age 12–68, include men and women, young educated professionals, and rural villagers. Most of the latter are farmers who can’t read or write. Many of them were young children when their parents were killed by the Khmer Rouge during the Killing Fields. Too poor to afford schooling after the war, the villagers have had to rely on farming to eke out a living.

To help disciple them, Soeuth and Syna purchased a large quantity of MP3 Bible radios at full price, selling them to the believers for a modest fee to encourage ownership among them. Each radio contains hundreds of hours of hymns in the local language, all 66 books of the Bible, and Christian teachings. Soeuth and Syna also provided highlighters for the students to mark their Bibles and many reading glasses—at least 500 in the past two years.

In addition to the resources above, Soeuth and Syna use their work fund to buy Bibles and hymnals and have partnered with local seamstresses to distribute small handbags to each of the students with Christian tracks to aid in their evangelistic efforts.

The Laos have also used their work fund to help pay fuel costs for their students to get to class and to alleviate their travel expenses to the villages where they minister. The couple even purchased four second-hand motorbikes for three key leaders and have provided expenses for monthly fellowship meals for their students. This generosity was contagious—the students themselves have contributed monthly meals of home-grown vegetables, chicken, or fish they had harvested.

“This past Christmas season, we received many small bags of rice and other gifts from villagers. They also lavished their generosity on poorer families and church leaders as well. It was a beautiful sight to witness poor people sharing their most precious possessions with other people who were in need and with their spiritual leaders—just like the First Century believers did in Acts 4:32–37!”

Rich, Practical Teaching

Despite COVID, more than 1,000 people prayed to receive Jesus in 2020, with 106 of them being baptized in December alone.

In addition to using a wide variety of teaching tools in their Tuesday classes, the Laos include a strong emphasis on life application, challenging their students to bring the biblical contexts into their daily practical lives in their communities. These growing disciples also practice preaching to each other before the beginning of each class. The Laos allow about 40–50 minutes for students to share their testimonies, praises, or prayer requests. “This is one of the richest and most anticipated times of the week, as story upon story is reported.” The couple has also encouraged their students to start and lead small groups in their communities—and many have done so, resulting in eight new fellowships in places where no church had existed before.
Five young professionals live an hour-and-a-half drive from the teaching site. At first, the Laos thought they would attend for just a brief season and not be eager to study with a group of older villagers. But after nearly a year, these young men continued to attend enthusiastically. To get to the first class on time required a 6 a.m. departure, with classes running until 4:30–5:00 p.m. “Whether farmers, school-aged kids, or city guys, all the students showed up at class with great anticipation, and many of them regularly and willingly participated in lively class discussions,” Syna said.

“We are grateful to the generous supporters from U.S. Alliance sending churches. Because they give, we are able to remain serving in Anlong Veng, sharing the message of hope in Jesus with lost people in Cambodia.”

*The Khmer Evangelical Church is the The Alliance in Cambodia.

Breaking Off Addictions

O Rum Jake Village: In this village, 23 people prayed to receive Jesus at one time in August 2020. The group is now led by 27-year-old Isaiah and his older sister, Martha.

A man in his mid-fifties, who had been drinking most of his life, prayed to receive Jesus. He had tried many times to stop drinking but could not do so on his own. But after asking Jesus for help, the man stopped drinking! This amazed even his relatives and friends. When asked how he was able to stop drinking, the believer simply replied, “I asked Preah Yea-sue [Jesus] to help. And He did! Now, I cannot stand even the smell of alcohol!”

Seeing the immediate change in him, more people wanted to try out Jesus as well. As a result, this group grew to 40 in attendance.

Among the eight new sites, six locations are still growing strong or have maintained the same attendance every week.


Uniting in Grief

Kampong Pluke Floating Village Church—established and overseen by Vanna and Srey Noch—saw 19 people pray to received Jesus in August 2020. Vanna and his wife, Srey Noch, are designated leaders for this new site.

On September 17, the couple lost two children in a drowning accident. Saddened by the loss, they stopped attending for a while. Then, on October 10, they returned and resumed ministries. Although the young couple was still grieving, God gave them an opportunity to comfort and encourage another family in that area who had lost a small child in early October to a high fever.

As Vanna and Srey Noch cried with and prayed for this family, their relatives showed strong interest in Jesus. At the end of the meeting, eight people prayed to receive Christ! God not only allowed Vanna and Srey Noch to comfort the mourners, but He also blessed the grieving leaders and gave them reason to move on and smile again, even amid the darkest time. As stated by Vanna, “Even in such a time as this, as we were grieving for their losses, God was still at work.” Vanna also shared that even in their absence, the families of new believers in this village continued coming together regularly to pray and read Scripture together!

As of January 2021, the group in Kampong Pluke is still going strong with an average weekly attendance of 42 adults and teens and 35-plus kids. Vanna is teaching 16 adults how to read using Alliance material and a Bible-based adult literacy course called “New Hope.”

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