David Yonggi Cho is Senior Pastor and founder of the Yoido Full Gospel Church, the world’s largest congregation with a membership of 1,000,000 (as of 2007). Pastor Cho conducts two services of the seven the church holds a day; they are so heavily attended that people often must arrive an hour early to have a seat.
He was born on February 14, 1936, in Ulju-gun, now part of Ulsan metropolitan city. Raised initially as a Buddhist, Cho converted to Christianity at the age of 19, after a girl visited him daily telling him about Jesus Christ, after he was diagnosed with terminal tuberculosis. One day, she knelt down to pray for him and began to weep. He was deeply touched and told her, “Don’t cry…I now know about your Christian love.
Since I am dying I will become a Christian for you.” She gave him her own Bible and said to him, “If you read it faithfully you will find the words of life.” He subsequently had a series of spiritual experiences, including what Pentecostals call the Baptism of the Holy Spirit – during which the believer experiences glossolalia – when he saw Jesus in a vision.
Believing that God had called him to the ministry, Cho began working as an interpreter for the American evangelist Ken Tize. In 1956, he received a scholarship to study theology at Full Gospel Bible College in Seoul. While there, he met Choi Ja-Shil , who became his mother-in-law and a close ministerial associate. He graduated in March 1958.