David Yonggi Cho, co-founder of Yoido Full Gospel Church, the world's largest congregation headquartered in Seoul, Korea, passed on Tuesday. He was 85.

Christians openly grieved Tuesday across continents as word of David Yonggi Cho's death spread, the Christian Post reported.

According to the source, Yoido Full Gospel Church is a network of churches that previously had over 800,000 members. The church is claimed to be likewise connected to the Pentecostal denomination, the Assemblies of God.

Yonggi Cho, who stepped down as pastor emeritus in 2008, died at 7:13 a.m. in a Seoul hospital, as per The Korea Herald. Since July 2020, the beloved preacher has been receiving treatment for brain hemorrhage.

"He conveyed the gospel of hope to the Korean people who fell into despair after the Korean War," the church told The Associated Press in a statement. "He was instrumental in growing the Korean church, particularly developing Yoido Full Gospel Church as the world's largest church."

Thoughts and tributes

Cho was dubbed "one of the great leaders of the Spirit-Empowered movement" by Billy Wilson, president of Oral Roberts University in Oklahoma.

"I am sorry to hear of the passing of Dr. David Yonggi Cho, one of the great leaders of the Spirit-Empowered movement," Wilson wrote in a post on Twitter.

"His ministry, writings and fatherhood blessed millions. Dr. Cho's legacy and impact will continue for many generations," the tweet said.

"Rest in Peace God's general!" Godman Akinlabi, Nigeria's senior pastor of Elevation Church, proclaimed. "He lived a life of service and sacrifice for the Gospel of Christ. He is Heaven's Gain."

In a Facebook post, the Rev. Dominic Yeo, senior pastor of Trinity Christian Centre in Singapore, referred to the late leader as "a great man of God"

Yeo further described the late Cho as "an amazing servant, prophet, and messenger of God who lived an abundant life."

"Today, we celebrate the homegoing of Rev Dr Cho Yonggi, a great man of God and faithful servant of the Lord whose burden was to see revival come into the nations....He planted one of the world's greatest apostolic churches in South Korea in 1958. Yoido Full Gospel Church has grown exponentially to impact many churches and ministries worldwide," Yeo added.

Brief overview of Cho's life

According to The Korea Times, Cho, who was raised in a Buddhist household, converted to Christianity after being led to it by a friend of his sister. He subsequently met and started working with Kenneth Tice, an Assemblies of God missionary in Busan.

In September 1956, Cho, then 20 years old, was accepted into the Full Gospel Theological Seminary.

Following his graduation in 1958, he established a tent church in northern Seoul, which ultimately developed into the enormous organization it is today, with a significant worldwide presence and impact. Cho is credited for pioneering the expansion of the Protestant church in Korea.

The pastor also reportedly advocated for the building of a heart hospital in Pyongyang, North Korea, however the initiative was halted owing to South Korean government restrictions.