|1958 - 1961, The Early Years - the
The founding of the Yoido Full Gospel Church can be dated back
to May 18, 1958, when the first worship service was held with
the attendance of Pastor Cho Yonggi and Pastor Choi Jashil,
in the living room of Pastor Choi Jashil. The first service
was more a home worship service than what many conceive as a
Sunday worship service.
On the morning of the first service, Pastor Choi Jashil put
together a pulpit by covering an apple box with a cloth, and
went around the neighborhood announcing the service to be held.
However, her efforts were in vain as the first service was attended
by, other than Pastor Cho Yonggi and Pastor Choi Jashil, three
of Pastor Choi Jashil's children and an elderly woman who had
come in to escape being drenched by the rain.
About a month after that fateful day, Pastor Cho Yonggi and
Pastor Choi Jashil happened to hear of a woman who had been
paralyzed for the past seven years. This woman had suffered
from paralysis during the birth of her son seven years earlier,
and had never been able to stand on her own since then.
The moment the two pastors entered her residence, their lungs
were filled with foul odor making it difficult for them to breathe.
The children were uncared for and filthy beyond belief. Pastor
Choi Jashil immediately embarked on washing and cleaning the
woman and her children with water. Then with Pastor Cho Yonggi,
they placed their hands on top of the woman and began praying
in tongues. Pastor Cho Yonggi shouted from the top of his voice,
"In the name of Jesus, you shall overcome your paralysis."
After several days of prayer and spiritual warfare, a miracle
took place. The woman began grabbing on to the wall and slowly
began to stand. Then, ever so slowly and carefully, she kicked
up her feet and began to walk step by step. That day she was
completely healed of her paralysis and began to take an interest
in the church.
Such sweat-filled prayers and unwavering dedication of the two
pastors began to bear fruit and the membership of the church
increased to 50 at which time Pastor Choi Jashil's living room
became no longer adequate to contain the worshippers. As a solution,
a tent was pitched in the front yard of Pastor Choi Jashil's
house, and with empty rice sacks serving as flooring, worship
services were held. As time passed, the membership in the tent-church
continued to grow, necessitating bigger tents to be pitched
to accommodate the growth, all funded by the meager offerings
of the congregation who mainly consisted of those who were in
Beginning in the living room of Pastor Choi Jashil, the church
experienced phenomenal growth as the work of the Holy Spirit
was manifested in the church since the pitching of the first
tent, making The first tent church symbolic of the now Yoido
Full Gospel Church.
As many members of the congregation were healed through the
power of the Holy Spirit and many others found solace and solutions
to their problems, the church grew day by day. A paralytic patient
for seven years recovered from the paralysis, and a shaman priestess
repented of her sin and accepted Christ as Saviour. Many suffering
illnesses were healed as they experienced the great power of
the Holy Spirit. There were even thugs_members of local gangs,
who repented and turned their lives toward God, becoming His
servants. Day by day, the church grew.
In the 1950's however, especially toward the close of the decade,
Korea's situation, both economically and politically, was not
rosy by any means. It was not long after the Korean War and
there were many suffering poverty and chaos from the war's aftermath.
Pastor Cho Yonggi was no exception. It was not uncommon for
Pastor Cho Yonggi to satisfy his hunger with nothing other than
three meals of porridge given him by an American evangelist.
He also battled poverty along with the members of his congregation.
In such desperate times, Pastor Cho Yonggi called out to God
for messages appropriate for such harsh reality.
One day as he was reading the Bible, he heard the voice of the
Holy Spirit and the message of the Three-Fold Blessing (the
blessing of the Spirit, the soul and the body). Filled with
confidence and certainty, he delivered the message of faith
which led the congregation to positive, creative and productive
lives. His messages provided faith, hope and confidence to those
suffering from despair and hopelessness. The promise of God
driven by his intense faith in God, led the church to experience
incredible growth in three years.
With the dawning of the new year, 1961, Pastor Cho Yonggi and
Pastor Choi Jashil were filled with exuberance and hope for
the new year. By then, the church had 1,000 registered members
with 600 of them attending on Sundays.
Then the unexpected happened. Pastor Cho Yonggi received a draft
notice from the army requiring him to honor mandatory service.
This was a devastating blow to Pastor Cho Yonggi, as he had
thought he would be exempt due to his ill health. It seemed
as though all the plans he had made for the church crumbled
much like a tower of sand under the weight of the draft notice.
Pastor Cho Yonggi and Pastor Choi Jashil began fasting and praying
every night for the will of God. About two or three days prior
to the day of his enlistment, an unexpected visitor came to
the church from Pusan, an American evangelist, Pastor J. W.
Hurston. He told them he was irresistibly drawn by the voice
of the Holy Spirit every time he prayed to visit the tent church.
God had brought him from hundreds of kilometers away, a Spirit-filled
servant of God who would keep lit the fire of the Holy Spirit
during Pastor Cho Yonggi's absence.
Having been comforted, Pastor Cho Yonggi entered into the army.
After two months of boot camp, Pastor Cho Yonggi was fortunately
assigned to an American army base near Seoul, allowing him to
participate in the ministry of his church. However, in the Spring
of 1961, as Pastor Cho Yonggi was baptizing the members of the
church, the accumulation of overwork and exhaustion caused him
to collapse in the middle of the service.