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Men and Women of Faith: David (Paul) Yonggi Cho

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"Prayer creates a personal change in your life. Nothing you can do will benefit you more than prayer." David Yonggi Cho
David (Paul) Yonggi Cho is the senior pastor of the world's largest church in Seoul, South Korea. He was born in 1936 and raised as a Buddhist. His early life was a struggle. First, he lived through the Japanese invasion of Korea and then the Korean War. He grew up with a tremendous ambition of becoming famous and successful after his poverty-stricken childhood. At the age of nineteen, he was holding down several jobs and was struggling just to exist. One afternoon he started vomiting blood and was then diagnosed as having incurable tuberculosis and was told that his life expectancy was a maximum of four months.

He went home and cried out to his god Buddha for healing. When this didn't take place, he denounced his Buddhist faith. He then cried out to the unknown God. Cho recounts what happened next in his book The Fourth Dimension:

“A few days later a high school girl visited me, and began to talk about Jesus Christ. She told me about Christ's virgin birth, His death on a cross, His resurrection, and salvation through grace. These stories seemed nonsense to me. I neither accepted her stories, nor paid much attention to this ignorant young female. Her departure left me with one emotion: relief. But the next day she returned. She came again and again, every time troubling me with stories about the Godman, Jesus. After more than a week of these visits, I became greatly agitated, and roughly rebuked her. She did not run away in shame, nor retaliate in anger. She simply knelt down, and began to pray for me. Large tears rolled down her cheeks, reflecting a compassion foreign to my wellorganised and sterile Buddhist philosophies and rituals.

"When I saw her tears, my heart was deeply touched. There was something different in this young girl. She was not reciting religious stories to me; she was living what she believed. Through her love and tears I could feel the presence of God. 'Young lady,' I entreated, 'please don't cry. I am sorry. I know about your Christian love. Since I am dying I will become a Christian for you.'

"Her response was immediate. Her face brightened into a glow, and she praised God. Shaking hands with me, she gave me her Bible. 'Search the Bible,' she instructed. 'If you read it faithfully you will find the words of life'" (1979:23). What a marvelous witness this young girl was! Cho never even learned her name, but through her, Cho was saved. Cho read the Bible with a new-found zeal, and he came to know Jesus as his own personal Savior and Friend. Instead of dying within three months, he was out of his deathbed within six months.

"You could remove the powerful preaching from our church and it would still continue. You could remove the administration of pastoral care through the cell group system and the church would still continue. But if you remove the prayer life of our church it would collapse." David Yonggi Cho

After graduating from an Assemblies of God Bible school in 1958, he started his first church in an old American service tent next to a dump. He had a burning desire to build the largest church in Korea. Not only did he achieve this goal, but within twenty years he had built the largest church in the world.

Actual church numbers were not recorded during the next few years. However in 1973, when they purchased land on Yoido Island and built a new church, the membership was 18,000. Not all the people wanted to shift to the new church so 8,000 remained at the old church and 10,000 came to the new.

The growth of the church over the next few years was outstanding. By 1980, membership stood at 150,000 meeting in 10,000 home cells. Now it is believed to be somewhere around the 750,000 mark. What a remarkable growth story, but as Cho himself says:
“No revival should be the product of a single personality. I do not claim to be responsible for the revival that is occurring in our church. In fact, the revival continues whether I am there or not.” (Cho 1981:52).

“Prayer is a dialogue, not a monologue. To pray effectively, we must listen to God as well as speak. If we pray without faith, we are simply making sounds in the air. They never get further than the ceiling.” – David Yonggi Cho

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Faith by Hearing: Answered Prayer Series
STANDING IN THE GAP

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