The Pen

World’s Largest Church To Be Audited, Founder Suspected of Embezzling $67 Million

In 2014, David Yonggi Cho, founder of South Korea’s Yoido Full Gospel Church, was officially sentenced to three years in prison (but never served) for embezzling $12 million in church funds. The international Superapostle, according to David Cartledge and endorsed by C. Peter Wagner[1], is now suspected of embezzling $67 million dollars.

The Prosperity Gospel preacher, David Yonggi Cho, has been highly influential in American Evangelicalism. During a prayer breakfast with Southern Baptist Pastor, Rick Warren, Warren says to Yonggi Cho,

I’ve read your books on Vision and Dreams – speak to pastors about how you hear the voice of the Holy Spirit?…What advice would you give to a brand new minister?…Do you think American churches should be more open to the prayer for miracles?

Cho has been influential in Rick Warren’s Church Growth movement as well. In an article on Warren’s website, The 10 Most Influential Churches of the Last Century, Cho is quoted as saying,

Just as the physical body grows by the division of its biological cells, so the spiritual body of Jesus Christ grows by the division of its spiritual cells.

Other dubious leaders, such as Billy Weber, former pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church, Plano, TX, have been closely tied to the scam artist as well. Weber was mentored by Yonggi Cho. While initially building his Southern Baptist Church, Weber would knock on doors asking people to visit. People would ask him what kind of church it was, to which he would reply “what kind of church do you want it to be?”

There is no doubt that this is merely a small indication of how deep and wide the corruption in the church-growth prosperity movement is–particularly in the highly charismatic circles.

The Korea Times has the full report:

By Kim Jae-won

The National Tax Service (NTS) is set to audit the Yoido Full Gospel Church, targeting pastor David Yonggi Cho who is suspected of embezzling 80 billion won ($67 million) of funds, said officials of the church on Monday.

They said that the church’s pastor Lee Young-hoon told elders Sunday to prepare a room on the 11th floor of the Kookmin Ilbo’s main office in Yeouido, Seoul because the NTS will soon begin a tax audit against the world’s largest church. Kookmin is a daily newspaper run by the church.

“We will face the tax audit soon. That is the fact,” said an official of the church, asking not to be named.

The official admitted that the problem in the church is well-known to the public.

The NTS refused to comment on the issue, referring to privacy concerns for taxpayers. This is the first time that the tax authorities will have conducted an audit of the megachurch.

The announcement came while the prosecutors’ office is investigating Cho’s aides over allegedly embezzling church funds. He allegedly took 60 billion won of funds intended for overseas mission projects as well as an additional 20 billion won as severance pay without approval from the church.

The Seoul Central District Court sentenced the 80-year-old pastor to two and half years in jail with four years of suspension for inflicting 13.1 billion won of losses to the church and tax evasion worth 3.5 billion won by ordering church officials to buy stocks in his son’s company with church funds at a rate more expensive than the market price. His son Hee-joon was arrested after being sentenced to three years in prison.

Critics say that the collapse of Pastor Cho illustrates how deeply corrupt Korea’s megachurches are, after a rapid growth during the last few decades. A few years ago, SaRang Community Church, a Presbyterian church, drew criticism for establishing a luxury 14-story church building in the lucrative southern Seoul district of Seocho, spending 300 billion won.

The church’s pastor Oh Jung-hyun was also suspended from his job for six months in 2012 for plagiarizing his Ph.D thesis from the Potchefstroom University in South Africa. He was also accused of embezzling church funds during the construction of the new building. The church’s congregation has been split since then by those supporting Oh and those opposing him.

1.) The Apostolic Revolution, David Cartledge (

[Contributed by Pulpit & Pen]