Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow

Originally uploaded by Mario Bros.
They say the best remedy for a totally exhausted body and mind is praise for our God.

Praise Him
Praise Him
Praise Him

He leads me to still waters
I rest in the shadow of His wings.

I'm tired stupid.

Thank you Lord for listening to my incoherent prayers all day long punctuated by complaints and still loving me. Plus I'm Malappropping all my Bible verses today.

Our God is an awesome God.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Dr Yonggi Cho in 1973, TIME magazine

On the verge of a sore throat, exhausted from my first day at work and the stress of yet-un-farmed-out stories, I decided to relax this evening by subscribing to TIME magazine online, and getting full access to its archives, which are rather delicious!

I pulled out many gems, among them this WONDERFUL report on Rev David Yonggi Cho's church and the Pentacostal revival in 1973 (that's 32 years ago!!). Rev Cho's church today is reportedly 850,000 member strong today. When this article came out, it had 10,000 members!

There have been many skeptics and critics of Dr Cho's church. I personally don't have an opinion as I have not watched his TV show or read his books. All I know is that we must judge a tree by its fruit. 850,000 sounds like good fruit — but not unless Jesus is the sole and sovereign Lord of that tree!

Anyway ... presenting:


Oct. 8, 1973
Seventeen years ago, as he tells it, a young Korean named Yonggi Cho was waiting to die of tuberculosis when a girl gave him a Bible. He converted to Christianity and his tuberculosis was promptly checked, though not cured. Ordered out of his Buddhist parents' home for renouncing their faith, Cho huddled in his shabby lodgings one night, praying for a full recovery. "Suddenly the room was filled with light," he recalls. "I looked about me and saw two feet. I did not know who he was until I saw the crown of thorns piercing his temple, the blood streaming down. My lips and tongue began to speak in a strange language."
Now a robust 38, the Rev. Yonggi Cho has just finished playing host to thousands of other Christians at his 10,000-seat Full Gospel Central Church on Seoul's Yoido Island. For five days, Pentecostalists from 50 countries jammed his church for the morning sessions of the tenth triennial Pentecostal World Conference. The Seoul meeting was essentially a gathering of such "classical" Pentecostal denominations as the Assemblies of God, churches that grew out of a turn-of-the-century burst of religious enthusiasm for a direct experience of God through the Holy Spirit. Now numbering a claimed 20 million adherents worldwide, the "classicals" at the Korean conference were joined by enthusiasts from more recent Pentecostal flowerings. Many neo-Pentecostals from Presbyterian, Anglican and other mainstream churches also attended, and a sprinkling of Catholic priests in Roman collars represented the burgeoning Catholic Charismatic movement (TIME, June 18).

The choice of Korea for the conference site was no mere geographical courtesy. While Pentecostalism is spreading like a spiritual wildfire around the world, its progress in Asia is particularly remarkable. Much of the boom has been in Korea, where only 90 years ago the penalty for being a Christian was death.

Pentecostal missionaries were later than others in proselytizing Korea. Even so, when the first Assemblies of God missionary arrived from the U.S. in 1952, there were already longstanding groups of Christians who practiced such Pentecostal "charisms" as healing and glossolalia—the prayerful or prophetic "speaking in tongues."

Pastor Cho estimates that as many as 1,000,000 out of the 4,000,000 Korean Christians have since received the "baptism in the Holy Spirit"—the inner, direct experience of the Holy Spirit's blessing that Pentecostalists regard as a necessary condition for a full spiritual life. Korea's growing Christian fervor is not only Pentecostalist, though.

In May a Billy Graham crusade in Seoul drew an estimated 1,000,000 people to the final rally—possibly the largest revival gathering in history.

Pentecostalism has also won adherents in the islands of Islamic Indonesia, especially Timor. Some 1.5 million of Indonesia's estimated 8,000,000 Christians are associated with Pentecostal or charismatic churches. Thousands have joined the movement since an abortive Communist uprising in 1965 was bloodily put down; this has led sociologists to suggest that at least some simply want ed to avoid suspicion of being Communist atheists. But a bigger attraction may have been the widespread reports of Pentecostal miracles on Timor, including such New Testament specialties as raising the dead, walking on water and turning water into wine. While such sensational "miracles" have not held up under serious checking, reports of other supernatural incidents—such as healings and profound spiritual reformations —have been more difficult to refute.

In the Philippines, Pentecostalism is growing through two channels. The more classical version is prospering especially through mail-order Bible courses, which have been growing at the rate of 1,500 new enrollees per month. Philippine Catholics are also experiencing a Pentecostal fervor, with some 100 priests, 500 nuns, and 15,000 laymen involved; they are even sending missionaries to Latin America and to other Asian countries. Many of Japan's small but vigorous Catholic population (350,000) are embracing Pentecostalism. The Kobe-Osaka area alone has a dozen Catholic Charismatic prayer groups.

Fertile Ground. Malaysia is so familiar with the movement that the Malaysian Council of Churches speaks matter-of-factly about "Spirit-filled" Christians among its Anglican and Methodist constituents. The Anglican Bishop of Singapore, the Rt. Rev. Chiu Ban It, has himself received the baptism in the Spirit and is an enthusiastic backer of Pentecostal spirituality.

Why the great surge of Pentecostalism across Asia? One major reason is the Pentecostal emphasis on direct personal encounter with the Holy Spirit.

This gives Asian converts the feeling of immediate spiritual equality with Westerners, something that often is not encouraged by the involved liturgy and theology of other Christian churches.

The sense of equality is enhanced by a tendency of missionaries in the classical Pentecostal denominations to hand over leadership to local followers faster than other missionaries have done.

Asian Pentecostalism has prospered most spectacularly in the aftermath of turmoil. Pentecostal leaders are now looking toward wounded Bangladesh, which Dr. Philip Hogan, foreign missions director for the Assemblies of God, calls the "Christian opportunity of this age." Already Hogan is receiving reports of thousands of conversions there.

So far, only a few Pentecostalist missionaries have ventured into ravaged South Viet Nam. Among them is an enterprising Assemblies of God church that holds services, Bible classes and prayer meetings in Saigon's abandoned U.S.O. headquarters. If desolation is indeed fertile ground for Pentecostalism, South Viet Nam could well be the next country to witness an outpouring of the Spirit in Asia.