Dear Friends and Family,
“VISION” It’s been a big topic in both Christian and secular realms for at least two decades. Hundreds of books have been written on the subject. I’ve probably read at least a dozen. All of them had at least a few good concepts, some, in my opinion, reduced the subject to a mere ‘planning process’. So, who cares? I do, because I didn’t find any of the books, which I have read, that capture the essence of what I call “Vision”. You see, I don’t believe you can develop “Vision”, it is a gift. Its like faith with a specific point. Even though you don’t see “Vision” with your physical eye, in a way it becomes more real than something you just see. And here is the part I think is unique, you always see “You” in the picture. Vision can inspire nations, it can inspire churches, it can inspire corporations, it inspires individuals, but I don’t believe it is corporately developed. Someone sees it, owns it, and passes it on. Here’s the rub, it can inspire people and be used to lead, even though the followers never really “get it”; they’re just inspired by it, to the point of dying for it (Jesus in the positive, Hitler in the negative). That’s good, but it is also what bothers me. I see Cambodia as a Christian nation, that vision has led our denomination to become the largest Church in the country, yet, how many see Cambodia as a Christian nation as an accomplished reality? To find these people is my most urgent felt need. We train 4000 pastors a month, first 123 leaders are trained at the District and Divisional level. They then, pass it on. ( see photos)
Each of the 123 District and Divisional leaders teach what they have learned to another 30, or more, local leaders. ( see photos) I pray these people of “Vision” are out there. I don’t mean someone who ‘believes in it, ‘will die to see it happen’, or, ‘desires it with all their heart’. I’m looking for a person who knows it is a certain reality, and sees themselves as centrally involved. Here is what I’ve seen, and please forgive me if it sounds self engrandizing; I honestly see it this way. it’s just that I know; this is real! Here is what I’ve seen in my mind, in my dreams, it has become part of me: I see through a thick fog, a lone man on a horse, he is a soldier with a drawn cutlas, somehow I know it is me, though I cannot make out the facial features. I see the rider wheeling the horse left and right looking for the army which follows. Then, through the fog, slowly appears a few mounted officers, then an army, first just a few, then an uncountable, invincible, multitude. I know it is Cambodia.
What happened this Christmas is a good example of what is occurring throughout the nation. Churches were celebrating Christmas well into January. ( see photos) We estimate some 30,000 people, more than half were children, entered into a faith relationship with Christ during our Christmas season. Here is what I am looking for; I was with a land survey team from Fort Morgan, Colorado. We ate dinner at a local restaurant. In the process of ordering our food, I asked the waitress what religion she was. She responded, “Christian”. So, I asked her what church she went to, and she said, “Foursquare”. I told her that I was involved with that church and she asked, “How come I never see you there?” I explained that there were a great number of these churches in Cambodia, and I hadn’t been to her church for a long time. So, I asked her how long she had known Jesus. She responded, “For a few months,” but, she explained, at a recent meeting, during the Christmas season, Jesus appeared to her and asked her to spend her life bringing others to meet Him. Her two children also saw and heard the Lord. Since that time she has led ten of the staff at the restaurant to Christ and many family members and friends.
We are about 150 tons short of meeting our rice needs to feed our orphans and widows for 2012, due to the drought, and then floods, of 2011. So, I encouraged a land survey team to come and do a GPS survey of our 400 acres of rice property. The land is made up of a series of small plots, like random squares on a checker board. Our largest single area is about 65 acres, and if we can gain access, and properly ditch and dike the land, we can easily raise two crops of high yielding rice per year. We wanted a topographical survey, so we would know where to set the levies (for maintenance of water levels) . We had one of the most experienced land surveyors in the world, who had some good equipment, and had built dams all over the globe. The problem is that in this particular area of Cambodia there are no GPS satellites close enough to get good readings, and the surveyor did not have his ‘old fashioned equipment.’ “No problem,” claimed our surgeon turned rice farmer, Dr. Chayya, “We’ll just follow the existing dikes because they are built to water level.” So, we’ve been slinging and pushing dirt for more than a month with our excavator and two dozers. ( see photos) Hopefully we will have about 150 acres ready for double cropping before the rains start. This will really push the capability of our harvesting capacity, as the second crop needs to go into the ground fast. We really need a new, Thai built, rice combine. There is one sitting on the dealer’s lot about 50 kilometers from our rice farm for the discounted price of $76,000. Hint! Please! Hint!
I cannot over emphasize the importance of teams coming to Cambodia. We had great teams this month, and two more showed up while I was leaving for the USA, which I will talk about in the next issue. East Valley Church, Orangevale, California, USA was here and the work they accomplished was astonishing, but I keep telling people that what the work teams do physically, wonderful as it is, is not the greatest value of a team. I know that there is a book circulating which discounts, and even discourages, teams from coming to the field. I could not disagree more! (see photos)
I suppose the way some teams are manipulated, and extorted, by unscrupulous leaders, could make the complaint justifiable, but our leaders are not like that. What teams do, like the team from Living Water Church, Olympia, Washington, USA, is give value to our kids. The fact that the team came thousands of miles just to see them completely destroys the social stigma they are branded with, “You’re an orphan so you were bad in your previous life; you deserve to suffer!”. The kids that these teams come to see become instant celebrities, and it changes their outlook on their ‘self value’ forever; “Someone came half way around the world just to see me!” Keep’em coming!
We received a big ego boost this month. After dueling with UNICEF over the renewal of our “Memorandum of Understanding,” (which gives us license to operate in Cambodia) for most of last year. The head of the Ministry of Social Concerns, and the Secretary of State for Cambodia, paid a lengthy personal visit to our National Training Center, and recognized FCOP as the premiere provider of orphan care in Cambodia; a model for other N.G.O.’s (Non-Government-Organizations) to follow in operational integrity, and relationship. It came as quite s shock after all the opposition we faced from foreign sources. Thank you God! ( see photos)
Personally, I’m a little dizzy (No personal affirmations solicited or allowed!) from all the traveling this past month. I’ve been in Singapore, Hong Kong, twice to the rice farm, once up to Rattanakirri, and now the USA ( I go back to Cambodia Sunday evening). But, I’ve had a great time with good friends at every location. All I can say is, that we love and appreciate all you’ve done for us! Our preliminary audit came through for 2011. I expected to loose money this past year due to our separation from Warm Blankets, and almost passed out when the results showed FCOP gained nearly $200,000 in valuation due to new churches and rice property that were added. God is good to us. Through you! We never take you for granted!
Thanks and blessings!
Pa Thom & Mak Sou (Ted and Sou Olbrich)
And those who do all the work, Our Staff