Dear Friends and Family,
Enrichment? About 20 years ago a young widow came into my church office. She wanted advice. Her husband had left her several hundred thousand dollars and she asked me, “How do I get rich?” She was strictly talking money, so I responded, “I’m not a wealthy pastor, my previous work experience was going broke as a pig farmer, and you’re asking me how to get rich?” She said, “Well, you’re my pastor and I respect your advice.” I looked back at her and said. “All I can do is tell you that seeking after riches can lead you into traps, but that seeking God first is always best, then ask Him for wisdom”. I gave her a few Bible verses to consider and she thanked me and left. I lost track of her over the years and don’t know how it turned out for her financially. But, I know that as she gave to the Lord she did receive a Godly husband, and her life was enriched. Sou and I are continually thanked for the “Sacrifice” we made in coming to Cambodia. That may seem true from an outside perspective, but we don’t feel that way at all. We are so grateful for the privilege of serving in this position, we feel like the richest people on earth. What you see here is worth more than Gold; these are a few of the new churches started in January. ( see photos) Materially, I own nothing except for a few worn out sets of Camel shirts and blue jeans, but I could not feel more enriched. Giving of yourself is the surest route to blessing. And, for some, that may be making money to support the kingdom of God.
Lest you think that this means I have a peaceful life of tranquility, let me assure you that this is not true. Fact: The level of blessing and fruitfulness of an event in the kingdom of God is directly proportional to the amount of trouble and opposition you have in achieving it. Cambodia is coming to Christ. We were still celebrating Christmas in many of the rural churches during January. In excess of 30,000 people came to Christ, but what then? They need to learn who their new God is and how to minister in His power by the Holy Spirit. We know people are serious about Christ when they cut off the “Sigh Gata’s” (a string with enchantments written on brass or silver rolled around them to keep the barer from all sorts of maladies). We take follow up seriously and so here are a few shots. ( see photos) These devils don’t like being displaced.
So, allow me to tell you about yesterday. Sonny Weimer (FCOPI President) and Errol Faulkes (Advance for Randy Clark meeting) decided to go to the rice farm with me, in order to be out of town for King Sihanouk’s 4 day funeral. We are extending our canals to the river for a year around water supply, which requires miles of ditching and a lot of levees. We went there to; check on the follow up program for the 700 new believers from our Christmas program, close a few land trades, lay out canal work, get six tons of milled rice headed for Phnom Penh, and give some instructions on how to handle new equipment. ( see photos) Nothing went as planned, but all was accomplished.
People often ask me, “What do you do?” This was a rather typical “untypical” day. No two are ever the same. We do a lot of praying. First, there was the large sum of money to fund our upcoming conference that is lost in cyberspace.We pray! We still need to lay in the supplies before Chinese New Year which begins Friday, more prayer. I’m at the rice farm, and the rest of the staff are doing the real work, when the new replacement engine in our excavator lost the flywheel, big problem! (more prayer) We decide to pull out a tractor engine for the excavator, that means three days of modifications. The hydraulic pumps are shot, so, off they come to be rebuilt in Vietnam before Chinese New Year. Next, two of our employees are caught stealing diesel fuel. It turns out that they are two of our orphan kids. What do we do? More prayer, mostly under our breath, in the Holy Spirit. One of our pastors decides to get greedy on a piece of rice land which we’d agreed to buy. Pray again. An equipment operator cut his foot two days before and did not say anything; it is now infected and red streaks are forming up his leg. We clean , treat, medicate, and pray. The bearings go out on our disc plow.That’s so common we just fixed the dumb thing. The clutch went out on the truck used for follow-up training on the new church members. Nothing new there! Then six large dump trucks, with 40 tons of road fill each, get stuck in the one lane road to the rice mill. They are right in front of my car, coming in the opposite direction, just in time for the transmission of my SUV to lock up, if I attempted to reverse. I could only move forward. There we are, nose to nose, and I can’t back up. It’s getting dark and we’re 40 kilometers from town. We pray. A Bulldozer manages to get one truck free enough to dump a load of fill in front of my busted down vehicle, push a path for me to get around, and we limp into town to stop one foot in front of the repair shop. The transmission completely locks up. The next morning we order the replacement transmission from Phnom Penh, 400 kilometers away, for $800US, as we travel toward the Vietnam border via Phnom Penh with the hydraulic pumps in search of our new excavator engine.
Why so much opposition? Truly, this nation is changing, and the enemy is not happy. The rice farm is a key to our hoped for self sufficiency. It funds ministry. So, how did it all work out? We buy on credit and borrow on hope. We use our own rice and fish, We Recover a rebuildable tractor engine, Paul Mok (our farm manager) who’d been up until 1:00am to receive a land deed delivered by taxi, drove for 12 hours to get the pumps to Vietnam. The kid with the infected foot got cleaned up, prayed for, and put on CIPRO. The thieves were confronted, repented, prayed for and forgiven. A new clutch is being installed on the church truck. And leaders all over Cambodia being trained. ( see photos) The car is being fixed, and tomorrow I take a six hour taxi ride, and then drive it back home to Phnom Penh. The land purchases get negotiated, the deals are cut, and the deeds “thumbed” (most of the farmers cannot write). Prayer works. And that is why we do a lot of it.
Talk about enriching! We really had great team help in January. Living Waters Church from Olympia did a whirlwind two weeks, with no R&R. They worked in about six different locations doing anything that was needed. They built fences, poured concrete, painted, repaired, played games with the kids and became living testimonies to the love of Christ. Viviane and Roland Kirsch, from Luxembourg, brought new life and hope to the Toule Pongro Church/Home. ( see photos)
Having our own rice is great, but does not supply a balanced diet. Even though we try to supply every home with fish, meat and vegetables, it is not always as uniform as required to ensure optimum health. That’s why we are so appreciative of the Nutrition Meals we receive from Reach Now International. We try to make sure that at least one meal is served using one of these products as the main course. These meals supply all the essential nutrition to maintain a healthy life. ( see photos)
Would you please think about this? Assume you are a young woman forced into prostitution because it is the only way you can support your family. (This is a fact for at least 90% of the girls working the “sex trades” in Cambodia). You want to get out, but how? Have someone raid your brothel, arrest the pimps, prosecute the owner, and put you in a rehabilitation center that broadcasts all over the internet that they rescue prostitutes? Who would want that? None of these girls are proud of their past. They need a place where they can be loved, accepted, forgiven, and enriched. We do this by teaching them a trade that will replace the income they lose by exiting the sex trade. We operate like Alcoholics Anonymous. The young women’s past is never mentioned, and she learns like all the other older youth in our homes how to make a living with something like mushroom production, fish culture, and aquaponics. ( see photos) That’s all folks.
Have an enriching month! We will!
Ted & Sou (Pa Thom and Mak Sou) Olbrich
And the real heroes,
Our Cambodian and foreign staff!