As we sat on the front row of folding chairs in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, with Foursquare missionaries Ted and Sou Olbrich, James Craft and I had the opportunity to share in the joy of their ministry. During a presentation by the children from one of the 106 Foursquare orphanages in Cambodia, Ted and Sou pointed out kids like Joseph (who was one day old when his mother handed him to a Foursquare pastor visiting a local hospital—she never came back), and Nazareth (who was left in a basket near the marketplace at around two months of age) among others!
The Foursquare Children of Promise ministry has rescued more than 3,000 orphans in Cambodia, and all have a story. But the ending chapters of their book will lead to a different conclusion than the devil planned. Several are in medical school, others are training for law, many are getting technical training, and 75 percent have said they have been called to vocational ministry!
Some have physical scars of abuse; others have wounds that can’t easily be seen. But they are learning to tell their stories of how, despite being abandoned, they had an encounter with the kind of gospel that drives out demons, heals the sick, feeds hungry bellies, provides a safe and loving family environment, trains hands to plant rice and to worship. These kids can pray, too!
Widows (700 of them) also are engaged in meaningful ministry helping to serve and care for the children. This purposeful outreach is changing the face of this third world country. Foursquare Cambodia has grown from one Foursquare church 10 years ago to more than 2,500 house churches. During our trip, James and I visited an island whose population of 10,000 people had no Christians five years ago. Today, over 5,000 of the residents of the same island proclaim the gospel. It’s “Book of Acts” kind of stuff!
The Khmer Rouge took Peter Uoncchayvra, who today is president of Foursquare Cambodia, from his family during the devastating years of the 1970s and 80s. During this period, over 30 percent of the population of Cambodia was wiped out by a scheme to eradicate the educated and trained people of the country. This radical group killed Peter’s father. One of the district supervisors whom Peter oversees was once a high ranking Khmer Rouge official. Led to the Lord by a “road to Damascus” experience, this former army officer was gloriously converted and his eight children are now all in Foursquare ministry … just amazing!
The effects of sin include abandonment. The purpose of the gospel is adoption. The kingdom of darkness works feverishly to create “fatherless generations.” The church must commit itself to a parenting culture, both spiritually and physically. Our counter-offensive will result in multitudes that one day will be able to sing the old hymn, “I Love to Tell the Story.” Thanks, Ted and Sou, for pouring out your lives so that others will have a story to tell: I think it’s called “a testimony!” Can I get a witness?
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” -James 1:27 (NIV)