History of the Founder of Providence Church – Joshua Jung Myung Seok
Pastor Joshua Jung Myung Seok was born as the third child among six sons and one daughter. He was born in 1945, at the fourth hour of the day. The address where he was born is 151, Sukmak-ri (Wolmyeongdong or Dalbak-gol), Chinsan-myun, Guemsan-gun, Choongchungnam-do. Sukmak-ri is a high-altitude mountain village at the foot of Mt. Indae. Mt Daedoon stands behind the village like a backdrop.
At age six, he began calling on God before anyone taught him of God’s existence. At age nine, he began attending church.
Pastor Joshua Jung Myung Seok was born into an impoverished life far from the cities. Korea was just coming out of a 40 year occupation by the Japanese. He lived so far up in the mountains that they could not grow the usual staples like rice. They instead worked long work days farming crops like potatoes and barley wheat. He shared that during the difficult winter seasons his family would often starve or fill their stomaches with arrow roots or share small amounts of mugwort stew. In one of the two documentaries created about his life his brothers recall living in a small room in a rotting old house built by their grandfather. They complained that the roof would leak, that fleas would keep them up at night, and that during strong storms they would have to go outside for fear that the wind would knock the house down.
Though his older brothers continued to learn on into high school, his parents pulled him out of school to work the fields during the elementary years complaining that it was too expensive to continue his basic education.
Due to this impoverished lifestyle, Pastor Joshua Jung Myung Seok came to understand the emptiness of life at an early age. He often questioned the purpose of life, seeking answers to the fundamental questions of human life in both the bible and in books from school. After discontinuing school from the fifth grade he then sought the answers exclusively from the bible reading it again and again. As a teenager, Teacher Joshua Jung committed himself to a life of prayer and serious faith. From that point on he began to hear the voice of Jesus.
Pastor Joshua Jung Myung Seok traveled to many churches in order to listen to revival speakers. Their themes were mostly apocalyptic: the judgment of fire, the Rapture, and the second coming of the Lord. They preached a literal belief in the bible. Pastor Joshua Jung Myung Seok placed all his hopes in the coming of the Lord Jesus and eagerly sought the path of life that might help him escape the bitterness of daily life.
From age 17, driven by the agonies of life and severe poverty, he engrossed himself in mountain prayer. During the day he tilled the ground and labored with heavy loads on his back. At night, inside a deserted mine, he pushed himself to pray and read the Bible. Until he was drafted into army service he was absorbed in a profound level of prayer. He prayed in the mountains after farming and finishing up the chores around the house. His fiery faith took him to church 20 times or more per week. At age 19, he served as a Sunday school teacher at Sukmak Church. He dedicated himself to caring for lives and evangelism.
From a Life in the Mountains to the Vietnam War
At age 21, he began a life of prayer atop Mt. Daedoon, later resuming it after the Vietnam War. He prayed and lent his ears to the Word of Heaven despite rains, winds and blizzards. For many years he sought enlightenment while exposed to severely low temperatures throughout the night. On a certain peak of the mountain where he prayed – called Eagles Peak – it was so cold that even a pine tree froze to death. During this prolonged of two decades seeking enlightenment, he came to realize the profound truth of the Bible, the truth that he says, “breaks through both the physical and spiritual worlds.”
In his twenties, he focused on street evangelism. His proudest claim from that time period is that he performed a sign of evangelism for God when, over the course of one year, he testified about God to ten thousand people, preaching to hundreds of people per day. During this time he was also known to bring homeless people into the house on occasion to clean them up and help restore them to a right mind.
In 1966, Pastor Joshua Jung Myung Seok was drafted into his first term of service in the Vietnam war and returned voluntarily to serve a second term, fulfilling two terms of duty in Vietnam (1966 to 1969). There he witnessed first-hand the tragedies of war. Through countless near death experiences he realized deeply the profound love and protection of God. In his sermons he occasionally shares stories of how God miraculously protected his life and he has written a book about his experiences which is currently being edited and published. He served as a Private in the Scout Company of White Horse Corps, and later promoted to become a Corporal First Class. One of his former superiors shared that Joshua Jeong was considered a trouble maker because he would take prisoners when they were strictly told to kill all captures. He alone would refuse the orders and slow down the entire group complaining, “How can I kill him? He has family that is worried about him just like me?” More recently Jeong’s Platoon Commander Colonel (Retired) Choi Hee-nam published a book retelling such experiences [currently only available in Korean].
From the beginning of the war, Pastor Joshua Jung Myung Seok made a promise not to kill but only to save lives. Though this promise often brought him and his comrades into multiple life and death situations with the same enemies, Pastor Joshua Jung Myung Seok testifies that thanks to God’s countless miracles of protection he was able to escape the hands of his enemies without ever having to kill another life. While he was with them the company only lost one life, but unfortunately there were several fatalities upon his brief return to Korea. Stories about how he contributed to saving his comrades are powerful and inspiring as they are retold by his surviving comrades. Corporal Jeong Myung Seok was given a Citation of Distinguished Service in War and was awarded four medals including the Hwarang Order of Merit and Inheon Order of Merit.
After returning from Vietnam, Pastor Joshua Jung Myung Seok destroyed his family’s 150 year old mud house with the help of his younger brothers and built a new tin roof house. He shares that the Lord inspired him to do the same in terms of faith as well. According to this inspiration he offered everything he owned to build Sukmak Church (located in Sukmak-ri, Chinsan-myun, Geumsan-gun) in 1973. Between 1973 and the time he went to Seoul in 1978, he frequented Mt. Daedoon as well as other prayer caves, where he would pray and fast for 40 days at a time. With food getting more and more scarce he even fasted for 70 days at one point.
Through the fasting prayers, Pastor Joshua Jung Myung Seok directly experienced and learned about the suffering from hunger and illness. He once lived with beggars, rending them aid and service. These experiences and hardships taught him to deeply feel God’s sorrow that had not been told or understood for 6,000 years, as well as the grievance that Jesus would have felt through the unavoidable death on a cross. It was at this point in his life that he says he broke the seals of 120 different principles of the Bible, as precious as hidden treasure, in regard to salvation.
Providence Church’s origins in Seoul, Korea
On June 1st, 1978 Pastor Joshua Jung Myung Seok left for Seoul, the largest city in Korea. All he took with him was his suit, a small sum of cash, and a briefcase full of diagrams explaining the principles of the bible. Getting food was a big problem. He barely soothed his empty stomach with cheap instant noodles or plain wheat noodles for two years. Finding one person that understood the Word was as difficult as picking a star from the sky. In august 1980, he moved to Shin-chon to establish what would become the main ground for evangelism. As people came to realize the Word there, the history of life began on a significant scale.
In March 1982, Pastor Joshua Jung Myung Seok established MS Missionaries (Christian Gospel Mission today). The following November he graduated from Wesley Theological School. Within a few years the size of the Missionaries quickly grew from a few hundred to a few thousands, then to tens of thousand. It became urgent to get a place where all the members could get together. After much prayer, he with his disciples began developing his hometown of Wolmyeongdong into a retreat in 1989. This site eventually transformed into the natural temple that numerous visitors admire today.
The development of Wolmyungdong.
Soccer and Evangelism through sports in Europe.
Clearing a water way in Hong Kong.
He worked hard for the countless youths and college students who were evangelized; he spent night and day preaching and providing counseling to them. After the domestic foundation was firmly laid, he set off in January 1999 to travel the path of worldwide mission following God’s lead.
The Books and other Achievements of Jung Myung Seok
In February 2001, Pastor Joshua Jung Myung Seok founded Christian Gospel Mission Volunteer Group. He instilled peace and love in the minds of worldwide youths, through international cultural exchanges centered on God. Pastor Joshua Jung Myung Seok has been dedicated to development of culture, art and sports incorporating heavenly ideals with them.
He published Spiritual Poems in 1989 which drew much attention. In 1995 he took the platform as a poet since his poetry was introduced in the literature magazine Moonyeh Sajo. He inspired many with not only literature, but also calligraphy, oil and porcelain paintings, ink and water colors. He held a worldwide soccer festival to provide a forum where various ethnicities and nationalities could join in peace through soccer games.
With faith in God and prayer, he healed a 25 year long disease for which no one had found a cure, some other diseases difficult to cure, mental illness, etc. that modern medicine cannot cure.
In Sri Lanka November 2001, Pastor Joshua Jung Myung Seok was granted a Doctorate in Philosophy by The Open International University for Complementary Medicines which is under UNESCO. This institute awards a doctorate in Philosophy only to those who already have a doctorate either in medicine or psychology. Emoto Masaru, widely known as the “Water Doctor” around the world, was also awarded a doctorate by the same school. Today, Pastor Joshua Jung Myung Seok tirelessly continues to spread the gospel to different parts of the world and pursue world peace together with 200,000 members spread in 50 countries.
* Footnote: This information is collected from a combination of Pastor Joshua Jung Myung Seok’s books, sermons, and personal testimonies. Many of the original sources can only be found in Korean. We want to give a special thanks to the Internation Mission Department in Korea, and to the pastors in American Providence who were a great help in providing references, sources of information, dates, and titles.
(Disambiguation: There are various romanization for Pastor Joshua Jung Myung Seok’s name, including Jeong Myung Seok, Jung Myeong Seok, Jeong Myeong Seok.)