Pastor David Yonggi Cho, the Senior Pastor of the Yoido Full Gospel Church died on 14 Sept 2021, age 85. He had retired in 2008. The church with 500,000 members founded by Cho is the largest Pentecostal Church in the world. Cho opened the church in 1958 and by 1964, it already had 3,000 members.
A Singaporean mega church pastor called the late Yonggi Cho a true father of faith, and a true hero of faith. He was indeed a true hero and father of the Christian faith whose walk with Jesus Christ greatly impacted millions and the entire Korean nation.
Not surprisingly, the Singaporean church pastor has forgotten to mention that although Cho labored and founded the largest evengelical charismatic church, he was also a convicted criminal. The world may not remember him as a hero but one whom, as a father, tried to protect his corrupt son for decades before he and his son were convicted in 2014, for a serious crime of embezzling millions from the church in 2002 to help his son which Yonggi hid despite rebukes from several church elders.
On Feb 23, 2014 after the guilty verdict and suspended jail sentence, Pastor Cho declared “through this suffering, I’ve learned a homework. An individual shouldn’t possess anything besides health… Status, fame, authority, money.. These are all matters that are outside the body and unworthy of any pursuit”.
Pastor Yonggi Cho was caught because a group of 28 elders from his Yoido Full Gospel Church had earlier stood up in public against the pastor with the allegations in Sept 2011 which the court later found to be true. The elders were then sacked by the church for refusing to withdraw the allegations. Perhaps these unamed ones are the true heroes of faith, the whistle blowers.
My mind drifts back to my many gay Christian friends who died due to the condemnation of the Evangelical charismatic churches in Singapore. Perhaps these are the true heroes of faith because the still believed that Jesus Christ is Lord, God and Saviour until the very end. They had gone through much sufferings. Their funerals were short and quickly held and few remembers them anymore. What was their sin? Surely they did not embezzled tens of millions?
At the end of his life, Cho realised that a life of simplicity and simple faith in the Kingdom of God is much to be valued rather than a life of glory, fame, status and wealth.
A “hero” of liberal faith who also died this week is Bishop Spong of Episcopal Church of Newark Diocese. He was the Left wing hero against the foundational Christian faith based on the Bible as the Word of God declaring Jesus as the way, truth and life as God and Saviour whom he vehemently rejects. Many of my friends are like him and attends church, churches which are often devoid of power and presence of the Holy Spirit to save and touch lives because Jesus Christ is rejected, a church by name only.
In his book “Christianity must change or die!” published Apr 1999, Bishop spong called for Christians to reject the basic foundations of the blibical Christian faith including the resurrection, the Bible as the Word of God, and virgin birth. Instead of expelling their Bishop, Spong became a hero for the Episcopal Church who had plunged into apostasy during the prior 50 years. The Christian Right in the Anglican South used the issue of gay rights to condemn the Episcopal Church, which was a red herring instead of condemning the heresy of Spong
Twenty two years later, at his death, Spong was not wrong but identified the wrong church. The church is dying but it was mostly his Episcopal Church who had rejected Jesus Christ death and resurrection who are facing imminent death and steep decline. With just over 500,000 in church Sunday attendance and declining at a steep rate, it had fallen to being smaller than Yonggi’s charismatic evangelical church when it had hitherto had 2 million attendance in the 1960s, and was the major mainline church in the US. Spong raised his fist against the Cross of Calvary, and the Holy Spirit was taken from the church.
By 2009, ten years after his book, Spong already knew his call for the death of the Evangelical charismatic church was fake news and it was his own Episcopal Church that was facing death. But the Anglican South responded not by condemning the grave heresies but using gay marriage as the scapegoat as a weapon against the Episcopal church. Hence, it gave Spong the opportunity to declare victory in his famous manifesto of 15 Oct 2009 where he declared gay rights will soon prevail against the Christian Right, and he became a champion of the weak against an unrighteous hypocritical Christian Right. And victory did come…
1. Gay marriage was legalised in South America (Brazil in 2013)
2. Gay marriage was legalised in Europe (France 17 May 2013, UK in March 2014, Germany 01 Oct 2017) .
3. Gay marriage was legalised in the US in June 2015.
4. Gay marriage was legalised in Asian Pacific nations (New Zealand 18 Aug 2013, Australia on 09 Dec 2017, Taiwan 24 May 2019) .
What Bishop Spong did not realised that God used his unbelief to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the ends of the world. The end of the world was not some remote village, but the inner cities with her gay outcasts. The Bishop became a true hero for the marginalised. At the end of his life, he became a true hero not of faith but of the unnamed and forgotten that God was not the anti gay God of Israel potrayed by the Christian Right. The Bishop has long rejected blibical Christianity where Jesus is Lord and Saviour even though part of a Church.
How does God of Israel sees them? the heroes of the Christian Left and Right? How does God sees us?
Firstly, we are defined by how we respond to Jesus Christ as God Almighty, Saviour and the resurrected Lord. Without our sins being forgiven and borned by Jesus Christ, we are unforgiven because we cannot save ourselves whether good works or Right living. By default we belong to Satan as part of the fallen world. There are many Bishops and churches who are unbelieving and were never saved since they do not believe in salvation nor eternal life in heaven. In the last days, the wheat and weeds are easier to distinguish.
Secondly, we are defined by our brokenness and humility, understanding God’s grace in our lives with a lack of hypocrisy and absence of self righteousness. God doesn’t see the millions taken by Yongi Cho because the blood of Christ has cleansed him. We do not give grace to others, because we don’t open our hearts to the fullness of God’s grace.
Many Singaporean churches are famous for wearing white against gays. It was not surprising that Kong Hee didn’t mention the criminal conviction of Pastor Yonggi Cho because he didn’t understand that his fall led him to a very much deeper brokenness, humility and understanding of God’s love, grace and mercy. Yonggi cho had failed badly even sacking the 28 elders who had confronted him. God’s grace was always there. All is washed clean in Christ redeeming blood at the Cross of calvary.
Thirdly, we are not defined by what we do for God or how we have sacrificed much, but our walk with God through Jesus Christ in the dark valleys of the shadow of death despite grave challenges to our Christian faith and Christ centered beliefs. Does God sees a Billy Graham or a Benny Hinn much more than a child of God? In fact, God sees the unknown ones living daily by faith in the risen Lord in view of their challenging circumstances highly rather than Christian pastors who lived in castles and fly first class.
At the end of his life, I believe that Pastor Yonggi Cho realised that all he did for God, the fame, the status, and all, did not matter much personally because it was the work of the Holy Spirit and not him, rather more important being in the kingdom of God. He was much broken and humbled, a true hero of faith and of the Kingdom going home.
Many times in my childhood, we traveled so far, by nightfall how weary I grow. Fathers arm would slip round me and gently he say, my son we’re going home.
Going home, i’m going home. That’s nothing to hold me here. I’ve caught a glimpse of that heavenly land, praise God, I’m going home.
Now the twilight is fading and the day soon shall end, I get homesick i’m farther from home, but my father has led me each step of the way and now I’m going home.