A man who was led to Jesus as a teen and dedicated his life to doing the same for tens of thousands of others has died.
Eighty-five-year-old Pastor David Yonggi Cho, the founder of Yoido Full Gospel Church in Seoul, Korea, has died Tuesday after a long hospitalization related to a 2020 brain hemorrhage. His church is remembering him for his massive contributions to South Korea's Christian community.
David Cho Evangelistic Mission (DCEM) says "we would deeply appreciate your prayers for his peaceful rest in the arms of Jesus and your condolences for the bereaved family," DCEM says in a statement.
A funeral will be held for him on Saturday, remembering his life and contributions to Korea's faith community.
Christianity rapidly grew after the Korean War, which ended in 1953. That year, 17-year-old Cho laid dying in a hospital bed of tuberculosis. Expecting to die, he converted to Christianity.
“I will never forget God’s blessing and grace over my life, through which He chose me to be His Servant when I was just an insignificant child with lung disease, and He saved me by His grace through the atonement of the Cross of Jesus Christ, so that through prayer I might receive wisdom and preach by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit wherever He placed me,” the emeritus pastor wrote in his Yoido Full Gospel Church biography.
Five years later, he began the church with five worshipers. In 2021, the church says they have approximately 700,000 members, 400 pastors in South Korea, and 500 missionaries abroad.
The later portion of Cho's life was embedded in scandal. He was convicted of embezzling tens of millions of dollars in church funds. He was given a three-year prison sentence in 2014 after being convicted of embezzling $12 million and using it to buy stocks in his son's company.