Dear Friends and Family,
I hope the Catholics don’t send me to hell for performing priestly functions. I anointed the oldest, and only, living WWII veteran in Cambodia, Doyle Billington, with oil for healing. Although we hope he’ll be around for a long time, at age 93 he’s fighting a cancer. Doyle spent three years in the US Army defending the only part of the, now 50, United States to be invaded by Japanese land forces, the Aleutian Islands of Alaska. I said the “Hail Mary” and the “Our Father” with him, and served him communion. He’s still a Catholic, and wanted a Priest to serve him communion and pray with him, but I was the only one available. ( see photos) He said, “You did it just like a Priest.” Jack Chick (The author and publisher of anti-Catholic tracts.) is going to be very disappointed to see either of us in heaven. Sorry Jack! We both plan on being there.
Pastor Ulf Ekman, the very definition of a “Charismaniac” (It takes one to know one!) has become a Catholic. To some, that is like renouncing his faith. I don’t see it that way, One of my best friends in Cambodia is a Catholic Priest, he’s charismatic, and I have no doubt about his salvation. I was led into the Baptism in the Holy Spirit by Catholic Priests in Western Samoa. When Sou and I were first married, the only Christian church in Pakse, Laos, was Catholic. We attended mass. There’s a lot of good truth in mass, it’s just that back then, 45 years ago, they were still delivering it in Latin. But, I just enjoyed the presence of people in worship. I joke with my priest friend, “I don’t mind if you pray to Mary or the Saints, as long as you don’t care if I go straight to the “Boss”.
I know that we “Evangelicals” push the aspect of “personal relationship” with Jesus. I believe that is a great thing, it is essential to move in His power, it’s what lights our evangelical fire, but when I look at the absolutes for being born again, I get “belief in His resurrection” and “acceptance of His Lordship” as the rock solid base requirements. Most Catholics I know have this level of faith, fortunately, it is based in truth. I love their concept of “confession”, and the sanctity of it. We can learn a lot from Catholics, and they greatly benefit when they move into that dynamic of interaction with a living God, with real power, called the “Baptism in the Holy Spirit”.
This is not my “Faith Confession”, but it did seem to reflect reality. ( watch video) Think about it? It is looking at what is in front of you: You have 3000 kids to feed, no rice, a total of $36US in your combined possession, $120,000US in short term debt, (“Gotta get that rice crop in!”) about 50 staff members, unpaid for two weeks, and no food money distributed to the Training Center, with 110 Kids and staff to feed for the month. All this, in front of a week long bank holiday, so that it is impossible to get any help. “Confession Time”: True emotions! if I looked at the circumstances, I could draw no other conclusion: That’s not faith, it’s fear!
( see photo) What if you were not born into Christianity? Would your “faith” be based on your heritage? Would it be the simple acceptance of some doctrine just because it was drilled into you as a kid? Probably, and it’s going to take more than just persuasive speech to get you to change. I can understand that, but denying an observable reality is not faith, it’s dumb! My problems were real, and so is the “faith” held by those in lands that have never heard of Christ. “Jesus loves me this I know “cause the Bible tells me so.” That may work in the Bible Belt, but what about the Buddha Belt? “Buddha loves me this I know “cause the Tipitaka tells me so.” The Hindu Belt? “Vishna (and 33,000,000 other gods) love me this I know “cause the Vedas tells me so.” And, if you”re in the Islamic belt? “Allah loves me this I know “cause the Koran tells me so.” A Jew? “God Loves me this I know “cause the Torah tells me so.” Point? Just this; if you blindly accept a faith, just because you are born into it, you need to be lucky and be born into a Christian family. Regardless, if your faith is blind, you may have a lot in common with Alfred E. Neuman of “Mad Magazine”, Don’t think! Just believe! Hopefully, what you believe is based in reality. Faith, based on truth, will get you across the “finish line”. But, some people are actually afraid to look at reality. I don’t deny the danger of what I’m facing, but I am forced to call on the greater reality of what I am promised, through faith, The reality of manifestation, His power to change circumstances. “The proof of the pudding is in the eating.” I can’t explain it, but it hasn’t failed.
( see photo) So? What about truth? What is Biblical faith? It pertains to reality, and it changes outcomes. That’s neither being persuaded by your circumstances, nor blind acceptance. Real faith looks at that which faces it, and then invokes a reality that supersedes it. Like this painting of George Washington praying. Steve Farrell, Editor and Chief of The Moral Liberal, wrote of, “numberless miracles wherein Washington’s troops were delivered by changes in the elements, impressions in Washington’s heart, the timely discovery of traitors, the sparing of the general’s life when surely he should have perished, and in that instant wherein the “just God who presides over the destinies of nations … raise[d] up friends to fight our battles for us,” even the French, rich Jewish merchants, financiers in Holland, a number of leading British Statesmen such as Chatham and Burke, and still others.” You can call it “Luck”, but if you’ve lived it for years (as Sou and I have in Cambodia) that would make you an idiot at best. That’s our life, after 15 years we are still here, living day by day, still growing, and still facing constant pressures. I can’t say I enjoy it, but it works!
The greater the opposition, the greater the faith requirement. For people in poverty, learning how to give is one of the greatest “Faith Lessons”. ( see photos) The Tumnup Island believers are among the poorest people in Cambodia. But they are learning this; “Giving is the key to everything!” They won’t stay poor. They had a specific Sunday when all of the farmers brought in a tithe of their produce. They piled it up as an offering to the Lord for the orphans. They will be blessed! According to Deut. 14:19: “I will bless you in all the work of your hands.”
Jenny Robinson came back! ( see photos) She led a team from New Hope Bible College. It seems that a staff change left the team without a leader. The school knew of Jenny, and she was able to get time off from her job to come and lead this team of college students in rebuilding the remote home of Toul Sokrum, near the Vietnam border. They left the home with a beautiful new fence in place, and a bunch of new friends. “Thanks Jenny!” And, “Thanks New Hope!”
One of the first casualties of a tight budget is training. Our lead pastors had not been together for several months, and Sou could sense, in the Spirit, that we needed to do something to re-build the unity and passion of our key leadership team. Despite the cost, we brought together 123 of our divisional and district leaders. Since Sam Tolle is busy with teams, and Errol Faulkes is still recovering from the stoke he suffered, that left Sou and I to do the work. We spent 3 and 1/2 days on “motivation for ministry”, “the role of money”, and “the power of the Spirit”. We hit a nerve! The Holy Spirit took over, and there were confessions and tears of repentance all around. There really is no substitute for a face to face encounter. I don’t believe the “virtual age” can ever replace that. ( see photos)
Lukas Graf, a chemist from Switzerland, is spending two months with us testing our wells. ( see photos) He found an interesting phenomena, we had several wells that were producing potable water from the pump, but it was getting polluted by our sand filters. Through the years, the kids, in bringing water from the pump to the filter, managed to corrupt it with unwashed hands. The filters were making them sick. Lukas developed a large poster showing the bacteria and posted it in every home he tested. Then he cleaned and sterilized the filters where they were needed, and took them out where they weren’t. In several homes, where there is no well water available, we installed the filters donated by “Waters of Marah”. These military grade filters produce enough water for 100 people per day with simple maintenance. They pull water out of fish ponds and produce totally pure water. Great machines! We need some more!
Pa Thom (me) and Mak Sou (Sou) spent the last days of May in the US attending our annual meeting for FCOPI, and the Foursquare Convention in Dallas. Since the meeting was in Texas, we had to look the part. We partook in a Global Missions Conference before the convention, along with a speaking engagement after the convention. We were gone for 12 days. Lugging about 800 pounds of calendars and “Ministry Overviews” as excess baggage was the worst part of the trip ( download Ministry Overview 2014) All those we took with us were given away in the display area at the convention. We met a lot of old friends. Sonny and Darlene Weimer came to help run the FCOPI booth, along with several of the FCOPI board members. As a special bit of encouragement, two young women who are planning to come to Cambodia and help FCOP this September, Hannah Lee and Katie Freudenthal, were there to assist us as well. It was a busy and fruitful time. ( see photos)
I feel like the enemy in the cartoon “Rio”. Bulldozers, herbicides, chainsaws, and poison; my favorite things for turning jungle into rice land. So? Just shoot me! The rice farm has been a busy place! The farm crew has been busy clearing 70 acres of new land, and it will be planted this month. Soon to be growing nice green rice! (My redemption?) So far they’ve only dug up two anti-tank mines and a rocket grenade. Thank God, all were duds! The last of the planting of the 500 acres of current production land was finished in late April. It was followed by a five inch rain. This brought the rice out, but it was too deep for the young seedlings and needed to be drained. However, the excessive rain brought dormant land crabs out in force, and with scissor like precision they began clipping off rice, and had to be poisoned. Following that, the rats came out to eat the young seedlings, and our crew got no sleep one night as they put poison around all our fields. The poison was developed in China, and I nicknamed it the “Chinese Three Step”. The rats eat it, take a drink, walk three steps, and keel over, dead! There were thousands of dead rats added to the soil fertility base the next morning. Those are now, “Good rats”. Then it quit raining. So, now we face drought. The long term solution is to develop resevoirs, but we don’t have funds for that, yet (hint). We need all of you to pray for timely rain in Balang. ( see photos)
I could share more, but I need to quit! God bless you! And have a great month! We plan on it, when we get some rain. I know! “Yea of little faith!”
Pa Thom am Mak Sou (Ted & Sou Olbrich)
and those doing all the work, Our Staff !