Many people have questions about their destiny, especially when bad days come. They wonder if their destiny is set in stone or if it can be changed, if they try to change it. Pastor Jung Myung Seok was no exception when he was young.
After coming back from the Vietnam War, Pastor Jung sold his TV and radio (which were rare and expensive items back then). This was to build Seokmak church in order to repay the grace of God that had protected him while he was fighting in the Vietnam War. However, it required a lot of money, so he started selling wooden ginseng posts and borrowed some money to buy the materials. One day he took $400 dollars and went to Cheonan and Boeun to buy wood.
Pastor Jung met up with Choi Cheon Bom, a guy his elder brother had introduced him to, who asked Pastor Jung to pay the money for the wood first. So he paid for the trees in advance with all the money he had and then received a promissory note. Afterwards, because the wood didn’t come in, the villagers came by Pastor Jung’s place looking for him.
The ginseng had grown, it was springtime, and the leaves were coming out, so he needed to hurry up and get the supporting rods. Yet, he couldn’t deliver the wood. He felt so frustrated, so he went to see Choi in Boeun.
They met in a motel, and he saw that Choi was smoking. Choi inhaled deeply and said, “You know what? Something bad happened. I was swindled. I got swindled out of that money. What should we do?”
Pastor Jung said, “That’s ridiculous. If you were swindled, you need to pay me back because it wasn’t me who was swindled. You need to pay for it.”
“Both of us have to take the loss,” Choi said.
Pastor Jung said, “Well, it’s not my money. It’s other people’s money.”
And then Choi said suddenly, “Hey, give me the promissory note.” Pastor Jung knew he shouldn’t give him the note, but Choi threatened to kill him if he didn’t hand it over, picking up a big copper ashtray and saying, “I’ll kill you. So hurry up and give it to me.”
Therefore, Pastor Jung gave in because he didn’t want to die. He gave the note to Choi, who then used his cigarette to light it on fire. After completely burning the promissory note, he said, “It’s done, right? It’s all taken care of.”
Pastor Jung was shocked because Choi had been recommended to him by his older brother who had reassuringly stated, “Hey, this is a guy whom you should trust. I know this guy. He’s a really nice guy. Since you’ve been in the military until recently, you don’t know much about society, so you will be in big trouble if you don’t know how to do business. If you’re going to buy wood, make sure you work with this guy to buy it.”
Ultimately, Choi burned up the promissory note and then set his mind to kill Pastor Jung since he knew that Pastor Jung would report him to the police. Choi started beating Jung mercilessly with the metal ashtray. But actually, Pastor Jung was good at martial arts, especially because of his military training; he could even break eight bricks with his head.
In that moment he instinctively moved, thinking to strike Choi with his head, but then Jesus’ words suddenly came to his mind, “There are no weapons in true love. If you’re going to love, there can be no weapons.”
Thus, he discarded the idea of using his body as a weapon to attack Choi. Without retaliating, Pastor Jung just let Choi beat him, even on the head. After he was satisfied, Choi said, “Hey, I will pay for the motel, okay? I’ll pay for it. Goodbye. We’re done.” and then he left.
Pastor Jung was just left there, bleeding profusely. At that time, he thought, “If I had just hit him once!” Unable to contain his anger, he hit the wall and the house shook.
The owner came running and said, “Hey, the house is shaking! What’s going on?”
“You didn’t hear me yelling ‘save me’?” he questioned.
“I heard, but I was too afraid to come out,” she said.
“Why didn’t you come? How could you just keep running your business? Look at what happened to me.”
So she helped wash his face, all the while saying, “You’re lucky you didn’t die. You’re lucky you didn’t die.”
“What do you mean I’m lucky I didn’t die? If I had died, I would have been lucky.”
Time passed, and soon he was sleeping at predawn. Originally, he couldn’t fall asleep, but he fell asleep somehow, and in a dream, he saw a big sedan. The driver came in and said, “Is Jung Myung Seok here? Mr. Jung Myung Seok.” Pastor Jung responded, “Yes, that’s me.” “It is time for predawn service.” Pastor Jung looked and saw an angel, and the angel said, “Get in the car.” So they drove to Seomun Church in Cheongju; it was a small church back then. He went inside and joined the service. There were some old people there too—about a dozen people in total.
At that time, Pastor Jung prayed while crying out loud, “God, I was beaten! It’s so unjust! What am I going to do about the money? It’s a tremendous amount of money. Even in my entire lifetime, I will never be able to pay off this debt. It’s 400 dollars!”
He prayed so much—to the point that his tears formed a sea of water; a sea of fire. The whole place was drenched, as if somebody had spilled a bowl of water. So the old ladies came around him and commented, “Oh, you’re so full of grace. Nowadays there aren’t young people like this who receive this kind of fire.” They were mumbling around him.
But he said, “You have no idea. I’m crying because I feel so outraged. This is not grace. There’s no grace; there’s no Holy Spirit here right now.”
But the old ladies stayed and waited there in order to receive prayer from him after he was done. And they continued saying, “Oh, this man has been really moved.” They came around him, wiped up his tears, and said, “When did you receive grace like this? There’s no one like this nowadays.”
They asked him to pray for them, so he forced himself to put his hand on them. But he couldn’t pray, so he just said, “Okay, eat well, live well, and go well.”