Tag Archives: Yoido Full Gospel Church

Yoido Full Gospel Church: How Women Ministers Fueled the Growth of the World’s Largest Church

Yoido

Deaconesses who helped pioneer Yoido Full Gospel Church, 1960s.

This Week in AG History — November 4, 1979

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 02 November 2017

Yoido Full Gospel Church (YFGC), with 830,000 members, is well-known for being the largest church in the world. The Assemblies of God congregation, located in Seoul, South Korea, was started by Yonggi Cho in 1958. However, some readers may be surprised to learn that the congregation’s growth is due in large part to the ministry of women. In a 1979 Pentecostal Evangel article, Yonggi Cho shared how the Holy Spirit prompted him to train and empower women ministers — despite the negative view of Korean culture toward women leaders. These women became the backbone of the church’s cell group structure.

Yonggi Cho’s ministry in Seoul began with dreams and visions. As a newly minted Bible college graduate, he had a dream that he was going to someday pastor the largest church in Korea. People scoffed at this dream, which he believed God had given to him. He worked very hard, and after six months he had used all of his sermons and wore himself out.

The young pastor became depressed and grew uncertain of his calling. Up to that point, Yonggi Cho had believed that he had already “graduated” from the “school of the Holy Spirit.” He believed that he could build the church through his own efforts. In desperation, Yonggi Cho cried out to God, seeking guidance for his life and ministry. He sensed God respond, “The Holy Spirit is the senior partner in your ministry. You are the junior partner. Every minute you must recognize Him, welcome Him, and the Holy Spirit will flow through you and bring sinners to your church.”

This realization of the importance of depending on the Holy Spirit was a turning point in Yonggi Cho’s ministry. As he drew close to God, he could sense God’s leading. Doors opened up, countless thousands of people came to faith in Christ, and the church grew.

However, Yonggi Cho began to grow prideful. He was in his 20s and already had 2,500 church members. But with this pride came a fall. He again wore himself out, unable to keep up with the demands of a large and growing congregation. He sensed the Lord direct him to delegate some of his pastoral duties to laypersons, who would establish cell groups that would meet in homes across Seoul.

At first, Yonggi Cho approached various men in the congregation to become leaders of cell groups. The men declined, responding that they lacked proper training and that they did not want to invade the privacy of their homes. They additionally noted, “We pay you to do that kind of work.”

Again discouraged, Yonggi Cho turned to the Lord in prayer. He sensed the Holy Spirit tell him, “Why don’t you try a woman?” He argued with the Lord, replying, “Try a woman! This is not America: this is Korea. In Korea women cannot have leadership.” God began to work in Yonggi Cho’s heart to overcome his cultural prejudice regarding women.

From that moment, Yonggi Cho began to take notice of the numerous examples of women ministers in Scripture. Previously he allowed his culture’s prohibition of women leaders to blind him to the biblical warrant for women in ministry.

Yonggi Cho shared his vision for cell group ministry with some women in the church, and they eagerly asked how they could assist. He began training women how to preach and lead, and women became the backbone of YFGC’s cell groups. The cell groups multiplied rapidly, fueling the congregation’s growth.

Outsiders who marvel at Yoido Full Gospel Church’s size often ask about the senior pastor or the church building, wondering what caused such growth. But Yonggi Cho, in his 1979 Pentecostal Evangel article, instead pointed to the cell groups, led largely by women, which he identified as vital to the church’s growth.

Read Yonggi Cho’s article, “God Gave Me a Dream,” on pages 8 to 11 of the Nov. 4, 1979, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “How to Tell False Prophets” by C. M. Ward

• “Standing True in Perilous Times” by Kenneth D. Barney

• “Sinning by Mistake,” by Stanley M. Horton

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.

Do you have Pentecostal historical materials that should be preserved? Please consider depositing these materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in the Assemblies of God national offices, is the largest Pentecostal archive in the world. We would like to preserve and make your treasures accessible to those who write the history books.

Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 North Boonville Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA
Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
Toll Free: 877.840.5200
Email: archives@ag.org
Website: www.iFPHC.org

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From Buddhism to Christ: Yonggi Cho’s Healing and His Father’s Conversion

Cho

This Week in AG History–June 28, 1959
By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in PE News, 25 June 2015

When Yonggi Cho began holding services in May 1958 in Seoul, South Korea, he couldn’t have known what God would do through his ministry. Only five people attended the first service, held in the home of a friend. However, the small gatherings grew in size, ultimately developing into the largest Christian congregation in the world, Yoido Full Gospel Church, an Assemblies of God church with over 700,000 members.

At the time, Yonggi Cho was 22 years old and a recent graduate of Full Gospel Bible School, an AG school in Seoul. Cho faced much opposition to the gospel from people in the community, including from his own father. But Cho persisted and his father became one of his early converts. The June 28, 1959, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel reported the story of Cho’s father’s remarkable conversion.

Cho’s father, a local businessman and politician, had no interest in learning about Christianity. He was a dedicated follower of Buddhist and Confucian teachings. However, unanticipated difficulties brought him to his knees. He ran a failed campaign as a candidate for the National Assembly, which left him penniless. In addition, his oldest son, Yonggi Cho, developed a life-threatening case of tuberculosis. Out of desperation, Cho’s father turned to his traditional religions for comfort and guidance.

Yonggi Cho, however, turned to Christ. He had been learning English from a young American man who was teaching English-language Bible classes in the neighborhood. Yonggi Cho trusted God for his healing and, to the amazement of his doctor and his family, was completely healed! The doctor sent for a new set of X-rays, which revealed that the large spot on his lung had disappeared!

Yonggi Cho’s father grudgingly accepted the fact that it was Jesus Christ who healed his son. But when Yonggi Cho insisted that salvation was found only in Jesus Christ, his father became indignant. His father responded, “Just as there are many paths to the top of the mountain, so there are many ways to reach paradise; you have your way and I have mine. Don’t worry about me.”

Soon after being healed, Yonggi Cho enrolled in Bible school. He tried repeatedly to tell his father about Christ, but to no avail. Finally, his father relented and attended special revival services at the Bible school, where Cho was serving as the translator for an American evangelist. Cho’s father came with contempt for what he termed the “foreigner’s religion,” but he encountered something that he could not explain in the service. He could feel the presence and glory of God, and he envied the joy exuded by the students. At the end of the service, the evangelist and Cho began praying for his father. The elder Cho began crying, which embarrassed him because he had not wept in years. According to the article, his father “felt a burning sensation go through his body, and then a sweet peace settled in his heart.” He accepted Christ and his life changed forever.

Yonggi Cho and his father went home and testified to the rest of the family, all of whom were Buddhist. Two of Yonggi Cho’s sisters also accepted Jesus as Savior and were healed of illnesses. Read more about the conversion of Yonggi Cho’s father in the article, “A Buddhist’s Search for God,” by John Stetz, on page 6 of the June 28, 1959, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “A Tiger Becomes a Lamb,” by Waldo Nicodemus

* “Among the Mayans of Guatemala,” by John L. Franklin

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.

Do you have Pentecostal historical materials that should be preserved? Please consider depositing these materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in the Assemblies of God national offices, is the largest Pentecostal archive in the world. We would like to preserve and make your treasures accessible to those who write the history books.

Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 North Boonville Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA
Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
Toll Free: 877.840.5200
Email: archives@ag.org

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Filed under History, Music