Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | November 8, 2011

Why We Return

Poipet, Cambodia

There is something about distant and difficult places that tugs at my heart. I made a commitment to God while traveling by train across the Gobi Desert in 1998 to make unreached and unengaged people groups a greater priority in my life and to use whatever influence I have to raise awareness and funds for strategic initiatives to reach the least reached. I am also committed to forming strategic alliances with those who are working to reach the weakest and most vulnerable inhabitants on the planet — babies in the womb, children, and orphans. That commitment brought me to Cambodia in 2009. On my second trip here in that year, I met Steve Hyde, the Founder of Asia for Jesus. Steve introduced me to the work he is doing in Poipet, a small-town along the Cambodia-Thai border.

Poipet is a place steeped in hardship, evil, and danger for the poor, a place where their children are at risk of being kidnapped and trafficked for sex and labor. It’s the kind of place where the poor need a champion, someone who will invest in strategic initiatives that will tip the scales in favor of justice and opportunities for a brighter future. That’s why a guy like Steve is here, and that is why we are here as well. This past year, a family at Kingsland provided the funds to purchase 7.5 acres of land in Poipet. Steve has already started work on the pregnancy help center and women’s clinic at this site. Our good friends at Life International, an organization whose mission is to start pregnancy help centers around the world, provided the funding for the women’s center. A few weeks ago, the Kingsland couple that contributed the funds to purchase the land invested additional funds to begin the next phase of this project — a facility in which to educate and feed the children of the poorest of the poor.

It was good to return to Poipet yesterday evening and to see the children at Steve’s Imparting Smiles orphanage this morning. Few things are better than seeing the smiling faces of these kids and being mob-hugged by them. Ultimately, they are the reason we return to a place like Poipet. We love God and love kids. These kids are being raised in a safe and loving Christian environment and represent hope for the future of Cambodia. When I was here a few weeks ago with a team of women to conduct a VBS, a Buddhist government official attended our closing program and told the crowd, “Your God is bringing hope to our region.” He also encouraged the kids who attended to continue learning about the God of the Christians. That’s another reason why we return. Our partnership with Steve and our presence in Poipet is helping to bring light to this dark place.


  1. I can’t read these without tears in my eyes! When you talked of context, well, I can see where you are and imagine the mob-hugs! How I miss their faces and hugs. Please let them know that they are in my thoughts and prayers! I can’t get Cambodia out of my heart. I left a piece of my heart there. My prayers are with you and the guys. God Bless You.


    • Hi Lisa…

      Thanks for leaving a piece of your heart here in Poipet and staying connected through your prayers. One of the girls asked about Lisa today. I think it’s the same girl that walked through the mud with you to invite kids to VBS. I will pass on your greetings. Thanks for keeping us in your prayers.


  2. I’m so excited they are going to get started on the school! Let Steve know that I’m trying to raise funds for it. I’m not against bribery to get that sweet girl 🙂

    • Will do, Kim. I am enjoying this brief time with the kids at Imparting Smiles. We must get our team of women here again next year.

  3. Hi Omar! I loved the video and the pictures. I think about those kids every night. Please give Slavine a big hug from me and tell her I love her. I can’t wait to go back and see those precious gifts from God. As Kim mentioned, We are hoping to raise the money to build a school for the kids of Poipet. The images of the existing school haunt me at night. I envision books, bright colored classrooms, and incredible teachers to love on those kids. I would love for the school to have a huge playground just like Imparting Smiles has. With God ….anything is possible. Thanks for your dedication and heart for Cambodia and their people. Your love and dedication is so real and encouraging…..We miss you. :0)

    • Hey Leslie,

      Good to hear from you. Thanks for your kind words. I will give your girl a hug and your message. It has been so much fun seeing the kids again. We’ve gotten lots done in the short time we’ve been here. Thanks to all who are raising funds for the local school. We hope to have teams to help Steve make improvements to the local school in 2012. See you soon.


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