Stories of Life
Park Joon Jae
I'm Joon Jae!
A South Korean currently working as a urologist in Singapore. I was born and brought up in Spain where I lived till the age of 16. I went on to do my A-levels and medical school in England. I met my Singaporean wife in medical school and together we settled in Singapore more than 10 years ago, with our two children. Growing up, I attended a local Pentecostal Korean church in Spain. At the time, I was just expected to believe in the Bible and the evidence for Christianity was not presented to me in detail. To make matters worse, my church taught me the wrong theology of what we now call “prosperity gospel” – that being a Christian leads to material wealth and physical health during this lifetime. As I was preparing to go to medical school, it was obvious to me that illnesses affect both Christians and non-Christians. So the “prosperity gospel” did not help me understand the world around me.
When I went to England for my studies, I wanted solid answers to life’s hard questions. I wanted to know that my Christian faith is grounded not in mere human traditions or one person’s personal opinion, but based on truth. After all, what is the point of believing in something that is not grounded in truth? Hence, I began my journey of “finding out”. Throughout the years, I read books written by various authors (e.g. a professional investigative journalist, a literacy expert, a lawyer, scientists and medical doctors) providing me with all the evidence I needed.
I also met many Christian doctors via the Christian Medical Fellowship (CMF). It was very encouraging to meet senior members within my profession who were both Bible-believing Christians and medical doctors. Above all, I found a great church in London, which taught the Bible faithfully and systematically. It was refreshing to hear the bible taught so well. Eventually, I began to realise the embarrassing truth: it was not because I was a “good boy” that I deserved to be accepted by God; rather, I was so sinful beyond measure that I needed God’s forgiveness instead.
I wanted solid answers to life’s hard questions.
The God of the Bible promises a rescue from death, a rescue from our sins, a world where my skills will not be needed at all. There is no better news than that.
But one big hurdle people face is that Jesus actually rose from the dead. As a medical doctor, what convinced you that happened?
I truly empathise with anyone asking this sort of question. Let me be clear, people who are truly dead (i.e- brain dead), DO NOT come back to life. There is no medical explanation for the resurrection.
So for historians, Jesus poses a problem. Because when you study history in depth, one cannot ignore Jesus. He was too influential, too ground-breaking, and he changed the course of history so radically…you must give an explanation for it.
Some have tried to deny Jesus ever existed. Some tried to state that he was just a mere human teacher and never claimed to be the son of God. Some claimed he faked his own death and all this story about the resurrection was a big hoax. And there are many many other explanations of this sort.
But when I look at the evidence, I find it more implausible that it was a hoax. The early Christians who claimed to have seen the risen Jesus had no reason to make up such a story. Why would they believe in something that may cost their reputation, social status or even their own life?
So even though I know that people can’t come back to life from natural means, I believe that Jesus really existed, truly died and then he came back to life through supernatural, divine means.
How does being a Christian change the way you think about death and life as a doctor?
I have come to realise that the world is very much messed up. As a doctor, I see more deaths than the average person (but not as much as some in other specialities). Life is full of pain, suffering and death. Not just physical, but also mental and spiritual suffering.
When faced with these, both Christians and non-Christians mourn and are saddened. But what the Bible says about this broken world helps me to understand it better. To me no other worldview comes close in explaining the world around me. For those who made Jesus their Lord and Saviour, they know that there is a brighter future beyond this broken world. This is why Bible-believing Christians have hope despite suffering.
I love being a doctor. Sometimes half way through a surgery I have those moments where I say to myself how fortunate I am. I like being a surgeon because a lot of the times we get to “fix” things, like surgically curing a localised cancer.
But at the same time I’m well aware of the limitations of modern medicine. One cannot cure or improve quality of life all the time. Death will come to all of us. Sickness is inevitable and a lot of people live their lives not giving much thought to their mortality.
There is much wrong in this world, and death is the most painful one of them all. It’s a constant reminder of what sin has done to this world. The God of the Bible promises a rescue from death, a rescue from our sins, a world where my skills will not be needed at all. There is no better news than that.