Dear Friends and Family,
“Curiosity killed the cat.” It’s an old maxim but I have a feeling the writer had more on his mind than dead cats. Human minds were the subject. If we have a knowledge vacuum, our natural tendency is to fill it with whatever fits our fancy. Rumors and gossip become the by-products. This human weakness was used to defeat the Khmer Rouge. Cambodians lacked any kind of normal weapon, so they relied upon the power of the rumor. At the end of the Khmer Rouge reign, more Khmer Rouge were being killed by the Khmer Rouge than Khmer Rouge killing civilians for suspected disloyalty. My point? Do you want to ruin someone? Start a rumor. My boss and friend, Jim Scott, puts it this way, “Just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you.” That’s why communication is so important in Cambodia, and probably the whole world. Our church leaders absolutely have to know what’s going on or we all become casualties.
Last fall a rumor was started that we were going to close our church homes. Sou and I will die here before that happens! But, that fib caught us off guard. People who wanted us to fail were behind that juicy tidbit. But, it was not until after prevailing against the attempt to close us, that this rumor finally came to the surface. The moral? Communicate, communicate, communicate! We bend over backwards to let people know the truth. We’ve done daily staff meetings and frequent board meetings, but our leaders in Phnom Penh were not in regular contact with our local pastors. Mak Sou decided to visit all 26 Provinces in Cambodia. It keeps rumors from getting out of control. She really worked on re-establishing a personal connection with each pastor.
On her journey, Sou saw the stress and strain, and the wear and tear on homes that have been housing 30+ kids for up to 12 years. We went to work rehabbing; and even with our own crews purchasing the supplies wholesale, we spent over $100,000 on 32 homes just getting them back in shape. Ouch!
Sou also found, to her pleasant surprise, chapters of “Young Lions” opening up all over the country. She was thrilled to find that we were much healthier outside of headquarters than inside. It is a sobering little fact that is causing changes. Go Lions and Tigers! (see photos)
We put this video together for the recent Foursquare Connection so that you can see the seamless integration of the Young Lions’ Spirit empowered ministry and our holistic approach to building the body of Christ. My daughter-in-law, Sandi Olbrich (Tony’s wife) wrote and performed the song, “Miracle.” If you like the song, you can download it from iTunes and other online music stores. (watch video)
The church growth we find here in Cambodia is organic. This story is tragically typical; Dad goes out with the boys and hangs one on; spends the night at the local “institution,” picks up H.I.V., brings it home gives it to Mom. Traditionally, because of the poor general health of the rural population, they’re both dead in a year. That is, before the introduction of the A.I.D.S. “Cocktail” about eight years ago. At first it was very expensive, now Prime Minister Hun Sen has a consortium of funding organizations that pays for the most destitute victims to receive the medication free of charge. Seri Nieng was lucky; even though her husband died of the HIV/AIDS, she received the medication in time and now lives a relatively normal life. A widow at age thirty-two with three children to raise, she works with her older sister who is also a widow with two children. Her sister’s husband died twelve years ago with malaria. Malaria is the number one killer in Cambodia.
That’s two widows and five fatherless children living off a small stand in front of a larger store. These sisters sell fresh coconut milk and gasoline in old soda bottles. On a good day they make five dollars. Their stand is next to a garage where I get my car fixed when I’m in their town. One day, as I was taking the mechanic out to repair the air conditioning unit on our excavator he came to know Christ. I gave him a set of “Comic Book Bibles” which we print in Cambodia. The next time I came back to town, my car limped in with a blown power steering unit. I happened to be carrying two 100 kilogram sacks (that’s 220 pounds each) of odds and ends from the printer’s run of 50,000 Comic Book Biles. As my vehicle was being repaired, the gasoline-selling sisters asked me if I had any more Bibles. Since I had two sacks full of Bibles in my car, I gave them one. As they were talking to me about the stories in the Bible I invited them to our local church; and to help them out, I had them fill my car with gasoline. As I waited for my repairs I noticed that their customers saw them reading the comics and the sisters asked if their customers could have Bibles too. I gave them a sack of the Comic Book Bibles. They started giving them away and in one day, they gave away the entire 100 kilos and asked for more. They have become the two most effective evangelists in the church. (see photos)
Sorry to be late! I just returned from the USA where I attended the Foursquare Connection. I was the Wednesday evening speaker, and though I signed away the rights to the presentation, the prepared copies were gone in minutes after the program ended. I don’t even have one. If you’d like to purchase a copy, try surfing the web. The only thing I can find is a copy of the entire convention for $149 and I don’t think I’m worth that much! If you should find one please let me know. I have two disclaimers before you view it. One, Contrary to the introduction, I never worked for the CIA (I know that those of us working in Laos for various three letter companies during the “Secret War” have a “hard sell” trying to convince everyone, but my official I.D. stated “US Embassy Contract Employee” and I worked for IVS and ADO). Two, I am the one who made the “Fraudulent” decision not to give credit to the Holy Spirit in “Awakening Cambodia”. The movie has been a big help to us, and I have nothing but gratitude and respect for producer Rob Marcarelli and the Foursquare Foundation. I apologize for not making that clearer! (see photo)
We’ve all made wrong decisions and regretted it. But have you ever made the right decision and wondered if it was a mistake? About eight months ago we decided to take Laos for Christ from the “soft underbelly” of Cambodia. All hell broke loose. In an attack that is vicious, unclean spirits attacked some with what I can only describe as insanity; a few leaders began to bite and devour one another. False accusations started to fly. As we peeled back the layers of the onion, we discovered that we were facing a serious enemy and we needed 24 hour prayer covering. I guess I deserved the pounding, because I ignored a prophetic warning and plowed ahead because we were so busy. “The tyranny of the urgent!” It is the toughest fight Sou and I have been in during our 14 years in Cambodia. Unbelievably, at the same time we are fighting for our lives to reach Laos, we are experiencing unprecedented church growth in Cambodia. The extremes are hard to reconcile. We started prayer centers in May and the enemy’s plans are coming unraveled. New areas of ministry are opening up in Cambodia as we pound against the wall of resistance in Laos. Whole Cambodian villages are coming to Christ. The Church triumphs! It makes me want to shout! The devil isn’t dead, but he’s sure got a sore butt. And we have learned some valuable lessons. (see photos)
We are probably not the best administrators in the world! We overran our constitution. I guess we were so busy we forgot about it. I know that this sounds crazy, but it’s true. We were in ignorance until we went to renew our church license and realized that we had term limits upon our presidency. Whoops! Pastor Peter has been in the harness three years longer than our constitution allows. Peter has been in office for nearly 11 years. So? Now what? Peter’s tired after the long pull and his desire is to prepare teaching materials and train pastors. We need that, so were having a big celebration on June 17th –18th to say “Thank You,” to Peter and Sokha (his wife) for their faithful service to the Cambodian Foursquare Church. Long Khit, our General Supervisor and Vice President, will assume the presidency until we plow through our constitutional process to the next election. Thank You Peter! Job well done! (see photos)
Bad news! Our rice is almost gone! We have only a few tons left to mill. We have distributed enough for the month of June, and we’re looking for a big rice harvest in mid July. But with two ton per day consumption, we’re short. Good news! Our hero’s, Reach Now International, Feed My Starving Children, The Butte County Rice Growers and Far West Rice, along with our old standbys, Gleanings for the Hungry are shipping containers full of Rice, Rice Nutrition Meals, and lots of other valuable commodities that will keep us healthy beyond the harvest. “Thank you!” seems too small an expression to relay our gratitude. May the Lord reward you all! (see photos)
That’s it for this month. Be blessed! We are!
Ted & Sou Olbrich (Pa Thom & Mak Sou)
And those who really deserve the credit! Our staff!