Tuesday, February 25th 2014
Three years in prison for embezzling $12 million in church funds. There are several remarkable things about that headline. First the amount of money. Face it, what church has $12 million to steal? Second, the verdict was rendered against the founding pastor of the world’s largest church, the Pentecostal Yoido Full Gospel Church of Seoul, South Korea, with more than one million (that’s right-MILLION) members. Cho, now pastor emeritus, was involved in a stock scheme to benefit his son, according to the court’s decision. He was indicted for having his church buy stock from his son at more than three times the market price. Church elders now accuse Cho of embezzling additional funds, up to $20 million. In addition to the jail sentence, Cho must pay a $4.7 million fine. Imagine a pastor even having the ability to pay that out of pocket change?
I visited Pastor Cho’s church when I was in Seoul four years ago to tape a television special for Korean TV. They graciously gave me a VIP tour including a behind-the-scenes look at how the media department is run. Impressive is an understatement. One thing that stuck me was the first thing you see when entering the main lobby. Thousands of built-in cubby holes, like small letter boxes. Each had a number. That’s where members would go immediately upon coming to church, to get their tithe envelope and deposit it in their numbered box. First things first. Not a bad idea to get that out of the way before entering to worship. I supposed it was part of Korean culture and an efficient way to collect the offering. Now I wonder: Expedient procedure or smart business?
I don’t know Cho personally and there may well be more to this story than the verdict of a Korean Court. I’m not to judge. But the fallout of yet another mega-leader falling from grace, sadly one 78-years-of-age, could be disheartening. Rather than wring our hands in disgust or disbelief, we’d do well to consider that none is immune from the wiles of Satan – even the pastor of the world’s largest church. Whatever he’s done, few on earth can claim the spiritual successes and thousands of souls won to Christ that are also part of Cho’s legacy. We should not fall into the trap of too harsh a judgment nor too lenient an attitude. Better that we use this as a footnote to Paul’s warning in the classic King James: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway (1 Cor. 9:26).
An encouraging word: HE IS WORTHY
In Psalm 18:3 David declares that the Lord is “worthy to be praised.” Is He worthy because he is God? Yes, but He’s also worthy because he’s proven his worthiness. He has done for His people what He promised. If you do not find Him worthy your prayers won’t be answered, your needs will not be met. You will not trust His promises and obey His instructions. Its human nature to ignore the unworthy and disregard those we consider insignificant. But the Lord is not an underachiever we can easily dismiss. He created the heavens and earth and sent His Son to die on a cross. Indeed, He is worthy.
Bob Larson has trained healing and deliverance teams all over the world to set the captives free and Do What Jesus Did� (Luke 4:18). You can partner with Bob and support this vision to demonstrate God’s power in action by calling 303-980-1511 or clicking here to donate online.