Hudson Taylor famously said, “God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s supply.”
I know a man who embodies this. Maybe a Hudson Taylor sized biography that has to be written. Nonetheless, I want to share one of the miraculous stories that illustrates the supply God provides to his people doing his work.
This man I am talking about is the pig farmer turned pastor/missionary, Ted Olbrich. Yep, this guy who was called to ministry while studying to be a pig farmer. A man who became a pig farmer at one point. A man who first stepped into the mission field at the age of 52 in 1998. The one who God put to work with his skills in farming and people skills…and his passion for the fullness of God to change a nation.
In 16-years of serving as missionary to Cambodia with Foursquare, he has seen a move of God sweep the nation. The Foursquare church is the fastest growing church in the world in any nation, any church. In 16 years, Ted has seen 6,000 churches/home meetings planted, 106 church/orphan homes established, 18,000 orphans raised, 1 million+ salvations, and the miracles mentioned in the book of Acts over and over again. Yes, that includes the dead being raised, demons cast out, the sick healed and much, much more.
I can speak with some authority that this man is a man of faith. I don’t mean the “faith” teachers that spoil the term. I don’t mean the name it and claim it type of faith. I mean the Hudson Taylor type of faith. The man has always had incredible vision for what God can do. He could see it even as my pastor in a small, rural Chicago suburb. He saw things that no one else did and worked in partnership with God to see them come to fruition. Now, what happened on the scale of a local church in middle America, he is saying on a grand, nationwide scale in this little Southeast Asian country which at the time he arrived was the poorest nation in the world.
He was my pastor, the pastor that sent me to Bible College. I owe my spiritual growth and incredible faith to him in large part. He is a true hero of mine. You know the kinds of heroes that you actually know. They are close enough to you that you know them for the good and bad—not those heroes that are so distant and elevated on pedestals, the people who allow you in and enter your life with mutual benefit.
One reason he is my hero is the incredible strong, raw and sincere faith he has. He lives it. He walks it, and it often stretches him thinner than humanly possible.
In a ministry that cares for thousands of orphans at a time and no constant income stream to count on, the dependency on God to take care of the orphan is faith. Oh, dependency is one of the missiological things we try to avoid. Yeah, avoid like the plague. But how does one avoid this when babies are placed on your doorstep? When this is such an issue in God’s heart, how do we turn away the most dependent the world can offer?
Sometimes dependency is simply unavoidable. And to be honest the ministry in Cambodia is breaking all the rules, or maybe making a whole bunch of new ones, depending on your perspective.
It takes a lot to feed and clothe kids. But they do a fantastic job of working to avoid dependency as they have started 100’s of micro enterprises such as fish ponds, rice fields, pig farms, tractor repair shops, and on the list goes. They are developing these kids into an army of Cambodia’s most fervent followers of Christ. They are meeting urgent needs, and producing a mature person in the process.
But this takes money.
All of this takes money to fund ministry that rescues kids from poverty and much worse. Money to mobilize a church that is growing exponentially. Money that supplies such amazing ministry. This is the exception to the rule of dependency. But where does the money come from.
It comes from the one Hudson Taylor said would supply it.
The best story that illustrates how God is in this came a few years back in this endeavor. Money was thin, and hungry mouths were plentiful. Ted was beside himself on how to keep this ball rolling before the bottom fell out of this dynamic and huge mission that was transforming Cambodia, just read about what kind of nation this was 16 years ago compared to what it is today.
Ted was at the end of his rope, the end of his faith.
The end nearly came when the phone rang.
He picked it up not knowing who was on the other end. Even after talking a moment, he did not know. The man explained that he had recently been on a trip to Cambodia to observe the homes and the ministry happening in the country. This man then went on to explain who he was. Keep in mind, as a missionary who sees many teams come through, it is hard to keep everyone straight. People come and go, and there is no way to keep them all straight, especially when the urgent needs arrest your attention as the bills pile up.
This man who came with a team from Hong Kong explained that he was the Vice President for the Asia branch of the largest bank in the world at that time. He would have called a day earlier but wanted to confirm the funds in the deposit first.
That is right, funds. That magical word. So one starts hoping for a significant number as they continue to listen to the story.
The VP went on to explain what happened the previous day, the day after he returned from Cambodia.
One of his wealthiest clients came for her monthly meeting a few days later than normal. She came later since she had to wait for him to return from his business out of town. So she started asking what it was that the VP was up to.
He explained how he joined a trip observing a ministry that cares for orphans in Cambodia. Her interest was piqued. She thought this was a wonderful place for her philanthropy. You see, this wealthy client was a Singaporean with significant real estate holdings. She wanted to help the children.
The VP objected saying, you see I am a Christian, and we were visiting a Christian ministry. You are a Buddhist. I am not sure you really want to do this. She insisted. The VP went on to describe Ted. He is a crazy man, doing incredible things like taking Buddhist kids and converting them into Christians. She said, stop it. I want to help.
The VP went on saying this man is wild. He wants to save the whole nation of Cambodia. He wants to destroy your religion.
She started to get a bit more insistent, you know the kind that makes the VP of a massive bank start to get antsy. This guy started to worry that he might lose his client, so he changed his posturing. He made sure that she was sure of what she wanted before working out the details.
Now, he is on the phone telling this story to Ted. He says this wealthy woman from Singapore who has no relation to the gospel, no relation to Ted, and has never seen the ministry wants to help.
Help is good, Ted thinks as he waits to hear how.
The VP said how. She is immediately sending one million dollars.
You could have blown Ted over with a feather. Even a man of faith gets blown away from time to time.
There was one condition. The VP relayed to Ted that she never wanted to have her name given or to have to come to Cambodia to meet Ted.
As Ted tells the story, this stuff doesn’t happen, it is unbelievable. But it did happen. He is the recipient of God doing it. This kind of story is meant to build faith, and sometimes it seems to only overwhelm those of us with normal faith. We say, this will never happen to us.
I am not telling this story to set up some kind of formula for God’s blessings. I am telling this story to encourage the hearts of those that follow a missionary God. I want to say what Hudson Taylor said.
“God’s Work Done in God’s way will never lack God’s supply.”
What are you believing God for?