When Yonggi Cho Met Kenneth Hagin
Tony Cooke

As you have likely heard, David Yonggi Cho, pastor emeritus of Yoido Full Gospel Church in Seoul, Korea, passed away just a few days ago (September 14, 2021). The church Cho pastored was frequently referred to as the largest in the world, and at its peak in 2007, had a membership of 800,000 people.

In 1982, I was on staff at Evangelistic Temple in Tulsa, OK, and served under Dr. Dan Beller. Pastor Beller served on Dr. Cho’s Church Growth Board and preached at Yoido Full Gospel Church more than once. On a trip to Tulsa, Dr. Cho was speaking at our church, and Pastor Beller reached out to Rhema to see if they wanted Dr. Cho to speak to the students there. They gladly accepted.

I had the privilege of riding with my pastor, Dr. Cho, and two of his assistants out to RBTC, and we waited in the speaker’s room of the Rooker Memorial Auditorium. We had just been there a few minutes when the back door opened and Brother Haginwalked in. I had no idea that we would see Brother Hagin, but in he came.

Pastor Beller introduced the two men, and they shook hands, nodding at each other. I was wondering what these two legendary ministers might say to each other. They each stepped back and neither of them said ANYTHING. Not a word. I was 23 years old, and I wasn’t about to say anything either.

Brother Hagin and Dr. Cho looked at each other a little bit, looked at the floor, and looked around the room, but they said nothing. Brother Hagin was never accused of being a social butterfly, and in such situations could be a bit shy. I guess Dr. Cho was the same.

I remember the uncomfortable silence and thought to myself, “Brother Hagin, why don’t you just say something to Dr. Cho like, ‘I hear you have a large church.’” And then I thought, “Dr. Cho, why don’t you say to Brother Hagin, ‘I hear you’ve written a lot of books.’” Crickets.

This silence continued for four minutes or so, but it seemed like a very awkward eternity. Finally (and thankfully), Pastor Hagin walked into the room, extended his hand to Dr. Cho, and began conversing freely, welcoming Dr. Cho to campus, and being sociable (Pastor Hagin has never met a stranger). That broke the ice, and I was so thankful. This is just a fun memory for me, and I hope you enjoyed reading it.