The Ministry of Yoido Full Gospel Church

Yoido Full Gospel Church (hereafter YFGC) began with a makeshift tent church with five members on the suburban area of Seoul in 1958, and grew as the largest church in the world with the membership of 780,000 as of May, 2008 in fifty years. In the year of 2008, its founder Rev. Yonggi Cho retired from his fifty-year ministry and Rev. Younghoon Lee was elected and inaugurated as the new senior pastor of the church. The contribution of Yoido Full Gospel Church to the Holy Spirit movement in Korea and the rest of the world has been monumental in the past, and it continues to be active in the movement today. The Holy Spirit movement of YFGC is a continuation of the broader characteristics of Korean revival movements. Inheriting the legacies of Korean Holy Spirit movements, YFGC remains enthusiastic about evangelism, active in the ministries of loving and sharing, and continues to be mature in both the individual and social dimensions.

 

1. The History of the Holy Spirit movement of YFGC

A) The beginning and development of the Holy Spirit movement (1950s and 1960s)

In YFGCs initial phases (1950s and 1960s), the main targets of evangelism and ministry were the people in the slum area. The Christian gospel of salvation gained momentum among the economically and socially marginalized people, as it is accompanied by the experience of the Holy Spirit and his power. The Holy Spirit movement of YFGC inspired by the Incarnation of the Son of God attempted to focus on both the spiritual needs and the desperate and concrete needs of the people. In addition, the understanding of the Holy Spirit, on which its cell groups operated, also invigorated the enthusiasm for evangelism. As the church was relocated at the Sudaemun area, there came even greater works of the Holy Spirit and the explosive growth of YFGC.

B) The Holy Spirit movement in its maturity (1970s)

YFGC continued its explosive growth after moving to Yoido in September 1973. In the 1970s, it also made an earnest effort to evangelize the rest of Korea and the world. The Holy Spirit movement of YFGC took root by contextualizing the gospel in the 1950s, facilitated the expansion from personal spiritual experiences to communal faith in the 1960s, and developed to be a nationwide and even a worldwide Holy Spirit movement by concentrating its energy on mission works in Korea and abroad. As a model of Korean Holy Spirit movement, the Holy Spirit movement of YFGC presented the direction for church growth through the Holy Spirit, the Word of God, and prayer as well as actively engaged in mission works for evangelization of Korea and the world. For this, YFGC took the lead in forming partnerships with mainline denominations and their leaders for the preparation of mass crusades, and in doing so contributed to church growth in general.

C) Continuous Holy Spirit movement and broadened social engagement (from 1980s to the present)

In the 1980s, the Holy Spirit movement of YFGC began to aim at inner maturity in addition to outer growth, with increased interest in practicing Christian love in the social dimension. To obey the command of Christ to preach the gospel and love neighbors, YFGC established and developed organizations and social programs to share the love of Christ with isolated neighbors. Furthermore, in obedience to Christs command to become the light and the salt of the world, YFGC took a great step in setting a Christian social agenda by founding a daily newspaper, the Kukmin Ilbo.

Since the second senior pastor, Younghoon Lees inauguration of YFGC in 2008, the church has even more vigorously engaged in evangelical social ministries for social welfare and charity works both in and out of the country. From 2013, YFGC has spent one third of its annual budget - namely, approximately 3.5 million US dollars - for helping the underprivileged and mission works. Adding social services, social sanctification, and unity amongst churches to its direct evangelism efforts is characteristic of the Holy Spirit movement of YFGC.

 

2. The Features of the Ministry of YFGC

1) Ministry of service (an evangelical social participation)

(1) The works of Good People: Good People is an organization that YFGC established in July, 1999 as a Non-Governmental Organization for International Development of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Korean government. It also obtained the special consultative status from United Nations Economic and Social Council (or UNECOSOC) in 2007. Good People carries out various social services such as child-protection, education, prevention of disease, emergency relief, one to one overseas child affiliation, and fighting poverty in the areas shunned by civilization and government protection at home and abroad. In the domestic level, Good People is actively working primarily for the broken families, North Korean defectors, multicultural families, and foreigners staying in the country. As for the foreign activities, by dispatching an emergency relief agency when any natural disasters, such as typhoons, droughts, earthquakes, or tsunamis, occur anywhere on the globe, it performs emergency disaster relief, rescue of human lives, and excavation of disaster sites, as well as medical services and anti-epidemic measures. Moreover, through follow-up services like water well purification and the construction and operation of child care centers, it helps in the rapid restoration of the damaged areas.

In addition, the work of Good People overseas includes educational work, medical service, community development, and overseas child support. Its educational work is mainly concentrated on Southeast Asian countries lagging in economic and cultural aspects. For instance, Good People held a building dedication ceremony of a senior secondary school capable of accommodating 1,700 students in Lan Xang, Laos in May, 2012. It also constructed a kindergarten in Vietnam on September of the same year. The organization built Good People Yeon-shim Lims Mission School in Turkana, Kenya in Dec. 16, 2013 following the wish of missionary Yeon-shim Lim who devoted her whole life to the missionary work there.

Good People also carries out medical work. It completed the Capas municipal hospital for the ITA minority ethnic group in the Philippines in October, 2009. It constructed a treatment center for cholera patients in Haiti in November, 2010, and sent medical devices to the Mombasa health care center in Kenya in July 2012. It has performed free cataract surgeries for 1,619 patients who were in danger of blindness in nine different countries, including Vietnam, Mongol, Tajikistan and so on. Furthermore, it has conducted surgery for children suffering from heart disease in foreign countries. It established an IT education center as a rehabilitation project in Iran after it was damaged considerably by an earthquake. It has built and operated an orphanage in Sri Lanka, and reconstructed a destroyed school in Jakarta, Indonesia. In January 2012, it constructed 70 modern houses and seven septic tanks, and installed a solar power system for the ITA people in the Philippines. It launched a well drilling project for local residents in Ilmarba, Kenya in April, 2010. Likewise, YFGC carries out the practice of love of Christ beyond the border and region through Good People.

(2) Social welfare activity: YFGC has been carrying out various social welfare activities for their neighbors troubled by poverty and disease. The church has conducted sharing bread of grace, which is a laymens initiated service led by Senior Deacons Fellowship since 1992. Since 1984, YFGC has conducted the service of free surgery for children with heart disease. Since the year 2000, this service was expanded to children in foreign countries. By January 2014, 4,532 heart disease children were given new lives through this service of free surgery. YFGC established Elim Welfare Town in Gunpo-city, Gyeonggi-do in 1988, which is one of the largest welfare facilities in Asia. With the institution, we implement a variety of outreach programs for the underprivileged youth and the elderly people with few relatives or acquaintances. Our church has expanded the welfare town so that we are currently running Elim Mission Center, a vocational school, and a specialized nursery home for the senior people. In particular, Elim vocational training institute gives youth technical training, providing board and lodging for them. Full Gospel Hospice, begun in January 2001, has carried out 14 term hospice regular education till now. Volunteers received the hospice training education perform active service. Good People welfare center opened in November 23, 2012 takes care of the patients through a medical team, social workers, nurses, and pastors with skilled facilities like ambulance and medical devices.

(3) Helping North Koreans: YFGC has implemented support to help North Korean people suffering from starvation in the form of seed corn and fertilizer, construction and operation of a soybean oil factory, the service of feeding the North Korean children facing starvation, and the provision of an anti-tuberculosis drug. And it has consistently supplied ground cereals to many schools in North Korea to promote growth of children. In December 4, 2007, YFGC began construction of the Pyong Yang Cho Yonggi Heart Hospital, which specializes in heart disease as a part of medical services to help North Korean people. Moreover, Good People established Free Citizen Education Center to help the settlement of North Korean migrants. Free Citizen Education Center has various programs necessary for the financial independence of North Korean migrants.

(4) Multicultural ministry: The Department of International Ministry (or DIM) and the Department of College and Young-Adults of YFGC carry out the ministries for the international students and foreigners residing in the country. The church holds International Students Camp every year. The DIM is currently running 19 different language group worship services including the English, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Indonesian, Mongolian groups. It also provides children with the after-school program in English called Awana. Moreover, YFGC is operating Ansan Multicultural Center to serve the foreign residents in Ansan-city, and offer services in diverse languages like English, Chinese, Indonesian, Mongolian, Spanish, and Russian. The Ansan Multicultural Center holds the Multicultural Festival each year.

(5) Educational ministry: Another aspect of YFGCs social involvement is education. The church contributes to raising Christian leaders for the 21st century through Hansei University in Gunpo-city, Full Gospel Youngsan Theological Seminary in Seoul, and Bethesda Christian University in California, U.S.A. Moreover, the church has established six seminaries throughout the world. They are Taipei Youngsan Theological Seminary, Bolivia Bethesda Theological Seminary, Africa Youngsan Theological Seminary, Japanese Full Gospel Theological Seminary, Kazakhstan Youngsan Theological Seminary, and Bethesda Theological Seminary in the U.S. Many indigenous graduates from these seminaries are working so hard as the full-time pastors in their own countries.

2) Evangelism and spiritual formation

In YFGCs initial phases (1950s and 1960s), the main targets of evangelism and ministry were the people in the slum area. The Christian gospel of salvation gained momentum among the economically and socially marginalized people, as it is accompanied by the experience of the Holy Spirit and his power. The Holy Spirit movement of YFGC inspired by the Incarnation of the Son of God attempted to focus on both the spiritual needs and the desperate and concrete needs of the people. In addition, the understanding of the Holy Spirit, on which its cell groups operated, also invigorated the enthusiasm for evangelism. As the church was relocated at the Sudaemun area, there came even greater works of the Holy Spirit and the explosive growth of YFGC.

(1) Osanri Cho Ja-shil Memorial Fasting Prayer Mountain: In 1973, YFGC founded Osanri Cho Ja-shil Memorial Fasting Prayer Mountain for all nations. There are four services per day, conducted throughout the year by 1,512 preachers from different denominations. Approximately 3,500 people visit the prayer mountain per day and 20,000 people come to the prayer mountain from abroad. YFGC holds the Holy Assembly of Asian Christians in order to invigorate missions, especially for Chinese speaking people in the prayer mountain every year. This annual assembly was begun in 1983, and about 4,500 people have come and experienced baptism in the Holy Spirit.

(2) Ministries of CGI and DCEM: In November 1976, YFGC started Church Growth International (or CGI). CGI holds seminars and conferences for the church growth every year or every other year in Seoul and other cities in different countries. Since CGI was established in 1976, about 600 seminars have been held in 100 different countries. On March 28, 2000, YFGC founded the David Cho Evangelistic Mission (or DCEM). It carries out Rev. Chos ministries both at home and abroad, systematically and effectively. DCEM collects qualitative data for missions and analyzes them for the World Mission and church growth.

3) Works for Church Unity

(1) Collaboration Activity for Domestic Churches: The Korea Assemblies of God became a member of the National Council of Churches in Korea (or NCCK) on November 18, 1996. Younghoon Lee, Senior pastor of YFGC was appointed the chairman of NCCK in January 28, 2011. Through the collaboration with NCCK, YFGC is in the forefront of church unity and cooperation, evangelism and mission, and the relief works for the homeless and the marginalized in the society. Also, since YFGC has founded The Kukmin Daily in December 1988, the newspaper has been a national wide Christian newspaper.

(2) Collaboration Activity for Overseas Churches: In 2010, Pastor Younghoon Lee was invited as a main speaker for the Pentecostal World Conference (or PWC) held in Stockholm, Sweden. YFGC has been involved in missions for the unity among the body of Christ through cooperation with PWC and World Council of Churches (or WCC). In October, 2013, the church participated in the 10th WCC assembly in Busan, Korea and introduced the spirituality of Pentecostalism to the world churches. During the WCC conference, there was a Pentecostal Night, which was held the first time in the history of WCC general assembly, to have a Pentecostal service and to pray together with the Christians leaders of various denominations. In this way, YFGC makes efforts to improve church unity and collaboration through the Holy Spirit movement.