Lessons from Yonggi Cho’s imprisonment

The fall of supposed men and women of God is not a new phenomenon. Even the Holy Bible has records of such: Adam, Moses, Judas Iscariot were examples. In contemporary times, we have had about the humpty-dumpty fall of some great men of God. In July 1986, Marvin Gorman, pastor of the 5,000-member First Assembly of God Church in New Orleans confessed to an adulterous relationship. In 1987, it was American preacher, Jim Bakker, whose illicit affair with his secretary was exposed. In 1988, it was the turn of a world renowned televangelist, Jimmy Swaggart,who admitted before his congregation to have patronised prostitutes. As a punishment, the elders of his Assemblies of God Church slammed him with a three-month suspension from his U.S. pulpit, and a two-year rehabilitation period. In 2006, another revered man of God, Tedd Haggard, admitted to being a bisexual. Haggard, a former president of the National Association of Evangelicals in the United States of America confirmed that it was “fundamentally true” that he engaged in an inappropriate relationship with a 20-year-old male volunteer in 2006. According to CNN report of the incident, “Controversy involving Haggard first erupted in November 2006, when a former prostitute, Mike Jones, said the pastor had paid him for sex over three years and had used methamphetamine in his presence.

On February 20, 2014, news filtered in that the pastor of the largest church in the world, David Yonggi Cho of Yoido Full Gospel Church, South Korea, had been found guilty of breach of trust, corruption and tax evasion, and had been sentenced to three years in prison with a five-year probation and 5 billion won (US$4.67 million) in fines. The Gospel Herald quoted the 78-year-old pastor as saying that it was the hardest day of his 50 years of ministry when he heard the verdict. “Through this suffering, I’ve learned a homework. An individual shouldn’t possess anything. Besides health, status, fame, authority, money… these are all matters that are outside the body and unworthy of any pursuit.” In the same ruling, Cho’s elder son Hee-jun, the former CEO of the church-affiliated local daily Kookmin Ilbo, was sentenced to three years in prison for colluding with his father in the embezzlement scheme. Are there lessons for Nigerian pastors from all these chronicles? Plenty!…



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