Poverty-stricken Childhood

Jung Myung Seok was born on 16 March, 1945 (4th Feb Lunar Calendar) in Wolmyeongdong-gil, Seokmak-ri, Jinsan-Myun, Geumsan-Gun, Chungchongnam-do, South Korea, at a time when Korea had just been liberated from Japanese occupation. He was the third son of Jung Pal-seong (father) and Hwang Kil-rye (Mother). He has 6 other siblings: a younger sister, two older brothers, and three younger brothers. (ref | translated ref)

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Jung Myung Seok’s family.

Jung’s near death experiences after birth

Even at birth, Jung faced death. Because of his lack of immunity, he contracted a serious disease as an infant. One day, he became unresponsive. His mother thought he had died after suffering from a high fever and swelling, so she laid him down at the corner of the room and covered him with a cloth. She waited for night to come so that she could bury him discreetly at the back mountain.

When night came, she wanted to see her son for the last time, so she peered through the blanket. At that moment, he suddenly opened his eyes again. Over the next three days, his swelling subsided. This was a miracle that led his mom to name him Myung* Seok because he seemed to have many lives. (ref | translated ref)

(Translator’s note: Myung(命) is a Chinese character and means a life. However, later he changed his name to Myung(明), which means bright.)

Poverty

From a young age, Jung Myung Seok experienced extreme poverty. Without suitable land to farm, even after farming the crops are few. It became the norm for him to solve his meal issues with thin porridge, and in the day he would go to the mountains to cut arrowroots. (ref)

When Jung Myung Seok attended Jinsan elementary school (then known as Jinsan  National School) from 1953 to 1959 (ref), during lunchtime he would even fill his stomach with tap water because he did not have anything to eat. (ref)

The harsh realities repeated in his early teens and the sufferings of life engulfed him. “Why did God create human life?” (ref) Even though he graduated from elementary school, his family was unable to support him to enter middle school. (ref)

Early life of Faith

Jung Myung Seok began seeking God at age of 6* (ref) amidst the hardships. Born in a village without the gospel, he only later came to believe in Jesus when he attended Jinsan elementary school at the age of 8, which shared the gospel in the class. (ref jms.net)

He began reading the bible after a small church was set up near Wolmyeongdong (ref: The Great Boy film), and Christian Missionaries distributed bibles to every household.(ref)

jung-myung-seok-child
Jung began to read the bible around the age of 8, after missionaries distributed them to his household.

At the age of 9, his 2nd oldest brother brought him to church and he began actively seeking faith. (ref)

At the age of 12, Jung began an active life of Christian faith. (ref)

At the age of 14, he was baptized by William Alderman Linton, an American Presbyterian missionary. (ref)

From the age of 15, without being able to enter middle school due to poverty, he began to pray in the mountains. He yearned to solve his life problems and to be liberated from his arduous life. He would help his parents with farming during the day, and at night he would go to Daedun mountain to read the bible and pray. (ref)

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

Jung Myung Seok became happy to the point of fainting. The Lord said, “If you want to solve your life’s problems, then learn from me.” From that time on, he focused on praying even more and began learning the bible from the Lord, one item at a time. (ref) When he challenged himself to study the bible in greater detail, and to pray earnestly in the mountains, enduring the hunger, solitude and cold, Jesus appeared and taught him in his prayers. When Jesus inspired him to unravel the deep meaning of the Bible, Jung Myung Seok deeply realized that there was no greater teacher in life than Jesus.(ref)

At the age of 18 (1963), Jung Myung Seok became the Sunday School teacher at Suk-mak Church, Sukmak-ri.(ref)

At the age of 20, Jung Myung Seok began to evangelize in the streets actively in various regions. (ref) Realizing the desperate heart of Jesus to save lives, he shared the gospel to more than 10,000 people a year.(ref)

[*Note: Korean system of calculating age is usually 1 or 2 years more than Western age calculation. In Korea, you are born as age 1. Then, you grow older every Lunar New Year. Unlike the Western system that calculates age based on your actual birthday (Gregorian calendar | starting from age 0 the day of birth). There may be some differences in sources as a result of this difference in calculation. This article will use Western age calculation]

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