Daily Point of Light # 2383 Mar 24, 2003

Ted Olbrich, Country Director of the Cambodian Foursquare Church, met his wife, Sou, while working for the U.S. Embassy in Laos for three years during the Vietnam War. With backgrounds in business and agriculture, the Olbrich’s spent 12 years pastoring in Woodstock, Illinois before going to the mission field. Their three grown children live in the U.S., while their fifteen-year-old daughter lives with them in Cambodia.

Cambodia is enjoying a fragile peace after years of horrific genocide at the hands of the Khmer Rouge. There are an estimated two million orphans, most of whom have lost their parents to AIDS or land mines. Cambodia has the worst AIDS epidemic in Asia, and landmines kill an estimated 100 people a week. The needs are great. In addition to AIDS and land mines, diseases, undrinkable water, poor health care, drought, childbirth complications, poor schools, unemployment, child prostitution and trafficking, and a low literacy rate are just some of the problems for hopelessness in Cambodia children.

Foursquare Church International sent the Olbrich’s from the U.S. as Missionaries in 1999, with the goal of opening Christian Churches – there were no plans to care for orphans. Upon their arrival they came face to face with the overwhelming orphan crises – including people literally leaving orphans on their doorstep. Ted had a vision for a unique model of Church/Orphan homes, adopting James 1:27 as his driving purpose: “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

Since 1999, under the vision and leadership of Pastor Ted and Sou Olbrich,a local non-government-organization, Foursquare Children of Promise, was opened, which now cares for approximately 2,200 orphans and abandoned children, aged from birth to 18 years old, are being cared for and trained in 50 Church/Orphan homes, with 10 more under construction. As part of this unique model, they also train widows to help take care of the orphans. Ted and Sou work closely with Warm Blankets Orphan Care International to secure the provision for the care of the children. In 2002, a National Training Center was completed which trains both children and orphan home staff in skills related to the well being of orphan children.

In addition to the completion of their public education, children are taught English as a second language in each home (the single most valuable skill in finding sustainable employment). Upon completion of their public education, qualified children are assisted in securing scholarships for specialized training in professional careers of their choice. Other older orphan children are placed in apprentice relationships with craftsmen in their community, or brought to The Training Center to be trained in skills, both on site, and in cooperative relationships with other non-government organizations in various areas. The young people are then assisted in finding jobs in their chosen profession. This enables them to be employed in a self-sustaining and productive manner.