[Call to Glory] David Yonggi Cho [Call to Glory] David Yonggi Cho
David Yonggi Cho, the Korean Pentecostal who founded the world’s largest megachurch, died on Tuesday at the age of 85. Cho and his mother-in-law... [Call to Glory] David Yonggi Cho

David Yonggi Cho, the Korean Pentecostal who founded the world’s largest megachurch, died on Tuesday at the age of 85.
Cho and his mother-in-law started a church in Seoul in 1958 in a tent pieced together from bits of US Army tents. Yoido Full Gospel Church, affiliated with the Assemblies of God, grew to a weekly attendance of about 800,000 people in seven Sunday services, with hundreds of licensed ministers and thousands of laypersons leading weekly small groups of 10 to 15 people.

Cho popularized the idea of cell groups, arguing they are key to discipleship and to fostering the intimate connections that tie individuals to a large and growing church. He also promoted Pentecostal practices of prayer and healing as essential to dynamic church growth.

 

Cho popularized the idea of cell groups, arguing they are key to discipleship and to fostering the intimate connections that tie individuals to a large and growing church. He also promoted Pentecostal practices of prayer and healing as essential to dynamic church growth.

 

Cho was born on February 14, 1936, in the rural county of Ulju. His father owned a glove and sock manufacturing company, but it went bankrupt during Cho’s childhood, forcing him to make his own way in the world.

 

He learned English from hanging around American military bases, and by the age of 15 began to work for the troops as a translator.

His life changed at 17, when tuberculosis sent him to the hospital coughing up blood and rethinking his understanding of the universe. As a Buddhist, Cho later explained, he had been taught that he must suffer to “become Buddha through hardship.”

 

Jesus, it seemed, offered an alternative. Christians told him that “Jesus the living God is your friend, mentor and guide here and now.” After reading a Bible given to him by a young woman, Cho decided to reach out to the Christian God.

 

“As a last resort,” he wrote in his 2019 memoir, “I decided to look to the God I did not know. I cried out, ‘God I want to live! I want to live! Please help me!”

When he was later released from the hospital, cured of tuberculosis, he gave the glory to God and claimed a miraculous healing. In 1956, he started attending the Full Gospel Bible College in Seoul, preparing to become a minister.

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