Global Ministries

The United Methodist Church

Connecting the Church in Mission

Missionary left flourishing church for mission

By Ivy Couch*

image001-1.jpg
                                    The Rev. Andrew Soon Lee.
PHOTO: CYNTHIA MACK

His Hawaii church had doubled in size and his wife had just taken her dream job when the Rev. Andrew Soon Lee said he felt God was calling him to leave and pursue God’s call to be a Global Missionary.

In 2002, Lee served as a short-term missionary in Bangladesh while he was studying computer science in college. He was teaching computer skills and felt “a tug in my heart” that God was calling him. “I didn’t know then how, but I wanted to do something to reach out to the people of this world whom God so loved,” he said.

He answered God’s call to ministry and was ordained as an elder. “I thought God would send me right away to a mission field, but God let me serve in local churches for 10 years before a door opened for me to serve in Cambodia as a missionary,” Lee said.

Lee questioned the timing, however, when he did receive a call from United Methodist Global Ministries to serve as a missionary in 2017.

“I was loving the church I was serving as it experienced growth in both numbers and spirituality. I had two young children ages eight and six who were enjoying their first few years of school,” he said. Not to mention that family lived nearby and his wife loved her new job.

But with prayer, Lee and his family came to believe God was calling him to mission work, so he left the pulpit at Parker United Methodist Church in Kaneohe, Hawaii, where he had served as pastor for seven years.

They packed up their children, and left friends and family and moved to Cambodia. Lee was commissioned as a missionary in 2017 by the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries. He now serves as a country coordinator for the Methodist Mission in Cambodia.

Along with learning a new culture and language, Lee faced other challenges. “I felt the biggest challenge was to unite the people who were working with me, we needed to be of one heart and one vision, even as we served in different ministries. I placed emphasis on weekly prayer, and through sharing requests we’ve come to build closer connection with each other,” Lee said.

He reflected on the parable of the mustard seed— starting with something small and allowing God to nurture his love and mission through us. “It is my prayer to partake in ministry here with the love and heart of Jesus,” Lee said. “I want to be faithful and genuine in all that I do.”

Currently, the church in Cambodia has 140 congregations and a membership of some 4,000. The church is represented in 10 of the country’s 25 provinces.

One of the ministries Lee enjoys the most is working with street children. That ministry involves orphanage support, providing school supplies and scholarships.

Lee said the church he served in Hawaii was multicultural, with members from a variety of backgrounds.

“I loved that feeling of different, but one, in the love of Christ. Here in Cambodia, I feel the same way. We have seven missionaries from Global Ministries that are from six different ethnic backgrounds and 11 Cambodian staff members. It is a joy to see so many different people from diverse backgrounds unite to be the hands and feet and heart of Jesus.”

To learn more about Lee’s work in Cambodia, follow his journey at: dreamcambodia.org.

How to support:

How to Support Missionaries:


1. PRAY for missionaries and their ministries.
2. Stay in CONTACT through newsletters or social media.
3. Seek ways to PARTICIPATE, please go to: dreamcambodia.org
4. DONATE by using the missionary’s Advance # (3022316) at www.umcmission.org.

Additional Information: www.umcmission.org/Give-to-Mission

Make an online donation to: Andrew Soon Lee #3022316

1. PRAY for Lee’s family and their mission work in Cambodia.
2. Stay in CONTACT through newsletters or social media (dreamcambodia.org).
3. Online support, to PARTICPATE, go to: dreamcambodia.org
4. To DONATE by check, please make payable to Advance GCFA and write #3022316 on the memo line.
5. Additional Information: http://www.umcmission.org/Give-to-Mission

*Ivy Couch is the Missionary Service program area liaison.