Second Part - With World Renowned Pastor David Yonggi Cho, Senior Pastor of Yoido Full Gospel Church
Deacon Aae-lee Joung: From this week, every Tuesday "The Fragrance of a Shepherd" that has been newly programmed will be broadcast this spring. Today we will talk with Dr. Cho again during the second part of this specially revised program. Dr. Cho is with us, and some of the church members of Yoido Full Gospel Church are here, too. Whenever Korean people go abroad, they are questioned, "Do you know Dr. David Yonggi Cho?" Maybe you are more well known abroad than in Korea. When did you start your efforts for world missions?
Dr. Cho: I began my world mission efforts in 1964 when I went to Europe. Actually, it is said that in Europe it is not easy to gather very many in one place, but there was a great crowd of people when I was there. In Germany, 3,000 people gathered, and 10,000 people in England. Then I began to go to the United States to preach the Gospel. Originally, America had a tendency to feel a little inferior to Europeans and to look down on Koreans. When I went to the United States from Europe, it was more beneficial for me to preach the Gospel in the United States at that time. So I went to the United States and preached the Gospel widely through the broadcasting center in New York. For several years, I endeavored to preach in the United States. Then I began to preach the Gospel in South America. Since then, whenever I go abroad and preach the Gospel, thousands of people have gathered in stadiums for our crusades. Then I went over to Southeast Asia, and in recent years I have reached out to the African continent and to India.
Deacon Aae-lee Joung: Why are you focusing on world missions?
Dr. Cho: When I was a pastor at the tent church, I usually prayed for five hours a day. One day while I was praying I heard a voice say, "Stand up and spread your hands like a bird's wings and turn around." Then I obeyed. Then another voice said, "You will preach the Gospel going around the world in just this way." Then I started to study English very hard. I tried my best to become accustomed to thinking and speaking in English, even in reading the Bible and preparing sermons. I really made an effort to become accustomed to doing everything in English. So, I can preach the Gospel in English quite freely.
Deacon Aae-lee Joung: I think that the most important thing was that you completely obeyed God according to His vision during your tent church days.
Dr. Cho: I think that the tent church for me was like an army training camp for recruits. When 300 people gathered in the tent church, I preached as if I were standing in front of 3,000 people since that was my dream. I lived in a dream during that time.
Deacon Aae-lee Joung: How many people are you dreaming of when you preach now?
Dr. Cho: Nowadays, I preach and dream of the whole world. This dream has really become true because this generation is an Internet generation. I can meet everyone wherever they are through our Internet broadcasting over our international network. So I have been considering my choice of parables and vocabulary in my preaching.
Deacon Aae-lee Joung: I heard that you do very well with other languages besides English.
Dr. Cho: When I began to preach the Gospel in Japan, I had to preach the Gospel through an interpreter even in broadcasting. I thought that it should not be this way, so I began to study Japanese. Japanese was easy to learn, because Korea was ruled by Japan until my fourth grade of elementary school.
Deacon Aae-lee Joung: Can you speak any other languages?
Dr. Cho: When I went to Germany the first time, it was difficult to find an interpreter. So I learned German and French a little.
Deacon Aae-lee Joung: I think you have a lot of talent in languages. People have thought that all at once, you just naturally spoke English very well. But it was not like that.
Dr. Cho: As for language, it should be acquired through practice. It is important to study continually and speak a language. If you want to do well with a language, you should think about the cost, "No pain, no gain."
Deacon Aae-lee Joung: It seems that you preach as much as you can both nationally and internationally. It is said that you have a lot of stories to tell as illustrations in your sermons.
Dr. Cho: I have lots of stories because I have experienced many difficulties in life. It is natural that a person who has gone though suffering and difficulty has a lot of things to talk about. In the future after I retire, I would like to write a book including these stories.
Deacon Aae-lee Joung: Many people around you talk about your leadership in addition to your prayer and charisma.
Dr. Cho: The Church is an organization. Leadership is needed in organization. It is good for one person to do everything, however, it is impossible. So we need many people who can do their professional part to carry out a lot of things for the body of Jesus, the Church. Our church has almost 600 pastors and 400-500 staff members. We have 1,400 elders and 50,000 deacons serving the Lord in their positions. In our church, there is a Full Gospel Businessmen's Fellowship Union who organizes ministries to preach the Gospel in a variety of ways both nationally and internationally. Almost 600 missionaries from our Full Gospel World Missions Department have been sent all over the world. Through our World Broadcasting Mission, we broadcast on-line and off-line all over the world.
I have to select and use suitable and efficient people to manage this organization. However, the most important thing that I am considering is cell organization. Our church is maintaining and being operated by 40,000 cell leaders. Our International Theological Institute has produced several textbooks to educate and train the cell leaders so that they can teach others, and inspire others to have dreams and visions. The most important thing is for human beings to have visions and dream, because people live according to their visions and dreams. The Bible says, "Where there is no vision, the people perish."
Deacon Aae-lee Joung: I heard that you read a lot of books.
Dr. Cho: Pastors must learn and study during their whole life because they always preach and teach others. They must read about the trends of the time and explain about current events based on the Bible. Pastors should be widely informed. My motivation to read books began when my wife began to put a lot of newly published books on my desk. I said, "Don't do that." But she continually put books on my desk, changing the books after a certain time passed. One day I thought, "It's a waste of money if I don't read those books." So I began to read due to my wife's efforts.
My wife put more books on my desk because she started a publishing company some time ago. These days, I ask our church pastors to report their impressions after reading a book a month. At the end of the year, I choose the best ones among the reports and award them
Deacon Aae-lee Joung: I heard that you receive a lot of letters even in one day and also that you recive an enormous amount of e-mail. Do you read all of that?
Dr. Cho: I receive usually about 3,000 e-mails every day. My secretaries arrange them for me and show me the letters that need my answers. Then I record my answers on tape for them, and they reply according to my recorded replies. It is a generation of interactive dialogue which includes questions and answers. This is possible through the e-mail system. In the olden days, people only listened to the preaching. But nowadays, it has become a time for questions and answers after listening to a sermon. This is the dialogue age through E-mail.
Deacon Aae-lee Joung: People around you say, "You have such a tender heart."
Dr. Cho: When someone eagerly wants something, it's difficult for me to refuse. That's why I am paying careful attention to e-mail. If I did not reply to those who wrote their stories, how frustrated would they be? There is so much e-mail asking for help. I try to find out how I can be helpful. I think that's why they say I am so tender.
Deacon Aae-lee Joung: It is said that you are a person who goes abroad to many countries.
Dr. Cho: Recently, Korean Air elected me as the person in Korea who flied the most. That means that I went abroad so many times for crusades. However, when I went abroad for a crusade, I only went outside the hotel to go to the crusade venue. Except for going to have meals, I prayed continually at the hotel. I usually pray asking God what words I should preach, and I meditate on God's Word. I was not looking around the country. The reason I went there was to preach the Gospel. Maybe I am one of the persons who goes abroad many times but never goes sightseeing. After I retire, I would like to see Paris someday with my wife. Even though I have gone there many times, I don't know about Paris yet.
Deacon Aae-lee Joung: Whatever YFGC does, it always seems to be tagged "the biggest","the very first",etc. I heard that 10% of missionaries from Korea are from Yoido Full Gospel Church. Have you had any difficulties after so many missionaries were dispatched abroad?
Dr. Cho: We have more concerns taking care of mission fields than sending missionaries. We built training schools for the nationals and established hospitals wherever they are needed. Lately, we founded a university in an Islamic country. We are developing the Lord’s servants to be trained and educated based on Christianity and at the same time, they are getting training in the current technologies they need, so that they can be leaders in their country. We built Bethesda Christian University (BCU) in Los Angeles, which has been granted accreditation by the Accrediting Association of Bible Colleges (AABC), and has been approved by the state of California. Since the crusade in Jordan last year, we have been planning to construct a world missions center. After the war in Iraq ends and when our national situation settles down, we will work on it earnestly. Our church’s NGO (Good People World Family) shares their Christian love in Jesus’ name to the people where the Gospel is not allowed to enter, by assisting those who need education and development in underdeveloped countries and relief from hunger and sickness. Some time ago, the Jordan government permitted our church NGO to do relief activities for Iraqi refugees. Our church is contributing much relief for North Korea through our NGO. According to the corn support plan for North Korea, we have already supported North Korea with their majority of corn. Our church support is usually carried out according to the report from our NGO representatives after they have gone North Korea and saw well how things were going there. When we heard directly from our reporters on the spot, we knew that people’s actual lives are very different from what we know and hear from the mass media. Lately, we made a plan to supply medicine costing a total of U.S. $10 million for North Korean children by assisting with $4 million from our church and $6 million from abroad.
Deacon Aae-lee Joung: We are so moved by your challenging life while we listen to your stories.
Dr. Cho: Youthfulness is not in the body but in the heart. As for me, dreaming is one of my sources in life. Dreaming is embracing tomorrow in the present.
Deacon Aae-lee Joung: If we go to Yoido Full Gospel Church on Sunday, we can sense at once the amazing revival in your church. What do you think about is the secret of your church growth? Should the Church be changed in any way?
Dr. Cho: It was neither through my strength nor my power, but the growth is a result only by the Spirit of God. As you know, we can do nothing without being filled with the Holy Spirit. There are several kinds of pastors according to what God has called them to do. Some are called to pastor the low-income group, some are called to pastor the middle class, and some are called to pastor a high-class of people. I was called to pastor a low-income group of people. Most of all they needed hope. So I gave them visions and dreams. I have taught them to receive The Threefold Blessing described in 3 John 1:2, "I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well." My messages have been prepared to meet the needs of people who are broken economically, socially, physically, and spiritually. In particular, facing the poor economic realities of Korea in the 1950s and 1960s, it was important to give people hope in their situations of despair. I tried not to lose the faith and hope I preached to them when our church came out from Bulgwang-dong to Seodaemun and from Seodaemun to Yoido. When our church moved from Seodaemun to Yoido, Yoido was a vast expanse of sand. Some people said, "You will perish." But people will follow everywhere there is hope. We should not give people religion, but hope. Hope always comes from Jesus Christ who died on the Cross to redeem us from our sins. The Bible speaks to us about hope. I always have taught our saints to believe in Jesus and to establish their identity in Jesus Christ. The person who is in Jesus Christ is righteous, holy, and provides healing. I have also emphasized to them, "We are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God." In recent days, there is not enough space to park their cars when people go to church. For now, the Internet is an alternative for the church. If you come to our church on Sunday, you can see so many people at our church. As for handicapped people or a young married couple who have a baby, they can have a worship service at home through the Internet. As you know, the person who made the best of the Internet in the presidential campaign was elected President. Nowadays, we live in the world of the Internet.
Deacon Aae-lee Joung: As you said, it is important for the Church to lead the way in using the Internet. Thank you for your time to be with us. What we can give you is only our intercessory prayer. Would you like to share your prayer list with us?
Dr. Cho: These days, above all, I pray for my health. I pray that the peace of the Lord will always be with me in every way, and that our family will live in peace with each other. Next, I always pray and hope that my three sons will experience the deep grace of the Lord's salvation. Then I pray for our church. Last of all, I pray that there will be no more war in the world.
Deacon Aae-lee Joung: Dr. Cho, thank you for joining us. We also thank the members of Yoido Full Gospel Church. For two days, we have had Dr. Cho with us in this specially revised program, 'The Fragrance of a Shepherd.' Thank you, audience, for joining us. See you next time.