The temperature was -13 degrees. The church hostel where we were staying was unheated because there were so few visitors in January, and despite wearing several layers of clothing, we couldn’t get warm. It was 1983. Tony, my husband, and I were in Seoul, South Korea to visit the Yoido Full Gospel Church led by Dr. Paul (David) Yonggi Cho— the largest church in the world.
One day, in an effort to get warm, we headed over to the church’s administration building. As we wandered along the hallways between the various offices, someone approached us.
“Would you like an interview with Dr. Cho?”
Much to our surprise, we were ushered into Dr. Cho’s office and had a twenty-minute conversation with him. He said many things to us about the nature of revival and the crucial importance of prayer, but the one thing that has most stood out over the years is this.
“You in the West will never see a move of God until you use your women.”
Prayer is key to the extraordinary growth they have seen in Korea. But women have also played a vital role. Yoido Full Gospel Church began in the home of Choi Ja-shil (who later became Cho’s mother-in-law) in 1958. As the church grew, Cho took on more and more responsibilities until he became exhausted and ill. At this point God challenged him to release women. The church now numbers more than 700,000. Two thirds of the associate pastors are women and 47,000 of the 50,000 cell group leaders are women too.
But three decades later, what Dr. Cho predicted for us has sadly proven true. We in the West have not used our women, nor, with one or two possible exceptions, have we seen any major, long-lasting and wide-sweeping revivals with multitudes being swept into the Kingdom of God. Whereas Korea has gone from around 2 percent of the population being Christian in 1945 to about 30 percent today, we in the West have gone backwards. In the UK where I am from, Christianity is irrelevant to the vast majority of the population. Here in the United States we may be only a generation away from being a post-Christian nation.
The question is, what are we going to do about it?