“One Will Be Taken, and the Other Left”: How My Motorbike was Almost Stolen

They say the Honda Dream is the dream of every Cambodian.

The Honda Dream is a motorbike and–like the Accord in the United States–is both common, and commonly stolen. I quickly learned this after a few friends saw that I had a Dream. They never fail to make sure I lock my bike well whenever we leave it in a public place.

As it turns out, public places aren’t the only places to be careful.

Last night, as usual, I arrived home before our 10 o’clock curfew, when the owner of the apartment building locks the front gate. When the gate is locked, there is no coming in or going out for residents of the 15 apartments until morning. At least that’s the vision. It’s a padlock that only the owner has the keys to.

I put my bike up on its stand, a little closer to the gate than usual because other bikes had taken the far spots. I locked the wheel sideways and put a chain lock through the front tire. Then I climbed two flights of stairs up to our third floor apartment.

The Dream
“The Honda Dream is the dream of every Cambodian.”


At 4:30 this morning my roommate got a call.

“They took all the bikes.” Our next door neighbor was downstairs with a small crowd. In these low-cost apartments, many of the residents are college students from the provinces. A male student was sitting a little dazed, looking at his cell phone. Others were quietly talking.

My bike was still there, as were all the others except the Dream that had been parked next to mine the night before. No one had heard anything. The front gate had been taken off its hinges without making a noise, and the thieves had whisked the boy’s bike away.


Unfortunately, my Khmer isn’t good enough yet to understand what people were saying, and I don’t know how this loss is going to affect that student’s situation.

Now, an event like this naturally brings up the thought, “thank God that He kept my bike safe.” But I’m going to refrain from claiming this, because I don’t know that God intervened to keep the thieves from taking my bike, also. He certainly could have. Locks can be broken. But maybe the thieves didn’t even try.

And it’s such a bad situation for that poor student. He might need a bike more than I do. If God kept mine safe, why not his, too?

Instead of saying more about what I don’t know, I’m reminded of a lesson: every good thing we have, especially the mundane, is actually full of glory. Anything can be lost in a moment, no matter how many locks you put on it; it only takes one night–sometimes less than that. And so this Dream that I have, I should enjoy and use with intentionality every day. I should bless other people with it.

Matthew 24 concludes the idea of one being taken and the other left with a simple statement. “Therefore keep watch.”

We don’t know a lot of things. We don’t know how long we’ll live, who we’ll end up living with, or where we’ll spend our lives. We don’t even know when our defining term as Adventists–the Second Advent–is going to happen.

So keep watch. Live intentionally. Appreciate everything. Pray without ceasing.

 Action question: what if I gave my Dream to this student that lost his bike? Would that be a good idea? Why or why not? (It’s a bit more complicated, because this is actually ASAP’s bike, not mine. So I don’t plan to give it away. But I face these sorts of questions a lot in other cases with my own things, and I’m interested in hearing other people’s thoughts about risky generosity.) 
  • Stevie not sure of how to answer your question. I look at it in your shoes. You need your things to serve God’s work. Don’t look like you have much to share with others. I’m so glad your bike wasn’t stolen. Sad for the others. We are praying for you and your needs to be met for God always supply our needs. He well I believe for the student too. Pray for him. Hugs our friend and many blessing your way.

    • Thanks Rene! Yeah, that’s the struggle.

      I think there is a lot more I could do, though. A lot more we could all do. If only we had the motivation. The spirit, you might say.

  • I like how you phrased it, “risky generosity”. When I am out in “the bush” of Kenya, I am always asked for my watch, sometimes my camera or hat, and sometimes my hand in marriage! 🙂 When it comes to the watch, I often reply that I need it because I need to know what time to go back to America. That usually appeases them until they try to rip it off my wrist. In actuality, I bought that watch 4 years ago from Walmart for $5 to take to Tanzania with me. It has now gone to India and Kenya as well and I’ve grown a bit attached to this item that mysteriously never dies or runs out of battery.

    More than that, I had an encounter a few weeks ago where I was parked downtown in one of the faculty’s range rovers that has had “mzungu” (white person) carved into it. I had a bag of chips and my window rolled down waiting for another SM to finish his shopping. I always lock the doors but for some reason forgot about rolling my window up that day. As I sat there, a man came to my window and began talking to me in Swahili – he wanted my chips. I was immediately put off as he was using his hand to gesture and it got suspiciously closer and closer to my chips sitting between the seats. He told me he loved me and got a bit “reachy” with his hands on my leg. I told him no several times and just as I was about to drive off, he grabbed the bag of chips. I smacked his hand hard and drove away, saving my chips.

    Driving away I was questioning myself as well and my “responsibility” for “the least of these” as a Christian. Generosity is a hard thing to balance. To whom do you give and where do you draw the line? I had to come to the realization that by giving to that man, who, though poor, was able bodied, I would be feeding into the belief that every white person is someone to be used, that they are able to always give as they always seem to have, and that he does not have to use his very capable body to achieve success. I also have learned how much better it is to give a gift to a new friend, whom I have built even a small relationship with, rather than to give a handout to a stranger.

    http://aswwu.com/collegian/voluntourism-more-harm-than-good/ is a great article (especially the 4th story) to highlight the above point about giving things to friends rather than just to strangers. A few miles down the road where I again parked on the street, a small hand knocked on the window, “Chakula?” (food). I rolled the window down to a young boy whom I had seen playing with his friends, “Share? Yes?” “Yes,” he replied, and I handed him the chips. I watched him take the bag and run across the street where he opened it and allowed his little friend to reach in and pile a few crisps into his hungry mouth before satiating his own desire.

    I was not born to privilege, but I was born in America to a fantastic (though not always perfect) family. I am able to travel and to live a fairly unrestricted, albeit vegetarian :), lifestyle with freedom of speech, movement, and expression. God has blessed me exponentially and it is my duty to bless others.

    I believe that God requires us to work to the best of our abilities and through that work we will find blessing. Within that line of thinking, we were given a special calling to bless the widow and the orphan, those who are unable to earn a living for themselves. With that and the concept of giving to friends rather than just strangers in mind, I choose to give freely to those who cannot support themselves. And for those who can work, I prefer to give by supporting their business or trade rather than just giving out a donation. I choose to shop at the stores the tourists don’t go and to find the little shop where no one else has been that day. Although I haggle the prices down, I will often let them have the better end of the bargain so that they can keep their pride while also having the chance to fill their stomachs.

    Each of us is called to something “risky” which is based on who we are and the life God wants us to lead. I believe generosity is something the Adventist church struggles with especially as we find the delicate balance between generosity and saving under the guise of financial stewardship. Thank you for bring up such a great discussion point. Sorry that my response post is as long (if not longer) than your original post 🙂

    • Danae! Thank you! It’s so good to hear someone else’s experience! Sounds like you face a bit more of the begging mentality than I do. There really isn’t much of it in the parts of Cambodia that I’ve seen. But maybe I’m not as exposed as you are. So it’s good to hear your thoughts.

      That article you shared makes me think of Shane Claiborne’s thought:

      “I had come to see that the great tragedy in the church is not that rich Christians do not care about the poor but that rich Christians do not know the poor…I truly believe that when the rich meet the poor, riches will have no meaning. And when the rich meet the poor, we will see poverty come to an end.”

      It goes both ways. When you know someone who needs something, you can give it in a way that preserves their dignity. And when someone that could be asking for a handout knows you, it informs their own approach. And when you both know that you are in this together, it matters less who gives or takes what, and more how you care.

      Mother Teresa also writes something along these lines:

      “We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty.”

      Whether you give or not, the most important thing is to make sure you communicate that the recipient is worth much more than that gift.

      Here’s a killer video on the topic. You might like it!

      Wow, as I’m thinking, I’m so glad you wrote this, and I read it when I did. Just today I’ve been thinking of the meaning of Christianity in the world today (…that sounds super big…), and started to feel that love is really the only thing. There’s no other mission for us than being the church for the world. Representing Jesus. Making sure everyone knows that real love is possible.