Dear friends and Family,
Watching a flood flow in from incrementally rising rivers is kind of like slow death, it’s painful, it progresses relentlessly, there’s very little you can do about it, and it leaves a terrible mess. There’s bad news from Cambodia this month. But, more importantly, some fantastic news! Make sure you check our website: www.fcopi.org
If you are like me your heart is so jaded, scarred, and emotionally beat up from reacting to this year’s ravages of nature that the last thing we want to hear about is another ‘Disaster’. Except, this is ‘My Disaster’. Strange how hardened we can become after being so mentally jerked around, and then when it happens to us, expect everyone else to respond with great sympathy. So, if you are not moved to tears, I understand. It’s just that when you read about someone’s house burning down, it’s just another news story, but when yours burns down, it’s personal. We’ve been flooded in Cambodia, the worst since the year 2000 (which were the 100 year floods). (See Photos) Much of our rice has been underwater, some has died, and the yield will be reduced. About 50% of our homes have been damaged; roofs, walkways, floors, and paint need repair. Seven homes had to be evacuated for a couple of weeks, four received major damage (structural stuff). Yet, no lives were lost, and when you compare our pain with that of Japan, it almost makes me ashamed to ask for help. It’s just that I really have nowhere else to go. There is no disaster aid in Cambodia, no welfare, no family assistance, nothing except a bunch of officials with their hands outstretched for more of whatever they think they can get. So, is it worth it? You decide, but before you do, please read the following.
I had to go to Norway to find this out. I knew we were growing at a phenomenal rate, but had no idea it was as good as was reported in two recent books. “The Atlas of Global Christianity”, published by Edinburgh University for the 100 Year World Missions Conference in 2010, and “Operation World”, a 1240 page book published in 2010 as a guide to world mission organizations and their effectiveness. Both books showed Cambodia with the fastest growing Christian Church movement in the world, and in “Operation World” it lists the leading church movements in each country. Take a look at the fastest growing national church movement in the world! And, these reported figures only show 25% of our current reality. (Click Here)
How is this happening? Currently, much of our growth is through the Young Tigers, Lions, and Fisherman; Spirit filled youth teams that are seeing the Book of Acts come alive in Cambodia. (See Photos) They actually have youth from other church organizations asking to join them, and we are accepting them with open arms and not asking them to join our church. They go out in one weekend and leave behind hundreds of new Christians, most baptized in water and filled with the Holy Spirit. At least a dozen new churches are established each month. The above link shows the fruit from one small group, and there are more than 24 of these events going on each month. I know most people hear this talk and think I am exaggerating, but as Naret, our Chief of Staff, puts it, “Pa we understate the numbers to keep the government from getting nervous.” The most common question I receive in Western countries which I visit is this: “How come we don’t see this kind of move of God in our country?” I realize that often the answer has been that the people here have no other option but to turn to God, but it is more than that. I think the following three factors are the key:
1. All Cambodians are fully aware of spiritual reality. Even the vilest heathens believe in the spirit realm. The leader of a kidnapping ring had a belt made by a shaman from a dried human fetus that was supposed to make him bullet proof. The police had to shoot him nine times before he died. Point? Cambodians don’t have any problem connecting physical conditions to spiritual causes, thus, in a sense, even non believers in Cambodia have more faith in the power of the Spirit than people who have been sitting in church pews for decades who don’t believe in spiritual power.
2. Cambodian Christian Youth have no shame in being “Spirit Filled.” In the “West” they fear being mocked, but in Cambodia being filled with the Holy Spirit and speaking in other tongues carries no more stigma than someone in the U.S. practicing transcendental meditation.
3. Believers in the Cambodian Foursquare Church are taught that because they are born again and filled with the Holy Spirit they are fully qualified to minister in all the power that Jesus Himself manifested. In other words they are not self condemned over some disqualifying performance issue in their lives. Most Christians feel they are unable to function because they have sinned (they are like cars with clogged fuel filters). They’re convinced they have done some disqualifying evil, not studied enough, prayed enough, or believed hard enough. Well, we feel the Bible tells us that Jesus took care of that on the cross, and our filters are not plugged up with guilt. When sin comes we confess it, repent, and get on with life. These kids know how to let the Holy Spirit flow. 1Jn 3:20-21
We link Spirit led evangelism with the meeting of urgent needs (Titus 3:14). This is often done through the help of grant funding. The fruitfulness which comes from moving in a way that connects people with God and also meets their needs is electrifying. The community sees how the church meets human need, and they are open to the Gospel of Christ. Example? How do you connect crickets with the Gospel? Well, French fried crickets sell for $5.00 US per kilogram. District Supervisor Heang brings in local pastors and church members to train them in spiritual truth, but also sends them home with a new and profitable way for them to be bi-vocational pastors. Cricket farming for fun and profit gives them plenty of time for preaching the ‘Good News’. (See Photos) “We will show you are faith by what we do.”
Teaching the concept of a practical, living, gospel is a constant road show. Preventing the Cambodian Foursquare Church from becoming just another religious institution is a continuous battle. Pastor Peter is on the road every month refreshing the faith of discouraged pastors. (See Photos) If we trade in being “Spirit led” for a “religious doctrine” we are dead as a movement. It is as simple as that.
Meeting needs is often very practical. One example is our “Tractor Factory”. It was started to teach older orphans, who did not qualify for or desire higher educational training, a skill in heavy equipment mechanics. Old tractors were purchased or donated from America and the kids learned by rebuilding every part on them under the supervision of experienced mechanics. Soon, we discovered that Cambodian farmers wanted to purchase these refurbished tractors as it gave them good equipment at a reasonable price. The kids found they could make money doing this, that not only earned them a wage, but provided income to support their younger brothers and sisters in the orphan homes. And, every place a tractor went the Gospel followed, as the Spirit filled service staff traveled to repair and deliver product they leaked their faith as they went. (See Photos)
Demonstrating servant leadership by a team of Swiss church members by rebuilding a church home that has been devastated by incessant rain and the recent fighting on the Thai border was not an easy task. Odarmeanchy is a far cry from the order and sanitation of Switzerland. Despite rain and sloggingly slow progress due to the hard conditions they prevailed and left the church with a new fence and new hope. Thanks! You guys are heroes! (See Photos)
With reduced rice production we continue to rely upon donated food items to meet the needs of the orphans and widows. We are grateful to Gleanings for the Hungry, Reach Now International, and Feed My Starving Children for their generous help! (See Photos)
That’s it for this month. Remember, we really do value all of you. This could not happen without your help. Thank You!
Ted & Sou Olbrich (Pa Thom & Mak Sou )
And those who do all the work. Our Staff!