In the late 1940’s, Ja-shil Choi had her spiritual eyes opened by the Lord to the ungodly direction South Korea was heading. Her heart was broken by the nation’s sin and she knew something had to be done.
At the time, 3% of South Koreans were Christians. These believers were poor and powerless, mainly because of Japan’s occupation of South Korea from 1910 until the end of WWII. Japan banned Christianity during the occupation. Those believers who ignored the ban and were caught by the Japanese were thrown into prison or executed.
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. (James 1:2-3)
The “prayer mountain movement” began during Japan’s occupation. Believers climbed up mountains during the late night hours and prayed until sunrise. They then climbed down to put in a full day’s work before returning again that night.
Ja-shil Choi followed the examples of these early believers and began fasting and praying for her nation, even though she was finishing up Bible school and had three children. She often prayed through the night for ten hours or so. She continued this routine for almost ten years before she met David Yonggi Cho.
The two then began a church in Ja-Shil Choi’s house. The two fasted and prayed 5 to 6 hours per day in what they referred to as a prayer tent.
Their first church eventually grew to one thousand members. David Yonggi Cho then started a second church, which grew to ten thousand members. Along the way, David Yonggi Cho married Ja-shil Choi’s daughter.
A third church, Yoido Full Gospel Church, was built in 1973.
Today, Yoido has over 800,000 members with weekly prayer meetings numbering in the hundreds of thousands. A Christian retreat, Prayer Mountain, has facilities for 10,000 believers to spend time in secluded prayer and fasting.
South Korea is now home to six of the world’s largest churches, ranging in size from 47,000 to 800,000. Christianity has grown to 30% and South Korea’s economy is one of the strongest in the world.
How much of this came about because of Ja-Shil Choi’s faithfulness?
We won’t know for sure until we arrive in heaven, but my guess would be: a large percentage of it.
(Continued in Part 3…if you are interested, the full series, which was written in 2014, may be seen here.)