Dear Friends and Family,
Plowed under! I don’t know how many of you have farmed, but there are few things worse than watching the slow death of a crop in which you’ve invested months of your life and a substantial portion of your wealth. Granted, it’s nothing like losing a loved-one, but it’s still painful, especially when the obvious is another slow death; starvation. I’ve lost crops before, but for me there was always an alternative; I was a professional, I could always get a job. But, we have no rice and consuming two tons a day until December, we’re in deep trouble. That’s about $150,000 just for rice, on top of everything else! What’s more, this is the center of the “Rice bowl” of Cambodia! By the end of July we are usually pumping water out of our paddies to keep the water from becoming too deep. Now, on July 20th, we had dust clouds like the Sahara Desert. The inevitable question that I couldn’t help but ask, dates back from the Book of Job,”Why?” Why can’t these orphans that pray blind eyes open, pray down a rain for their own rice crop?
Then I learned some things. Much of the fertilizer we had purchased had been sold to local farmers by the corrupt former manager as well as the registered seed we imported. And “bin run” seed full of weed seed was planted in its place. Much of our rice bran was being sold off to unauthorized buyers. The whole area seemed to be under a curse. I was crying before the Lord, “Don’t punish the orphans!” and He calmly answered, “Don’t you think I can find another way to feed My kids?” I had to repent. I borrowed $18,000 for new seed, and called Paul Mok, our new manager, to organize an event for Sunday, July 22nd for all the local farmers to join us at the rice mill for a time of prayer and repentance. Pastor Mop (Tubby), our old pastor, who told us several years ago he was going back to being a Bhuddist put together the meeting. It turns out he never did forsake Christ but was simply upset with the former leadership. He was one of the first to repent. Fifty farmers showed up, including the mayor (Meh Phum) and the county supervisor (Meh Khum). Bhuddists prayed beside Christians. We prayed for more than an hour and then had a party! In three days it was raining. Our rice is replanted, and we look forward to an abundant crop. But, how is God going to get us from here to December with no rice? I wish I knew the answer. I hate living by faith! But, it does work. We finished planting and Paul Mok called me with the good news. I said, “Let’s pray for rain!” we prayed and five minutes later he called me back and said, “It’s raining hard!” It rained for another five hours. PTL! (see photos)
While I was on the “burial detail” of our dead early rice crop, the bulk of our office and district staff plus a team of medical professionals (including about 25 foreigners and 8 Cambodians), were engaged in bringing medical healing. More than 100 other staff evangelized, prayed for, preached to, and entertained the crowds of up to 1000 per day who came for help. In the process, they led thousands of the poorest Cambodians to glorious new life! Nine different tribal groups from the northeastern province of Rattanakirri came to the provincial capital of Banlung for free medical treatment. People were treated for almost every malady imaginable; from tumors & leukemia, to broken limbs, to the “Mystery Disease” EV-71, as well as the more mundane ailments like malnutrition and scabies. One woman came in unconscious and in the final stages of death to leukemia. She was given an IV and revived and prayed for; she received Christ, and died. Never before has a team come together with such a unified spirit. What was impossible to do medically was done with fervent prayer and virtually all 4000+ who came through this clinic received Christ. (see photos)
This was a major effort that took more than a month to set up. Fountain Head Church from Carson City, Nevada spent close to two weeks working on preparing the site. The event was held at the Pum Pram Moi Church Home so they received a facelift for the orphans as well. Just the preparation for translations from all the tribal languages to both Cambodian and English took weeks and was a major test for our English and Vocational Training Director, Kris Warner. All together more than a month of labor from at least 20 people went into the preparation. The pictures are a must see! It does take a team and they built a virtual village.
Timely trimming is always beneficial when it comes to fruit production. I think we all get that, but has anyone ever asked the tree? “Rheeem, Rheeem, Brrrrrrrrrrrrrr” No! Not a chain saw! Chop, chop, saw, cut, ouch! Stop that! No, not that one! Timber! “Wow, I’d have never dreamed it, but it was rotten at the core!” The tree has to hate the process, but the results are worth it. Maybe I’m part tree? I know just how it feels. We lost a couple of key leaders to corruption recently, but new life is springing up all over Cambodia. Kong Pisey Church Home is a great example explosive growth with over 100 satellite churches under their care. (see photos) A couple of faithful supporters paid a visit to the site and left behind a lot of happiness in their wake. It is a great ego boost to an orphan and a village pastor to have someone from half way around the world come and say, “You’re special.” New churches are springing up all over as unity and the joy of common purpose pump up the ranks of a demoralized group of pastors that had suffered under divisive leadership.
How do you find good leaders? The first thing I look for is what the Bible simply calls “goodness.” God is good. Right? It is basically a giving heart that puts others ahead of themselves. There is a narrow strip of land between the Mekong River and the Bassac River which becomes the Mekong Delta in Vietnam. We’ve never done much at the southern end of this strip though it has been an area of focus. But, the question remains, “How do we break in?” Last week, a 34 year old widow came into our office. She’d contacted our divisional superintendent and informed him that she has a Foursquare church home with about 100 members, 50 kids, and 11 orphans. We didn’t have any idea how fruitful she’d been, and didn’t even have her on our radar screen until recently. She is a “good woman.” Pastor Chan Nee was orphaned at age 13, so she moved in with her older sister where, over the next few years, her brother-in-law attempted to abuse her on two occasions. Rather than ruin the marriage, she said nothing and quietly moved to her older brother’s home. Things went well for a time, but Chan Nee could hear her brother’s wife arguing with him claiming that Chan Nee was costing too much to keep and getting too much of his attention.
Chan Nee had a friend in Phnom Penh who helped her get a factory job at age 17. She was paid only $60 per month and lived in a remote room with several other young women. One evening as she was returning to her room, five men attempted to rape her. She’d been listening to Christian radio programs and had asked Jesus into her life. She called on him for help and a huge angel appeared and frightened away her attackers. Knowing it was not safe for her in Phnom Penh, she decided to return to her home and marry a laborer on the island. She planted mango trees on their one hectare of land and began selling fruit. After several years, she became pregnant and shortly after, her husband was hit and killed by a container truck; he never got to see his son. Chan Nee was now a 26 year old widow and only had a small wooden house on her mango orchard, but she began teaching about Jesus and taking in other orphaned children. A few years ago she received a Christmas booklet published by Steve’s Steakhouse and a set of Foursquare Comic Picture Bibles along with a copy of our annual report. She used the Picture Bibles as the basis for teaching children, and saw that Foursquare took care of orphans, so she declared she was Foursquare. She also saw that Foursquare people were filled with the Holy Spirit and asked God for this gift. She immediately received her prayer language and began praying for the sick.
Chan Nee needed a larger building. Her neighbor was quite wealthy and decided to build a large, two story, cement home; it was the same size as one of our church homes. He had most of the money but borrowed a small amount from Acleada Bank. He began gambling and lost everything during Cambodian New Year. Facing homelessness he came to Chan Nee and told her he would trade his larger land and partially finished home for her small property; all she had to do is accept the $2500 loan. We began helping her complete the facility and she has moved in with 11 orphans. Take a look: (see photos)
That’s a good note to end this song on, so…
Be blessed this month! We couldn’t do this without you!
Ted and Sou Olbrich (Pa and Mak Thom)
And all those “good” people who make it all happen; our staff!