Dear Friends and Family,
God makes good come out of bad things. Do you believe those who have gone before can influence events? I kind of think they do, not as ghosts, but more like saints. “A Great Cloud of Witnesses”. I’m not sure what that means, but it comes out of Hebrews 12:1, and seems to refer to those who have gone before us, cheering us on like fans at a sporting event. At least that’s how I see it.
In 1991 my brother had the best looking corn in our Illinois County, it stretched for more than a mile along the county blacktop. It was so good it was considered “Top Shelf” by all the corn borers (crop killing insects) in the region. My 81 year old father decided to intervene; on June 8, 1991 he decided to spray insecticide. Now, there were two products, one was “Princep”, an insecticide, and the other, “Paraquat”, a general defoliant (it kills everything that grows). Dad got mixed up and purchased the wrong chemical. Right in front of God and all the neighbors he killed the best corn in the county. It was a slow death, and by the time we figured it out it was too late to do anything to save the crop, it was June 20th. Nothing could be planted on that treated area. Fortunately, my brother had set aside the same amount of land for a government program. He switched the land, and on some of the worst ground he had, we planted soybeans. It was late in the season to plant, and the prospects were not good.
I remember doing the planting as my brother worked the land. The planter broke, but I kept going not being able to shut the seed flow off at the end of the field. I just made a loop and kept going. My Dad’s German pride was in ruins, and three weeks later, after prostrate surgery, he sat down in his easy chair and died. He knew the Lord and had his Bible by his side when he just went to sleep and did not wake up. Here is my point: The soybean price was high that year and those soybeans were the best that farm had ever raised or would raise for at least another 20 years. He did not live to see it on this earth, but somehow I believe he was cheerleading from the bleachers in heaven. ( see photo)
Now, 2013 Cambodia, a farmer from Canada, Craig Grunert, brought his family for a team missions trip. He was killed in a tragic farm accident a few weeks after his return. His family set up the Craig Grunert Cambodian Rice Production Memorial Fund. They helped us greatly with the production expenses and on August 13, 2013 FCOP completed harvest on the best rice crop that region of Cambodia has ever seen. “Thanks Craig!” ( see photo)
There is an enemy who does not want to see FCOP succeed. We needed a rice drying platform, and even with the help of some special friends, “We were a day late and a dollar short”, we finished it a week late. Even with almost 50 of our young people pitching gravel without rest, it wasn’t fast enough. The Chinese decided to pull the flush valve on their bulging dams, and a three foot high wall of water washed across our land in one night. We lost almost 30 hectares of rice. It would have been gone completely had it not been for the ditching and diking we completed early this year. If we could just get some good equipment to get this job done our orphans would not be so dependent on our generous foreign donors. Still, we harvested twice the rice as any other year with some fields averaging 8 tons per hectare. Even with the loss our average yield was slightly over 5 tons per hectare. We owe our underpaid, hard working, dedicated Cambodian staff a huge debt of gratitude! ( see photos)
Church work is a lot like farming in Cambodia, as one crop is being harvested the next is being planted. The cycle never stops and we are seeing the fruit of this with new churches planted and new crops of believers stepping up to fill the ranks. We are training young farmers at our rice farm in Balang and young pastors at our church homes around Cambodia. ( see photos)
We really needed that rice, as orphan support has been tight this year, and our numbers are growing. Mak Sou said, “I don’t care what the devil does I’m not slowing down!” and she didn’t! She brought in about 100 future leaders from the various orphan homes and gave them a summer full of specialized training. They learned everything from moving in the power of the Holy Spirit to playing traditional music. The best thing is that they will take that back and infect our church/homes in every province with this radical faith. ( see photos)
Training a new generation is a major part of what sets FCOP apart from others organizations, we don’t just care for orphans or plant churches we are out to build the Kingdom of God. It is a holistic program! Our previous national leader did not get that and when two boys got to be age 18 at one of our rural church homes, he expelled them to save money. We found out about this and searched to find them. Now they are enrolled with 25 other youth from around the country at the Don Bosco Technical School studying everything from auto mechanics to hotel management. Five of our recent graduates are now working in the top hotels in Cambodia and one was hired by a “four star” hotel in Thailand. We owe Father John, a Priest who has been in SE Asia since 1954 a huge debt of gratitude for believing in our orphan kids. When no one else gave them a chance, he did. ( see photos)
It is hard to be patient when you are young, but it is a virtue and it does pay. A young staff member we had raised from a child received his bachelors degree in I.T. He wanted to immediately start his masters program, but we told him to work and wait for a while as we had no money for this. He had a girl friend who was in her second year at Don Bosco and he talked her into dropping out two months before graduation and to move in with him. She missed her opportunity to make four times her current income and he is still trying to get into a masters program. It is sad to see, but prodigals can come home!
I made one of my whirlwind “Stateside visits” this past month. We had Sonny Weimer, Errol Faulkes, Jenny Robinson, and myself spend two days at the Faith Comes by Hearing International Headquarters in Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA. It is difficult to imagine taking the Bible and dramatizing it into 83 speaking parts and then putting it out in now more than 171 languages. It is quite an operation. It was a great pleasure to meet Jerry Jackson, the founder of the organization who at age 77 still works full time at reaching the world and inspired this worn out old man to keep at it.We have received a new shipment of the “Mini Proclaimers” programed in both Cambodian and Lao. During the trip I managed to speak in five churches and snag a good Ford 4X4 pickup for the rice farm from “Big D” in Colorado. Thanks “D”! ( see photos)
It is hard to imagine how we would have survived had it not been for our friends who have supplied us with food over the past year. Bill Meyer, Reach Now International, Lou Binninger, Glad Tidings Church: Feed My Starving Children, Stop Hunger Now, Gleanings for the Hungry, Dave Wilkerson and Chandler Christian Church ; Mission of Mercy, and Feeding the Nations. Even though the money has slowed the Kids are being feed better than ever. ( see photos)
No one is more precious to us that our faithful donors. I wish we had a paid staff who could call you every month and tell you how wonderful you are. We do pray for you every day. But we operate with a completely non-paid foreign staff. All foreign activity is completely voluntary. If you are reading this and are retired, semi-retired, or just have some free time to help us, please contact Jenny Robinson on our staff. You can email her, email@example.com. We are especially interested in hearing from those of you who have been here and seen what we are doing. We need your help!
Thanks again for another month and may God bless you richly!
Pa Thom and Mak Sou (Ted and Sou Olbrich), and
Our dedicated staff who do all the work!