Janice Sehyung Lee is a United Methodist missionary with the General Board of Global Ministries serving as the Christian Education Specialist at the Methodist Mission in Cambodia. She is based in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The program focuses on Sunday school curriculum development as well as other pertinent Christian education media.
“It is a great privilege for me to express my intent to serve as a missionary through Global Ministries,” she wrote in her application. “My husband and I have been feeling that tugging in our hearts since before we got married and have been faithfully waiting for God to send us out as foreign missionaries as we obediently served in various local churches.”
Born in South Korea, Janice earned a bachelor’s degree in education and master’s degrees in second language acquisition and Christian education. Most recently, she was a secondary English instructor in Phnom Penh. She previously served as a youth pastor in Honolulu and Cincinnati.
“I enjoyed and cherished such challenges of serving as a youth pastor,” she said. “The youth group grew from five members to about 80 members in two years. The mission of my youth group was to grow in God to change the world. We’d host seeker’s worship twice a year where we’d prepare various performances and message to share about the love of God.”
Before immigrating to Hawaii at age 11, Christianity was not a part of Janice’s life. Her mother was an avid Buddhist. When her family moved to Hawaii, they joined their Christian relatives at church.
“Church was not what introduced me to the living God,” Janice said. A prolific reader, one of the hardest parts of moving was leaving her books behind. “When I saw a Korean book on our table,” she recalled, “I did not hesitate to take it to my room to read overnight.” A friend had loaned the book, “Mrs. Hallelujah,” to her mom.
“I remember embracing the book and telling myself that God must be real and that I must dedicate my life to this God,” she said.
Fast forward to Janice at age 25, accepting a job as interim youth pastor at her church. That “temporary” post lasted five years. While collaborating with other youth leaders, she met her future husband, Andrew Soon Lee, and they married four years later. Ordained in United Methodism’s California Pacific Annual Conference, he served a church in Hawaii for seven years.
“When my husband was approached by Global Ministries for a possible international mission position,” Janice said, “we had no reason to decline because God had already prepared our hearts for mission abroad.” The couple and their two preteen daughters have lived in Cambodia since 2017.
In Phnom Penh, Janice was drawn to the needs of uneducated single women. She is the volunteer coordinator for Susanna Wesley House, sheltering 25 young women and encouraging them to attain a university education. “Through our daily devotion and communal living,” she said, “our students have not only learned to love each other, but also God.” Thanks to a generous donation from a North Carolina congregation, Janice began Shine Project, offering vocational training to young women who are middle/high school dropouts. She also works with pastors of the Methodist Church in Cambodia to develop Sunday school curriculum.
“My heart is full whenever I am working in these ministries,” Janice said. “My husband and I have a life’s motto: Whenever, wherever. This is an expression of our willingness to serve God wherever he sends us. Our only desire is that we continue to keep our hearts and eyes on God as we serve him and his people.”