Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | June 21, 2010

A Jar Full of Dirt

My friend Steve Hyde arrived in Houston on Friday evening for a weekend visit. Steve is the Director of Asia for Jesus, a multi-faceted ministry that is strategically poised to help change the spiritual landscape of Cambodia and neighboring countries. When I met Steve in Cambodia last September, it didn’t take long for me to become inspired by the scope of his work. Steve has a huge vision for the unreached peoples of Asia and is uniquely gifted in orchestrating the strategic components that are propelling his vision into reality. Steve and his capable staff of national workers train thousands of church leaders and start over 300 new churches every year. Steve’s ministry translates and publishes more books annually than all other Cambodian publishers combined. Steve also has a team dedicated to translating the Bible into Cambodia’s many dialects by using the latest and most sophisticated translation software available. And, as if that were not enough, Asia for Jesus also produces Christian radio broadcasts.

In addition to having a huge vision for Asia, Steve has a huge heart. He genuinely loves and cares for people, especially those who suffer abuse at the hands of the unscrupulous. God has given Steve a Nehemiah-kind of favor with those in positions of influence in Cambodia. One person of influence asked Steve to care for the children — all the children — of Banteay Meanchey province. Banteay Meanchey province is located in the northwestern part of the country. The most dangerous place in this province is the border town of Poipet. As many as 40,000 of the more than 100,00 poor Cambodians living in Poipet cross the border into Thailand daily to work as day laborers. These laborers leave their kids alone for days at a time, creating the perfect environment for the powerful to prey on children. Children in Poipet are routinely kidnapped and trafficked across the border to Thailand where they are forced to work in brothels and construction sites. And, preschool-age children are recruited by gangs to transport drugs because they are the least likely to be suspected of doing so.

The person of influence who invited Steve to work in Poipet is Buddhist, yet was impressed by his record of caring for at-risk children in other parts of the country. Steve cares for children and the oppressed because he is guided by a worldview that values human life. The person of influence, the governor of Banteay Meanchey province, provided land for Steve to build the first of two buildings to house orphans in Poipet. Other buildings to care for the children who are left alone to wander through the slums will follow. The challenge is huge but the solution must come by making provision for the welfare of the children of Poipet — one child at a time. Kingsland is partnering with Steve and Life International to start a pregnancy help center in Poipet. Kingsland will also support Steve’s initiatives to reach at-risk children and to bring light into the darkness that makes Poipet a desperate and dangerous place for the weak.

Steve is so committed to helping the people of Cambodia and the surrounding nations that he has abandoned plans to ever return home. Although born in Iowa, Steve will not be buried there. He wants to be buried in Cambodia. When I visited Steve’s office last September I noticed a Mason jar full of dirt nestled among the books on his shelves. I asked Steve about that jar of dirt. “It’s dirt from Iowa,” he said. “I want to die in Cambodia. I have told my wife and my staff to sprinkle the dirt from Iowa on my grave when I am buried here in Cambodia.” Cambodia is now Steve’s home. He has given his life to living like Jesus and serving others in this country primarily known for its killing fields. I took Steve to the airport in Houston yesterday afternoon. He enjoyed his visit with us and will spend a few more weeks speaking around the country. And then, he is going home — to Cambodia.

The Mason jar full of dirt in Steve’s office reminds me of something that P.T. Forsyth, a Scottish theologian, said. “There is nothing finer nor more pathetic to me than the way in which missionaries unlearn the love of the old home, die to their native land, and wed their hearts to the people they have served and won; so that they cannot return to England, but must return to lay their bones where they spent their lives for Christ. How vulgar the common patriotisms seem beside this inverted home-sickness, this passion for a kingdom which has no frontiers and no favored race, the passion of a homeless Christ.” Steve has this inverted home-sickness, this passion to call Cambodia home. I’m grateful for Steve and all those who go beyond for the sake of the kingdom and who call places most in need of the gospel “home.”

• • • • •
Visit Steve Hyde’s blog — Jungle Adventures — to learn more about his work in Cambodia and to read about the dedication of the Children’s Center in Poipet.


  1. I love what Steve is doing. What the Lord is doing through him. The pregnancy center and orphanage remind me: We are not so much against abortion as FOR life. Going the extra step to help that young mother. Young father too. Shows ‘we’ mean what ‘we’ say. Thank you for your encouraging post.

  2. I have to concur with Omar’s remarks about God’s immense blessings and favor given to Steve. Miracles happen every day there; lives are protected, saved and rallied because He, our remarkable gracious God, causes it to be so. As part of LIFE International’s effort and partnership with Kingsland, we are thrilled to be used by our God in these ways. Join God and the effort to help Steve build a school and crisis pregnancy center on property just behind their current facilities. Jt. CPCs of Tucson

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