Even as I grieve Dr. Cho’s passing from this earth, I’m also rejoicing that he has graduated to his remarkable heavenly reward.
I am praying for the members of the Cho family and the staff and membership of Yoido Full Gospel Church. I am especially lifting up Young Hoon Lee, who in 2008 succeeded Dr. Cho as senior pastor.
Psalm 37:23 declares that a good person’s steps are “ordered by the Lord.” Certainly, this was true of each step of Dr. Cho’s well-spent 85 years.
This was a man who received Christ as Savior and Lord as a teenager, an evangelist whose zeal for souls brought millions to Calvary’s cross, a preacher who conveyed hope to the war-ravaged and despairing South Korean nation, and the leader of a worldwide prayer movement. He was perhaps best known as the proponent of small cell groups that eventually built his fledgling tent church in 1958 to more than 800,000 members, with 400 pastors and evangelists as well as 500 missionaries around the globe.
Dr. Cho also founded and led numerous related organizations and charities that included Church Growth International (teaching the principles of church growth and evangelism), Elim Welfare Town (serving the homeless and unemployed of all ages), and Kukmin Ilbo (a South Korean daily newspaper). In addition, he spent years as chairman of the World Assemblies of God Fellowship, Korean Christian Leaders Association, and Good People charity organization.
Who could have known such a remarkable legacy would come from an impoverished rural youth who picked up English from American soldiers and eventually worked as a translator by the time he was 15 for a nearby military base?
As a teenager he was stricken with tuberculosis and began rethinking his Buddhist beliefs. He began reading a Bible given to him by a young female friend. Languishing in a hospital, he desperately cried out to God, “I want to live! Please help me!”
After he was cured and released from the hospital, he openly gave all the glory for his healing to Almighty God. That led to Bible college in Seoul and a life of epic adventure as a groundbreaking Christian leader.
“All I did was offer my life just like the boy who offered Jesus the five loaves and two fish,” he said repeatedly. “I simply held onto the dreams that the Lord gave me. And I learned to pray with a do-or-die desperateness.”
Can you imagine his welcoming reception and rejoicing in heaven?
Dr. Cho truly affected my life in so many ways. Being around him was revolutionary. My first visit to Seoul remains vividly imprinted in my heart. I had heard about the world’s largest church congregation and Prayer Mountain, yet nothing could have prepared me for the intensity and freshness of the Holy Spirit’s anointing that flowed over him and the churchgoers service, after service each week. I have been with him during services and crusades since that time, and my respect for him has continued to grow monumentally.
Only eternity will measure the impact of this beloved man’s life, but the time has come to join his loved ones and believers throughout South Korea and around the globe in mourning the passing of my friend. So I unite with so many others in celebrating Dr. David Yonggi Cho’s reunion in heaven with his precious wife, family, friends, all those who are there as a result of his ministry, and especially with the Lord Jesus, whom my remarkable Korean brother served so faithfully during his memorable lifetime.