David Yonggi Cho (also known as Paul Yonggi Cho) was found guilty this week of the embezzlement 12 million dollars in church funds. It seems he allowed his son to sell the church stocks at a grossly inflated price. There are a number of other accusations being leveled at Cho for corruption stemming back decades.
Cho, who founded the Yoido Gospel Fellowship in 1958 which is the world’s largest church with a million members, has been a highly influential figure in Pentecostal/Charismatic circles for the last thirty years. Many in those circles will be greatly disturbed by this scandal, and for those in South Korea where the church is located, it may well be a bigger scandal than that of Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart! But the influence of Cho on American Pentecostal/Charismatic pastors and congregations should not be underestimated. Since the tendency of those pastors and congregations is to emulate other successful pastors and congregations, many of them have followed and exalted Cho and his congregation over the years.
Cho has been sentenced to three years in prison (although at least one source claims that sentence was suspended) and ordered to pay over four million dollars in fines. Unfortunately, this was a father and son operation and so Cho’s son, Hee-jun, was also sentenced to three years but not suspended.
Of course, this will be yet another example used as evidence by the cultured despisers of the Church to demonstrate why the Church should be rejected. Any mature assessment of this subject will arrive at the conclusion that just because a man or even a congregation falters is no reason to discount all churches and Christians and certainly no grounds for discounting Christ or the Bible. Still, though I know nothing of what the Christian atmosphere is like in South Korea, in America, as long as we value money more than people, things more than God, and image more than integrity, there will always be scandals.
(The following articles were sources for this article)