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Korean American nurse returns to Korea, supports missionary presence

Peace Joo pursued nursing school “to reach out to save lost souls through the gospel and medical needs.” IMB Photo


The first time God caught Peace Joo’s attention, she was in high school at a summer youth retreat in Texas. While rafting down a river, her raft overturned. The current was too strong. She felt herself being pulled under. But her youth pastor’s hand reached out and pulled her to safety.

Once back on dry land, she realized that in that moment she wasn’t just drowning in the rapids. She was also drowning in her sin. And she didn’t want to be.

“I felt it was God who reached out to me that day,” Joo said. “I repented, and I was saved. That’s when I met Jesus Christ for the first time.”

Joo moved to the U.S. from Korea as a child, with her family. Though Buddhist, her parents encouraged her to get involved in a Christian church. There, she could make friends and have a community, they said.

After college, Joo dove headfirst into a career in hotel management. She loved the freedom and experience her career gave her, managing five-star hotels and opening new ones across the U.S.

She admits that, as her career took off, “I was more focused on building my kingdom.”

Her perspective shifted in September 2001. She was scheduled to open a Ritz-Carlton Hotel in the heart of New York City, right in front of the Twin Towers. She changed her plans to take a short, unplanned vacation and go home to Houston, Texas, first. That was at the beginning of September.

While home, she and her family were glued to their TV screens as they watched the devastation of September 11, 2001, unfold barely a block from where Joo was scheduled to be working.

“The tragedy of 9/11 opened my eyes to clearly see the lost souls that needed to hear the Gospel. Things in the world were just vain and insecure,” she said. “God opened my eyes to His plans for me, which was not to build my own kingdom, but to build His Kingdom in the name of Jesus Christ. At that time, I realized His authority in my life, and I acknowledged His complete control over me.”

After this, she knew that chasing money and importance wasn’t the life God had called her to. She went to nursing school “to reach out to save lost souls through the Gospel and medical needs. This was my first step to submitting to the Lord,” she said.

After finishing nursing school, Joo dedicated her vacation time each year to short-term mission trips. On mission trips to East Asia, she observed the lives of the missionaries she encountered. She was convinced that, though she wasn’t sure of the avenue yet, God would eventually lead her into missions.

She put the call to live internationally and be a light into practice when she worked as a nurse in a country dominated by Islam. There she was able to feel closer to the Lord than she had in years. After nearly 10 years, she participated in another short-term missions opportunity.

“During this time, God reaffirmed His calling to build His Kingdom in Christ for those who have not heard the Good News and to share the Gospel to unreached areas. I was afraid to submit to God fully, thinking that I was not qualified to be His servant,” she said. But, armed with Genesis 28:15, she was reminded that God was with her and would lead her and fulfill His promises.

When she learned about the opportunities to go as a missionary with the International Mission Board, she knew what God had been preparing her for. In December 2023, she embarked on a new journey, back to the land of her birth, to serve IMB workers across Asia while also engaging in local work.  

When the IMB began talking with her, they told her she was just what they were praying for. She’ll be supporting IMB missionaries in Korea and other Asian nations as they plant churches and make disciples. Her knowledge of the language makes her perfect for the job.

“I’m helping missionaries on the field and am an advocate for them. My role helps them stay longer,” she said. She’s also already investing in international students, like the ones she met and connected with while taking care of some immigration errands. She knows she’s also uniquely poised to understand their plight, because she once was an international student.

Giving to the Cooperative Program and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering supports missionary presence like Joo’s across Asia.

Please visit imb.org/asian-church-missions for more stories and resources to promote Asian church missions opportunities.

Some names have been changed for security.