Dear Friends and Family,
All farmers are gamblers, maybe that is a vital component for “People of faith”? The ones who survive learn to cover their bets. Its kind of like the guy who didn’t like losing, so, he became both a veterinarian and a taxidermist. No matter what happened, either way, you always got your dog back. We are working hard to make FCOP self sufficient through rice production. The problem is we are either facing drought or flood, with a few good months in the middle. The key is to always get our dog back. (In our case, rice crop). The crop looks good so far, we’ve sprayed for bugs, fungus, and weeds, applied fertilizer and will do some more. We have a long ways to go before we’re as confident as our veterinarian friend of a sure win, because it takes dikes, canals, reservoirs, time, money, machinery, storage, drying, and talent. We are on the way, but we need a lot of help before we arrive. The big need this month is for a drying platform. It looks like a runway, 30 feet wide and 1000 feet long, paved with concrete. The wet rice is spread out in a 4 inch layer under the hot sun and turned with a tractor powered rake about once per hour. When dry, or storms threaten, it is quickly picked up and put in wagons with a modified snow-blower. It’s a simple piece of a big puzzle which is waiting for the solution; we’re just $30,000US short of making it happen. Can you help us? This investment will save rice crops for years to come! ( see photos)
We gambled and lost last year, and had to have our bad bets covered by some friends. Since our crop failure last year we’ve been living mostly off of the good will of several donors, Reach Now International, Feed My Starving Children, Gleanings for the Hungry, Stop Hunger Now, New life Church, Church of Living Water, Church of the Open Door, Horizons Church, The Butte County Rice Producers and Far West Rice, and a load from a church in the Phoenix area through Dave Wilkinson. The kids are well fed and the products have saved us. It’s been said, “That anything which does not destroy you makes you stronger”. I get the idea, but I’d like to argue the point. Certainly, this past year has been difficult, but in deference to the axiom, it has produced in us, the need to protect against such vulnerability in the future. Ultimately, we will be better off, as we develop the safeguards against disaster. Right now we are thankful for our friends! ( see video and photos)
The whole point of our existence in Cambodia is to expand the Kingdom of God. And, paradoxically, we are totally out of Bibles. Even with a Foursquare Grant for Bibles the demand far outstrips our ability to supply them. Fortunately, I was able to meet Morgan Jackson, the force behind the organization “Faith Comes by Hearing” on a recent trip to our faithful partners in Union Church in Hong Kong as well as the Nutland Family. These Hong Kong Partners supplied the needs for several churches and purchased needed rice for us during our famine. They even got me into a formal robe for the middle service. Yes, that really is me! ( see photos)
Faith Comes by Hearing (FCBH) has supplied over 3000 “Proclaimers” to FCOP. Each of these units can be heard by up to 300 people and the Bible verses are dramatically read in the local Cambodian, or in some cases, Lao dialect. Since, in the areas the “Proclaimers” are used, the population is 60-80% illiterate, the people are oral learners, and these units are a huge boost. Jim Gleason, the FCBH, Asia Representative was just here, and we anxiously await another shipment of the combination, solar, battery, crank generator and power cord operated units. I think Morgan Jackson took lessons for our veterinarian friend. Under any circumstance, you’re going to get some Bible out! ( see photos)
There were major bets covered with FCOP International and FCOP Cambodia at our annual meeting Orlando. Anyone who knows Cambodian Law understands that Cambodian real estate cannot be owned by foreigners, churches, trusts, not-for-profits, or NGO’s. Property ownership is limited to either Cambodian citizens, or majority Cambodian owned, for-profit, companies. After eight months of effort, several major events have come together. “The Foursquare Holding Company” has been approved by the Cambodian government. It will hold all FCOP property in Cambodia. It is made up of five Cambodian members appointed by FCOP, four members appointed by FCOP International, with a 75% super majority vote needed to buy or sell property. This takes the ownership burden off of Mak Sou, and should silence the critics who claimed she was amassing an empire for herself. The land is secured in perpetuity for the use of the church, since no one group can control it. It was a major accomplishment of our friend, International Lawyer, Jack Young. ( see photos)
How do you build up a beat up generation? Orphans are often ridiculed in Cambodia, mocked as, “Stray Dogs!” , which is a term that would give just about anyone an inferiority complex. But as a child? The results are devastating, unless they get into one of our FCOP homes. They are sent to public school, where the other children will try to pick on them, but with 20-30 brothers and sisters it cuts down on the harassment. How do we hedge this bet? Bring in a team of foreigners. Most of our homes have never had a group of foreigners stay for an extended period of time. The teams help repair walls, build bathrooms, fix up the cafeteria; jobs that are all fine and good. The real benefit? These demur kids, who have been getting kicked around, find new friends that came half-way around the world just to see them. They go to school and all the students demand to know, “Why are all these foreigners coming to see you stray dogs?” The orphans chests puff up and they boldly proclaim. “These are my friends, and they came half way around the world just to see me!” Viktor Frankl wrote: “Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose.” This team from Valley Christian Center in Fresno, CA. changed these kids lives. ( see photos)
Occasionally, it pays to pull a little, “Slight of hand” against the devil. With the average age in Cambodia 23 years old, Satan isn’t prepared for our Young Tigers and Young Lions. They ministered in more locations than I can recall last month, from one side of Cambodia to the other, with Mak Sou coaching them on, leaving behind new groups of “Young Lions” ready to go on the hunt for more lost souls. More than a thousand were saved, baptized in water and filled with the Spirit. It’s nice to win a round once in a while! ( see photos)
Sometimes, it just seems as though the deck is stacked against you. A new life is the only thing that can change your life. Fortunately, we specialize in that. Dhany was kicked down the stairs by her stepfather at age six and was never cared for, her hip was shattered. She dragged herself around on a stick for seven years. The mother divorced the stepfather, but had no money. In the rural town of Steung Treng, there was no help. Tuberculosis of the bones had set in. Dhany was dying. Fortunately Dr. Lina, FCOP Staff Physician, was inspecting our church home in that town, when an egg seller had mercy upon Dhany and brought her to see Dr. Lina. After a lot of prayer, and several surgeries in Phnom Penh, more than 13 pounds of infected tissue was removed; the TB is being treated, and eventually, we anticipate a hip replacement. But, most importantly, she knows the Lord, and is loved and cared for. ( see photos)
Can your luck get any worse? Sometimes it takes and angel to pull you out! Imagine this: You’re a 14 year old girl, sold to a Muslim owned brothel, beaten regularly, and so disoriented you have no idea where home is. You are locked up most of the time, but commanded to clean up the kitchen, when the door is opened for you to carry out garbage. The girl spotted a pick-up truck taxi, put the garbage down, and ran for the truck. She was gone before she was missed. She rode for hours, not having any money to pay the taxi and wanting to get as far away as possible. The taxi made its final stop at the traffic circle near our Center. The driver commanded everyone off the taxi and collected fares as they departed. When the girl couldn’t pay, the driver became angry and began shouting. A tuk-tuk (Motorcycle pulled cart) driver heard the shouting (He was either a church member or an angel – we vote for angel because we don’t t know of any members operating tuk-tuks in that area.) He paid the fare and brought her to our center. She had become dehydrated, to the point of being delirious, bruised from her beatings, and, unbeknownst to her, 6 months pregnant. Dr. Lina put her into our hospital. The first Sunday she received Christ. Lina nursed her to health, and last month she gave birth to Sou Solomon a healthy baby boy. Sou for Mak Sou who authorized her acceptance, and Solomon for Dr. Lina, the wisest man on earth. (see photos)
In my favorite movie of all time, “The left hand of God” Humphrey Bogart rolls dice, shooting craps, with a Chinese warlord for the fate of a Chinese village against five years of his life. He rolls a pair of snake-eyes. (Terrible) The laughing warlord rolls his dice, and gets nothing. When a Catholic priest asks him why he risked so much, Boggy responds, “I had a feeling I wasn’t going to lose!” Somehow, I feel, FCOP is not going to lose.
Be blessed! We are!
Ted and Sou Olbrich (Pa Thom and Mak Sou)
And, all those who make us look so good: