Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | July 6, 2012

Familiar Faces

Kolkata, India

One of the advantages of serving often at Prem Dan, one of Mother Teresa’s homes, is getting to know the men who are living out their last days there. Every time I return to Kolkata I can hardly wait to see these men whose faces are now permanently etched in my memory. I felt no different this morning as we started our day by worshiping with the Missionaries of Charity at 6:00 AM. After worship, I could hardly wait to get on the bus with our team of students for the drive to Prem Dan. When we finally arrived, I was amazed by how much the squatters’ slum outside of Prem Dan had grown. I am talking about a Slum Dog-looking collection of hovels occupied by the poorest of the poor who are trying to eke out a living along one of Kolkata’s busiest streets. It’s a depressing sight but also a reminder of what Jesus told His disciples in the final hours of His life, “For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them” (Mark 14:7a).

Walking through the front gate at Prem Dan was a kind of homecoming for me. As we walked toward the commons area I began to scan the faces of the men there, looking for the familiar faces of those who are still living since my last visit in January of this year. I can’t tell you what a joy it was to make eye-contact and to see the smiles on the faces of these men. Several came to me and welcomed me back. I turned to one of our guys and told him that the men here do not forget those who come to serve them. They too, scan the faces of the volunteers, looking for the familiar faces of those who have been here before. Once you have served here, you are forever bound to these men by your acts of kindness.

One of the first things any volunteer to a place like Prem Dan must deal with is their own squeamishness. It can be a bit overwhelming when you first see the men and women here whose bodies are in various stages of brokenness. But, I was more than impressed by how quickly our students cleared that hurdle. They did not even hesitate to take the initiative to begin providing the most basic of care for the residents. I had asked our guys to bring razors, shave cream, and lotion. Half our guys started shaving the men while the others massaged lotion into holocaust-looking limbs. Within minutes I saw residents smiling as our guys served and embraced them. A human touch means so much to these Dalits (members of the lowest caste) who have known so little of tender touches and embraces. It was a beautiful sight. I mentioned to several of our guys as they massaged the tired feet of these men that they were doing the very thing that Jesus would do if He was here. They were being Jesus with skin on to these men.

I also heard an encouraging report from our students that served at Shanti Dan, Mother Teresa’s home for mentally challenged women. And also from those that visited and served the 160 young girls that reside at the aftercare home that we support for girls rescued from sex trafficking. I am proud of our students and grateful for what God is doing through them and also in them as they serve the least of these and the oppressed. Those they have served will likely not remember their names, but they will remember their faces and the acts of kindness associated with each one. May we always seize opportunities to do for others what Jesus would do for them and may we also care for others in such a way that they see Jesus in us.

My friend James Roberts, Student Minister at Bay Area First Baptist Church in League City, Texas, has come to India with our team. Please take a moment to watch his video blogs posted at his 518Ministries blog site.


  1. Sounds like a wonderful experience for the kids. I cannot wait until I can do that with Ryan. Tell Lisa & Kay hi!

    • Hey, Kim. This is a great parent-child trip. I will pass along your greetings. Thanks for following our journey.

  2. Dear Omar…and James:
    Thank you for your daily updates. Please advise James his video blog is tremendous. He is capturing vividly what I have been unable to verbally describe for two years! The videos are stirring my heart even more with the desire to return if God wills. You might encourage James to be certain to take a video of his ride in a motorized rickshaw! Love you Omar! Jeff

    • Thanks, Jeff. I shared your comment with James. He will get video from rickshaw and post it soon.

  3. Dear Omar, I so look forward to update. My Granddaughter Emily is one of your kids on this amazing journey. I must say I had my concerns about her going so far away. However it touches my heart when I read about what all you and the others are doing there. I thank you and all that are helping to make this mission for Christ a blessing to all that are in your reach.

    God Bless
    Sharon Taylor

    • Thanks for your kind words and prayers, Sharon. So glad to have Emily on our team. She is enjoying the adventure and privilege of serving the least of these.

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