Interview with Helen Lee, author of The Missional Mom

The ripple effect from most conferences is immeasurable. Lives transformed, dosage marriages restored, hair spirits stirred in ways that you wouldn’t typically experience. One reason that I am particularly excited about the Chosen Women’s Conference is because many lives beyond those who attend will be impacted. A portion of the proceeds from Chosen will be given to A21 Carolinas, an organization founded in Mount Pleasant, SC that is dedicated to ending human trafficking in the Carolinas and beyond in the United States. My sister-in-law, Lisa Surratt, just so happens to be the Founding Director and we are together on a “staycation” this week so I thought that it would be fun to interview her to share some of the backstory and passion behind A21 Carolinas. We lounged on an upper deck overlooking the sparkling ocean waves and talked as the gentle breeze blew the nearby palm trees and bright sun shone down.

How did attending a conference play into your journey and benefit your spiritual growth?
We get filled up so we can pour out. If I hadn’t gone to SHINE 2010, I wouldn’t be doing anything that I am now. I cried through most of the conference and knew that the Holy Spirit had met me and it was such a sweet time of Him saying I’m here and getting ready to wildly change your life. I was so on the fringe at that point. I loved what Josh (Lisa’s husband and Seacoast Church Campus Pastor) was doing and wanted to support him, but thought medical missions were my calling.

Wasn’t it at that conference that you first met Christine Cane?
I actually met her before I had even heard her speak – it was a divine appointment. We were with a group in the lobby of our hotel and Christine had just had surgery on her knee. I talked to her about it and ended up giving her a tube of medicine. We hit it off, ended up eating dinner together that night and talked the vast majority of the time – an instant connection. She was already planning a visit to Charleston and, after hearing more about the city, decided to extend their stay.

Do you feel like it was when she was in Charleston the Lord first began to stir your heart to join the fight against human trafficking?
It was and it wasn’t. It was then that the process began, but it was more of a call to ministry period. I was happy being on the fringe, doing medical missions, but she challenged me a lot and asked some really hard questions. She told me that I was supposed to be doing more. The trafficking issue really got to me, but when we found out that it was going on here in Charleston, it became so much more real. I wondered what I was doing with my life that was really making a difference. I couldn’t bear to think that someone’s sister, daughter or friend were being trafficked around the corner and felt the need to do something about it.

From there it was a slow process of figuring out what I could do. It felt too hard, like there was no way to even make a dent. God kept bringing more people with crazy gifts and skills and I blinked and don’t even know how it all happened.

People can just sense that the Lord is in this. There is so much happening and I’m really not working that hard. He is opening the doors and making it happen. We have to remember that we have a majorly huge God that is way bigger than any of this.

Is there a particular verse that has spoken to you through this whole journey?
Well, there are a lot. Really all of Isaiah 58-61 have been really powerful, but this one in particular:
The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners
(Isaiah 61:1)

What is the benefit of attending a women’s conference versus a co-ed conference?
I always get a lot more out of women’s conferences. There is something sweet about just being with other sisters. I tend to be much more focused. Women relate to women well. We are wired differently so how we process, see God and relate to Him is a lot different than men.

If you would like to find out more or join the fight against human trafficking, please visit
At the beginning of this year, site
I read The Missional Mom by Helen Lee. The book spoke my heart and when I realized that she lived in the Chicago area, jumped at the chance to join my husband on a business trip and try to meet her. The Lord totally lined up our coffee chat at Starbucks and I enjoyed every moment of speaking with the author of one of my favorite books. He had already begun to plant a seed in my heart to start a group for moms that would encourage them to live missionally and my conversation with Helen that afternoon only increased my desire. One of my favorite quotes from her book is “The missional mom embraces her God-given mandate to be both a disciple of and a discipler for Christ. Evangelism is not something to do; evangelism is living purposefully and intentionally to make disciples and to bring the light of Christ in all that you do.”

As you can imagine, I am over the top excited about Helen speaking at the Chosen Women’s Conference in a month. I can’t wait for her to share her knowledgeable and passionate heart with other women. Just a few days ago, Helen took time away from her busy schedule of working and homeschooling two of her three boys (one is in pre-school) to answer a few questions for me to help you get to know her better.

Where did you grow up? I grew up outside of DC and considered myself an “East Coast Girl” until college when I met a group of friends through InterVarsity who introduced me to the mid-West. I ended up attending Wheaton College where I met my husband. We were married in Chicago, but moved away for him to go to grad school. We have been back in Chicagoland for seven years.
How did you come to know the Lord? Well, that is an interesting story! I was living in an apartment complex when I was six years old and a Pastor approached me and asked if I would like to go to church. I had seen a lot of children getting on a blue bus every Sunday and it looked like fun so I tried it. It was a Baptist church that did a lot of altar calls and it was during one of those that I became a Christian. My interest in attending church made my parents decide that they wanted to start attending an Asian church. I was interested in Christianity, however, it wasn’t until college when I began hanging out with a group of believers that my relationship with Christ deepened.

What made you decide to write The Missional Mom? I wrote the book out of my own struggles with finding balance in mission and motherhood. I came to a place where I really wanted to be the best mom that I could to my three boys, but felt a lot of pressure from society to make them the center of my life. I knew that the talents and abilities that I had were gifts from God and didn’t want those to go to waste. Through research, I realized that the ultimate way to live on mission was to act out my first calling as a disciple of Christ through one of my secondary callings of being a mother.

Where do you see the culture of missional living going? Everyone defines missional living differently. I have seen a lot of larger churches taking on the mandate of missional living, trying to merge their multi-site church culture with a missional one. I think that we will ultimately see a lot of missional communities, or smaller churches, existing underneath the umbrella of the larger church.

You can see Helen live at the Chosen Women’s Conference January 19-20, 2012 in Mount Pleasant, SC. Register now at