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Rev. David Yong-gi Cho, Founder of Yoido Full Gospel Church, Dies at 85

Rev. David Yong-gi Cho, Founder of Yoido Full Gospel Church, Dies at 85

Rev. Cho Yong-gi Rev. Cho Yong-gi(Rev. Cho Yong-gi)
ByGrace Song September 15, 2021
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South Korean megachurch pastor David Yong-gi Cho passed away at 7:13 a.m. September 14 at the age of 85, after suffering from a cerebral hemorrhage since last year, according to Yoido Full Gospel Church.

Cho Yong-gi was a Protestant Christian pastor in South Korea, who founded the world’s largest church Yoido Full Gospel Church.

Born into a Buddhist family in 1936, Cho converted to the Christian faith at the age of 17 under the influence of a friend of his sister, when he was diagnosed with fatal tuberculosis. After experiencing God in a Pentecostal way, including tongues and visions, Cho was assured that he was called to ministry.

In 1956, Cho entered Full Gospel Bible College to study theology, and he held his first service on May 18, 1958, in the living room of his friend Choi Ja-shil, who later became his mother-in-law and an important ministerial associate. Cho and Choi’s church, which was the origin of Yoido Full Gospel Church grew rapidly from three members (Choi’s three daughters) to 50 within months, and by the beginning of 1961, membership had grown to 1,000.

As the church kept expanding, it moved to Seodaemon in 1961 and then Yeouido, 1973. Now with over 800,000 members, Yoido Full Gospel Church holds the Guinness record of the world's largest congregation. The church has established diverse ministries, including a newspaper (Kookmin Daily, 1988), educational institutes (International Theological Institute), charities (Good People), and evangelistic activities. Over 500 churches have been planted in remote areas in South Korea, and over 700 missionaries have been sent overseas.

As an author, Cho’s The Fourth Dimension series had been influential in East Asian countries, including China.

Along with his contribution in founding and pastoring a mega-church, Cho had faced various controversies. He had famously been criticized that his ‘threefold blessings of Christ’ teaching was a version of prosperity gospel. Apart from that, he was accused by 29 church elders and convicted of embezzling $12 million USD in church funds, by using the money to buy stock from his son Cho Jong-Un in 2014. Cho’s friend argued for him afterward that he was ‘cheated’ by his son. Rev Cho later shared openly in a sermon that the day of the verdict was the hardest day of his 50 years of ministry, and that he found it beneficial as he was led by the Holy Spirit to repentance amid the thoughts of revenge and defending himself.

His funeral will be held at Korean time 8 a.m. on Saturday at Yoido Full Gospel Church. Rev. Kim Jang-hwan, chairman of the missionary radio station Far East Broadcasting Company (FEBC) Korea, will lead the funeral, according to the church.

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