Dear Friends and Family,
“All things are possible!” so the Book says, but reality does challenge your senses, and especially your faith. Here is a silly example. Now, I’m not especially proud of the fact, but with the help of bulldozers, chainsaws, herbicides and dynamite, I’ve probably killed more trees than Paul Bunyan. Who would think that I would find myself allied with Al Gore and the “Tree huggers”? A shockingly true fact!
I had just returned from the “Souls” meeting in Germany (not silly) with BarOne Ministries which has helped us reach out to the Cambodian people with a simple but profound message that, “God loves you and wants you back in relationship!” This is a radical departure from the traditional position that they are “Sinners headed for hell without being converted!” This new teaching perspective has been a major factor in the huge growth response we have seen in the CambodianChurch . http://www.missionreports.com/
Anyway, back to my story of kinship with Al Gore and the “Tree Huggers”. When I returned, I found my lovely wife, Mak Sou, sawing down my favorite row of shade trees. Her reason? She said, “The blossoms are giving me a headache!” Now, I sniffed the blossoms, and they smell like fresh alfalfa, one of the favorite aromas in my memory bank! She was deceived! Who convinced her of this lie? I immediately became 羨l Gorian’ and clung to the next tree in line. Granted, the pictures are partially staged. I am happy to report that Mak has been delivered of this murderous deception and the slaughter abated. She found redemption by planting new mango trees, but you need to see this. It illustrates a more serious point. http://www.missionreports.com/
It was an impossible situation. Two months ago the pastor at Chom Kassan had illegally sold off part of the church property, stripped the church of all fixtures and furniture, sent the orphans to another home, and took off, leaving virtually zero membership. The “Young Lions” went to check it out and pray. We sent up our staff to rebuild the home, and while they were there God brought a committed former member out of the jungle to pastor the church. The orphans returned. Then the “Young Tigers” went for a few days of teaching. The place was so full they had to rent chairs and put the overflow crowd under trees outside. Hundreds were baptized and filled with the Spirit. http://www.missionreports.com/
This was a month of redemption. In another location we had an equally difficult mess. The pastor of a church decided to “Go for the money”. He left the church in his wife’s care and went to driving a tour bus. She’s a great preacher, but life was hard. “Young Lions” to the rescue! Their engines overheated on the trip, the building was too small, but they have no fear, and they are unashamed of the fullness of the gospel. Using the back of their van for a poster board, they went to work! Seventy-two new church members were added in one day. Some of the crowd had to be diverted to the outside for lack of space. Life has triumphed! And the deceived pastor? Well, he’s looking for a way to break his bus contract, and come back to his first love. “Green” shoots! http://www.missionreports.com/
We were at the edge of the abyss. The economy is rotten, giving was down, we were broke, borrowed to the max, hocked to the hilt, I was up against a deadline for the payment on an essential rice seeder, 2500 kids needed new uniforms, shoes, and books to start school, and the demands for home renovation were pressing in from every province. We were doing our best with older orphan kids and staff performing the work without external help. http://www.missionreports.com/
What do you do with 60,000 new followers of Jesus Christ located on one island? Most of them can’t read! Impossible? No! “Piece of cake” with the “Proclaimer” Bibles that are solar powered recorders which play two versions of the Cambodian Bible at the tap of a finger. They put out enough volume for 30 people to listen, which just happens to be the size of the average Home Church . We have so many people to baptize that the “Young Tigers, Lions and Fisherman” have kept up steady training trips. We received a grant from The Foursquare Foundation for Baptism Evangelism, but our first 15% funding was burned up before it arrived. We’re “Paying it forward” until our next installment lands in November. It’s become the “Green” Island. (Make sure you check out both pages of this link)http://www.missionreports.com/
“Tigers, Lions and Fisherman” look out! The women have arrived! Not to be out done by the orphans who have become pastors (Young Tigers), the youth who decided they could minister in the Spirit as well, (Young Lions) and the Junior High kids who would not just sit and watch, (The Young Fisherman) our women decided something special was needed to minister to the new believers in several areas of Cambodia. They formed up a group called “Deborah’s Warriors”.http://www.missionreports.com/
Pure joy! To see 83 young people trained in music, filled with the Holy Spirit, and sent back to their home churches with the enthusiasm of apostles in the book of Acts, has got to lift your heart. They had a graduation celebration and it was just plain fun. One young orphan boy came in barely tall enough to see the keyboard. We told him he was not old enough, and should go back to his church/home to wait a few years. He was determined. “I can do it! Just give me a chance!” We did, and he didn’t disappoint. He is one of our top students. Again, we wait for Foundation funds to buy more keyboards, but the students need to come back for three more sessions of training, so we’ll give the rest out at that time. The attachments they formed with each other over the summer were so strong, it broke my heart to see their tears as they separated, but they’ll be back, and their churches forever changed! Incidentally, the traditional dance (you see in the following link) is one adapted from Cambodian folklore that shows the devil getting his rear end kicked by a pure hearted princess. Fun to watch, better to live! http://www.missionreports.com/
Orphans have already suffered the loss of their parents, a horrifying reality. The pain of separation is why we keep our homes local, they are not removed from relatives and friends, overseen by widows and staff, that identify with their loss, at a five to one ratio of children to care givers. The staff are not employees, but members of a church family. We try to keep child numbers down so no more than 40 kids are in any one church/home, to assure that everything is personal, and not institutional. It is a deliberate and focused effort. It makes the FCOP and Warm Blankets model unique in the world. It’s a “Green” revolution that started in Cambodia . www.warmblankets.org And Warm Blankets is now being exported all over the world.
Pain still comes, and when the pastor of a church/home dies, it is the death of a second father. We do what we can to bring comfort, and thank God for multiple staff that can provide consistent love. We lost our pastor at Phnom Koul, Heng Vichet, last month. The members said he died of a broken heart due to his inability to reach more people for Christ, the doctors think it was tuberculosis. Anyway, death is closer in Cambodia . When you build the coffin in the home, and bury your “dad” in a local field, it is good to know that death is swallowed up in victory! Pastor Vichet is in the “Green” valley now! And the kids have a great new pastor. http://www.missionreports.com/
That’s it for this month. Thanks and blessings to all of you who have been so faithful! We simply could not do this without your help! I need to go. I’m feeling kind’a “Green”.
Mak Sou (Sou Olbrich)
Pa Thom (Ted Olbrich)
And those who do all the work,
Our dedicated staff!