David Yonggi Cho

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Korean spelling
Hangeul 조용기
Hanja 趙 鏞 基
Jo Yong-gi
Cho Yonggi

David Yonggi Cho (born February 14, 1936 in Ulju-gun; also known as Paul Yonggi Cho) is a Korean Christian evangelist . He was the senior pastor of the Yoido Full Gospel Church, the largest Christian congregation in the world with over 1,000,000 members (2007) . In February 2014, he was sentenced to three years probation and a fine of five billion won for financial offenses related to his community .


Yonggi Cho was born on February 14, 1936 in Ulju-gun, which is now part of Ulsan City . Cho was the oldest of five brothers and four sisters. He graduated from middle school with honors. With the father's failure in his sock and glove business, Cho buried hope of university and instead enrolled in an inexpensive technical college to learn a trade. At the same time he began to visit an American army base near the school and learned English from soldiers who were friends . An avid student, he quickly mastered the language and worked as an interpreter for the army base commander and his headmaster.

Originally raised as a Buddhist, Cho converted to Christianity at the age of 17 after his sister's Christian friend had taken care of him while he was suffering from tuberculosis. He claims to have had a number of spiritual experiences as a result - including what Pentecostals call the baptism of the Spirit , an experience in which the believers speak in tongues . He saw Jesus in a vision. He is also convinced that God has called him to his service.

Cho began working as an interpreter for the American evangelist Ken Tize. In 1956, Cho received a scholarship to study theology at the Full Gospel Bible College in Seoul . There he met Choi Ja-sil, who became his mother-in-law and a close cleric worker. In March 1958 he graduated from theology.

The Daejo Church

In May 1958, Cho held the first service at his friend Choi Ja-sil's home. Only Choi and her three children attended, but the congregation grew rapidly and soon had fifty members. Cho and the parishioners began working hard to grow their congregation by knocking on doors and inviting people to worship. In three years the congregation had grown to four hundred members. In 1961 she bought her first property in Seodaemun.

The community's growth program suffered a setback in 1961 when Cho was drafted into the Korean army. He asked John Hurston, an American missionary, to lead the ward in his absence. But Cho had to undergo an operation because of a severe bowel disease and was released from the army after seven months.

The Seodaemun Church

After his discharge from the army, Cho devoted himself entirely to pastor work, although his health was still poor. A hall for 1,500 visitors was built on the property in Seodaemun and opened in November 1961. It soon reached the limit of its capacity: in 1964 the parish had 3,000 members. On March 1, 1965, Cho married Kim Sung-hye. Cho realized that leading such a large community was overwhelming for one person. He divided the city of Seoul into twenty "cells" and began to train leaders for each cell to hold prayer and Bible study meetings in their homes during the week. Cell leaders were encouraged to invite non-Christian neighbors, and when a cell's membership reached a certain number, the vice leader should open a new cell and take away about half of the old cell.

The success of this concept of cell division surprised even optimistic church members. By 1968 the church had 8,000 members. In addition to the weekly cell meetings, the Church held three Sunday services. But three services were not enough to accommodate all of the Church members, and Cho decided to buy a larger piece of land on Yoido Island on the Han River that runs through Seoul. At the time, Yoido was little more than a sand dune, but Cho saw her options. The city council planned to develop the island and many government agencies and companies were planning to relocate there. Cho saw the island as an ideal location for a church.

The Yoido Church

Economic problems delayed the construction of a church on Yoido Island, but in 1973 the new hall with ten thousand seats was ready. The first worship service was held there on September 23, 1973. In the same year the prayer hill was set up, a sanctuary in a park where individuals can retire in small boxes for fasting and prayer . In 1982 the prayer mountain was expanded to accommodate ten thousand people and is now visited by more than a million people a year, including tens of thousands of pilgrims from abroad. "With z. At present 330,000 members in my church (1983) I cannot possibly care for every single one personally. ”( Fr. Yonggi Cho : Not only numbers 1986). The Church continued its exponential growth, with membership reaching 400,000 in 1984 and 700,000 in 1992. In the 1990s, Cho decided that the church should stop growing and establish satellite churches in other parts of the city. The goals for the years 2000 to 2010 are to found around five thousand satellite churches and five hundred houses of prayer, similar to the prayer mountain.

Worldwide service

In November 1976, Cho founded Church Growth International , an organization dedicated to teaching pastors around the world the principles of evangelism and church growth . In January 1986 he took the initiative to found Elim Welfare Town , a facility for the elderly, young people, the homeless and the unemployed. The unemployed are offered training in four professions. In March of the same year he founded the Hansei University. Cho was chairman of the World Assemblies of God Fellowship from 1992 to 2000 , and has been chairman of the Society of Korean Christian Leaders since 1998. Since February 1999 he has also been chairman of the Good People charity .

In addition to his native Korean language, Cho also speaks English, Japanese and Chinese . He has written numerous books.

Contacts to Germany

Mutual visits inspired Siegfried Müller to expand the Missionswerk Karlsruhe into a large congregation. Yonggi Cho preached several times as a guest preacher in Volkhard Spitzer's free church in Berlin.

Theological controversy

Like other prominent Christian leaders, Cho has sparked much discussion. Michael Horton , John F. MacArthur, and Dave Hunt are among those prominent Christian leaders who have expressed deep concern about Cho's teaching because they believe it is rooted in Buddhist or occult teachings and therefore heresy . Others opposed to the Brownsville, Pensacola , Florida revival view Cho's support for the movement with suspicion. Many of Cho's critics are non-charismatic, but these are not his only critics. At one point his own denomination , the Korean Assemblies of God , deprived him of leadership while they were testing his theology. The test found that Cho's teaching was in complete agreement with the doctrine of the Assemblies of God , but that did not end the controversy.

Cho says some of the opposing arguments are based on false allegations. In one of his books he refers to an article in the Korean press in which he is alleged to have approved the ancestral cult , which he firmly denies. The journalist responsible later apologized publicly. However, some damage had been done, and in part, these allegations had sparked the Assemblies of God investigation . In his books, Cho takes a resolute stance against Buddhism and shamanism .

Writings by David Yonggi Cho

  • The Fourth Dimension , Verlag Christliche Gemeinde Köln, Volume 1, 1987. ISBN 3-926784-05-9
  • The Fourth Dimension , Verlag Christliche Gemeinde Köln, Volume 2, 1987. ISBN 3-926784-03-2
  • A victorious life. Missionary work The Way to Joy, Karlsruhe 1977.
  • Prayer. Key to awakening. How You Can Learn to Pray Empoweredly. (with RW Manzano), Gerth Medien , Asslar 2001. ISBN 3-89490-390-2
  • My partner - the Holy Spirit , One Way Verlag Wuppertal, 1990. ISBN 3-927772-09-7
  • How I Pray , One Way Media, 2001. ISBN 3-927772-76-3

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Pastor Cho gets suspended jail term . The Korea Times, February 20, 2014.
  2. ^ Paul Yonggi Cho: Not just numbers. Impulses from the largest community in the world. Verlag Information und Kommunikation, Bad Homburg 1986, ISBN 3-9800258-8-8 , p. 35.