‘A joy to return to Wesley’: Rev Ian Lee returns to Wesley as Pastor for Family Life Ministry

“I have always been grateful for all the support I received from Wesley for my studies at Trinity Theological College (TTC), particularly in the form of community,” said Pastor Ian Lee, who recently returned to Wesley Methodist Church in August, as the Pastor overseeing the Family Life Ministry. Some of Pastor Ian’s closest friends are here, and it is always a comfort for him to see familiar faces.

“I grew up in Trinity Methodist Church but came to Wesley when I was 19,” he added. “It is, therefore, a joy to return to Wesley.”

Pastor Ian’s current responsibilities are to oversee the Family Life Ministry and to assist with Discipleship & Nurture and Small Group Ministry under Pastor Gladwin Lee.

Before returning to Wesley, Pastor Ian was at Bedok Methodist Church from 2013 to 2016 and at Covenant Community Methodist Church from 2016 to 2021. He left Singapore for his sabbatical studies at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia from 2021 to 2023.

In ministry for the last 12 years after graduating from TTC in 2011, Pastor Ian became a pastor officially in August 2013.

Growing Up Years

Pastor Ian described his growing-up years as a “thoroughly Christian environment”.

“My granddad served as an usher at Wesley Methodist Church and later helped to start Trinity Methodist Church (TMC) in Serangoon Gardens, where I grew up. One of my earliest childhood memories was playing in the pews in the sanctuary at TMC while my dad attended choir practice or committee meetings. He was exemplary for me in his church involvement and prayer life. Even to this day, he prays for me and my family daily at 4.30 am,” recounted Pastor Ian. “Yet, [it was] not just my dad [who] played a formative role in my identity as a Christian, but the entire church community. I remember the first time I heard the gospel clearly and understood Christ’s sacrifice personally was when my youth group leader brought us to an evangelistic rally when I was about 13. Subsequently, I had a mentor who really challenged my naïve perspectives as a young Christian. He showed me that being a disciple is costly but also worth it in knowing Christ.”

Eric Chiam, a Pastoral Team Member (PTM) for Small Group Ministry (SGM) at Wesley, who has known Pastor Ian for two decades, remembered him as a very kind and empathetic friend: “Ian always tries his best to look at things from the other person’s perspective. 

“I first met Ian at a mutual friend’s wedding around 2004 before he came to Wesley. At that time, Ian was in National Service. Subsequently, Ian moved to Wesley, and we had a great time serving together in the Youth Ministry worship team,” added Eric.

As a friend who had entered full-time ministry before Eric, Pastor Ian was an invaluable guide for Eric when he also decided to enter full-time ministry: “Ian gave me a realistic picture of what it means to be a full-time ministry worker and helped me navigate the different expectations others had of him and that he had of himself. Those insights helped me to process my own journey as I prepared to become a church worker. He is a reliable and good friend.”

As a student in ACPS and ACS (Barker), Pastor Ian enjoyed playing rugby in school. He confessed he was probably recruited for his physical build rather than athletic ability. Not too into his academics, Pastor Ian was much more interested in video games and meeting church friends than his studies or CCAs when he was younger. “But if I had to choose a favourite subject, I would probably say literature. Perhaps Pastor Ian’s favourite literature book might give us a glimpse into what lay in his heart since he was a young boy: “The one book I remember spending a lot of time on was To Kill a Mockingbird.” To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, is a famous American classic literature that deals with issues like justice and racial inequality.

Giving One’s Best Years to the Lord

Through his response to the Lord’s calling to enter full-time ministry at a young age, Pastor Ian demonstrated what giving one’s best years to the Lord looks like.

Pastor Ian recalled the earliest memory of receiving his calling to serve full-time in ministry was when he was just fifteen. “My dad had always encouraged me to pursue a career that gave me a sense of purpose and fulfilment, and so I shared with him that I was thinking about working in church at that point.”

After he graduated from Temasek Polytechnic, Pastor Ian was also single-minded about entering TTC. “I had no career plans before going to TTC. My dad encouraged me to look for a mentor and pursue internships in the church to get a sense of whether I would really want that. I am very thankful that my parents are very supportive of me going to TTC so that I could be properly equipped for my ministry in the church.” Although Pastor Ian initially planned to attend TTC for theological training to equip himself without any fixed intentions or plans to become a pastor, he realised that God might have other plans for him when he was mid-way through his studies in the first year. “Theological studies impressed upon me the importance of investing my mind as a spiritual act of worship, in loving God not just during my three years in TTC but for the rest of my life.” 

In any case, Pastor Ian was confident that even if he had not ended up working in the church, he would still be in full-time ministry. “All who follow Christ are in full-time ministry, regardless of vocation!”

A Balance Between Family and Ministry

Married for six years, Pastor Ian’s wife Michele has been a staff at Youth With A Mission (YWAM) for the last ten years, where she serves in the School of Biblical Studies (SBS), a school that guides students in inductive study of all sixty-six books of the Bible in a year. Michele’s passion for the Bible has been a very positive influence on Pastor Ian: “Michele has supported me greatly in my preparations to teach and preach.”

As parents to two young children, Emmeline, three years old, and August, four months old, Pastor Ian and Michele are mindful of balancing their ministry life with their family life. On their off days, they enjoy taking walks, hiking and spending time with the kids at the playground.

“I try to achieve a good balance of being a husband, father and pastor. A pastor’s job on a weekday basis is not too different from other vocations when it entails a lot of meetings and emails, but the parts I like about being a pastor are meeting people over meals and preparing to teach and preach.”

Some of the Most Joyous Ministry Moments

One of Pastor Ian’s most joyous moments in ministry includes the celebration of communion with small groups of youths and young adults in his home during the pandemic.

“There had been a long period where we were unable to gather and so when restrictions were lifted and groups of five could visit a home, we hosted several groups for lunch, sang with them and broke bread together. Celebrating communion like that was meaningful and precious to me.”

Pastor Ian’s time at Regent College, the Graduate School of Theology in Vancouver Canada, for the last two years was also nothing short of amazing. “I did (and am still during completing) the Master of Arts in Theological Studies with a concentration in the Old Testament. In a nutshell, I chose to focus on the Old Testament because it was Jesus’ Bible and the more I understand it, the more the New Testament makes sense to me. My time at Regent was precious not just because of the learning experience, but because of all the time my family got to spend together, and we are all still mourning the loss of our church and extended student community there.”

Favourite Verse, Hymn and Biblical Characters

One of Pastor Ian’s favourite verses is Ecclesiastes 4:5-6, which to him, in many ways, is like the serenity prayer. “I like these verses: ‘Fools fold their hands and ruin themselves. Better one handful with tranquillity than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind.’ It reminds me not to become jaded and despondent (folding one’s hands) and not [to] accord ultimate importance to my endeavours (two handfuls with toil and chasing the wind). The best and wisest posture is an open palm (one handful with tranquillity), willing to receive or relinquish whatever God gives or takes.”

When asked about his favourite hymn, Pastor Ian cited ‘My worth is not in what I own’ by Keith and Kristyn Getty. He described himself as someone who often takes himself and what he can do too seriously, so the song lyrics ‘‘Two wonders here that I confess: My worth and my unworthiness. My value fixed, my ransom paid at the cross’’ helps to remind him that regardless of achievement, he is no better than the next person because the cross is an indictment of his own sinfulness. “But it also reminds me of how much I am loved by God!”

As for a favourite biblical character, Pastor Ian said that he does not have a favourite as he resonates with many characters in the Bible— especially their flaws: “Reading Jonah, I am struck by his disdain for when his enemies are shown grace by God—I have often been petty in the same way. Reading about Joseph, I have often identified with his youthful naivete, guilty for being zealous about something without regard for the feelings of those around him. I think that is one aspect that makes Scripture so amazing. If we look deep into the eyes of the characters, we often find ourselves staring in the mirror.”

‘God is in Charge’

Having just returned from his sabbatical leave, Pastor Ian and Michele are still navigating many transitions now as a family. “[We have] just arrived back from Canada and [are] managing our new born while our toddler adapts to school. I am also still studying for my final comprehensive exams at the end of the year, and so I am deeply thankful to Pastor Ray and the entire team for bearing with me as I re-enter pastoral ministry in this busy season of mine.”

Being a pastor obviously does not exclude one from the usual anxieties and concerns that plague the rest of us, and Pastor Ian is no exception. “I often find myself crippled by anxiety whenever I contemplate the future. I can be a textbook worrywart in many ways, and news of what is happening in society and the world at large can be overwhelming,” said Pastor Ian.

“But the one thing that gives me peace is to know that God is still in charge no matter what, and that unlike me, He is not worried in the slightest.”

*The Serenity Prayer:  

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Read also: ‘Wesley will always have a special place in my heart’: Interview with Rev David Ho

About the Contributor

Share This!

Related Posts

Contemplating about Christmas

In this festive season, what are we truly celebrating? Will you pause and listen to what the Lord wants you to learn this Christmas? Small Group leader Michael Chiam contemplates on The Nativity scene from the Gospel of Luke and a quiet Christmas for some this year.

Read More »

Bringing God’s Message of Hope and Promise from Singapore to the World: Remembering the Legacy of Brother Joseph Chean (1966 – 2023)

Tributes are pouring in for Joseph Chean, the late leader of YWAM and Antioch 21 Singapore, who passed away in Istanbul, Turkey, on 15 November 2023, in a car accident. Joseph was supposed to preach at Wesley Methodist Church at its Missions Sunday service on 19 November 2023. But, sadly, it is not to be. Read about the ways Joseph had impacted lives and touched hearts in Wesley’s tribute to Brother Joseph Chean.

Read More »
Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Get fresh news from Wesley Methodist Church as they come.

Stay Connected
Scroll to Top