Pastor San Young Lee



Vanderbilt University, PhD in Religion and Personality, May of 2006


Currently doing chaplaincy at Saint Louis Children’s Hospital and Belleville Memorial Hospital.


Assistant minister at United Methodist Church in Raleigh, North Carolina for multi-cultural ministry from September of 1994 to December of 1997.

Associate minister at Korean United Methodist Church in Nashville, Tennessee for multi-cultural ministry from January of 1998 to January of 2000.

Full time associate minister for Multi-cultural English-Korean ministry at Korean Presbyterian Church in Memphis, Tennessee from May of 2000 to June of 2001.

Full time Associate minister at Dale Church of the Nazarene in Madison, Tennessee from July of 2001 to 2007.

Served as a missionary professor in the Philippines from 2007 to 2013.

Associate minister at Calvary Church of the Nazarene, Antioch, Tennessee from 2015 to 2016.

My Story

I was born in a mountain at a retreat center for prayers in Korea, on May 31st of 1963.

I grew up in a very religious environment, and I naturally became religious. We lived in a parsonage as I was growing up, which usually located closely by the church. As an early bird I was then as I am now, I would wake up early to the prayer noises(?) people, including my parents, make. I used to get goosebumps whenever I thought of someone who is out there listening to the people pouring their hearts out, the outcries of the desperate out of absolute helplessness (people’s intense prayers made me think that they were really desperate trying to  get someone else’s attention like that). That ‘someone out there’ always followed me wherever I went. I also could feel that ‘someone out there’ in the nature: the sky, clouds, winds and breezes, Spring and Autumn rains, changing leaves, trees, flowers, sun and moon and stars…. It was an extra blessing to listen to rains pelting down the ground early in the crack of dawn. What cleansing rituals that had been for me!! I felt so clean by listening to the rain which made me feel washing away all my impurities and wrongdoings from my heart. I was a happy child, and felt that everyone loved me.

My father was a Nazarene minister for 31 years and died when he was 57 years old. He was generous, meek, humble and was very dedicated to his ministry. My father’s ministry was one of a kind in terms of it being a communal one. Church gathered for prayers morning and night, not to mention Sunday and night worship services, Wednesday night worship service and Friday night gathering for all night prayer meeting. During week days and nights, after night prayer meeting, people would come in our parsonage for refreshment. Whenever they come our parsonage to share meals, they would check out things that might be lacking in our parsonage and they would supply them, be that woods for warming the parsonage in the winter, or rice or potatoes or ??. Whenever church members have new produces in their garden or crops in their field, they would first bring them to their pastor. If church members were nearby our parsonage and feel hungry, then, they would come in and eat anything they could find even if there was no one at the parsonage. Church members were more like a surrogate family replacing my relatives and my grandparents who lived far away from us. My mother was a legendary prayer warrior in my father’s circle in Korea. God has endowed her with charismatic gifts such as gift of healing, prophecy at times, dreams, of course gift of tongues, and she even had a gift of seeing through people, what they were thinking, etc., though it might sound unbelievable to many.

I am greatly influenced by both of my parents who had taught us, five sisters and three brothers, to please God above all else. I dedicated my life to God in my early age: “Here I am Lord, send me wherever you want me to be.” I have obeyed when God called me to serve in a mission field right after I finished my graduate studies at Vanderbilt. I had no one there, no family, no friends, in the Philippines. I live there like a lonely warrior teaching and doing administrative work at a seminary in Manila. It had not been an easy task to be obedient and faithful to God’s calling, but I have to confess that it had been God who had enabled me to obey. “By the grace of God I am what I am.” Today God has called me to be a pastor at Dogwood Prairie and Seed Chapel, and I wonder what God wants to fulfill at these churches through me. “I do not know about tomorrow”, all I know is that I will trust God every step of the way in my ministry at Dogwood Prairie and Seed Chapel. My foremost desire is to be a pleasing sacrifice to God, and daily I am praying to be “pure and holy” to be a bride to Christ my savior who is the meaning and purpose of my life.

A Letter on the Journey

Dear Friend,

Somehow I just left home to hear God’s voice on the journey. So I did not have a definite and detailed plan for each country. Along the way, however, I realized everything was being fallen into place in terms of whereabouts in each country, and the theme(?) for this journey was set already by God for me before I left….

When I first arrived in Istanbul, I had no idea where to visit, what I want to do there, except for having a vague idea that, if possible, I want to go to places where I can find the traces of early Christians. I ended up visiting from Istanbul to Cappadocia, meeting(?) with St. Basil, and Gregory of Nazienzas, who first started a form of Christian community which later developed into monastery living and who greatly influenced Saint Benedictine to come up with Benedictine Rule for monastery life, and visited many stone cave churches and monasteries of 4th century Christians. As a matter of fact, I stayed at a place where once stone cave monastery turned into motel: my bedroom was used to be a chapel of the monastery it once was….. From Cappadocia to Pamukkale, Phrygia where apostle Philip was martyred, and to Laodicea, to Ephesus meeting with John, Paul and Mother Mary, and then to Smyrna meeting with Polycap who was the last disciple of apostle John, and who was martyred as the bishop of Smyrna, and then to Bergama (Pergamun). I met many martyrs and was able to see/feel the agony, struggles, trials, sweat and tears of Apostles, their experiences and sacrifices…  God helped me to see the lives of apostles, their real struggles and trials, misunderstandings and hardships they had to endure…. What I had gone through was nothing compare to them…

In Greece, same thing happened… Well, I guess in Turkey, the theme for my journey was decided: tracing Apostle Paul’s footsteps…. But had no definite plans, but just prayed for God to lead me the way as I was realizing that this journey was not my own making…. I visited, along with other places, Mars Hill in Athens, where Paul gave address to Greek philosophers, and then to Corinth, Thessalonica, Philippi and Berea…… Paul was no longer a person in the bible, but a real person, –a person of emotions, who breathes, eats and sleeps– who needed security and certainty in life as much as I needed. His hardships, trials and imprisonments, stonings, and struggles have become real throughout the journey I was walking with him. I cried and suffered with him as I felt the pain, heartaches, fear and anxieties he was facing…. His humility in carrying out God’s mission and the passion for spreading the gospel with love in season or out of season, his Christlike attitude in serving…..  I realized with my whole being what I have been lacking all this time in serving…..

Rome…..  What can I say about this city, a city of martyrdom……  I met countless martyrs, walking day after day 3 to 5 hours daily, searching, visiting and meeting from child martyrs to 10,000 soldier martyrs, hearing cries and feeling their determinations for God…. walking on the road Apostle Paul and Peter might have walked, smelling, seeing their anxious laden sweat and tears… hearing, “Quovadis Domine!”, the utter cry of agony and desperation!! Everywhere I go, I could smell the blood of martyrs!!! Having to restrain the urge to kiss the martyrs’ blood shed holy ground,  I realized that becoming a martyr means to give up oneself in total surrender- one’s will, mind, emotions, feelings, decisions, life choices- the whole being…. Martyrdom is the epitome of sanctification and holiness in Christian life…..

There are so many things I learned, realized and decided…. Many many reflections I wrote throughout this journey…. So many moving stories and testimonies during this trip… It is only a fraction I am telling you now…

Dating with Mozart, Bach and others going through concerts, being mesmerized by paintings of Climt at Belvedere Palace spending a whole day at the gallery….  What happy and dreamy days I have had in Vienna!!

Now I am in Prague where I am meeting with Jan Huss, a religious reformer, a prototype of Martin Luther who lived 100 years before Luther, a martyr burned at the stake for being a trumpet of God, proclaiming the truth that Jesus Christ, not Pope, is the head of the church and that lay people should be administered both elements of Eucharist, wine and bread, not just bread alone. In fact, I am writing this mail in front of Bethlehem chapel where he served as a preacher from 1402 to 1412 for ten years….. He missed this chapel so much while he was imprisoned that he even dreamt of this place….  And here I am standing and thinking about what God asks me to do…..

I thank God for your ministry being a comforter to those people around you, a comforter who knows life struggles and heartaches….

P.S… it took two years for me to venture out on my own to Taytay market: I am so bad at direction, but I have never been lost on this trip….   It is a surprise even to myself that I am traveling alone….  God has been with me on this trip….

무었을 기다리는가

꽃이 아니라도
살아냄의 치열함을 뚫고
아릿한 새순으로 고개를 들었는데
꽃이 아니라고 씨부릴까나?

(장미화분의 꽃을 기다리던 1월 9일, 2015 아침에…..)