Laotian Pastor, Ministry Partners, Making a Difference in Laos

Post a Comment » Written on February 9th, 2009     
Filed under: News
By Matt Enquist

BROOKLYN CENTER, MN (February 9, 2009) – Reverend Soudinh Penkhay and his wife, Sarah, of Laotian Covenant Church recently returned from a mission trip to his hometown in Laos.

The trip was in partnership with the Evangelical Covenant Church, Covenant World Relief, Laotian Covenant, the Northwest Conference, and Brookdale Covenant Church.

A key objective for the trip, which began November 3, was digging wells to allow village residents to access clean water. The couple helped dig two wells in the village of Taouk and one well for a school in the village of Sakmeuang. The couple helped coordinate the various pieces of equipment used to dig wells to a depth of 33 meters.

“When the Evangelical Covenant Church, through World Relief, brought these wells, the people were very happy,” Penkhay says. “They said our God blessed them and they wished to thank the Christians in America who came to make a well for them.”

Penkhay cites the tremendous need for clean water in Laos. “The people in the villages where the wells were built had to walk up to five miles to get clean water,” he notes. “They were too poor to buy clean water or to build a well for themselves. They know God provided water for drinking and other uses.”

Before working in the villages to dig wells, the couple had the opportunity to stay in the capital city of Vientiane and meet with Pastor Khamphon, president of the Christian Church in Laos. Penkhay travelled as an ambassador of the Lao Association of Minnesota, an organization he chairs that supports the work of Khamphon, both monetarily and through prayer.

“We prayed for the ministries in Laos and Minnesota, thanked God for his protection, and prayed that God would work through me as I brought the Good News and clean water to people in Southern Laos,” recalls Penkhay.

When the couple attempted to fly home, they got stuck in the Bangkok, Thailand, airport due to a workers’ strike. They were delayed eleven days.

“We were out of money and missed our children at home (three sons – two grown and one a sophomore in high school), and we worried about our church members, but God brought us home safely,” says Penkhay.

Looking back on the trip, Penkhay is thankful for the opportunities he has enjoyed, to be able to travel and work in his home country.

“Each time (we travel to Laos) we build relationships,” he says. “I’ve come to know the governor, the mayor, professors and other people of influence. I’ve been able to share the Good News of Jesus Christ and witness to them about my life. I hope to continue to look for projects that will help fill needs and give me more opportunities to share the gospel.”

Penkhay has a rich Christian heritage dating back to his grandfather’s ordination as the first Lao Christian and Missionary Alliance pastor in 1901. Penkhay spent time in prison because of his enlistment in the Lao army after the communist party’s takeover in 1975. After escaping from prison in 1984, he made his way to the United States in 1987.

In February 1997, Penkhay and his Lao church of 28 members merged with Brookdale Covenant. In 2004, the Laotian Covenant Church was accepted by the denomination into membership as a new church. The churches continue a partnership with Laotian Covenant, which continues to meet in the Brookdale building, according to Denise Erickson, office manager at Brookdale Covenant.

“Brookdale Covenant Church is like our family,” Penkhay says. “We work and pray together. They help with needs and advise us in our work. They are a great support to my family.”

“There are many opportunities for our two congregations to intertwine,” notes Erickson. “Our Sunday worship services meet separately at the same time, but we join together for Sunday school, coffee fellowship and a monthly potluck dinner.” Wednesday night activities include children from both Lao and Brookdale churches.

Penkhay says he is grateful for the work of the Covenant in the Brooklyn Center area and around the world.

“I thank God for his people in the Evangelical Covenant Church – for the vision we share for the Lao people in America and Laos and around the world.”

(Editor’s note: Matt Enquist is a North Park University student completing an internship with the Department of Communication.)

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