By Roger Cox
When you can participate in a vision that was birthed in the heart of God, you will always see God’s divine provision. As it says in Philippians 4:19 (NIV), “And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”
In the past twenty years this promise has been proven over and over for national missionaries Ly and Sarin Mak. They have experienced God’s provision throughout their lifetimes, having survived the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia and afterwards coming to the United States. Even though they found great friendships, successful employment, and spiritual growth in the U.S., Ly and Sarin never lost their love and concern for their family and friends in Cambodia. Eventually they heard God’s voice telling them to return to Cambodia. Since that time the Lord has been providing open doors, direction, and the support needed to fulfill their dream of establishing a learning center where the villagers would be loved, and where they would also learn about Jesus’ love for each of them. God provided with the creation of the Lifesong Learning Center around thirteen years ago. The Maks continue to trust the Lord to meet all the needs at the Center, which is in one of the poorest villages in the Takeo Province in Cambodia.
My wife, Connie, and I recently returned from our first trip back in two years due to Covid restrictions. We were quickly reminded of our love for the people and our desire to see them grow in their love for Jesus and to be disciple makers throughout Cambodia. The preschool is going strong. Approximately fifty children come to the center five days a week. Classes are scheduled to begin at 7:00 a.m., but the excited children start showing up at 6:30 a.m.
In 2018 the MOVE team provided the framing for the first floor and concrete for the second floor of the vocational center. Thanks to the generosity of many of you, Ly and Sarin were then able to oversee the completion of these floors by a local construction crew. The first floor is now home to sewing and computer classes. The second floor will be used to house groups who want to come and minister to the children and for the leadership at Lifesong.
The goal of the sewing center is to provide training so that local people can get jobs and obtain better starting positions at local garment factories or be able to produce articles they can sell from their own homes. One gentleman named Thorn, who has garment factory experience, committed his life to Christ in recent years. Afterward, he chose to leave the factory, dedicate his life to sharing the Gospel, and use his experience to be the sewing instructor for Lifesong.
The computer center became valuable during the Covid shutdowns, as many of the students gained computer literacy and were able to use the computers to complete required schoolwork. Mabb, who has been with Ly and Sarin for several years, not only provides instruction for the computer classes but also leads the worship team, teaches and preaches on Sunday mornings, teaches English classes in the evening, and oversees the pre-school, English classes, and Lifesong’s weekly evangelistic outreach to nearby villages. Mabb graduated from Takeo University with a degree in English.
During this trip, Connie and I were privileged to help with the English classes. Students and teachers alike appreciate hearing us speak as they want to become more fluent in English. To help teach English, Mabb uses Christian songs that incorporate spiritual truths and help students improve their pronunciation. Connie was asked to sing, so she decided to teach “I’ve Got the Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy Down in My Heart” to a group of middle school students. They learned the song and then sang it during Sunday service!
Ly and Sarin continually look for ways to improve Lifesong Learning Center. In 2019 they were given a solar power system, which they installed on the vocational center. This has been a blessing beyond what words can truly express. With the solar panels, they were able to install additional equipment for the center.
Another dream for Ly and Sarin has been to receive authorization to host a private school and be able to provide biblical-based instruction taught by Christian teachers. We are happy to report that first grade classes will begin in September of 2022 on the Lifesong Learning Center campus. Thank you for being partners with us and with missionaries Ly and Sarin Mak! You are part of God’s divine provision!
As an INSTE graduate, I have been working on raising funds and finding someone who can translate INSTE Level 1 into the Khmer language. Thankfully, a translator has been found and they are ready to start translating the first book! We have raised enough funds to cover the cost of the first book and will continue to raise funds for the next three books.
We look forward to assembling a group from the U.S. to accompany us on our next trip to Cambodia later this year. Those who join us can participate in teaching the English classes, painting, and leading VBS classes at the Lifesong Learning Center. We also want to establish a scholarship fund to assist students at the new elementary school that will start soon as well as the high school students in leadership who desire to gain university education.
We desire to continue providing disciple-making tools for Lifesong leadership, who in turn will share the Gospel with villagers and plant churches. For more information and/or to schedule a visit with your church or church board, please contact us at [email protected].
About the Author
Roger Cox and his wife, Connie, are missionaries-at-large to Cambodia. Both are also active members of First Church of the Open Bible in Des Moines, Iowa, where among other activities, Roger serves as the mission’s pastor and Connie as part of the worship team. Their focus in Cambodia is sharing the love of Jesus, sharing the Gospel, and developing a disciple-making culture where local people learn to touch the lives of their fellow villagers. The Coxes have three adult married children and seven grandchildren.