Janee Angel

Janee Angel (left) and her family are serving as missionaries in Belgium. She is pictured with her family (left to right) — Phoebe, Maria-Grace and her husband, Hary Khano.

By Steve Raymond
News Report Staff
Janee Angel was enjoying a beautiful morning.
She was sitting on the beach in the Marshall Islands, admiring a rainbow that was arched over the Pacific Ocean.
During that quiet time alone, however, she began to get a glimpse of the journey God had planned for her.
“It was my first sense God would take me somewhere. There was a stirring in my heart to be a missionary,” Janee recalled.
Little did she know that journey would include ministering on an Apache Indian Reservation in Arizona, a children’s camp in Georgia, and a Filipino Church in Hawaii.
Janee had no idea she would share her faith in the southern African countries of Zimbabwe and Botswana.
And she certainly didn’t know she would end up in Belgium, teach English to Muslims and Moroccans, start a new church, begin a ministry to refugees and marry a man from Syria.
But Janee will quickly tell you “I’m right where I’m supposed to be. I’m right where God wants me to be.”
Janee is the daughter and only child of Jim and Betty Angel, of Teutopolis. “We were the Baptist family,” she said with a big grin.
She graduated from THS in 1991 and then earned her bachelor’s degree in music education at Eastern Illinois University, graduating in 1996.
“I always loved music,” Janee said. “Mr. Lindvahl was my favorite teacher in high school. I even helped write a song with him. That’s how I got to go on the trip to the Marshall Islands.”
While she was at EIU, she joined the Baptist Student Union and was introduced to its summer missions program. It was during one of the summers at the children’s camp in Georgia she became convinced God was calling her to be a missionary.
“But I thought it would be in this country,” Janee admitted.
In December 1994, she found out that wasn’t necessarily the case. She attended a large missions conference that featured missionary speakers from North America and all over the world.
“I kept being drawn to the international speakers,” Janee recalled. “By the time the conference was over, I knew God was calling me to another country.”
After college, she served as a missionary for two years in Zimbabwe and Botswana. When she returned to the states, she went to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Ft. Worth, Texas. She earned her Master’s in Divinity and was part of a church staff. She was in Texas a total of five years.
She then became part of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and was sent to Brussels, Belgium, in October 2004. Her responsibility was to teach English in the Muslim-Moroccan neighborhood.
“And I didn’t even know Arabic yet,” Janee noted. “I taught both teenagers and adults. They were anxious to learn English, but it was challenging. I used my hands and I even acted things out to help them understand. There’s always a way to communicate.”
Not only did she need to learn Arabic, but French and Dutch as well. Many of the people she taught spoke one or more of those languages. (Janee now speaks French and Dutch fluently and is still learning Arabic.)
“For three years, I stumbled around, learning both Arabic and French,” Janee admitted. “I had to learn the basics just to survive. Even to buy groceries or supplies, everything was in French and Dutch.
“Life was hard,” she added. “I lived alone in a small studio apartment. I even attended a French-Arabic church. I was trying to learn all the cultural rules as a Western woman living in an Arab world.”
But things got better and better. She met a Tunisian woman that became a very dear friend. And during that three-year period, she taught more than 600 Muslim-Moroccan students.
She was in her early 30s at that time and had accepted the fact she would probably never be married. But, again, that wasn’t in God’s plan.
Through her church, she met Hary Khano, who was serving as an evangelist. He didn’t know it at the time, but once their relationship started to grow, he was being evaluated. Janee had developed a “check list” of 25 things she looked for in a husband.
“Hary was the first man to match my entire list,” she said. “We just knew we were right for each other. Beyond the cultural and language challenges, we knew God was in the center of our lives and we’ve kept him in the center.”
But dating was a little different.
In the Arab culture, they couldn’t be seen together. It was a cultural taboo.
“So if we’d go out to eat or go to a movie, when I got in the car, I had to duck down until we got out of that area,” Janee explained. “I guess you could say we were a secret boyfriend and girlfriend. We were very careful because we wanted to keep our testimony intact. We did tell our pastor, who was from Egypt, and his wife, who was from Germany. They thought it was wonderful.”
After their engagement party in December 2007, they no longer had to keep their relationship a secret. They were married in September 2008.
Hary had been in Belgium since 2000 after being able to leave Syria. He had become a Christian in his early 20s after hearing a radio show in Lebanon. His sister, who lived in Switzerland, wanted him to leave Syria.
“At that time, it was almost impossible to get a visa from Syria to Europe,” Janee explained. “But he said if God wanted him to leave, he’d get a visa. It was approved in record time.”
In March 2011, the couple moved to Antwerp to start a new church. There were no Arabic Christian churches outside the Brussels area.
“But Muslims like to talk about God. So starting a conversation is not a difficult or scary thing,” Janee noted. “But it was important how I lived my life. Muslims believe in the type of Christianity they see in Hollywood.
“I had to be less influenced by what was around me and more influenced by the Word of God,” she added. “Through me, I want these people to see the love of Jesus and I don’t want anything in my life to get in the way of them seeing the truth.”
Hary and Janee started with a congregation of five but saw it grow to as many as 80 on some Sundays. They eventually turned the church over to another Syrian couple, but Janee still plays the piano and works with the kids.
About a year ago, the couple started working with refugees. Belgium is one of the countries that will accept Middle Eastern men and women into their country. But there is a process.
They first go to refugee camps. After a period of time, they are given social housing, but they have no choice as to where they are sent. Once they are approved and can stay in the country, they can then choose where to live and seek employment. They are also required to learn the Dutch language.
Hary is a welder for a large company in Antwerp and does the ministry after hours. He has developed a team that makes visits to the camps. They invite men and women to their homes for a traditional Middle Eastern meal. Approval must be granted, however.
“We have hosted tons of people,” Janee said. “Some of the refugees just need to leave camp for a day or two. We’ve even got permission for a few to spend the night with us. It gives us the opportunity to develop a relationship and begin to share Jesus with them.
“There is a real need for this ministry,” she added. “Almost half of Syria has fled their country. So we’re always seeing new refugees and trying to meet their needs. We’re seeing people come to Christ.”
At the same time, the couple is striving to get the rest of Hary’s family out of Syria. It has been both a rewarding and frustrating challenge. To date, 18 family members have fled the country to Sweden, Canada or Belgium. But three are still three on a waiting list and Belgium has promised to give them a visa.
During a six-year period since the Syrian War began, Janee has contacted embassies, filled out mounds of paperwork and worked tirelessly to help Hary’s family experience a better life away from the ISIS-controlled country.
Unfortunately, Hary’s brother-in-law died before leaving Syria. Janee said it was caused by a stress-induced stroke. But three months later, his children were able to be reunited with their mother in Sweden.
“We had to make some pretty important political contacts to get that accomplished,” Janee said. “I imagine I sent 300 emails. But somebody came through, and within hours, the children had their visas.”
Janee and Hary, plus their two daughters – Phoebe, 6; and Maria-Grace, 2 – see the world through different lenses. They were only 35 miles away from the bombing of the Brussels airport in March 2016.
“But Hary says we will not live in fear,” Janee said. “He believes if God wants us to survive, we will survive. He is such a good man. It’s easy to see God in him.”
They still live in Antwerp in the Muslim-Moroccan neighborhood.
“I’ve never had one moment of being afraid because I’m a Christian woman,” Janee said. “I’m always aware of my surroundings and if I sense danger, I leave the area. But that’s never been because of me or who I am.”
Janee and the girls have been visiting her parents, arriving July 14. She began planning for the trip in February.
“It was soon after the travel ban started,” she noted. “We all needed a visa from the country we were born in. There just wasn’t enough time for Hary to get that from Syria. So we made the decision this time for the girls and I to just come. Hary will come on our next trip.”
Janee, Phoebe and Maria-Grace enjoyed the visit. It included visiting churches in Indiana, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina to talk about their ministry and raise financial support.
“I am on salary with Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, but we don’t receive ministry money,” Janee explained. “That financial support really helps our ministry.”
Janee has also enjoyed visiting her home church – First Baptist Church.
“I learned about missions here. When I walk into this church, it’s home,” she said. “This is the place where I was the shy, good girl. These are the people that have been down on their knees praying for me and what God is doing in me.
“Pastor Roger (Marshall) came when I was 15. He and his wife, Karen, have seen me through every step of my ministry,” Janee added. “They have walked with me through the good times and bad. We have a history together. They’re family.”
And, of course, the trip has included quality time with parents and grandparents.
“We live in the city, so I tell the girls to get out in the yard and play,” Janee said. “My parents have a huge yard. We can’t take that yard back in our suitcase.”
It’s been five years since Janee last visited.
“I grew up in a safe place with no worries,” Janee said. “We knew our neighbors. It was a great life.
“My mom and I have always had a special connection,” the 44-year-old daughter added. “When I first decided to be a missionary overseas, I knew I had to call home and ask for my parents’ support. Before I ever told mom, she already knew. She had been praying and God had already told her I wouldn’t be staying in this country.”
Janee and the girls left for Belgium on Monday. They were looking forward to seeing Hary, visiting with friends and resuming their normal life.
They will continue to spread the love of Jesus in their church, neighborhood and refugee camps.
And one thing is very clear.
They are right where they are supposed to be.
(If you would like more information about their ministry, there are a variety of ways to do that. Janee has a blog – seasonedwithspice.wordpress.com/; follow them on Facebook – www.facebook.com/seasonedwithspicebelgium/; or email Janee – janee.angel@hotmail.com. If you would like to provide financial support, go to www.cbf.net/angel-give.)