Jaewoo Jeong did not have the opportunity to experience the love and faithfulness of an earthly father. His father, a major in the Korean Army, died in a helicopter crash when Jeong was only 1 year old.
But Jeong’s relationship with his mother grew and thrived. While working to care for her two young children, Jeong’s mother responded to a pastoral call when Jaewoo was 8 years old.
After receiving a master’s degree and a Ph.D from Kosin University, she founded a family counseling center, taught pastoral care, and pastored and counseled for more than 20 years. “I saw God work through her to restore many people. She was my good friend, mentor, and fellow. I desired to be a pastor just like her,” said Jeong.
After studying mass media in college, Jeong served in the Korean army for several years. During this time he experienced a dramatic rededication to his faith after a pastor and lay member from his church were kidnapped and martyred by the Taliban while on a mission trip in Afghanistan.
“Their deaths challenged me,” he said. “Most Christians live very comfortable lives—that was my problem. I thought over and over, Could I have done what they did? The Holy Spirit let me know that living for him meant giving my whole heart and even my life, just like them.”
He felt a calling to be a pastor and immediately responded.
With the encouragement of his pastor, and in large part because of the mentoring he’d received as a child, Jeong decided to focus on children’s ministry, parent education, and Christian education.
“Blessedly I love children and enjoy time with them,” said Jeong. At Grace Saemmul Church in South Korea, he and his wife, Jaeeun, focused on discipleship of children by forming close relationships with their families.
“We have seen the kids’ growth. Their parents have changed too—they have developed the ability to talk to their kids,” he said.
Jeong is dedicated to the idea that children and youth need pastors who will empathize with them, understand their worries and concerns, and show them what it looks like to have a relationship with Christ. He and Jaeeun plan to return to Grace Saemmul Church after Jaewoo’s studies at Calvin Seminary so that he can direct church education there.
In the meantime, he and his mother still converse frequently. “I often talk to her about ministry issues, and she also consults me on her ministry plans. My brother-in-law is a pastor, and my sister and wife, Jaeeun, are also interested in theological issues—when we meet at one another’s homes we always converse for a long time. We are good companions for each other.”
About the Author
Amanda Smartt, Calvin Seminary