Dr. David Cho is dubbed as “Mr. Mission” and is an important figure in non-Western mission movement. He is instrumental in the founding of Asia Missions Association. He was born December 19, 1924 near the Yalu River at the border of Korea with China. He fled to South Korea from the Communist rule of North Korea to receive his theological education at the Presbyterian Theological Seminary, where he graduated in June 1949 with an honor in Theology.
In 1956, he went to the United States to pursue studies in mission and evangelism. He went to Barrington College inProvidence, Rhode Island, WEC Missionary Training Center, Fort Washington, Pennsylvania, Bethany Missionary College, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He continued advanced study of mission under Dr. J. T. Seamand and evangelism from Dr. Robert Coleman at the Asbury Theological Seminary, Wilmore, Kentucky and received Th.M in Mission in 1960. He was conferred with two honorary degrees, Doctor of Divinity, from Belhaven College, Mississippi and from my alma mater, the Asbury Theological Seminary, Kentucky. He earned Ph.D. at the William Carey International University in Pasadena, California.
From 1960 to 1978 he served as the Senior Minister of the Hoo-Am Presbyterian Church in Seoul, Korea. From 1961, Dr. Cho advocated the opening of courses for mission studies at seminaries in Korea. he taught Mission and Evangelism at the Presbyterian Seminary, the Methodist Seminary, and the Holiness Seminary in Seoul. He established the International School of Mission (ISM) in Seoul, Korea in 1963 which later expanded to the East-West Center for Missions Research and Development in 1973, the first missionary training and research institute in the non-Western world.
He decided to build up an Asia-wide network first and then later pursue my contact of Western missions. He made a special trip to twelve Asian countries where he met the major leaders of the Asian missionary movement in 1960s. They were unanimous in their involvement in launching a network of Asian missions and to cooperate to build up the partners’ relations mutually. They finally reached the consensus to call the All-Asia Mission Consultation in Seoul, Korea on August 1973.
David Cho initiated formation of the Asia Missions Association which became the first regional association in the world. The Asia Missions Association was inaugurated on August 28 to September 1, 1975 at the Academy House in Seoul, Korea with delegates from thirteen Asian countries: Bangladesh, Republic of China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and Western fraternal delegates from four countries: Germany, Netherlands, United Kingdom and United States. The inaugural convention of AMA declared the Seoul Declaration on Christian Mission.
In September 1971 he attended the Green Lake Conference of IFMA-EFMA of USA. There he announced the consensus of the All-Asia Mission Consultation in Seoul, Korea on August 1973 and gave an open invitation to the leaders of Western missions as distinguished guests. The responses came from the following mission professors and IFMA-EFMA and WEF Executives: Dr. Arthur F. Glasser, Dean of Fuller Seminary School of World Mission; Dr. Ralph D. Winter and Dr. Peter Wagner, Professors of Fuller School of World Mission; Dr. George Peters, Professor of Dallas Theological Seminary; Dr. Edwin L. (Jack) Frizen, Executive Secretary of IFMA; Dr. Clyde W. Taylor, Executive Secretary of EFMA; Dr. Waldron Scott, General Secretary of WEF; Rev. Horace S. Williamson, Asia Director of WEC, USA.
In 1974, Dr. Cho was appointed as a member of the Ad-hoc Committee of Missions Commission of World Evangelical Fellowship. As a member of the Ad-hoc Committee of Missions Commission of WEF, he initiated the inaugural meeting of the Missions Commission of WEF at Seoul, Korea in August 1975. Since 1979, he also served as a professor and Director of Korean Studies of the William Carey International University in Pasadena, California; the Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon; and as a visiting professor of the Fuller School of World Mission.
From 2000 to 2003, he served as a missionary to Russia. He established the Russian Institute of Christian Leadership Development in Moscow, and helped form the Moscow Synod of the Church of Christ, Russia in 2002. He initiated the 8th Triennial Convention of Asia Missions Association to Moscow which was held in September, 2003 and during which the Asian Society of Missiology was established.