Update: June 2010

Dear Friends and Family,

Olbrich! You are late this month! “Yup, Guilty as charged.” Sou and I’ve been off to American marrying our last unattached child off to a fine young man and attending our church annual meeting in Atlanta . We just got home.

The nest is empty! Hannah, our youngest daughter, was married on Sunday, May 23rd in Littleton , Colorado . Weddings are always a little “nuts”, but trying to handle this from 10,000 miles away was only possible because we had our older kids there to help out. Though we all came close to homicide at various moments God smiled on us with a beautiful day. When Sou and I arrived a few days before the event the forecast was for wind and rain with a 65 degree high. The wedding took place on a calm, cloudless, 82 degree day in a garden full of spring flowers. Everyone pulled together and it really was a time of great joy for all of us. http://www.missionreports.com/jhon_hannah_wedding

Hannah is my hero. She paid a huge price in coming to Cambodia as an 11 year old 5th grader twelve years ago. She gave up those most important friends and lived the balance of her time in Cambodia surrounded by 10 foot concrete walls and double rolls of concertina wire. A locked steel gate and 24 hour guards were her door to the rest of the world which she could only traverse with escorts for most of her time here. Fortunately, she made some great friends, one of them, Keiko, a Dutch girl whose family lives in Nepal , traveled from her graduate school in Germany to be her maid of honor.    Hannah married John Rowley, chemistry major at the University of Colorado , who will be working on his Masters in Education. They met while both working at the same coffee shop. And my greatest surprise of all is the depth of love that John’s mother and father have for the Lord, it really does pay to have 3000 orphans praying for you!

“Can anything good come out of Nazareth ?” Where have we heard that before? Nazareth is the name of a ten year old orphan boy found abandoned at the roundabout just a couple of hundred meters from the Cham Chao Church/Home when he was about two years old. He couldn’t walk. Nazareth was so weakened by malnutrition when we got him that he couldn’t walk for another three years. He’s still pretty wobbly when he walks and his greatest joy was to finally learn to ride a bicycle in April.  He missed the first couple of years of school so we’ve sent him to a private Christian school to help him catch up. Being an orphan in Cambodia is not exactly a status symbol, in fact, most Cambodians consider them cursed. Despite our best efforts to counter the culture of derision, like dust, it seeped into every aspect of his being and inferiority is a constant gnaw at his soul. Nazareth fights his physical disability as well. His need for some kind of status must be huge , and if it can’t be positive, well, “Muddy water is better than none”.

Nazareth is good, a good con artist that is! He could teach the mafia a few tricks. http://www.missionreports.com/nazareth    Now, we all know that God’s ticked off at sinners, Right? Wrong! The truth is He loves us! We just have trouble accepting it. It’s a new paradigm being introduced by Beth Barone into our Cambodian church, and Nazareth had to give me the ultimate object lesson. He is going to school, and since it is a private operation, most of the kids have money. He began extorting money from another young man on a daily basis about two months ago. He simply demanded. “Give me 2000 Reil (50 cents US) or I’ll beat you up!” The amazing thing is that he pulled this off. Nazareth couldn’t beat a fly! Finally he got greed y. Pastor Peter is a colonel in the Military Police Reserve. The orphans call him “Dad”. Nazareth went up to his “Mark” at the 7:00 am start of the school day and demanded. “My da d’s a big shot in the police and you must give me 1,000,000 Reil ($250) or he’ll through you in jail for a long time”. This time the frightened victim had enough. He went to the teacher. About 7:10 am Pastor eter got a call from the school director, “We are prepared to expel Nazareth , please come and get him immediately!” Peter went and could hardly believe his ears. After having a long talk with the sobbing and remorseful Nazareth , repaying the victim, and explaining the circumstances to the director, Nazareth was allowed to remain in school. He’s working off his debt.

Here’s what struck me. Was Nazareth a sinner? Absolutely! Did he know better? You bet! Peter has taught about the evils of stealing at least once per month and Nazerth’s been there for eight years! So, do we hate Nazareth ? No, we love him more than ever! We just want him loved and encouraged and living in a good relationship with his classmates. So why do we think a God, who is bigger than any of us, would get mad at us over our sin? No, He doesn’t, in fact he’s so much in love with us he sent Jesus to the rescue.

We keep on building. Three more church homes are under construction, almost completed.http://www.missionreports.com/home_under_constr  The problem is that our partner is short of funds and we’re in a $5 3,000 squeeze. If we quit building the contractors leave, supplies are stolen , and our contractual agreement violated, so we just suck it up. That’s tough when times are slow. It usually means I borrow, but my tether is tight, so we’re feeling the pinchlease pray for our faithful friends at ICM. Pray that those who have committed to help would be able to complete their pledges. It would sure make my life easier! The housing is for about 90 more kids and worship space for about 300+ church members. We need it!

It was no earthquake or tsunami, but for the residents of the Rung Reung Church/Home it was a scary night when the wind took off much of their roof and sent the ceiling crashing down on the sleeping kids. No one was seriously hurt, but it becomes one of those devilish attacks we could sure do without. http://www.missionreports.com/storm_hit  It has been a busy month at our medical clinic with a lot of kids battling various diseases from all over Cambodia being transferred in for treatment. Our Doctors have been busy guys!

We have gotten significant help from a number of sources. Our drought and flood damaged rice crop from last year is going to leave us short. Thanks to the Butte County Rice Producers, Far West Rice, Lou Binninger of Glad Tidings Church , and Gleanings for the Hungry, forty tons of solution to our problem showed up! http://www.missionreports.com/rice_may10  Thanks friends!

We’ve invested a small fortune in ditching, dike building, irrigation, modern varieties, modern seeding practices, fertilizers and weed control. These pictures are a month old but they show some of what we’ve done. Pray for our harvest.http://www.missionreports.com/rice_growth

Churches keep growing. Our training is focused on the practical, not the programmed. We stick our spiritual toe in the water each month and sense, “Is this what we need”  (Three pages, three locations: http://www.missionreports.com/pastoral_training_jun10 )  It really is driven by the Spirit of God. I couldn’t help but notice a great difference between what we see in the US church verses Cambodia . We depend on the Holy Spirit out of desperation. He shows up or we’re dead. In the US it often seems there “Options”. “We’ve got a financial problem so we need a better business plan!”, It took a 90 year old missionary to remind us that God’s work done God’s way will not lack God’s provision, In Cambodia the first place we look is at our mission. We ask, “Where are we missing something?” We are a Pentecostal denomination , but back home it often seems our attitude is: “Holy Spirit, please show up because it’s our tradition.” Or more sadly, “Holy Spirit, please sit in the back and be quiet because we want to be respected , and we don’t want to seem weird , or offend anyone”. Uhuum, was Jesus offensive? “Naw, He just nailed himself on the cross!” Anyway, I’m not trying to beat anyone up, but here is our reality, and maybe that’s why the church outside the US is growing while America is in decline. We need the Holy Spirit, and you have options. We hate trials as much as anyone, but we’ve found due to zero options , that trials purify our faith.

Pastor Metry is an orphan boy turned pastor, and is a leader in our “Young Tigers”. He pastors in Pasar Cha and has been boldly proclaiming the power of God. In the natural he might be 4’10” tall and about 100 pounds soaking wet, not exactly a giant. He’s experienced some noticeable miracles and healings through the ministry of this church , and his reputation has spread through the province. Unbeknownst to him, up in the mountains a community was being terrorized by a demonized giant of a man whom no one could control. He’d get tied up and break loose, bust up things and people, and no one could control him. The monks had tried everything when they hear about Metry. They sent for him. Metry was unaware of this 6 foot plus, 200 pound monster , and assumed he would be facing a simple person troubled by the demonic elements at work in the region. As Metry approached the “Giant” he lost his nerve as he got within 100 yards. He could see that this guy was huge, unclothed , unwashed, and unshorn. Metry began to shake with fear and was only propelled forward by what he knew God had done through him in the past. He took one step and this giant cried out, and fell over as dead. Some wondered if he’d been shot. Metry said, “No, God did this so we can clean him up!” The villagers began working on him and now that entire extended family is serving the “God who sets free!”

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” (Heb 10:24) I figured out how this works. The, “Young Tigers” produced a jealously in the youth. “We can do that!” So, they formed the “Young Lions”, now the younger teens are jealous of the “Young Lions” so, they are forming the “Young Fishermen”. We already have the “Granny Brigade”. It seems most of the church is being mobilized in specific evangelistic ministry with the power of the Holy Spirit at the core. It is a wonder to behold! The “Lions” went to Sway Reing for a weekend. 91 received Christ, 91 were baptized in water, and 91 baptized in the Holy Spirit. Not a bad score for a weekend of kids in ministry! http://www.missionreports.com/young_lion_sv_june

This may be the understatement of the year, but Mak Sou is a strong woman. The daughter of a royal line from Southern Laos , she still carries that natural authority. Many misunderstand her and are afraid, or think her controlling, but she is wise and gentle when you get to know her, and though it pains me to say it, usually right! The orphan kids know that no one can pinch them like Mak Sou, but they also know that no one loves them more. Mother’s day showed their love for her! http://www.missionreports.com/motherday_10

 That’s it for this month! Be blessed! We are! 

Love,

Ted Olbrich, (Pa Thom)
Sou Olbrich, ( Mak Thom)
And those doing all the work!
The Cambodian & Foreign Staff

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