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Dr. David Cho, a hero of missions to North Korea and Asia

Dr. David Cho, a hero of missions to North Korea and Asia. Now he and his daughter, Helen Cho, have met with Ministries for Family Enrichment Founders, Tom and Jeannine Gonzalez, in Seoul, South Korea, to discuss expanding their work with families to Asia.

Dr. David Cho, no relation to David Yonggi Cho, founder of the Yoido Full Gospel Church (Assemblies of God), the world’s largest congregation with a membership of 1,000,000 (as of 2007), is a largely unsung hero of Asian missions.

 

Dan Wooding and Dr. David Cho besides huge statue of Kim Il-sung in Pyongyang

Back in 1994, Dr. Cho invited me to accompany him into North Korea as part of a Christian delegation, the first allowed into the country after the death of the “Great Leader”, Kim Il-sung.

It was then that I discovered his amazing relationship with Kim Il-sung.

Dr. Cho had been born in North Korea and even knew the Communist leader’s mother, who was a Christian, and who had taught the Bible to her son as he sat on her lap. For many years, he had followed North Korean delegations around the world and would each time introduce himself and finally, this news got back to Kim Il-sung, who began inviting Cho to this mysterious land.

Cho told me that in his later years, Kim Il-sung started to have dreams about his late mother and wanted to know more about Jesus Christ, the person she taught him about, and so Dr. Cho was more than happy to share the “Good News” with him.

He even was invited to Kim’s 82nd birthday party – his last — and was invited to say the grace before the astonished guests. Kim was reported to have said, “This man knew my mother and I wanted him to be here to say the grace before we eat.”

Along with Dr. Dale Kietzman, a founding board member of ASSIST Ministries, Cho was involved in inviting both Jimmy Carter and Billy Graham to visit North Korea, which they did on several occasions.

On a previous occasion, Dr. Cho asked me to join him with some Korean friends to visit Eastern Europe so he could try and recruit Christian students to attend the Kim Il-sung University in Pyongyang, as he felt that as they knew what it was like to live in communism, they would be able to quietly share their faith with the North Korean students.

 

Dr. David Cho with Tom and Jeannine Gonzalez in the Dr. David Cho Museum & Library

Now in his mid-eighties, Dr. Cho has become involved in a California-based organization called Ministries for Family Enrichment (www.enrichthefamily.org), and their two leaders, Tom and Jeannine Gonzalez, recently paid a visit to Dr. Cho and his daughter, Helen, in Seoul, South Korea.

“Helen Cho picked us up at the Seoul Airport and treated us to a delicious dinner in a traditional Korean restaurant,” said Tom Gonzalez. “During this delightful get acquainted time, we not only discussed the future of MFE in Korea, but Helen laid out the plans for the next day to have brunch with her father, Dr. David Cho and then visit the David Cho Museum & Library.

“As we walked through the David Cho Museum & Library together with this father and daughter, we were captured by the brilliant job Helen Cho had accomplished in capturing her father’s career which earned him the title, ‘Mr. Mission.’

 

Dr. David Cho and daughter, Helen Cho in their Museum/Library office

“Pictures, mementos, audio visual presentations and articles paint the picture of a man who was a pioneer in accelerating the missionary movement of the Korean church, Asian churches and non-western churches. In fact, his broader story is one of the mission history of organizations such as the Korea International Mission, Third World Missions Association, and Asia Missions Association (which became the first regional association in the world!)

“You will often hear Dr. Cho say, ‘We can do together what we cannot do individually.’”

Jeannine then took up the story, saying “Just to give you a small sample. Dr. Cho helped to establish the International School of Missions in Seoul, Korea in 1963. In 1973 this was expanded into the East-West Center for Missions Research and Development.

“Not only has he taught in several US Seminaries, he has established ministries in 14 Asian countries. Visiting with Dr. Cho is like being treated to a “living encyclopedia” on missions. At 86, that “fire” still burns brightly as he recounts his years in Russia, organizing the 8th Triennial Convention of Asia Missions Association to Russia, his many visits to North Korea where he has met with Kim Il-sung, his years as pastor of Hoo-Am Presbyterian Church and his trips around the world taking the message of Christ.”

 

Helen Cho pointing out missions display to Jeannine Gonzalez

Tom then added that Dr. Cho shared some of the interesting logistical challenges he faced as the Planner of the 1973 Billy Graham Crusade at Yeoido Plaza that drew an estimated 1,500,000 people! Billy Graham then invited him to help plan the first International Congress on World Evangelization, Lausanne, Switzerland and he spoke at that event.
There is an estimated 35,000 missionaries who have gone out to 160 countries from Korea. Dr. Cho has been significantly involved in this major accomplishment that is ongoing.

“We were captivated in our spirits at the warmth of their hospitality as we witnessed first-hand, the genuine love and caring for others that just ‘pours’ out of them. As our friendship developed, we felt so honored that our paths have crossed and we will be working with Dr. Cho and Helen in the future.

“Helen Cho, in addition to her work on the David Cho Museum & Library is also a publisher. She will be translating and publishing our MFE ‘Planning for Successful Marriage’ Curriculum. We will then return to Korea to train leadership.

“Ministries for Family Enrichment is expanding into several Asian countries and Korea is an important step.”

About Tom and Jeannine Gonzalez, MFE founders:

 

Jeannine and Tom Gonzalez

Tom graduated from college in Nyack, New York and seminary in Lombard, Illinois. He has served on church staffs in Illinois, California and Oregon. He has also been on the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ and served as a consultant with Churches Alive. He is an adjunct professor with the Dale Kietzman University of Cameroon, Africa. He has been the featured speaker at many conferences and churches throughout the US and several foreign countries.

Jeannine, too, has been the featured speaker in many conferences and churches throughout the US and several foreign countries. In addition to hosting her own radio program in Chicago on WMBI and being a character actress on several other programs on that same station, Jeannine was also an actress on the Harvest Tele Series, WBKB Chicago. She was on the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ for several years. She served as the Lay Women’s Coordinator for the Southwest Region which included California, Hawaii, Arizona and Nevada.

Tom and Jeannine were married in 1977 and now make their home in Visalia, California. In addition to being actively involved in Ministries for Family Enrichment, they enjoy hiking the Alps in Switzerland, riding horses, training their two Standard Schnauzers, traveling, reading and just hanging out together. They have been equipping pastors, missionaries and church leaders in family ministry over the past 30 years.

Tom and Jeannine were aware that there were five major potential problem areas in marriage and family life. Finances, communication, sex, in-laws and religion were recurring themes that seem to plague most couples. Based on that information, they spent two years researching Biblical principles that would address those five areas.

This led to the development of “Planning for Successful Marriage,” a curriculum that is being used for premarital couples, married couples and even single adults. The ministry has expanded and the materials are being used nationally and internationally. They have been translated into several languages. MFE is well on the way to establishing
a presence on all seven continents.

Using their curriculum, they have been equipping pastors, missionaries and church leaders in family ministry over the past 30 years.

 

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