Rev Dr Younghoon Lee, senior pastor of Yoido Full Gospel Church, sounded a clarion call to the congregation of City Harvest Church to live a life of faith.
Rev Dr Younghoon Lee is the senior pastor of Yoido Full Gospel Church in Seoul, Korea, the world’s largest church in Seoul with 880,000 members. A disciple of the late Rev Dr Yonggi Cho, the founder and senior pastor emeritus of YFGC, Dr Lee is also General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God in Korea (AGK) and the President of the Council of Churches in Korea. He is a member of the executive committee of the Pentecostal World Fellowship.
Last weekend (25 and 26 March), City Harvest Church had the honour of welcoming Dr Lee, who preached two messages on faith.
Before he began his sermon on Sunday, Dr Lee told the church that he had woken up at 2am on Saturday to pray. As he prayed, he sensed Jesus weeping over CHC and its people. “Jesus loves you!” he declared, adding that he felt the Lord was saying “I bought this church and paid the price with My blood. I know all the hardships and suffering that you have gone through.”
He reminded the people of Psalm 126:5, “Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy”. Dr Lee prophesied that the winter is over, spring has come for CHC, and declared that within a year, God will restore what has been lost, and CHC will experience a revival in one year.
THE POWER OF FAITH
On Saturday, Dr Lee preached from Hebrews 11:1-4, reminding the church that God always used men and women of faith. Faith was one of two things Dr Cho emphasised during his ministry—the other was the fullness of the Holy Spirit.
Dr Lee, who is a fourth generation Christian from a Presbyterian background, started attending Yoido Full Gospel Church in 1964 at the age of 10—he remembers Dr Cho’s wedding to Dr Kim Sunghae. Dr Cho was his spiritual father and mentor—Dr Lee remembers him as a great man of faith who always listened to God’s word carefully and proclaimed His word boldly. The fullness of the Holy Spirit, missions and faith were central to his ministry.
Dr Lee then shared three things a Christian with faith must possess.
1. They must have great dreams and visions in Christ
“When the Holy Spirit comes upon us, we will see visions and dream dreams,” Dr Lee preached, quoting Joel 2:28. “If you have a dream, you must pray very hard to fulfil the dream.”
He shared a personal testimony of how God gave him the vision to build a church when he was ministering in Washington, DC. They had only US$14,000 when they started but the church had faith in that vision and started praying for it. In five years, they managed to build a 1,000-seater building that cost US$3 million, debt-free.
Dr Lee went on to share the testimony of his miracle child. He and his wife married in 1982 and in 1996, the couple started praying for a child seriously. After 17 years of marriage, Dr Lee finally became a father at the age of 43.
A deacon in America heard his story and was filled with faith to pray for a child. Because of his physical ailments, his doctors had told him that it was impossible for him to father a child. But he believed that if God could do it for Dr Lee, He would do the same for him too. The deacon and his wife prayed for a year and they finally conceived after 23 years of marriage. He was 53 when he became a father.
“Nothing is impossible in Christ,” the pastor proclaimed, encouraging those in CHC who are trying to conceive to keep praying with faith.
2. They must have Word of God-centred faith
Reading Romans 10:17, Dr Lee explained the importance of following God’s instructions in the Bible. “Remember, we must listen carefully to what God says to you and obey immediately,” he said.
He reminded the church that the Word of God is the authority of the church and that believers must be filled with it. When they obey the Word, God’s blessing will come upon them (Ps 1:3)
3. Jesus Christ is the centre of their faith
Reading Hebrews 12:2, Dr Lee reminded the church to fix their eyes on Jesus because He is the author and finisher of their faith. The cross is the starting point of a believer’s faith because Jesus conquered Satan and gained power over sin and death on the cross. That is why Christians must have faith in the cross of Jesus Christ.
He shared a story of one of his church members who was dying in a hospital. The doctors had told Dr Lee to prepare for his funeral, but the member’s wife had faith. She told Dr Lee that she heard from the Lord that if Dr Lee were to pray for her husband, he would be healed.
“The problem is, I did not hear this word from God,” the pastor said to the laughter of the congregation. He admitted that it was very hard to believe in healing when he looked at his member’s physical condition. Nevertheless, he prayed.
The next morning, Dr Lee received a call from the wife reporting that her husband was alive. “Have faith in the Lord, He has many miracles in store for you!” he said, encouraging the church.
In conclusion, he encouraged the church to have faith in God and pray because Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever.
THE FAITH OF THE ANTIOCH CHURCH
On Sunday, Dr Lee preached about the first church in history: the Antioch Church. Drawing from Acts 13:1-2, he shared four things a believer can learn from the church.
1. The Antioch Church has Christ-centred faith
In Acts 13:2, one can see that the church had a clear goal—to serve and worship the Lord. “Your church must have this goal,” Dr Lee declared.
Humans worship many different things: money, fame, and political power, but all these are fleeting. “Jesus Christ is the only hope for the world. He is the same yesterday, today and forevermore. Trust in Jesus,” Dr Lee reminded the church.
Antioch was the third largest city in Rome, the centre of trade and commerce, filled with people from different parts of the world—very much like Singapore today. “CHC is a spiritual Antioch church,” Dr Lee pointed out.
The believers came to Antioch to preach Jesus Christ and it was here that they were given the name “Christian”, which means follower of Christ. “We need to be imitators of Christ. We should think, speak, act and live like Jesus,” the pastor explained.
Dr Lee told the church he once visited Hong Kong and found that the imitation goods sold at Stanley Market were difficult to differentiate from the real thing. He jokingly encouraged the congregation to be just as indistinguishable from Jesus Christ. “We are the imitation of Jesus Christ,” he said. “Remember we are Christians, we imitate and follow Jesus, and we are proud of it.”
He went on to preach that Jesus is the head of the church and Christians must obey His word.
2. The Antioch Church has Holy Spirit-centred faith
Dr Lee shared that he was born into the fourth generation of a Presbyterian family. He grew up studying the Bible and knew all about Jesus. However, he possessed only head knowledge. When he received the baptism of the Holy Spirit in 1966, Jesus came into his life. At that moment, he dedicated his life to Jesus.
“I prayed and wept because of Jesus’ love. I continued to weep for the next five years,” he shared. Until today, Jesus still speaks directly into HIs heart. “Pray for the baptism of the Holy Spirit! It will be the turning point of your Christian life,” Dr Lee encouraged.
3. The Antioch Church has prayer-centred faith
To hear the voice of God, one needs to pray. To be filled with the Holy Spirit, one must pray. “Nothing will happen unless you pray,” Dr Lee said.
The problem with Christians is that everyone knows the importance of prayer, but not everyone prays—“Except during mealtimes,” he jested. Many people had asked Dr Lee for the secret behind Yoido Church’s growth. While there are many things that lead to church growth—cell group meetings, powerful sermons, fellowship, charity, missions, and education—the most important factor is prayer.
“Pray for revival. The church should be a house of prayer,” Dr Lee stated.
He noted that too many business meetings in the church go on for hours. He met an elder from another church who told him that he had sat through a nine-hour board director on Sunday afternoon. The most frustrating part was that they did not reach a conclusion and had to adjourn the meeting to another day.
Dr Lee said that in his church, board meetings only last 15 to 20 minutes—they spend the rest of the time praying.
He went on to share a testimony of prayer. A high school girl in his congregation had a fall that resulted in a brain haemorrhage. She was in a coma and the doctors predicted that she would only live another six to seven months.
Thankfully, her mother and grandmother were prayer warriors. They took turns praying in front of the ICU round the clock and even roped in their cell group members to pray.
After 10 days, the cell group leader invited Dr Lee to the ICU. The girl was still unconscious but after the prayer, the girl raised her hand. While the doctor put it down to a reflex action, the girl started to recover. One month later, she was completely healed. The doctor had said that even if she survived, she was likely to be disabled. But the girl had received complete healing and is now studying in college.
“Her mother and grandmother saved her with their unceasing prayer,” Dr Lee told the church. “Don’t give up! Pray without ceasing!”
4. The Antioch Church has mission-centred faith
In Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus gave His last instruction to his disciples: focus on evangelism. “To make disciples of all nations is our duty,” Dr Lee said. “God wants to use us as instruments for the Lord. Jesus is coming soon and until then, we must preach the gospel.”
Dr Lee shared that a famous Korean evangelist once shared his vision of heaven. He saw rows of Christians worshipping God. The first row was the martyrs, who died for Jesus and in the second row stood the evangelists. He joked that if anyone wanted to get a good seat in heaven, they must preach the gospel.
Jokes aside, Dr Lee emphasised that spreading the gospel is the most important mission in a Christian’s life. He encouraged the congregation to share the gospel with their neighbours, relatives and friends.
As he ended the service, he led the church in “K-style prayer”—they shouted “Jesus!” three times and prayed strongly in tongues.