Pastor David Yonggi Cho, founder of the world's largest Pentecostal congregation, gave his reflection during the first Sunday Service after a South Korean court found him guilty of breach of trust, corruption and tax evasion, and sentenced him to three years in prison with a five-year probation and 5 billion won (US$4.67 million) in fines.
The 78-year-old disgraced megachurch pastor said that it was the hardest day of his 50 years of ministry when he heard the verdict on Thursday.
"Through this suffering, I've learned a homework. An individual shouldn't possess anything," Cho told his congregation at Yoido Full Gospel Church on Feb. 23, 2014. "Besides health, status, fame, authority, money... these are all matters that are outside the body and unworthy of any pursuit."
According to reports, Cho was identified as an accomplice through committing breach of trust in 2002 by ordering the church to purchase his elder son Hee-jun's stocks at four times the market price. The transaction resulted in the church's loss of 13 billion won (US$12 million). Moreover, Cho was also found guilty of tax evasion of 3.5 billion won (US$3.3 million).
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.
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Cho did not argue against the judgment, but, instead, examined himself from the perspective of faith.
"God forbid, if God calls me back today, I will still be able to go to the Kingdom of God," he said. Cho then asked that the congregation to pray for his successor pastor Young Hong Lee.
In his sermon, Lee apologized to the congregation for the negative impacts that Cho's case have brought upon them. He encouraged them to forget the past and press on towards the future, and to continue the spread of the Gospel to those who have yet to receive the great love of Christ.
Senior pastor Lee said that Yoido Full Gospel Church was purchased with a heavy price - the blood shed by Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore no power of darkness can divide the church. Lee encouraged the congregation to become one body in the Holy Spirit and to be more diligent in the Lord's Holy work.