Pastor David Yonggi Cho, the founder of the world’s largest megachurch, passed away on Tuesday morning. He was 85.
According to a press release by his church, Yoido Full Gospel Church in Seoul, South Korea, Cho had been receiving medical treatment at the time of his death because of a brain hemorrhage he suffered in 2020.
Cho was born to a Buddhist family in 1936 and grew up during the Korean War. When Cho was 17 years old, he converted to Christianity after doctors told him that he was going to die from a severe case of tuberculosis. According to Cho, God healed him of the disease in a “miraculous” recovery.
“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,” Cho wrote in a statement published on his church’s website.
In pursuit of full-time ministry, Cho graduated from Full Gospel College in 1956. Two years later, he planted a tent church in Seoul. That church would eventually become Yoido Full Gospel Church, which would grow into the largest megachurch in the world, with more than 750,000 members and over 500 locations across South Korea. Thousands of missionaries have also been sent out from the church across the globe.
Cho also authored multiple books, founded a Christian newspaper, and established a humanitarian organization, making him one of the most influential Christian leaders in South Korea.
According to Nigerian-based news outlet Leadership News, Cho spent over 44 years stressing the need for cell group ministry because he believed it was the key to church growth.
In 2008, Cho retired as senior pastor of Yoido Full Gospel Church, in which he was succeeded by Pastor Young Hoon Lee, who still leads the megachurch today.
In February of this year, Cho’s wife, Kim Sung Hae, passed away. The Chos are survived by their three sons.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Kayla James
Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer. He is also the co-hosts of the For Your Soul podcast, which seeks to equip the church with biblical truth and sound doctrine. Visit his blog Blessed Are The Forgiven.