Chung Named 2006 Alumnus of the Year
In 1956, Paul Jin Kyung Chung ’58, D.D.Lt.D., found his life at a crossroads. The man who in future years would be known to many as “the Billy Graham of Korea” had traveled to the United States to attend Asbury Theological Seminary, only to learn that his degree from a South Korean university was not recognized by that institution. Eager to continue his Christian training, Chung sought a Christian college where he could receive a U.S. undergraduate degree. After a brief search, Chung decided to attend then-Azusa Pacific College (APC), a decision he immediately knew was for the best.
“When I arrived at Azusa Pacific, I was impacted by the chapel experience and the encouragement I received to strengthen my prayer life,” said Chung. “Though I had experienced this growing up in Korea, Azusa challenged me to live it even more strongly.”
Chung accepted this challenge. Fifty years later, he has stewarded a church in South Korea to more than 6,000 regular attendees, preached the Gospel to tens of thousands worldwide, and trained multiple generations of future leaders for Christian service. As a result of this lifelong dedication to ministry and Christian service, APU honors Chung as its 2006 Distinguished Alumnus of the Year.
“Dr. Chung is a tremendous example of the Four Cornerstones of Azusa Pacific University: Christ, Scholarship, Community, and Service,” said Craig Wallace ’81, executive director of alumni relations. “He has allowed the Lord to use him to do many amazing things in the Korean church, and the Alumni Association and President’s Cabinet are proud to honor him with this award.”
Chung credits the dedication to Christian living that he saw modeled throughout his time at APC with providing a strong foundation for his career. He was particularly influenced by C. P. Haggard, Th.D., late APC president.
“The first time I met Dr. Haggard, he was standing by himself on campus praying,” Chung said. “I always felt loved by Dr. Haggard because I knew he was a kind man of prayer.”
It was Haggard who provided Chung with one of his first speaking opportunities. “Dr. Haggard was preaching at a local church and invited me to attend also,” Chung said. “He told me that after he finished preaching he would ask me to share my testimony, so I was ready. I was nervous to speak in English in front of so many people, but Dr. Haggard’s encouragement proved invaluable.”
This is one of many examples of the training and encouragement Chung received during his time on campus. “I was impressed by the support that students received,” he said. “I had language difficulties, but the kindness of the professors was truly unbelievable.”
After completing his undergraduate degree, Chung attended Asbury Theological Seminary and received a Master of Divinity degree. Though he had initially planned to continue doctoral studies in the United States, Chung returned to South Korea to be with his wife and young children, a commitment to family that would extend throughout the rest of his life and ministry. Chung and his wife of 52 years now have three grown children, four grandchildren, and one great-granddaughter.
Upon returning to Korea, Chung joined the faculty at Seoul Theological University. He taught there for 15 years, earning a doctoral degree from Fuller Theological Seminary along
Then, ShinChon Church, a Korean Evangelical Holiness church, invited Chung to serve as senior pastor. “At that time, the church had many problems and issues with infighting,” Chung said. “But it was in a terrific location, and I knew I had to take this opportunity. It was like being a pastor in Boston – the church was surrounded by universities and we found so many Christians hungry for God’s Word.”
Despite its initial troubles, the church thrived under Chung’s leadership and now reaches more than 6,000 South Koreans each week. The tremendous growth of the church led to speaking opportunities throughout South Korea for Chung, causing many to dub him “the Billy Graham of Korea.”
Now semiretired, Chung continues speaking to Christian leaders throughout Asia and the United States. Though he fondly credits his college experience for preparing him for ministry, Chung is more encouraged by the steps APU has taken since his graduation.
“I am so pleased to know that the faith community that I encountered at Azusa Pacific College 50 years ago still exists today,” he said. “I have seen that the importance of Christian holiness and prayer is just as strong there today as it was then, and I am pleased to know that it will remain this way in the future.”
Christopher Martin ’98 is a freelance writer in Washington, DC.
Posted: March 1, 2007