Update: February 2010

Dear Friends and Family,

Humility in a major dose. What does it look like? It can be a little embarrassing, especially when it hits you in front of a couple hundred Witnesses.  There was this work team from one of the largest churches in my denomination, http://www.missionreports.com/korng_pisey_construction  and they were leaving Cambodiaafter two weeks of fruitful service for Olympia, Washington. Their last act before departing was to attend our Friday night prayer meeting at the Cham Chao Church. There are around 150 orphans, staff, and church members in attendance each week. It is a powerful service and it always is a high point for every visitor that has the privilege to attend and see these kids operating in a “Book of Acts” mode. I wanted it to look good!

We’ve had some difficult days this past month. Sou, my wife, and real missionary of the work here, has been afflicted with hypothyroid that seems to defy medical treatment, and Peter, our National Church President, has been suffering with high blood pressure and acid reflux. These attacks on their bodies have given us some heart rending moments. They’ve struggled to keep from caving in to discouragement to the point of despairing of life. Our unity as a team was being challenged. They, with myself, are both key “players” and it is almost impossible to see the work continuing with any one of us out of the picture. I’m sure God has an option; I just don’t know what it is. Last week, Peter had ‘something’ that tried to kill him. He stopped breathing and passed out. Fortunately, all is well, but it sure put a scare in us as we scrambled at three times the speed limit across Phnom Penh to be by his side for prayer. Then, that afternoon Sou received a blood test, it showed that her thyroid activity has actually decreased despite her hormone treatment, she went into a depression that made her want to just ‘check out permanently’. I was convinced we were under a serious ‘spiritual attack’. I was the only one of the three who was healthyI was mad, and determined to go after this “spirit of death and defeat” that was trying to destroy my wife and son-in-the-faith. I wanted a cure, spiritually and physically! It never occurred to me that I could be hosting part of the problem.

Friday nights start with praise and worship. The kid’s voices are not amplified, but the decibel level is almost unbearable. They go into a time of prayer interspersed with songs of praise. This continues as the intensity of the prayer increases. Unscripted, I noticed dozens of kids descending upon me with their hands outstretched. I had been praying for Sou and Peter. Soon, I found myself surrounded by scores of praying orphans, then staff members joined in. All I could think of is, “Great! God, whatever You want to do to break this thing is fine with me!” After several minutes I felt the strength in my legs give way and the hands of the kids laying me gently on the tile floor. They were on top of me, grabbing my head, and lined up six or eight deep surrounding me in intense prayer. I just lay there. Several times I tried to get up only to be knocked flat again. All the team visitors were watching. Suddenly there was this huge release, as though a weight had been lifted from me. I reached out and six or eight orphans lifted me to my feet. Peter read: “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me” (Ps 50:15), I let out a war whoop, and it was over. One of our “Young Tigers” (Former orphans who have since gone into ministry), who had been praying earnestly for me, came up and said “I saw this big black spirit come off of you. It didn’t want to leave, but we wouldn’t stop until it did!”  What a deal! I came to ‘kick devil butt’ and got the devil kicked out of me. Humility? Yup! In spades!

As I reflect. I was a problem. (To all of you nodding in enthusiastic agreement, let’s just keep it to ourselves! Ok? :>) Call it “Pride”, “Stubbornness”, “Co-dependency” or maybe all three? Performance had become more important than relationship. I had let the “Tractor factory” and the manager of it, become an idol of pride that was damaging the church and killing Sou and Peter. It died that night in front of my important guests.  

These “Tigers” are relentless! http://www.missionreports.com/youth_ratta_10  They have been working with eight tribal groups in Rattanakirri (a province up near the Lao/Vietnam borders) and return with hundreds of new believers upon each visit. The Lions (key Church leaders) are just as fruitful. They travel the provinces teaching and equipping new pastors with better results that we can achieve by bringing pastors to our training center. http://www.missionreports.com/teaching_10  Like “Energizer Bunnies”, they never quit! The churches are healthier than they have ever been! At one location more than 200 were led to faith in Christ.

What does love have to do with hepatitis “B”? I know it is a STD, but that is not what I am talking about. We decided to test a couple of kids that had some suspicious symptoms. Wham! Positive! They’ve never been sexually active, never used drugs, but they are all children of parents who worked in the sex industry. We tested more kids. Ouch, more positives! In fact, of the 120 kids tested we found seven “Hep B” positive orphans. We need vaccines for the negative kids, treatments for the positive kids, and testing equipment for the thousands that have not yet been checked. The reason we have not checked them before is the cost. We need laboratory testing equipment; roughly, around $34,000 worth, and then vaccines that could run nearly $90,000. That is not something we had counted on. It is a blindside blast that only a commitment of love can heal. Warm Blankets Orphan Care International is working continually trying to find donors to purchase these needed medications. ‘Hep B’ is nasty, and can only be treated, not cured unless it is miraculous. Kids that are positive have to face life long régimes that may affect their prospect for marriage, child bearing, and certainly life style and life expectancy. These kids did not make bad choices, their parents did. We need to love them enough to see that their lives can be as normal as possible.

This is just one of the medical challenges that we face. Teams from all over the world are coming to help in various ways. Medical Teams International is a major partner and dental care a major need.http://www.missionreports.com/dental_ouambel   They just finished treating ten church/homes over near the Thai border. Bless you guys!

Speaking of testing, the last time I went to the States I dragged back a soil testing kit. It’s a suitcase sized collection of test tubes, chemicals, flow charts and color swatches. I tested 15 samples from our rice farm in Balang. Yikes! I can see what 2000 years of farming without re-supplying nutrients can do to soil. Some levels were so low they would not even register a trace amount. Basically we need everything. The good news is that we can treat it, and I know how. All I need is a few hundred tons of various fertilizers. Our rice fields, which only yielded 1.5 tons per hectare last year, due to low fertility, drought, and flood complications, need serious attention. I’ve got the ditching and dike building equipment, located a limestone quarry, found sources for the nutrients in Vietnam, and a specific variety of rice that suits our conditions in Malaysia. One day, not many years hence, I hope to report yields ten times what we harvested this year.

Congratulations Chris Warner! You solved one of more than a thousand problems I have. You see, with so many marriageable daughters, I need husbands. But since we believe in monogamy, and I don’t think we are scientifically ready to clone you, you can only marry one. I commend you for your good taste, since you picked one of the smartest, most beautiful, charming and talented young women in Cambodia. You still owe me at least 15 cows, but I extend credit good guys like you. We had a great time at you and Naomi’s engagement last week. http://www.missionreports.com/kris_engagement    Pastor Peter worked it into his sermon on marriage. Bob and Christal Hollandsworth served as your surrogate parents, Mak Sou and I received your down payment of about twenty-five baskets of fruit, and we give you our blessing and wishes for a long and happy future together!

A big welcome to Jenny Robinson! Jenny comes to us from Bar-One Ministries in Eugene Oregon. Jenny attended Faith Center Church pastored by Steve Overman, and has been working with Beth Barone developing a new paradigm for ministry that focuses on God’s great love for mankind rather than His judgment. She will be working closely with the Dutch branch of Bar-One in the development and translation of this material for a new children’s curriculum; that is, when we give her time. She just co-led her first team with our faithful staff member Chauk. The team loved her despite the fact that her Cambodian boss (me) needed deliverance.

One of our un-sung heroes is Lou Binninger of Glad Tidings Church in Yuba City, California. He has served faithfully lining up containers of supplies from various sources in the United States to help support the orphans. The donors are huge blessings to us, but most of the supplies would never make it here if it were not for Lou. Thanks! You keep our delivery crews busy. http://www.missionreports.com/food_distribution_preah

Enough, I need to nurse my wounded ego, love my wife, and bless Pastor Peter and the church. Have some fun! Please note my new email address. I will be phasing the old one out over the next few months.

Be blessed this month!

Your humbled servant,

Pa Thom (Ted Olbrich)
And all the workers,
Mak Sou (Sou Olbrich)
and the Cambodian Crew

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