Dear Friends and Family,
Persecution is like a “root canal”; it hurts, you hate it, but it does you a whole lot of good. Police in Kompong Channang Province detained some 400 church leaders preventing them from attending our annual convention. Hundreds of others were stopped in various locations. Still over 2000 people were in attendance at the conference, and this year most had to pay their own way. The 400 who were sent back home at Khampong Channang called in saying, “We fixed them! They sent us home so we went to the villages that didn’t know Christ and got hundreds more born again, baptized in water and filled with the Spirit!” Now, that’s what we wanted to come out of the convention, and these guys didn’t even get to attend! The conference just finished on March 2nd, so we’ll have more details later. We want to thank Sonny Weimer and Bill and David Norton for bringing their ministry team. I honestly don’t believe one Cambodian in attendance left without being filled with the Holy Spirit and knowing how to operate in His power. We saw deaf mutes hearing and talking, lame walking and dozens of other healings that defy a natural explanation. You may draw your own conclusions, but take a look. ( see photos)
There is a book I read somewhere that stated, “Those unwilling to work will not get to eat.” We want our kids, at every church home, not only to help with chores, but also to learn life skills that will make them productive Cambodian citizens. I started working at age six, in the early 1950’s, assembling milking machines for the twice per day milking of our dairy herd. By age ten I was operating the largest farm equipment available at that time. During high school I’d be up and have the corn silage fed to the herd of replacement heifers before school, and on Saturdays? I pitched “you know what” with a five tine fork for much of the day. Today, UNICEF and CNN would accuse my father of “modern day slavery.” What a crock! On the farm, especially during harvest and planting, everyone did whatever was necessary to get the crop in. I learned to work, think on my feet, and innovate. And, if I controlled the destiny of every young, able bodied, person on earth, they’d learn to navigate life at the narrow end of a five-tine fork as well, rather than on a keyboard playing video games. Talk about slavery? There is nothing worse than video game addiction. CNN loves to run a clip showing kids cutting cocoa pods as though it were the ultimate modern day evil. Instead, they should show a clip of some brain dead kid staring at an electronic game screen who can’t even sweep a floor. The harvesting of most crops in Cambodia, from rice to fish, is very labor-intensive. On Cambodian farms the whole family, together with friends and neighbors help out. We do the same at our Church Homes. Everyone has a daily chore, and when its time to harvest fish, or some other crop, they may work hard for a few days. I make no apologies. It teaches them self-worth, the value of accomplishment, enjoyment from the fruit of their labors, how to work as family, and life skills that follow them all of their days. You can see the positive pride in their faces as they all help out. ( see photos) You think I’m a “slave-master”? Check out the fruits of our results in about ten years!
After hearing that his obituary had been published in a New York newspaper, Mark Twain commented, “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated!” The same could be said of a report in a local English speaking newspaper that 70 FCOP Church Homes were being closed. The cause of the entire melee was a mis-translated quote picked up by a non-Cambodian speaking journalist after a speech that was given at the presentation of a UN funded study on orphan care in Cambodia. Last month we ran the story of these government officials coming to our center to congratulate us for the high standard of care at our national Training Center. We do not run orphanages. We run churches, always have, always will! And healthy churches care for the homeless. That’s why we requested that only one home per province be officially designated by the government as an “Orphan Home”. All our remaining Church Homes are simply that, Church Homes. The only thing that has changed is the terminology, but when the announcement was made that we were changing this designation, somehow it got picked up that we were “Closing”. Nothing has operationally been changed, no kids are being moved, and no homes have closed. In fact, the government brought us six new orphans last week. In response to the English newspaper article the Cambodian Prime Minister, Hun Sen, and the US Embassy inquired, almost immediately, about the truthfulness of the article. Both were assured by the Director of MOSCOV (Ministry of Social Concerns) that none of the FCOP homes are being closed. This information was conveyed by the US Ambassador to the State Department in Washington DC. A press conference that explained the truth was held a few days later. It was shown on all major TV networks in Cambodia, which reported favorably on FCOP. This is how the Cambodian media told the story, not a propaganda piece done by us! Here is an officially translated excerpt: ( See video)
A ‘hot time’ was had at the Chhuk Church/Home. We just got done refurbishing the place and noticed that a persisting roof leak was caused by a structural weakness in the roof trusses. A contractor came and was welding on some truss reinforcement steel when a spark flew through the ceiling hatch and ignited a mattress. The entire top floor was burned ruining all the beds, clothing and personal effects of the kids. Pastor So Sonet also kept the funds for monthly support in a steel strongbox, which was not insulated, $6000 was turned into ashes. Fortunately no one was hurt, and relief supplies were sent the next morning. Our contractor realized he was at fault and offered to help as much as possible, but there is no insurance for this in Cambodia. The ministry of Social Concerns helped us with emergency blankets for the first night, and the Living Water Church raised $4000 to help with the rebuilding, which is now nearing completion. Its great to have a family when you get into trouble! ( see photos)
Nine American military personnel and our two Cambodian doctors, with Jork and Sam Tolle as FCOP team leaders held a five-day medical clinic in a remote location of Tumnup Island. The team saw slightly more than 1000 patients and ministered to three villages that had never heard the gospel message. In these three towns 250 people received Christ. The Guam medical contingent was led by a former B-2 bomber pilot turned surgeon, Dr. Scott Hughes, who brought four of his family members with him, the team did work on people that most teams would not touch. Prayer always came first and when what they had was not adequate, we helped refer them to better treatment, but the Great Physician always came through. In one miraculous demonstration of power a woman with diagnosed and tested advanced hepatitis “B” received prayer and was re-tested and found to be completely free of the disease. We thank these volunteers and the Foursquare Foundation for making this practical demonstration of Christ’s ministry visible in an unreached region. (see photos)
Eugene Faith Center brought over a familiarization team and toured our work around the country to discover the best ways to provide continuing assistance. They already provide support for Bar-One Ministries that is helping us with pastoral training. They have been good supporters through the years and Pastor Steve Overman serves on the FCOP International board. Thank you! ( see photos)
Speaking of long-term support! One of our chief benefactors has been “Reach Now International” who, through the assistance of Lou Binninger, handles all our shipping arrangements, has sent us more than 100 tons of rice nutrition meals called, “Manna Packs”, over the past two years. The product, furnished by Feed My Starving Children, supplies a completely balanced diet with one feeding per day. These meals have literally been lifesavers by filling the gaps in our production impaired through drought and floods. The kids have learned to make a morning porridge out of the product, and it really gives them a great start for the day. You can visit any of our Church Homes and pick our kids out of the general population simply by noticing their general appearance and skin tone. They are simply healthier than the average person, and much of that is due to the good nutrition of the “Manna Pack”. ( see photos)
Marriage in Cambodia is a troubled institution. It is not uncommon for women to be left with several children as Dad takes off with a new mate. Mom sometimes leaves these kids as she finds a new, “Mr. Right”. They wind up at our Church Homes. Often, we take in an abandoned wife with possibly a half dozen kids and no support. We put mom to work on staff, and the kids in the home, the family is in tact. The failure to recognize the need of these people is part of the bloviating hypocrisy of UNICEF. They condemn us for not having only double orphans, and claim that kids are better off with their “nuclear family” – a concept we fully support! But, what happens when the nuclear family gets nuked? They have no options for kids that are abandoned other than “foster care.” Talk about “Modern day Slavery”! There is virtually no supervision of foster care, and the “Cinderella Syndrome” is practically universal in Cambodia. UNICEF can’t seem to recognize that the reason we keep our homes small, local, well supervised, and totally accountable is to provide an extended family atmosphere. UNICEF seems lost in a, “La-la land of huge institutions” which they have failed to run effectively (go to the FCOPI website, click on the “Updates” tab and look at paragraph three of the November 2011 report). With help from the ‘Living Water Church,” we decided to go at the root of the problem, and put our young pastors through a weeklong intensive training on marriage. If we keep the families together we’ll soon have fewer kids to care for. ( see photos) That will make all of us happy, including UNICEF.
That should get me into enough trouble for one month! Be blessed! We are!
Ted (Pa Thom) and Sou (Mak Sou) Olbrich
And those who do all the work: Our Staff!