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This Week in AG History -- June 28, 1959

The remarkable conversion story of the father of Yonggi Cho, founder of the world's largest congregation.

When Yonggi Cho began holding services in May 1958 in Seoul, South Korea, he couldn't have known what God would do through his ministry. Only five people attended the first service, held in the home of a friend. However, the small gatherings grew in size, ultimately developing into the largest Christian congregation in the world, Yoido Full Gospel Church, an Assemblies of God church with over 700,000 members.

At the time, Yonggi Cho was 22 years old and a recent graduate of Full Gospel Bible School, an AG school in Seoul. Cho faced much opposition to the gospel from people in the community, including from his own father. But Cho persisted and his father became one of his early converts. The June 28, 1959, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel reported the story of Cho's father's remarkable conversion.

Cho's father, a local businessman and politician, had no interest in learning about Christianity. He was a dedicated follower of Buddhist and Confucian teachings. However, unanticipated difficulties brought him to his knees. He ran a failed campaign as a candidate for the National Assembly, which left him penniless. In addition, his oldest son, Yonggi Cho, developed a life-threatening case of tuberculosis. Out of desperation, Cho's father turned to his traditional religions for comfort and guidance.

Yonggi Cho, however, turned to Christ. He had been learning English from a young American man who was teaching English-language Bible classes in the neighborhood. Yonggi Cho trusted God for his healing and, to the amazement of his doctor and his family, was completely healed! The doctor sent for a new set of X-rays, which revealed that the large spot on his lung had disappeared!

Yonggi Cho's father grudgingly accepted the fact that it was Jesus Christ who healed his son. But when Yonggi Cho insisted that salvation was found only in Jesus Christ, his father became indignant. His father responded, "Just as there are many paths to the top of the mountain, so there are many ways to reach paradise; you have your way and I have mine. Don't worry about me."

Soon after being healed, Yonggi Cho enrolled in Bible school. He tried repeatedly to tell his father about Christ, but to no avail. Finally, his father relented and attended special revival services at the Bible school, where Cho was serving as the translator for an American evangelist. Cho's father came with contempt for what he termed the "foreigner's religion," but he encountered something that he could not explain in the service. He could feel the presence and glory of God, and he envied the joy exuded by the students. At the end of the service, the evangelist and Cho began praying for his father. The elder Cho began crying, which embarrassed him because he had not wept in years. According to the article, his father "felt a burning sensation go through his body, and then a sweet peace settled in his heart." He accepted Christ and his life changed forever.

Yonggi Cho and his father went home and testified to the rest of the family, all of whom were Buddhist. Two of Yonggi Cho's sisters also accepted Jesus as Savior and were healed of illnesses. Read more about the conversion of Yonggi Cho's father in the article, "A Buddhist's Search for God," by John Stetz, on page 6 of the June 28, 1959, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* "A Tiger Becomes a Lamb," by Waldo Nicodemus

* "Among the Mayans of Guatemala," by John L. Franklin

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.


Darrin J. Rodgers

Darrin J. Rodgers has served as director of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC) since 2005. He earned a master's degree in theological studies from Assemblies of God Theological Seminary and a juris doctorate from the University of North Dakota School of Law. He previously served at the David du Plessis Archive and the McAlister Library at Fuller Theological Seminary. He is the author of Northern Harvest , a history of Pentecostalism in North Dakota. His FPHC portfolio includes acquisitions, editing Assemblies of God Heritage magazine, and conducting oral history interviews. His wife, Desiree, is an ordained AG minister.