Dear Friends and Family,
A guy walks to a bar and takes a stool next to a man having a drink with a dog lying at his feet. He can’t help but notice the dog. It has real gnarly looking skin on his rear quarter, but no fur. “What happened to that dog’s fur?”, inquires the stranger. “Well,” came the reply, ‘He was lying outside under my kitchen window when the frying pan caught on fire. I pitched the burning oil out the window and he got the worst of it. His skin grew back, but no fur.” The stranger looked closer and noticed that the dog only had half a tail. “Did he loose his tail the same time,” he asked? “No, that dog was always so happy he did nothing but wag his tail. I went into the butcher shop to get him a bone last summer. The butcher had a big floor fan running to defrost his freezer; darned if that dog didn’t wag his tail right into that fan”! “Wow! marveled the stranger. “I see he’s missing his left rear leg, did that get cut off with the fan”? The dog’s owner sighed, “No, that happened when he was chasing a rabbit while I was mowing hay. The dumb mutt ran straight into the mower!” The stranger shook his head, “He been through a lot!” The owner scoffed. “Oh that’s not all. He was out hunting with my son and he scared up a bird. My son’s not an experienced hunter, and he shot the bird as soon as it took flight, but he blew off part of the dog’s right ear, blinded his right eye, and broke off his right incisor.” “That is amazing!”, marveled the stranger. “What’s this dog’s name?” The owner looked up from his drink, paused, and answered, “Why, his name’s Lucky”.
I was a driving to the rice farm at about 2:00pm on the second day of the big, five day,”Parchumban” Festival. It’s a day when Cambodian’s honor their dead ancestors, and often drivers are not very sober. I was tooling down the highway 163 kilometers out of Phnom Penh, when a guy who’d pulled over to the other side of the road, probably to to relieve himself, decided to make a u-turn right in front of me. I swerved left to miss him only to be facing an oncoming vehicle, so I swerved back right only to blow my right front tire. Off the road i went, rolled-over, right into a buffalo wallow. My windshield got crushed in the crash and I was strapped into my seat, upside down, in about four feet of dark brown, muddy, water. I had my wits about me enough to release the seat belt, but my head was under water so, I did a flip to the floor which was now my ceiling. I only had about 8 inches of air, so I grabbed a deep breath and tried to reach for the window button only to grab a piece of broken windshield. That didn’t do my hand any good so, I decided to kick out the window. Guess what? The movies are wrong. You can’t kick out a window when you are upside down in water. The water was rising, and all of a sudden, I was at peace. “This is it! I’m finally going to get to die! I’d have preferred clean water, but, It’ll be quick”‘ Then, I noticed light between my seats, and could see much of the back of the car was out of water, so I took a dive under what used to be to top of my seat, and wound up in the rear. I started knocking on a window and a farmer rushed up and opened the rear door. My suitcase came floating out with me. A crowd of about 30 people had gathered.
Some of the first people to come to my aid were church members who recognized me. There is a benefit in having thousands of members all over the country. One of the young men who came up to me had worked in our tractor factory. I answered the questions for the police report and gave him some money to get the car hauled back to Phnom Penh. He flagged down a bus; suggesting I get away before the police got “greedy”. The bus was packed, and I smelled like a wet, musky, water buffalo. The passengers were not very happy, so I sat on the front doorstep for the nest 70 kilometers, with my hand wrapped in my handkerchief. After an hour of this, I noticed one of our pastors flagging down the bus. I called for the driver to “Stop!”. They were very happy to be rid of me. I climbed into the pastor’s car, went about 500 meters and his right front tire blew. The spare was flat. I will not suffer you the details, but finally, at about 8:00pm, I was back in Phnom Penh, getting my hand bandaged. Just call me “Lucky!” (I know, I am blessed to be alive! But, I really am looking forward to heaven!) Our time is not our own. At about 2:25 pm Cambodia (GMT+7 hours) Sou felt an urgent call to pray for a short time, and then she had peace. Others let me know that as well. Maybe I am “Lucky”. ( See Photos)
How do you start a fire that consumes a nation? Obviously, you need a match, I’ll call that the “Holy Spirit” and a striking surface, let’s call that the “Word of God”. But, most importantly, you need fuel. Now, if it were up to me I’d only pick quality kindling. I’d pick rich businessmen, politicians, lawyers, doctors, college professors, generals; you know, people of influence! Right? Well, bummer, I’m wrong again! That’s not God’s choice, “But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence.” (I Cor 1:27-29). So, do you want to find the weakest and most despised? Well, one qualified group is the Cambodian orphans. “Weak, well, OK, I’ll grant you that. But Despised? Who would despise an orphan?” Hey! Did you ever hear of “Karma”? It basically means the culmination of all the “just-deserts” of your previous lifetimes are dumped on your head. So, if you are an orphan, you were a real “jerk” in your last go-around. So, you deserve to suffer! “Weak and despised!” Right? Don’t stand too close, they are just what the Holy Spirit ordered to start a conflagration! ( See Photos)
Mak Sou brought in 93 orphan children from 93 different church homes. They spent all summer learning academic tutoring, music, dance, worship, computer, English, Bible, sports, and most of all the Holy Spirit. They left the Training Center with tears in their eyes, and the fire of God in their bellies, to return to every province of Cambodia. On the last Friday in September the Fire of God fell, and I guarantee this nation will never be the same! Two youth stayed behind to be trained in pastoral ministry and go plant churches. ( See Photos)
Do you want to see what is really going on over here? Then you need to down load the PDF file for our “2013 Ministry Overview”. This is a big file, but it will give you the full scope of the ministry. We generally give these out to visitors, but it is hard to get a copy to all those who would like one. If you are in a slow computer server zone, you may want to skip this as it is 50 MB long. Download File
“FCOP is bankrupt!” So claimed a local provincial radio broadcast after a ‘late to be paid’ staff member complained last month. Now, I hate to ruin the fun of all those looking forward to the funeral party. But, honestly, the best is yet to come. Did you ever see a branch on a vine volunteer to be pruned? I don’t think so. In fact, some of my “Tree hugging” friends claim that they can hear the screams of the trees as branches are being cut. Now, I’m not so sure about that, but John 15:2 does say: “He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” The complainers needed to see what God was doing with the new branches, and they got that opportunity. Now, in 2&1/2 minutes you can see what God did in 2&1/2 months (They even did their own soundtrack) ( See Video)
We were slow in getting our September support out to our staff and homes. We just didn’t see the floods, political demonstrations, (still going on and disrupting the economy) and damage to our rice harvest coming. Anyway, we were fortunate to have each home stocked with extra food, and even though the staff had to wait for their salaries, they were all paid. But the “Hirelings” did come to the surface. “Why do you take care of the orphans first?” They demanded to know. Our response was easy. “You guys eat with the orphans, you have food, shelter and clothing, and you will be paid when we are able. If you can’t live with that, in a sense of service, then you need to move on.” They quit moaning and got back to work, especially after seeing the young people take hold of the power of God. It seems a few of our older supervisors were being pushed by our disgruntled former national leader, who is till trying to steal property. He really does have too much time on his hands! He should try to start a church, not destroy those he once led. The good news is that Mak Sou met with them and began by asking for their forgiveness for being late with their support. This broke the resistance. There was repentance and tears, the cream rose to the top, documents were “thumb printed” and completely destroyed the plans of the enemy, ending with communion ( See Photos)
I don’t know if it was just poor craftsmanship, the builders did not allow the concrete to cure, or if it was just filled beyond capacity, but a Chinese built dam broke upstream from our rice farm as we were about 60% done with what would have been a record harvest. As a result we lost about 35% of our crop. It was rolled flat into the mud by a one meter high wall of water. We tried to salvage what we could, but lost about $60,000 worth of rice. A number of church/homes were flooded, and it’s not over yet as we continue to have heavy rains. ( See Photos and Video). We just ran out of time and money to build the dikes we needed this year. Next year we will be more prepared, but we do need help, as eventually our dream is for this to support the ministry here.
Once more a donor came through with rice nutrition meals. This one even surprised Ted. When asked where it came from? He could only reply. “It must have been God!” Actually, Lou Binninger set it up and even got the shipping handled! Between him, Bill Meyer, and Gleanings for the Hungry our kids continue to be fed despite all the devils plans! ( See Photos)
We’re not dead yet! One sign of life was the team from “The Cannon Mine Men’s Group” out of the Flat Irons Church in Lafayette, CO. The team was led by Ted and Sous’ son Emil. “These guys went to one of our most remote and run down church/homes and made it look like new. The transformation was amazing. The place may have looked like a haunted house when they arrived but it’s the prettiest building in the area now” says Sam Tolle, team leader. They repaired ceilings, walls, fences, bathrooms, gates, sewer systems, and the driveway. Please send more teams like this! We love these guys! ( See Photos)
It is always refreshing to see a dedicated church like Koinonia Fellowship, Hanford, CA come and pay a visit. This was a father-daughter team made up of Michael and Lacee Nordstrom that left the home greatly encouraged and well supplied. Thanks! ( See Photos)
Pa Thom (Ted) went to speak to leaders, churches, and interested support groups in Colorado and California for a couple of weeks inSeptember. He was explaining a machine he needed to build in order to plant sprouted rice seed to Rice Farm Manager, Paul Mok. He assumed they would have to build it. As he was driving down the road in Colorado, the perfect machine, built fifty years ago and kept in storage, had been pulled outside by the owner, and was sitting by the road where Ted spotted it. It had only been use once and is like new. The owner gave it to FCOP along with, a V-ditch plow, gravity wagons, and an 800 ton storage bin with dryer. Pa also came back with two Ford 4X4 pick-up trucks, a lime crusher, conveyer belt, and best of all a couple of new church/home sponsors. It was a good trip! (Honestly, we do need a few more church/home sponsors.) See Photos.
Be blessed and encouraged! We are!
Pa Thom and Mak Sou (Ted and Sou Olbrich)
And,those doing all the work, Our Staff!