Dear Friends and Family,
Some things don’t make sense, like: “Spiritual Concrete”. What? Yup, we have spiritual concrete, or, I probably should say, concrete with spiritual value. ( See Photos) It is hard to figure out why we are doing so well as a church. But, I have become convinced that it is due to a number of factors, and none of them are insignificant. God wants all people in relationship with Him. Most missionaries have figured that out. But how you get them from where they are to a point of faith? Now, that is the rub! Anyone who’s been at this very long realizes that preaching alone doesn’t get the job done. You really need to hear from God. It takes a revelation, and I’m sure these are different for every person. I believe that success begins by seeing people as complete beings with spiritual, physical, and social needs. The next step is to find the point of urgency. “Where is the pain?” Then, you reach out to them to meet that need in the name of Jesus. Now, if you can combine meeting needs, with issues that God is extremely interested in, like the care of orphans, widows, prisoners, and strangers, and do all this in the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, you can win big. It won’t happen by accident.
We are pouring a concrete rice drying pad at our rice farm. Sounds real spiritual, right? Well, hold on a second! The orphans and widows we care for need support. We can’t feed them relying on traditional means of agricultural production. We must do a better job, but that requires raising rice that must be harvested during the rainy season, and rice has to be dry to store. The solar heat during the sunny times of the rainy season is intense enough to dry rice in a single day. The key is to keep it from being rained on, and having a place where it can be collected as soon as rain is detected. With the 8 meter by 300 meter runway we’re working on, we put the rice on our concrete runway, as soon a storms are visible we clean it up with a modified snow blower in seconds, then store it in rainproof silos with our newly constructed elevator. No Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG) needed for drying. Now, that’s green, but how is it spiritual? Ready? It allows us to care for the orphans and widows, shows the community the heart of God, and God confirms His endorsement with signs following. Entire communities are coming to Christ. Now, that makes this cement spiritually essential. OK?
People think all I care about is the rice farm. They are so wrong! What I care about is the fruit that it produces, and I’m not talking rice. We are opening new churches every week. People are coming out of bondage, bodies are being healed, souls brought into relationship with Jesus Christ, and they’re being filled with the same power of the Holy Spirit, to continue the process. ( See Photos)
Rice is a resource. And we are exploiting it to build the kingdom of God. You really need to come and see our rice, and then look around the community. I honestly, in all humility, believe we may have the best rice in the entire country. Yes, God has blessed us, but it also takes applying the knowledge and skills that he gives us. These are photos of our rice, and one shot (lousy rice) is of the rice planted directly across the irrigation canal from us, by farmers who have been raising rice all their lives. ( See Photos) But, it is often what we don’t know, that harms us. We were ridiculed for putting rocks on our field (ground up limestone), too much fertilizer, spending money on fancy seed, using weird equipment, but the results speak for themselves. And, we still have a lot more we can do. We have 30 young orphan boys learning this process. They are going to help change rice production practices in Cambodia, and God gets the glory. A year ago we were plowing in dust at this time, this year we have what appears to be the best crop yet. The weather has a lot to do with it, but so do the irrigation canals, dikes, and reservoirs we have built.
We don’t always get people healed through prayer, so we have a hospital. Dengue fever, and other maladies have been a big problem for us this summer. The Hospital has been a busy place and Dr. Lina and his staff are some real heroes. They pray, but they also treat, operate, bind up wounds, and care fore the sick. Don’t think that we solve every problem with spiritual power, but I do believe that every problem is solved through spiritual revelation and guidance. ( See Photos)
People are more than just physical and spiritual beings. Culture, and social interaction, are huge parts of life and we are foolish to allow the church to ignore this. The first complaint leveled against us was that the Christian Church is, “Destroying Cambodian culture”. So, from day one, we made a deliberate discussion to put culture into our services. Take a look at what I am talking about: (See video) If you don’t think this has spiritual value, you really don’t understand how the human soul hears from God. God is bigger than religion, and if religion is all we preach, no wonder we don’t have an audience.
Why do school systems support sports? Because we are entertained? No, it is much more than that. Young people need to know how to learn the value of personal sacrifice for the betterment of the whole, the value of giving your all for others, the value of team work, of taking instruction, and receiving rebuke, the joy of victory, and how to endure the pain of defeat. All of these are social skills that sports teach, so we have teams. Some of them have done well. ( See Photos)
We are dependent upon you to get this nation going. I have a hope that one day we will be in a position to pay back what we have been blessed with. We are not there yet, but working every day to get there. You, who sacrifice to keep us going, are the real heroes, and our kids pray for your blessing everyday. We are the recipients of many benefactors. We are so grateful for your goodness. Thank you! ( See Photos)
I’ve been told my “Updates” are too long. I apologize! There is much to say, and I wish to keep you informed. But I’ll stop here mainly because this old farmer needs to get on with bringing in the harvest, and I’m not just talking about rice. Please pray for all of our harvests!
Be hugely blessed this month!
Pa Thom and Mak Sou (Ted and Sou Olbrich)
and those doing all the work,