Dear Friends and Family,
Thus goes the Christmas Spirit in Cambodia, “Thanks for speeding Pa Thom! Please remember to speed again next time you come through town,” encouraged my friend, “Mop the Battambang Cop”. (I know of no other country in the world where you get treated with such respect for breaking the law!) It seems that last year Uncle Sam gave him the greatest Christmas present he’d ever received, a used radar gun. It’s a money machine! There is about a 10 kilometer stretch of 50km/hr speed zones (in addition to the 30km/ph zone in the center of town) that extends on both sides of Battambang, that’s like 30 miles per hour, and I’m always in a hurry to make the 450 km trip to the rice farm. Mop the Cop is clever, he is constantly moving his speed trap, and I always get busted. Now, this is what makes him happy. The normal fine is $2.50US collected on the spot, but since I, as a foreigner, only get a one year driver’s license, mine was expired, and I was doing 20km over the limit. I knew I was ‘big time’ busted. So, I just saluted Mop when he came up to my car window (respect is more important than money) and told him, “Mop. I’m really in a hurry, and Christmas is coming, so I’ll just pay you $10.00 and give you a Christmas book”. A big smile broke across his face, “See you next time you come through town”, Mop said with a belly laugh. “Merry Christmas!” I cheered enthusiastically as I hit the gas and was gone in a flash, watching him thumb through the “Christmas Book” through my rearview mirror.
With the help of the Foursquare Foundation, and a lot of work and money from Steve Billington (Home of English), we will distribute 117, 500 of these books this Christmas season and they are fantastic! Children and adults fight over them as they read about Thanny, the leader of our Young Lions, tell the story about, “Why I hated Christmas”, and Nazareth’s story about how he was so malnourished when he came into our Church/Home that doctors predicted he would, “Never Walk and Never Learn”, but God turned him into a top student and an athletic, musically talented, trouble making, teenager. We are expecting to see in excess of 50,000 decisions for Christ this December. Many the result of this book. ( see photos)
The floods are over and the wind shifted, the rainy season is past. Now, the work and expense of repair faces us. “The Rice Farm Boys” franticly spent much of November trying to plant a new crop in the mud. The floods were brutal on our rice, and hard on our equipment. Paul Mok (Farm Manager) took an idea from the 1850’s Mississippi River Boats and built the most efficient mud tillage machines in Cambodia. “Mokie’s Stern-wheelers” use 1/4 the fuel of a roto-vator and are three times as fast. We’re now finished planting this late crop on the land which we can irrigate, it’s up and, we are and in the thick of harvesting our late crop. ( see photos) As you look at the photos note the sequence of going from weed and stubble covered ground to a smooth mud to newly established rice.
Harvest time always seems to flow with Thanksgiving, and in November we had much to be thankful for. Just in Rattanakirri Province, 900 people were saved and filled with the Spirit over meetings that spanned three days in two locations. The staff got so involved they didn’t get many pictures. ( see photos)There are reports flowing in of hundreds more being save through healings and deliverance in Khampong Channang Province. Meetings are planned all over the country of 1000 plus people per event to celebrate Christmas. These are hard times, but good times.
One of the great revival stories is from oral learners (people who never learned to read or write) on Tumnup Island. Dan Cho, of the Foursquare Foundation, traveled with me to the area on a whirlwind trip, and observed the “Procalimers” in action. The new models are as small as a large cell phone and put out enough volume for dozens of people to comfortably hear. One woman came back to the Island with her son from another province after separating from her husband. Dan was there as Pastor El Sim prayed for him and cut the “Spirit string” off his neck and received Christ. He saw the girl who was raised from the dead by Pastor Long Kit, and the Buddhist temple that sends up to eight monks to church every Sunday. They’ve all embraced Christ as Savior, but are still Buddhist monks. I cannot explain that, we’ll just call it a Christian dichotomy. ( see photos)
“I hate you and you hate me!”, seemed to be the theme of two groups of our own churches in Pursat Province. Leaders from hundreds of churches were not speaking to one another. It all started over a “Funeral Fund” that went awry. Mak Sou fasted and prayed for God’s intervention; called in all the key leaders and took on the giants of Envy, Jealousy and Resentment. She started by having the pastors pray in the Spirit for one hour, and listen to God. It took all afternoon but men who had not spoken a civil word to one another for more than a year were crying and hugging each other in embraces of repentance and forgiveness. They ended the meeting with communion. Needless to say there is a new burst of the light of God in that province. Christmas has arrived. ( see photos)
Doctors from the USA and Cambodia teamed up to form a medical mission that was based in Bantemeanchy. They saw the kids and staff from 13 church homes, the staff from our rice farm, and dozens of impoverished patients. Headed up by Dr. Mike Callan (a member of our Board of Directors) and Dr. Derrick Dauplaise, both veterans of several previous trips, and assisted by our own staff doctors Lina and Ratta, and several Cambodian volunteers. Sam Tolle, our “Teams Specialist”, took care of the logistics. People were prayed for, led to the Lord, and some healed without medicine. But, everyone who came was cared for. Thank you all!
Dr. Derrick stayed for another two weeks, and with Dr. Lina visited an additional 31 church homes. They went through $5000 worth of medications, put on a lot of miles, and repaired a few tires in their 14-16 hour days. “We saw a little bit of everything”, commented Dr Derrick, “but count me all-in!” Great is your reward! ( see photos)
As the largest provider of orphan care in Cambodia, FCOP, has another record, we have become the largest importer of 40 foot cargo containers of any Non-Government-Organization. During this year of flooding, this “Manna from heaven”, has saved us from disaster. A container of dried fruit arrived from Gleanings for the Hungry, a long time partner and friend, they are greatly loved in Cambodia. Lou Binninger, of Yuba City, California takes care of all our shipping arrangements, and even occasionally pays for the freight himself. Bless you all! ( see photos)
I told you that I am no theologian, but with 6000 pastors to train we do need a few. Asian Access takes two to three of our selected leaders into a two year training program. This is our fourth batch, and we had the privilege of attending their graduation and the induction of new trainees last month. ( see photos)
Jenny Robinson spent four fruitful years with us and is greatly missed. We believe she is moving into a new chapter of life and will always be a big supporter of FCOP even though she now lives on the other side of the world. We had to have a going-away celebration for her. Thank you Jenny! ( see photos)
We were not going to do it, but we did. When my mom died in 2006 we gave away most of our inheritance but kept enough to put down a payment on our home located 16 kilometers outside of Phnom Penh. Anyway, it has a pool, and the staff love to come and enjoy it. And, after all the pain they’d been through the past few months, we figured they needed a break, so we bought three turkeys, twelve pizzas, and several hundred cans of beverages, and had “Thanksgiving”. As you can see, I wound up lining up all of the frolicking staff, and shooting them with my imaginary AK-47 for insubordination. They actually conspired to throw me into the pool! A fine time was had by all. ( see photos)
We wish you a very Merry Christmas!
Be blessed! We are!
Ted and Sou Olbrich (Pa Thom and Mak Sou)
and all of those who work so hard,