Dear Friends and Family,
blasphemy [blas-fu-mee] -noun, plural -mies 1b: the act of claiming the attributes of deity
Now, that’s what “Webster” has to say about the word. I’m not sure if it applies if the “Boss” (God) tells you to do it. I rather think not. Nevertheless, I suspect that some will think me guilty of this transgression with what I am about to tell you. Can you imagine inserting your name, as I have, in the following? (Acts 10:38) “How God anointed Ted Olbrich, of Phnom Penh with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.” This was really the crux of our annual meeting this year, as we had about 1,500 pastors and leaders boldly proclaim this verse by inserting their name.
I’ll admit that on first reading it sounds pretty heretical, but bear with me for a few paragraphs. You see, the theme of our gathering was, “The Kingdom of God” and Jesus assigned the Church the job of keeping the keys to the Kingdom. And the Kingdom of God was assigned to bring what was loosed in heaven to earth: righteousness, joy, peace, health, freedom, etc., and bind what was bound in heaven: poverty, sickness, demonic bondage, mental illness, etc. (Matt. 16:19). OK?
Allow me to establish three things: 1) Jesus told us we’d do what He did (Jn 14:12). 2) You receive power when you receive the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8). 3) We are the operational representatives of Jesus on this earth (1Jn 4:17b). The best, single, one-verse description of Jesus’ ministry on earth is Acts 10:38; so, this what should we be doing, right? The question is: “Do you have the guts?” We did.
Short of cash, we only had those who could pay their own way to the conference attend. With most of the rural pastors being limited to about $150 per year in income, it was a major investment. Those who attended had to promise to carry the teachings back to their regions to those who could not afford the trip. The entire group was filled with the Holy Spirit by day three. Mak Sou had all of the young people gather in a large circle, hold hands and begin praying in the Spirit. Then she called for all the sick to come into the center of the circle and do exactly what Jesus commanded His disciples in Luke 10:9 “And heal the sick there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near you’.” People were healed by the dozens. The most observationally confirmed were a blind pastor receiving his sight, and people’s paralyzed limbs being freed. It was a good night. More important was the fact that pastors left with a confidence that with the Holy Spirit, “I can do this!” (see photos)
“Healing all who were oppressed by the devil,” what does that look like? Do you think poverty is a devilish program? We do! Eradication of poverty was a central focus of Christ’s ministry. What else is “good news to the poor”? How many people are in poverty in heaven? Much of what we do to build the Church in Cambodia has to do with helping people out of poverty. We have two new micro-enterprises to report this month. I’m sure most of you will find the first quite nauseating, but one of the favorite snacks for Cambodians is fried crickets. That’s right, deep fried, chirping crickets! They will bring $5.00 per kilogram on the market and the demand is huge! We are raising them by the millions. They get to market in less than two months and eat rice bran and several types of leaves. It’s cheap and easy. (see photos)
The second program is more palatable. Mushroom production. It’s a bit more complicated but it is very profitable. Both of these work great for uneducated young women caught in the sex trades. The one thing all of the “Rescue Rangers” miss in their programs is income replacement and that is the number one reason these young women don’t leave the trade.The major part of destroying the devil’s kingdom is to establish the Church. I know there are plenty of people running around telling you that the Church should be built through home meetings and that buildings are “of the devil.” Well, they’re wrong and right. Buildings add a permanency to the presence of the Gospel. Buildings give a place to train pastors, they give a legal, licensed location to meet, they allow you to show a physical presence. We just dedicated another Divisional Headquarters, also a church home where orphans can be raised. (see photos) “Thank you!” to International Cooperating Ministries.
Buildings are expensive, and all the other negative issues that the anti-building people raise. So? We do both. Our divisional headquarters are in buildings, these are centers where from 25 to 50 home churches come for training and connection. We have 110 buildings but 3200+ churches. We work hard to maintain an attractive presence in every province and we need your help! (see photos) Teams are a big part of this, and now you can give $10 to help Cambodian orphans when you text the word ORPHAN to 52000 on from any cell phone in the US. Thank you Warm Blankets Orphan Care International!
The key to every devil destroying ministry is the pastor, or whatever other name you use to refer to the leader of your Christ centered movement. We work hard to keep our leaders focused, and that is why we keep growing. “We’re the kick devil butt generation!” Thank you Jesus! It is a constant effort, but well worth the it! (see photos)
That’ll do for this month! Thanks, God bless, and have a great April! I’ve got to go plant rice! Blessings!
Pa & Mak Thom (Ted & Sou Olbrich)
And those doing all the work (Our staff)