God’s Call– Kathy Choi-Lee


Kathy Choi-Lee
Pastoral team member (part time), Christ Covenant Church, Villa Park, Illinois
Ordained: 2000

My Journey

God called me into ministry, and I simply followed.

My call began in college as a young Christian. I was asked to co-lead a dorm Bible study, but I hesitated because I did not feel capable. Then I heard a sermon on John 21. “If you love me, feed my sheep,” and I felt God speak to me. Essentially, God called me into ministry through that sermon.

It was preached by Robert Goette, my first mentor as a seminary intern. Back in the day, he was like a Bill Hybels for Asian-American youth in the Chicagoland area. I learned the rare combination of humility, faithfulness, and excellence as a pastor from him. He passed away last year after a long battle with ALS, and I will always remember him for the impact he had on my life.

My plan was to go into overseas mission; I did not think I would be ordained in ministry. At Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, one of my pastoral theology professors was Covenanter David Larsen. He encouraged me to look into the Covenant, especially since the denomination ordained women.

When I eventually became a missionary in Paris with the ECC, I wanted to go through the process of ordination so that I would be equipped for the possibility of church planting in France. I completed the process while in France, having to translate the sermon portion of the requirements from French to English. My ordination was one of the proudest moments of my life.

After I got married, I attended my husband’s church where I served part-time in children’s and women’s ministry. When I started to long for a more pastoral role, I prayed for discernment and decided with my husband that we would look for a new church together. During the interim, my husband and I visited my current church, Christ Covenant Church, formerly known as Parkwood Community Church, because Parkwood had supported me when I was a missionary in France. When I learned about an opening for a part-time pastoral position, I applied, interviewed, and was hired.

I am now in the midst of preparations to return to mission work in Avignon, France, with my husband and our two sons. Our target is to finish fundraising and other training in order to leave at the end of 2016.

The Challenges

There have been comments directed to me over the years about women in ministry but none that have traumatized me. I think the bigger challenge has been myself, my own thoughts about entering a male-dominated ministry, but I want to be faithful to God’s call. When is it God’s voice rather than other voices? Some of my questions may stem from my Asian-American context. In a sense, it may be more of an advantage than a challenge—perhaps it’s good to take the time to question and process this decision to be a minority voice.

The Joys

A number of years ago, Steve Burger and the Department of Christian Formation held a lunch at Midwinter for leaders in discipleship ministry. Secretly, church members were asked to write a note of appreciation for their leaders as a surprise at the luncheon. At the last minute an emergency came up and I was unable to attend. Later, by email, I received the notes of appreciation. I was so caught off guard that I was brought to tears by the eloquent words.

First live concert

: Stryper, a heavy metal Christian band. I had no idea what they were like, but I went because my youth group was going.

If I had to be in a talent show, I would:

Perform a reverse lay-up in basketball.




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