Book Sneak Peek: Stephen and Joy Yoon – Something Impossible

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Stephen and Joy Yoon

Something Impossible

 

North Korea was not a country Stephen had ever considered. All his life he’d been taught that North Koreans were horrible, scary, even evil. In elementary school, North Koreans were depicted in their textbooks drawn with horns and tails. Stephen could not fathom North Korea as a place of service. It was a place South Koreans could not go.

They would never even think about it. Why would they? It was like going to the moon—impossible.

When Joy asked, “Would you be willing to go to North Korea with me?”

Of course, he said yes. He trusted that his good God, who always gives good things, would never, ever let that happen. He said yes, trusting that God would never send them there.

He was wrong.

After college, both Stephen and Joy were accepted to chiropractic college in Chicago, but neither of them had peace about it. Stephen felt a calling into ministry instead of graduate school right away, and Joy was unsure about pursuing the medical field.

Through a connection with Stephen’s former youth pastor, they ended up moving to Los Angeles to work in youth ministry and music at a small Korean-American congregation. They served there for the next eight years and eventually began graduate studies—Stephen in chiropractic medicine and Joy in biology.

All the while, God was preparing their hearts through short term trips and connections with other cross-cultural workers.

During this time, Stephen received a scholarship to attend a conference on North Korea. There he heard about and met foreign Christians living in North Korea, even raising their children there.

It was shocking.

Though that conference was only a weekend long, it changed Stephen’s life forever. He came home saying, “Joy, I think God is calling us to North Korea!”

Joy’s response was simple, “Yes, I know. I’ve been praying for that for seven years now!”

They began to make concrete plans to go to North Korea. They attended another conference where their hearts were stirred to simply be obedient and go. Go now, and let God provide the means.

The next year was a whirlwind of preparation. They finished medical training and graduate school, applied to and were accepted by a sending organization, co-led a short-term trip to China, sold or gave away all their belongings, and watched as God amazingly provided the necessary financial support.

Stephen was invited to start teaching and treating patients through chiropractic medicine at a traditional Korean medicine hospital, and fifteen years after Joy had felt the initial call, they and their two small children moved to live in North Korea.

 

DON’T RELY ON YOUR SKILLS

On the day Stephen and Joy were to cross the border into North Korea for the first time, Stephen was sick. Or he wanted to say he was sick—sick and could not go. He was nervous, scared. All he could see was the childhood image of North Koreans with horns and tails. He imagined they would swallow him if he did something wrong.

On that day their assigned escort was late. They waited at the border for over two hours, anxious, freezing cold, and hungry from not having eaten lunch. When their minder finally approached, Joy said, “Wow, he’s so handsome.”

Something inside Stephen shifted. Oh. He is a good-looking man. He’s a regular person. Just like us. North Koreans are people just like us.

During the hour’s drive from the border into town, the minder asked questions, trying to make conversation. All Stephen could say was “Yes” or “No” as he reminded himself: Calm down, relax. He’s just making conversation.

Stephen was nervous, but for the first time in his life, he was able to break through the propaganda of his childhood and recognize the truth: North Koreans were people whom God loves.

And God wasn’t done stretching and challenging Stephen and Joy. They had prayed about this move and were convinced that God was calling them to go. They had even reconciled that if they had to die there to follow God’s call, they would do it. But even with that kind of faith, Stephen confesses that he never thought God was alive in North Korea. Every bit of news or information about North Korea was not of God. It’s all what the enemy and darkness have done to that nation.

That all changed when Stephen began treating patients.

When he first arrived at the hospital, his predecessor took Stephen aside to a private room. They prayed together, and then the older man said, “Today you are going to rely upon God. You cannot rely upon your medical knowledge or your skills here.”

In the beginning, all his patients were old with very difficult chronic issues.

He found himself saying again and again, “I’m sorry. You came too late. I cannot help you. You need surgery, and I can’t do that.”

Knowing they could not receive surgery in the country, he had to simply give them basic treatment and send them home. Stephen was disappointed. Why had God sent him here if he wasn’t going to be of any use?

But then, amazingly, his patients began to be healed. As a chiropractor, his treatment was all manual. He had to adjust people by physically touching their bodies. And as he laid hands on them in treatment and silently prayed over them, they began to see miraculous results.

A grandmother who hadn’t been able to move her arm for years suddenly could. A patient who had been brought in by piggyback because he was completely disabled by pain got up and walked out of the treatment room.

Stephen knew it wasn’t because of the basic treatments he was giving—his patients’ conditions were so severe. There was no explanation other than that God was healing them one by one. And Stephen received the message loud and clear: God is alive and well here.

He is the one who heals.

He is the one changing impossible to possible.

 

COUNTRY-CHANGING MEDICAL CARE

Word of these hundreds of miraculous healings spread. More and more difficult patients came in for treatment. In 2012, a grandmother brought in her four-year-old granddaughter with severe spastic quadriplegia. She had cerebral palsy and could not even move a finger. Her jaw was locked open. The grandmother had kept her alive by pre-chewing food and transferring it to the little girl’s mouth so she could swallow it.

As Stephen held this little girl, his heart broke, and he asked a question many have asked before:

Why, God? Why should this beautiful child be born here in North Korea with this horrible condition?

He wept over her. He had never treated kids with cerebral palsy, but he tried his best with all the knowledge and skills and prayer he could offer.

And then he started asking questions. “Why is this the first CP patient I’ve seen in all these years? Are there not more kids like this?”

The answer he received from North Korean doctors was not comforting. “Actually, when a child like this is born, we tell parents not to let them suffer too long. Let them die quickly and in peace.”

From that time on, Stephen dropped everything else. He would do whatever it took to help people see the value in all lives—even those severely disabled.

At the time, since there was no medical training or therapy to treat children with developmental disabilities like cerebral palsy or autism in North Korea, he traveled to South Korea to learn pediatric rehabilitation.

After a few years, Stephen was invited to move from the northern province to the capital city of Pyongyang to teach rehabilitation medicine at North Korea’s top medical school. More and more people who’d been hidden away in their homes started coming out, seeking treatment.

One came to them a quadriplegic. She received treatment for a whole year. She was admitted, received surgeries and therapies, and she became the first CP quadriplegic patient to walk out of the hospital on her own power.

 

Read the Yoon’s full story in Compassionate Love: How God is Blessing a Hurting World by ordering your copy on Amazon TODAY. All proceeds fund the ministry of MedSend.

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2 Comments

  1. April on June 18, 2024 at 9:33 pm

    Where can I get this book? Is there a link to purchase or view?

    • Kelly@medsend.org on June 19, 2024 at 2:54 pm

      Absolutely! Here is the link to Amazon.

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