Pastor Paul Yonggi Cho, founder of the world’s largest church, died this Tuesday aged 85 in Seoul, South Korea.
The founder of Yoido Full Gospel Church in Seoul he is known in the country as Yonggi Cho, but abroad his books and sermons were signed as Paul Yonggi Cho. He later left Paul for David.
The church he founded reached 700,000 members, making it a Guinness record as the largest congregation in the world in 1993. Today, Yoido Full Gospel Church in Seoul has 600,000 members.
A statement released by the megachurch reported that the pastor was receiving medical treatment at a hospital for a brain hemorrhage he suffered in 2020. He was hospitalized and died there.
Cho was born in 1936 into a Buddhist family and experienced the Korean War, which split the country in two. He converted to Christianity at age 17, when doctors told him he would die of a serious case of tuberculosis.
When he “miraculously” recovered from his illness, Paul Yonggi Cho recognized that this change was only possible through the action of God.
“I will never forget God’s blessing and grace on my life, whereby He chose me to be His Servant when I was just a petty child with lung disease, and He saved me by His grace through the atonement of the Cross of Jesus Christ, that through prayer I might receive wisdom and preach by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit wherever He placed me,” wrote the pastor in an article posted on the congregation’s website.
Yoido Full Gospel Church in Seoul was founded in 1958, two years after he completed his training at Full Gospel College seminary. Initially, services were held in a tent, but the ministry has grown to become one of the largest in the world in terms of membership.
In all, the ministry has more than 500 congregations spread across South Korea and has sent thousands of missionaries to countries around the world, according to information from the station Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN News).
“All I did was offer my life as the boy who gave the five loaves and two fish […] I just held on to the dreams the Lord gave me, and it was He who grew Yoido’s Full Gospel Church to 750,000 members to become the largest church in the world,” Cho stated earlier.
The pastor left three children. His wife, Kim Sung Hae, passed away in February this year. Years before his death, he became involved in legal problems and admitted to having committed crime of fraud in church finances, being sentenced to pay a fine and serve three years in prison.