Dear Friends and Family,
“You fall into a ditch easy and you crawl out hard.” Fifty-three years ago Singapore, the city nation which now has one of the world’s highest per capita incomes, sent a delegation to Phnom Penh, Cambodia to see how to run a city. People earned a living wage, there was a booming middle class, and the communities were kept clean trough a healthy pride valuing relationship above personal advancement. When Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore came to Phnom Penh, Cambodia in the 1960s, he made this comment: “I hope, one day, my city will look like this”. In the next 19 years Cambodia would go from the most prosperous nation in Southeast Asia to the poorest country in the world. This is one of the world’s most phenomenal flip-flops. (For those interested, here is a link showing 1960 era Cambodian industry. It is long but worth a watch when you have time. See video)
For the past 20 years Cambodia has made significant progress in crawling back but, when the soul of a nation is destroyed, it is slow. Think about the concept of a nation self destructing to the point of one-third of the population being destroyed, often through betrayal and false accusation. Then consider what that would do to the concept of “community”. Cambodia became a nation of self serving survivalists. Lack of trust is one the biggest hurdles to not only the economic development but, more importantly, social development. We’ve found that best way to teach this is to demonstrate it through teams. This month the Vikings invaded from Norway, bringing medical and physical help through cooperative effort. ( see photos)
We went to a village to drill a well, upon arrival we found two non-functioning wells drilled by the UN several years earlier. We asked, “Has anyone tried to repair these wells?” The answer was a shockingly quick and simple, “No”. The obvious follow-up, “Why?” was just as quick and the answer very revealing. “If we fix the well our neighbors will just break it and we will lose our money.” There was no concept of working together as a community to repair the wells by sharing the cost. Why? Because: 1) No commanding authority required them to contribute and took charge of the project. 2) They would not trust anyone to collect the funds and use them with integrity. This is a major role of the church. Often just a social event will break bondages of bitterness and open people to healing entire communities. Again, this is “Better felt than telt”. ( see photos) The Nutland family from Union Church in Hong Kong has been the catalyst of change in the community of Oral.
The Director of The Cambodian Development Council came to inspect the land holdings of FCOP and was so impressed with what can be done he is inviting the Ministry of Agriculture to come for a look. ( see photos) Our selfish motive in this is to make FCOP self sufficient through rice production. Even this is a demonstration of valuing others more highly than ourselves in that the profits go to support orphans. Small land holdings of rural rice farmers cannot compete with the efficiencies of larger, modern production. The key is to form cooperatives, but this requires a basis of trust. Trust is hard to establish, especially by the government since they have been behind many of the land concessions. It takes institutional authority and that has proven to be a role for the church. Once people come into a relationship with a God who loves, accepts, and forgives them, then they can learn to pass this on to others. Forgiveness is one of the most difficult concepts to be inculcated into the hearts of Cambodian believers, and without forgiveness there can be no trust.
FCOP has undertaken the development of a modern rice朴roduction farm through the acquisition of small land holdings through purchase. This is done on purpose. Rather than accept a large government grant, which would save FCOP hundreds of thousands of dollars but produce bitterness, resentment and jealousy on the part of farmers who lived on the land. The farmers working the land receive a fair price and observe the synergistic result of land assets being combined. Production can go from 2.5 tons per hectare per year to 30 tons per hectare per year. We have to first demonstrate the concept through purchase, then farmers can trust enough to put their land into cooperatives to reproduce the results. What becomes of the farmers? Some of them are employed by the cooperative and others set up micro-enterprises like “aqua-ponics” to make income on their village residential land. ( see photos) Either way they enjoy new found unity and prosperity.
A key component to enhancing rice production is simply leveling the land. Now the land looks as flat as a pancake, but it can drop as much as six inches in 200 yards, and that means many small levees to get relatively flat paddies. So, how do you get three inches of land peeled off of one side of a field and deposited 200 yards away in a smooth three inch layer? The answer does not exist in Cambodia. It is a mechanical monster called a “Chain Scraper”. What’s that? ( see photos)
This 18 ton, 30 foot long monster is too big to drive into a shipping container. So, how do you get a huge machine, too wide to fit into a shipping container, to Cambodia for a reasonable price? A little mechanical magic! Simply flip it on its side, cover the floor of the container with quarter inch steel plate, grease it up with liquid soap and slide it in sideways. Now, in one week we get to unload it. Any ideas?
Could we have a workday? Please! We started this February with King Norodom Sihanouk’s funeral which wiped out most of the first week’s governmental work days, then Chinese New Year blew out another four or five days. Though it is not an official holiday in Cambodia, Valentine’s Day is a favorite of the young people, and our kids from the Chom Chao Church Home came to wish us well. How do you make 400 hot dogs disappear in twenty minutes? Have the 100 orphans show up in mid afternoon ( see photos). After Valentine’s Day, another official holiday, Meak Bochea, takes place one week following the beginning of Chinese new year. The first half of the month was virtually non-functional in attempting to get anything official accomplished. Prices always rise during Chinese new Year with a good 70% of all shops closed for four to five days, but with this holiday, following the Kings funeral, prices for transportation and food were double to triple normal.
In the midst of this we were fortunate enough to have Randy Clark come to our training center to teach us about hearing the voice of the Holy Spirit.We brought in 300 of our key leaders, and though there was nothing they have not experienced in the teaching they did learn how their own gifts can be imparted and how to teach others about hearing the voice of the Spirit. Unfortunately, it cost us twice what a normal event would have due to the holidays. With our staff and local church leaders we had to run a remote video feed to the small church for overflow. Even though the first night was packed, I allowed our orphan kids to sit on the floor and in the aisles. ( see photos)
If you think this stuff is too advanced for kids, you’d better think again. At Friday night prayer following the conference, kids started ministering to kids and virtually every one of them was filled with the Spirit. Adults and youth just stood back and watched in amazement.
A woman named Channy snuck into one of the Randy Clark meetings uninvited. She came to the meetings a desperate woman. Channy saw so many healings taking place she gave her heart to the Lord and was filled with the Holy Spirit. Her home is about 40 kilometers from Phnom Penh where she overheard the local pastor, Meas Meiy, talk about the meetings. Her husband, On Touch, was the local shaman (witch doctor) and he was so demonized that he’d go up into the mountains on several occasions each month and live in caves for days at a time. During these times he would be so tormented he would cut himself on the body and face with rocks. His body became scarred and deformed.
Channy returned home and told her husband about the power she had seen demonstrated and about her new God. He was not interested and was upset because during Channy’s absence the family’s six cows had been lost. Channy, now knowing the Lord, prayed for His help. That night she heard the Lord tell her where the cows would be found at the foot of a nearby mountain. It was midnight but she followed His word and found the Cows just as He had said. On Touch was so impressed by this he began to ask about this God when the Lord gave him the name, “Meas Meiy”. Just then in walked Pastor Meas Meiy, a man he’d never before met. On Touch received Christ and began hauling out his mounds of shrines, idols, and anything related to his spirit practice and burned them. ( see photos ) The Lord’s peace came over him and within days all his deformities and scars had healed. He has led most of his extended family to Christ and one relative, born deaf was healed instantly and many other healings took place.
The Young Lions , our Spirit filled youth, received such a boost from the Randy Clark meetings they decided to travel to a remote part of Cambodia inhabited by eight different hill tribes. They began to minister freedom and healing and the Holy Spirit took over. Everyone at the meeting was born again, baptized with water, and filled with the Holy Spirit. It is best seen: ( see video)
This is way too Long! Sorry about that!
Be Blessed! We look for that as well!
Ted and Sou Olbrich (Pa Thom and Mak Sou)
and those doing all the work,