|[Birth, Growth and Call]
Pastor Cho was born on 14th February, 1936 in Southern part
of Kyongsang Province, Woolju Town, Sam-nam Kyodong village.
He was born from his father, Cho Doo Cheon, and mother, Kim
Bok Sun as the first born of 5 brothers and 4 sisters. He learned
a lot from his father who was very knowledgeable in Chinese,
Confucianism, and Buddhism.
Although he graduated Busan Dong-rea Middle School with an
excellent grade, due to his father’s failure in the election
of the House of Representatives and family’s financial difficulty,
he entered into a vocational school called Busan Technical
High School. Fortunately, there was an American Military Camp
near-by the school that he could learn English from American
soldiers. So he occasionally translated in between the school
principal and the Military Camp Commander.
However, when he was 17 years old, he was diagnosed with
pulmonary tuberculosis and had only a short period of time
Yet he still ignited the will of life on his bed by studying
with English dictionaries and textbooks. One day, he was visited
with his sister’s friends and he heard the Good news and accepted
Christ as his personal Savior. But for the meantime, his illness
was still the same that he went back to his hometown for fresh
air and better rest, and he commuted to the hospital in Busan
day, he attended a crusade led by an American missionary,
Ken Ties, on a Busan street and received grace. Afterwards,
he helped him in interpretation, read lots of Christian books,
and began to realize the truth of the gospel. But he did not
have the assurance of faith that he decided to fast and pray
earnestly. One night while he was fasting, he met Jesus who
appeared to him like a bright light in his vision and experienced
the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
The night Pastor Cho met Jesus, he was called as a preacher
of the gospel. He came to Seoul to study theology in 1956
and entered ‘Full Gospel Theology Seminary’ at the top of
the class. In the seminary, he met his ministry partner and
the future mother-in-law, Pastor Choi Ja Sil.
[Dae Jo Don Church Plant]
Pastor Cho who graduated Full Gospel Theology Seminary in
1958 planted a church on the outskirts of Seoul together with
Pastor Choi and her three children on 18th May.
As the church grew more and more and got to the number of
50 people in church, they built a tent and put a straw mat,
and had a worship service inside the tent sitting on the mat.
Despite the coldness in the winter, the church devoted themselves
to All-night prayer and Early Morning Prayer in the tent church
and went out to evangelize people in the day time.
Pastor Cho preached the message of Threefold Blessing to the
sick and poor people whose life situation became miserable after
the 6.25 Korean War that they might enjoy good health and all
might go well with them as their soul was getting along well.
The power of the Holy Spirit strongly came upon them that all
sort of sickness was healed, and the life of the church became
full of hope.
However, when the growth of the church was flaming in January,
1961, Pastor Cho received his draft notice. Within 3 years
of time the church grew to four hundred people that the church
had bought approximately 2000m² of land to build a chapel,
so it was very difficult for him to go to the military. A
few days before he joined the army, he entrusted the church
to a missionary, John Huston, who came to the tent church
by the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Then, he joined the army
in January of that year. During his service time, he had a
serious enteropathy that he had a major surgery in the army
military hospital and transferred to Daejeon 63 Hospital,
yet he did not get better that he was discharged from service
due to his disease. That was when he did his service for 7
[Seodaemoon Church and the Origin of Cell Structure]
It was not long enough for Pastor Cho to recover from his
surgery, yet he interpreted for Pastor Sam Tort in a revival
meeting at Seodaemoon Rotary. Two weeks later from the revival
meeting of signs and wonders, Pastor Cho built a tent and
started his second ministry there. In November, 1961 the chapel
which seated 1,500 people was completed, and on the 18th of
February, 1962, they named it the “Full Gospel Revival Hall”
and had a dedication service. The same year on April 26th,
Pastor Yonggi Cho was ordained and they changed the name of
the church to “Full Gospel Central Church” on May 13th.
The church grew to 3,000 in 1964 which was 3 years after the
church was moved to Seodaemoon. The next year, Pastor Yonggi
Cho was married with the daughter of Pastor Choi, Kim Sunghae,
on March 1st, 1965.
However, Pastor Cho who had been putting the best of his
efforts into the pastoral ministry could not take care of
his health and collapsed one day while he was baptizing hundreds
of people. But he left the hospital within a week in order
to preach on Sunday, and he fainted again and was admitted
to the hospital again.
When he was faced with his physical limitations, he realized
the meaning of Exodus 18:18 “The work is too heavy for you;
you cannot handle it alone” whereby Moses appointed some officials
over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens and delegated the
work to them. He also learned that the early church used to
pray and fellowship together in their houses, and realized
the importance of raising lay leaders, especially women, in
the church. (Romans 16) This became the catalyst of changing
the future of the church.
The following week, he told all the officials about cells
and built a cell structure. He divided Seoul into 20 big districts
and told them to have a worship service in their houses with
the church members who lived nearby them. When the church
educated and appointed women as cell leaders, it contributed
tremendously to the growth of the church. Consequently, men
in the church were greatly challenged by the growth of the
women cells that they also started their cell meetings. (Today,
this district cell meeting is expanded to youth and children
cells and the number of adult cell leaders, both men and women,
is approximately 13,660.)
After 3 years from building the cell structure, the church
grew to 8,000 members that they split the Sunday service into
three services. But the church outgrew the space in the church
that they could no longer afford to meet with all the members.
So Pastor Cho bought some land in Yoido and decided to build
a new church building. Yoido at that time was nothing but
an island of sand and the communication facilities were so
poor that many people criticized him and said it was an ill-advised
plan. Moreover, the construction cost was 800,000,000won,
yet the church only had 1,000,000won. Nevertheless, Pastor
Cho believed in the God of miracles and made up his mind to
raise funds for the construction of the church. The Assemblies
of God also accepted the will of the church and bought the
land with a postdated check. The construction began in April,
[Worldwide Development of Yoido Full Gospel Church (YFGC)]
Once construction work for new sanctuary in Yoido began, the
oil shock broke out in Arab, and the value of the currency,
Won, fell against the dollar. In accordance with that, the
price of building materials rose steeply and many of members
of the church lost their jobs. This led to a decrease in offering
and a loan from bank; hence the pressure of debt came to the
climax. Also architectural technique problem contributed to
interruption of the construction work.
Pastor Yonggi Cho fainted on the cement floor numerous times
as he cried out to the Lord at the basement of the sanctuary
which only framework was completed by then.
Then, ‘Saving the Church Movement’ arose among the members,
and hundreds of them fasted and desperately prayed every evening
at the basement altogether.
As a result, the sanctuary which could accommodate 10,000
people was finally built up and was consecrated on 23th September
When Yoido Sanctuary was completely built in 1973, Prayer
Mountain which has been considerably contributes to Church’s
revival was built as well.
As more and more people visit Prayer Mountain, another new
sanctuary which had 10,000 seats was built and dedicated in
September, 1982. Prayer Mountain where Pastor Jasil Choi used
to fast and pray all night at a churchyard in Paju, Gyeonggi
Province grew up to today’s International Fasting Prayer Mountain
which nowadays more than 3,500 church members and 10,000 foreigners
are annually visiting.
Since the church moved to Yoido, the church expanded drastically.
In 1979, the number of church members reached 100,000, and
the figure became double in 1981.
1st and 2nd Education Buildings were constructed for the
church’s internal maturity and education. Also Mission Center
was built in order to train missionaries and send them for
In 1984, the official name of the church was changed to ‘Yoido
Full Gospel Church’ and the members grew up to 400,000. In
1992, the figure became 700,000. YFGC built several satellite
churches and helped many churches to be independent as an
effective way of evangelizing local communities.
Pastor Cho gives thanks to the Lord for his 47 years of ministry, and has been sincerely serving 750,000 church members. In the early 21st century, the church's goals for next 10 years are to build 500 prayer houses and 5,000 satellite churches in Korea, and to expand global mission through internet broadcasting, and to enlarge overseas mission to the third world countries, including North Korea. For these goals, Pastor Cho has been praying and chasing faithfully after the Holy Spirit with all of the church members.