Popular scenic locations include places of outstanding beauty, places where famous people were born, and places of historical significance. This place, Wolmyeongdong (in Seomak-ri, Jinsanmyeon, Geumsan-gun, Chungnam province) used to be nothing more than a desolate valley surrounded by mountains: it was full of weeds and thistles, and visited by no one. Then in 1989, after hearing the voice of God, President Jeong Myeong-Seok began developing it with his followers. With whole-hearted devotion, they developed and beautified the valley, and so it was reborn as ‘The Natural Temple.’
A popular scenic location should have rocks, trees, and water, and people should visit it in all seasons. Wolmyeongdong is not lacking in any of these criteria. The topography and the shape of the surrounding mountains are both exceptional. It has a wide, green lawn, a large sports field that is larger than international standard sized soccer field, majestic rock landscaping, beautiful waterfalls, a lake, gazebos located at every vista point, medicinal spring water that has healed countless incurable diseases, hiking trails through pine forests that create the purest oxygen, huge boulders in intriguing shapes, and much more. All of these masterpieces of nature come together in harmony to create scenery of extreme beauty.
Neither the Great Wall of China nor the temples of Greece were built with majestic and mysterious boulders like Wolmyeongdong’s rock landscapes. Every year, more than a million people visit this valley from all parts of Korea and the world in order to enjoy the breathtaking landscape of Wolmyeongdong, unrivaled throughout the world.
Many regions became famous in the course of history because truly remarkable people were born there: Wolmyeongdong valley has also become known because of the great man who was born there. It has become an important place full of profound stories.
From the beginning of Wolmyeongdong’s development until it became what it is today, President Jeong worked harder than anyone else on the front line, receiving the detailed design directly from God through prayer each day.
Thus the place that only echoed with the lonely cry of cuckoo birds 30 years ago has now become a worldclass destination. It is a place Korea can boast of proudly to the world; a place regularly visited by people from more than 70 nations.
Church architecture is one of the most outstanding cultural features of Europe from the middle ages. Similarly, Wolmyeongdong has now become a temple, God’s palace, that will represent the religion of today.
On first seeing Wolmyengdong, visitors exclaim, “It is surely a masterpiece through which we can see the Omniscient and Omnipotent God! It’s like paradise on earth!” Astonished topographers say, “This is the greatest location; it is Jamiwon*!’
(*Jamiwon: a place with star-shaped topography regarded as a place of good fortune)
If you have not yet visited Wolmyeongdong, try to make your way to these legendary hills. If you see it in person, you will naturally utter sounds of wonder and astonishment.
President Jeong shares deep teachings about life using the miraculous transformation of this place as a backdrop. He says, “Just as Wolmyeongdong became a different world when we developed it, a person’s destiny also changes according to how they make themselves. Make yourself with God’s Word. If you do, you will gain many things to enjoy throughout the life of your body and for eternity in spirit.”
He was born in Wolmyeongdong, Seomak-ri, Jinsan-myeon, Geumsan-gun, Chungnam province. Starting in his early teens, Jeong prayed in the mountains for 21 years, read the Bible more than 2,000 times, and has studied God's Word and put it into action for the past 60 years.
He founded Christian Gospel Mission based on his philosophy of ‘Only God.’ He has delivered the Word God and Jesus taught him to people from more than 70 countries around the world. With that Word, he has guided more than a million people from Korea and abroad to live the life of a true believer.
Jeong graduated from The Methodist Wesley Theological Seminary in 1983. In 1998, he completed an executive management program at the graduate school of Administration, Chungnam University. In 2001, he received an honorary doctorate of philosophy from the Open International University under UNESCO in Sri Lanka.
His literary career as a poet was launched in 1995 when his poems were published in a monthly literary magazine, Munyehsajo, and since then, he has published six volumes of poetry called ‘Poems of Inspiration.’ In 2011, ten of his poems were printed in the Korean Poetry Encyclopedia, which spans 100 years of Korean poetry. His poems are loved by many, with volumes 2, 3, and 4 of his ‘Poems of Inspiration’ featuring on Kyobo’s best-seller list for poetry for several months. In addition to literature, President Jeong has a profound understanding of fine art, music, landscaping, sport, and other artistic endeavors. He founded a global movement of culture, art, and peace, and through holistic education he has raised talented and creative artists to promote peace and culture throughout the world.
He constructed The Natural Temple according to the design God gave him and it is a masterpiece of landscaping that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. In just one year, he composed lyrics and melodies for more than 700 songs, published three albums, and held a gala concert. Thirteen solo art exhibitions testify to his prolific work as a painter and calligrapher. In 2011, his painting was selected as exemplary among all the artworks at the Argentina International Art Biennale. His artistic talent has been acknowledged in Korea and overseas.
In addition to six volumes of poetry, President Jeong has written about 150 religious books, such as The Word of Salvation, Predawn Pulpit, Conversations with the Holy Son, and The Record of History: the Spiritual World. He has also published collections of sermons (The Word of Life and The New Word of the Complete Testament) and collections of proverbs (Heaven’s Word and My Words, Proverbs of Wisdom, Proverbs from Sermons, Drawings and Proverbs of the New Time Period, and Proverbs of Resurrection in the New Time Period). He served in the Vietnam War not once but twice, between 1966 and 1969, and in 2018 he published a four-volume memoir based on his experiences, The War Was Cruel: Love and Peace. These books contain vivid testimonies about his extraordinary effort to actualize the philosophy, ‘love life’ and ‘make peace,’ and testify about the amazing deeds of God who was with him.
The following discussion is about the history and the vision of Christian Gospel Mission (CGM), based on an interview with CGM’s Director of External Affairs.
1. Churches in Korea
Currently, CGM has about 100,000 members in Korea, including new and existing members and their families. In the past, we had around 400 churches in both large and small cities throughout Korea, but many were combined to form about 200 larger churches. Ten of the larger churches in metropolitan areas like Seoul and Busan have over 1500 members.
2. Oversea Churches
We have spread the gospel to people from more than 70 countries, including Japan, Taiwan, Malaysia, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and the Republic of South Africa. There are currently about 20,000 members overseas.
3. Which countries have the largest membership outside Korea? How do you spread the gospel?
Aside from Korea, membership in Japan and Taiwan has grown the fastest, and we also expect thatthe 70 other countries that have received the gospel will grow strongly in the future. The driver of this rapid expansion is the Word we teach. The Word is CGM’s greatest strength, and we base our faith on the Word. Rather than making evangelistic efforts through cultural events or volunteer service, which tend to produce short-term results, we have focused purely on spreading the gospel. More recently, however, we have extended our activities to other social contributions, working in connection with national and international NGOs that seek to provide lasting solutions to the various problems people face around the world.
4. The positive influence that CGM has brought to Korean religion and its future vision
As you know, South Korea is a nation of the mind and spirit. It even earned the label, ‘religious department store,’ for its array of religions and depth of spiritual discourse. Among these religions, Christianity has achieved notable growth and prosperity. At one point, Korean churches held significant influence over leading Christian countries in North America and Europe, foreshadowing a Christian awakening and the coming of the Messiah, but that influence has been in decline since the end of the 20th century. We are reminded of the Old Testament prophecy of Amos: ‘“The days are coming,” declares the Sovereign Lord, “when I will send a famine through the land—not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord. People will stagger from sea to sea and wander from north to east, searching for the word of the Lord, but they will not find it. In that day the lovely young women and strong young men will faint because of thirst.”’ (Amos 8:1113) In this time of spiritual famine at the turn of the century, our church has been a beacon of hope among Korean churches, with teenagers and college students comprising 80% of the congregation. These teachings, which are able to quench the spiritual thirst of this generation, were received by President Jeong directly from Heaven. His message emphasizes day-to-day faith expressed in action, and encourages believers to always serve the Holy Trinity and live out their faith in the midst of daily life. Many young people have found answers to their fundamental life problems in the teachings he demonstrates through his words and actions, and their lives show what an ideal life can look like. This is how our church is now seeing strong growth, despite ongoing opposition from more established churches. The members of Christian Gospel Mission strive to live as the salt and light of the earth in a society that has lost its sense of what is truly valuable, and strive to make a meaningful history of actualizing God’s sincere love and truth on the earth.
5. Prospects for overseas ministry
Languages and cultures differ, but truth is universal. God’s truth in the Bible is now being revealed, and this gospel will reach beyond the present 70 nations to the whole world in the next 10 years. We expect the gospel to impact both Christians and non-Christians.
6. What is the current direction of overseas ministry?
Asian countries like Japan and Taiwan are expected to continue growing strongly on the foundation of their impressive growth to date. Even in Europe, where the roots of Protestant and Catholic history go deep, our teachings are having an impact. Churches have also been established in major cities in America and Canada, and we are actively evangelizing in many parts of Oceania, Africa, and Latin America
7. What is the most notable difference between CGM and other churches?
CGM does not limit God’s power and His will by interpreting the scriptures literally or confining faith to the sphere of church. Rather, we help people realize that God governs society, culture, art, science, and everything else, not just religion. This is what separates us the most from the established Christian churches, which interpret the things of faith only literally and thus struggle to provide direction for members, and also separates us from other new religions that gradually center more on their leaders than on God. Another significant distinction is our determination to reclaim the arts and culture that have been corrupted by the world, through the Word of God.
8. What in Korea would you most like to show national ambassadors?
Wolmyeongdong is a beautiful, mysterious, and majestic temple built in nature, without equal in the world. Many artists and experts of various fields have praised its extraordinary features. The founder, President Jeong, always testifies that God designed it and the Holy Spirit and Holy Son protected us as we built it. The founder and the members put God’s design into action to make Wolmyeongdong a place full of stories with the Trinity. So it is most definitely the first place we would like to introduce to national ambassadors.
9. What is your plan for external expansion?
Our measure of success is not the number of members. A large congregation is meaningless if we do not express the love and truth of God in our lives. However, in the course of living out this faith, our churches will continue to grow in size and number throughout the nation and the world. CGM is called the ‘Providence’ of God, and we believe that the world of Providence will see monumental growth with time.
10. What is it about Christian Gospel Mission that excites the hearts of young people?
CGM solves the fundamental problem of spiritual thirst for truth through God’s deep Word, and instills in young people a faith that is not delusional or conceptual but becomes life itself. This is our greatest power to motivate people.
11. What is the background of the current rate of growth in membership?
The church maintained steady growth during the unjust trial and imprisonment of the founder, President Jeong. However, church activities and services have also experienced a revitalization since his release, and growth is now at its highest levels ever. I am convinced that this growth will continue,
because our teachings are able to touch even the jaded hearts of the younger generations and present them with the answers to the physical, mental and spiritual problems they face in their everyday lives.
12. Any final comments?
In the 42-year history of CGM, God worked countless miracles that cannot
be summarized in one article. I am reminded of the words of Phillip in John 1:46 when asked if anything good could ever come from Nazareth. He said, “Come and see,” and testified about Jesus’ deeds. Likewise, I want to encourage everyone who wonders about this place to come and see it for themselves, and to listen to and experience Christian Gospel Mission, which is God’s Providence of this time period. Christianity is stuck in the dogma of a literalist faith and is gradually flowing towards self-centeredness, rather than centering on God.