Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | November 9, 2011

Mediocre Mendicants

Poipet, Cambodia

Buddhist monks wrapped in their saffron-colored robes are a common sight in Cambodia. Every day they walk the streets and stand in front of homes and businesses, silently but expectantly awaiting a handout. I have seen them stand in front of the homes of the poorest of the poor in the slums of Poipet until the poor emerge with some morsel to place in their hands. But I have never seen them actually do anything practical to help the poor or to address their terrible plight in this place. This morning as Jon, Kevin, and I shopped for electrical supplies for repairs at the Imparting Smiles orphanage, two monks sat and watched a soap opera at the little open-air restaurant next door, another sat and listened to tunes on his iPod, and another put a new SIM card in his cell phone. Interesting behavior for guys who are not supposed to own anything. What would the Buddha say about these mediocre mendicants?

Worldview matters, especially when it comes to caring for widows, orphans, the alien, and the least of these. I find it interesting that the man who has found favor with Buddhist government officials in this province is Steve Hyde, a Christian who is addressing the urgent needs of orphans, the poor, and children at risk. He is helping people in need in personal, practical, and measurable ways. Lives are being saved from certain abuse and even death and many children face a brighter future as a result. Beyond his work of caring for orphans, Steve is leading the way in making improvements to local schools, paving roads and adding drainage to flood-prone Poipet, and building a women’s pregnancy help center and clinic, among a few other things! He is not here to take, but to help. He is not here to give a hand out but a hand up. And, his work is making a difference.

Today, we completed several of the key tasks we came to help with at the Imparting Smiles orphanage. Each of the tasks that Steve assigned to our team involved electrical work. With the assistance of our friend and Kingsland member Kevin Duty, we were able to ground one of the buildings and all outlets, add a float switch to the water tank, install new security lighting at the entrance to the campus, recharge batteries for a to-be-installed wind turbine, and spend time with the kids. The really great part of it all was doing each of these tasks while kids laughed and played and sang — a reminder of why we are here. This is their home and we want to do all that we can to make it a better and safer environment for them. At the conclusion of the day, as we twisted the last screw into place on the new light fixtures at the front gate, we could hear the kids singing during their evening worship time. Their singing was filled with the unmistakable joy that comes from knowing and loving Jesus.

One day, the kids at the Imparting Smiles orphanage will grow up to make a difference in Poipet and Cambodia and beyond. They will not expect to be served but, like Jesus, to serve and to care for others in ways that matter. Life is too short and too many people are hurting to just stand around expecting others to give to you. I prefer to follow the example of Jesus and care for the least of these by giving them a hand up. And honestly, I think the least of these prefer this as well.


  1. Ah, sure do miss those sweet children! Is it still raining there? Please let them know we miss their precious smiles!!!!!

    Loved the video you sent of the children singing “My God is so big, so strong, and so mighty – there’s nothing my God cannot do – for you…..”

    • Will do, Sheryl. The kids have asked when all the girls are coming back to visit. They are still singing the songs they learned at our VBS. 🙂

  2. Omar, I am enjoying your posts from Poipet. I am in Bangkok until Nov. 21st working at NightLight. Are you coming through Bangkok? I would love to see you here!

    • Thanks, Natalie. We will fly through Bangkok tomorrow but only have a four-hour layover. Glad to hear you are at NightLight and wish I had time to visit there again. Thanks for your good work in the justice arena. Hope to see you again soon back in Houston.

  3. Omar, It was awesome to read the blog and see Kevin living out what he feels God has called him to do. Thank you so much for giving him this opportunity. Our family is already blessed for his involvement and I know we will be even more blessed when he comes home on fire for God and ready to lead us through our next step as a family. Thanks for posting a picture of him. I must admit to missing him and it was nice to see his face. Thanks. 🙂

    tons of love and prayers from the duty bunch here in Katy!!

    • I love that photo of Kevin in action. He was so kind and patient while teaching our Cambodian brothers about how to address electrical needs at the orphanage. That particular photo captures one of those teaching moments. I love seeing this kind of interaction. I know Kevin has lots of great stories to share with the family when he gets home. It has been a privilege to have him on our team.

      • Pastor Omar… Es una gran bendicion ver estas fotos de nuestros hermanos en Cristo en accion! Mi corazon se llena de regosijo especialmente de ver a mi amigo Kevin Duty. Que dios les bendiga inmensamente con el progecto que estan trabajando. Mis oraciones seguiran dadas para ustedes. Saludos y habrazos en cristo nuestro Salvador.

        Patty 🙂

      • Hola Patty …

        Gracias por sus amables palabras. Ha sido un placer tener a Kevin en nuestro equipo aquí en Camboya. No sólo ha trabajado duro, pero él ha demostrado paciencia y amabilidad a las personas a quienes servimos. Gracias por sus oraciones por nuestro equipo. Estamos ansiosos por volver a los Estados Unidos el sábado para compartir más sobre las cosas maravillosas que Dios hizo aquí.

        Omar ~

  4. Thanks for the posts! Love to read them!! See y’all soon!

    • Thanks, Kristin. We’ll be back at Kingsland on Sunday.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.