Growing up together in a foreign country can forge friendships quickly and with a strength of steel. My closest friend when I was growing up in South Korea was also named Joy! We were inseparable and people called us Joy squared. We haven’t lived close to each other for over 20 years, but we are still fast friends. Each time we have the blessing of getting together, we can pick up where we left off.
Joy and her husband have spent over 10 years as humanitarian NGO workers in North Korea working with children and the hospital there. I am amazed at the passion and zeal they have for the people there. I have learned so many things from the lessons and experiences she has had. You might just be surprised by what she has to say!
*A personal video and links are below!
A Note From Joy
“In the most unlikely of places, on a journey into the unknown, I discovered an unexpected gift of JOY! While the world around us seems to be becoming more and more divided, I found myself drawing closer in relationship to people who I initially thought to be nothing like me. But the more I learned from them, the more I found myself embracing newfound relationships and unearthing JOY in the midst of difficult circumstances. Join me on my journey of ten years into North Korea and my discovery of not only who they are as a people but also who I was to them!”
Thoughts from Joy’s Husband, Stephen
“Through our 11 years of life in North Korea, I have discovered a “self” before God and men. The “self” that I discovered was the “self” that needed to be broken again and again. What was more difficult than the hardships of life in North Korea and the conflicts with the North Korean people was dealing with this “self.”
Through my life and ministry, I learned of the love and mercy God has towards His people. This is known in Hebrew as the “hesed” love of God that does not give up on someone like my “self.” Although God knew everything about my “self”, it was the love of the Lord that continued to hold onto me until the very end. It was love without an exit strategy.
As this love started to become a deep foundation for our family while living in North Korea, a great joy began to take shape in our lives. We began to find joy in the midst of our life struggles in North Korea and the chronic conflicts we encountered with its people. We discovered that joy-found life can change everything. We experienced miracles like finding water in the desert. This water in the desert could not change the environment, but it changed my “self.” It gave us strength. It gave us hope.
My wife has now shared with the world a book describing this newfound joy we have experienced during our time in North Korea. It is not a faith-based book. However, she has shared in the book as people of faith this joy that we discovered and experienced in North Korea.
Our hope is that through this book, North and South Korea and the US will be able to start a journey of healing and restoration. We pray that the people of North Korea whom we personally experienced will be made known to the world. We hope that this book will become a stepping stone of hope for God’s created people to accept one another as fellow creatures of our benevolent Creator.
Through the “hesed” love of God for my “self,” it is my hope that we can learn a perspective of courage to accomplish the love that does not give up and does not abandon as we live in this desert-like world. Before we can love the people of North Korea, I hope that the “hesed” love of God enables us to love those around us who seem unchangeable and create within us a great hope for tomorrow.”