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.
Later that day, Pastor Jung went to listen to the Sunday sermon as he usually did. Surprisingly, the theme for that day was predestination. It was about how God has predestined everything. This would mean that suffering, like what Pastor Jung went through, is predestined. The preacher even said that having things taken away from you is predestined to occur. Likewise, Jesus also died according to predestination. However, this notion didn’t sit well with Pastor Jung. He knew that it wasn’t right because if that were the case, then he would have to resent God. Why would God have predestined him to lose his money, without giving a clear reason? So he concluded, “No, that was not predestined.” He denied what the preacher said right away, firmly believing that absolute predestination was not God’s Will.
All of Christianity interprets it that way, saying that everything is predestined, but instead he asked God, “God, was this predestined?” So he decided to go to Songni Mountain where Choi had bought the wood from. He went there and saw 15 workers cutting down trees. He proceeded to go over to them and said, “You know, I bought some wood in this area.” And they said, “Oh yeah, whatever happened to that guy? That guy was supposed to come here to pay us, but he hasn’t come. The wood is contracted, but he hasn’t given us any money. His name is Choi Cheon Bom.” Pastor Jung replied, “Yeah, that’s right. His name is Choi Cheon Bom. He’s the one from Geumsan, right?”
“Yes,” they said. “But that bastard—if he comes, we’re going to kill him with an axe. We are going to chop him to death because he keeps delaying the payment. He bought the wood, but he hasn’t paid us even though we prepared all this wood.” The deposit was already paid, but it wasn’t much of course. They cut all these trees for just that small deposit. “I guess he’ll come when it’s time.”
Pastor Jung told them, “I’m the one who paid all the money for him.”
Another worker said, “Wow, that bastard, how could he do this? And what are we going to do? I worked 15 days here. What am I going to do during the holidays?” Pastor Jung then told them what happened. “He beat me up. He tried to kill me. Look at what happened to my face, it’s all bruised up because he of what he did.”
“Oh yeah, I saw your bruise, but I was hesitant to ask you about it.”
“Yeah. He beat me up. He hit my face.”
“I’m going to take revenge for you. I’ll chop him up with my axe and cut his head off. But what are we going to do? We have been swindled. And the owner here is upset too because we cut down all the trees.”
“Well, he could sell the wood to other places.” Pastor Jung suggested.
But they replied, “No, unfortunately he can’t do that.” And it ended with that.
Once Pastor Jung realized that he had been completely swindled, he went to Choi’s house in Geumsan because he knew where Choi lived. He went there and asked his wife, “Where’s your husband?”
She answered, “Well, he went to work. He’s really busy right now getting wood.”
“Well, he took my money and did this to me.”
She couldn’t believe it and said, “No, my husband is not that kind of a person. He’s not that bad.”
But Pastor Jung said, “You have to believe me. You have to. Otherwise, I’m going to ransack this place.” Then he proceeded to tell her in detail about what had happened. After his explanation, she said, “I don’t understand why he would do that. It’s not like we have some great amount of debt either.”
At that Pastor Jung realized that he hadn’t even been swindled. Rather, Choi had apparently stolen the money and spent it all on himself. This seemed to be the case because his household didn’t have any debt, and he hadn’t given the money to the workers in the mountains. Choi wasn’t swindled. He just gave only the deposit to them to cut the wood.
At that point, Choi’s wife said, “You’re hungry, right? I know you’re hungry, so I’m going to cook something for you.”
After eating the noodles, Pastor Jung said, “I’m not going to come to this house again, not even to collect the money. And because you cooked noodles for me, I will not hurt your husband. You’re wise. You checked instead of just saying, ‘How dare you say that about my husband?’. You should always check before you say those kinds of things. Plus, you repented with action. That’s why I will never come back to this house again. Serve your husband well, live your life well, and believe in and serve God. I forgive you because I believe in God. Otherwise, I would have done something different here.”
In the end, Choi had run away. Pastor Jung’s older brother heard about this ordeal and travelled all over the country trying to catch him. He would say, “Once I find him, I’m going to kill him.” But knowing his brother’s intentions, Pastor Jung prayed to God quickly so that his brother would not kill a man.
One day, Choi reached out to Pastor Jung, so they met with each other. He apologized, saying, “I’m sorry. I did end up spending that money.” To which Pastor Jung cautioned, “Don’t stay here. Hurry up and run away because my older brother is looking for you, and he’s going everywhere to try and find you.” “Okay, I got it. That’s actually why I wanted to meet with you. What should I do?” Pastor Jung replied, “Hurry up and run away. You have to run away.” Pastor Jung hid his enemy from his brother and told Choi, “Go to Busan, or go to Gangwondo. Don’t ever contact me again. The money’s lost anyway.”
Afterwards, Pastor Jung pleaded to God, “God, teach me about predestination.” At that time, God appeared to him in a vision. He showed him the Earth and a person. There was a woman who was about to be married, and there was a man who had chosen to marry her. He chose her based on her pretty face, but her feet were webbed like duck feet in the vision. Then the woman expanded and transformed into a globe.
The Holy Son asked, “If you were to take her as your beloved, would you cut off her feet and take only the pretty parts of her?” He answered, “How could I do that? I should take everything.” At that the Holy Son said, “Likewise, God loves the Earth as He would a woman. So He doesn’t cut off parts because they look ugly or because He doesn’t like them, but rather He gives chances to everyone and waits for them to come back to Him.”
There are good people and wicked people in the world. Pastor Jung realized that God loves the Earth and human beings even if they have bad qualities, just as how a man loves even the ugly parts of a woman. He realized that God gives chances to everyone and waits for them. You can’t take only someone’s face because their feet are ugly, and then live with just their face, right? In this way, God has chosen everybody living on the face of the Earth to believe in Him and serve Him so that they can go to Heaven. God told him, “All good things have been predestined, but bad things have not been predestined.”
Pastor Jung also saw a persimmon tree in his vision. A farmer was taking care of all the branches diligently because he didn’t know which branches would bear fruit. He realized that God takes care of and loves everyone until the end so that they can be saved. The reason why is that no one knows who will bear good fruit of life or bad fruit of life. Righteous people and wicked people live together in the world. Therefore, people need to be wise to avoid being swindled. Getting swindled is not predestined. Even if it is God’s Will to build a church, which is a good thing, it is still a human’s responsibility to check and verify things in the process. God didn’t predestine him to be swindled or predestine people to become swindlers. Things turn out to be good or bad depending on how people act. Fate is not predestined. People’s lives are destined through their deeds, which are chosen by their own free will. For evangelism also, saving everyone is God’s absolute predestination. However, Pastor Jung realized that it is through a person’s belief, effort, and struggle, that salvation is fulfilled.
Once he had realized the truth about predestination and discovered what the real problem was, he made sure to fulfill his responsibilities in the best way while frequently consulting with God. He has been leading numerous people to God and has given them tips regarding how to avoid being swindled. Many people’s fates have changed after meeting Pastor Jung and learning from him about the correct concept of predestination.