Eugene Cho

If we want to seek the peace of the city…we have to engage the conflicts and injustices of our city.

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Unless you’ve been living in absolute isolation, there’s been much in the news – here, there, and everywhere – including the violence and protests in Ferguson. But in the midst of much shouting, screaming, finger pointing, tweeting, and ‘Don’t Shoot’ hand raising…we also need to engage in practical solutions. It would be tragic if it simply resulted in lots of noise…and it doesn’t compel us (as individuals and church communities) to examine our own lives, our blind spots, and our commitment to live into our calling as ministers of reconciliation.

So, I thought I’d share one practical way we can – not just love the idea of reconciliation but actually be agents of reconciliation. Reconciliation has many nuances and aspects but I’m convinced of this:

Reconciliation isn’t pretty or sentimental. It’s messy but it begins with first acknowledging that something is broken. We’re broken y’all.

In other words, if we want to seek the peace and shalom of the city…we have to engage the conflicts and injustices of our cities. Read the rest of this entry »

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Please don’t ignore it. Five ways that Christians and churches must engage Ferguson and Michael Brown’s death.

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I have so much emotions and thoughts in my mind, heart, and body – in light of the oh-so-much that is going on all around the world – including the utterly tragic, brutal, and unnecessary “death” of Michael Brown.

But I thought it would be helpful to share a few thoughts how churches, Christians, and leaders can be engaging the events of this past week in their respective churches – not just for this weekend but for the future. I’m not suggesting that pastors have to completely alter their sermons but to altogether ignore the injustice of Michael Brown’s death would be altogether foolish.

To be blunt and I say this respectfully,

The integrity of the church is at stake because when it’s all said and done, it’s not a race issue for me, it’s a Gospel issue. It’s a Kingdom issue. We shouldn’t even let isolated issues in themselves hijack the purpose of the church. The Gospel of Christ is so extraordinary that it begins to inform (and we pray, transform) all aspects of our lives. So, in other words, we talk about race and racism because we believe in the Gospel

So, here are five suggestions for Christians, leaders, and churches:

1. Don’t ignore.

Silence, it itself, is a statement.

In some cases, it may be a powerful expression of wisdom but this is not that case. To say nothing, to pray nothing…is to communicate that it’s not a big deal. To say nothing, to pray nothing…is to tell your congregants – especially your black congregants and others of color, “C’mon. You’re taking this too seriously. Suck it up. Let’s just worship Jesus. It’s all about Jesus.”

Read the rest of this entry »

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Never stop learning. Go deep. Be deep. Have more depth than 140 characters.

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There are many beautiful aspects of our larger culture … and then they are broken things. There are also things that are incredibly encouraging and of course, disconcerting.

One of my concerns in our larger culture – including the Church:

We’re
lacking
d  e  p  t  h  .

In my first book – Overrated: Are We More in Love with the Idea of Changing the World than Actually Changing the World? (set to release on September 1 but available for pre-order now),  there’s a chapter entitled, “Have More Depth than 140 Characters.”

I am the first to tell you that I don’t know everything about everything. But when it comes to my core pursuits, my passions, the issues that inspire me and drive me to serve, I try to learn as much as I can.

Over the past few years, I have met many people who are not only interested in serving the world in various ways but who are engaged in their convictions and passions. But I am often surprised to find out that they do not know the basic history and background of their chosen interest.

I remember one time in particular, at a conference, when a woman came up to me and told me she was very grateful and appreciative of a talk I had just given. We chitchatted, and eventually I asked her what she did as her vocation.

She said she worked at an NGO, serving the poor in Central America. We were having a polite conversation. She asked for advice, and I tried my best to encourage her in our short conversation. As I shared one of my favorite quotes from Óscar Romero, I asked her if she had read much of his works or about him.

“Aspire not to have more but to be more.” – Óscar Romero

She had this blank look on her face.

“No, I haven’t met him yet, but I’d love to. Can you connect me? How can I contact him?” Read the rest of this entry »

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Remember that our lives matter. Remember to be more human – to loved ones, neighbors, and strangers alike.

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It feels awkward and even a bit inappropriate to be talking about ‘celebrity news’ when so much is going on around the world: Iraq, refugees in Syria, children stranded at borders, Michael Brown’s death and Ferguson, Ebola, Ukraine, and the list tragically goes on.

But then again, it feels appropriate because it’s another reminder of the fragility of our humanity.

By now, most of you know that Robin Williams past away today (August 11). His life ended way too short at the young age of 63 – apparently because of suicide. While this was news to me, Robin had been struggling with intense depression – especially as of late.

To be honest, I don’t get caught up too much on celebrity happenings mainly because there’s not much genuine connection. I don’t really know them personally. Make sense? Robin Williams’ death – on the other hand – just felt like a painful punch in the gut. Perhaps, it’s because Mork and Mindy (Nano Nano) was the first TV show I watched (along with Buck Rodgers) after immigrating to the United States. I deeply resonated with Mork – this ‘alien’ or ‘foreigner’ from another land trying to fit in. Read the rest of this entry »

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I covet your prayers for wisdom, for humility, and for courage to boldly preach the whole Gospel.

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First, let me dispense with some information for those that may be interested.

God’s been gracious in allowing me to visit a few churches and events over the next six weeks as part of a mini book tour for Overrated. Folks can pre-order the book now at your favorite online store and at stores on September 1 but if you’re anywhere around these cities, please be my guest. It’ll be a joy to meet you and to encourage one another in Christ:

August 10 – New Life Fellowship, NYC (Queens)
August 17 – Overlake Church 9am/11am
August 31 – Antioch Church (Bend, Oregon)
September 7 – Engedi Church, (Holland, MI)
September 13-14 – Ecclesia Church (Houston, TX)
September 19 – Collyde Conference (Rockaway, NJ)
September 21 – Metro Church (Englewood/Fort Lee, NJ)
September 28 – The Meeting House (Toronto) *
*still discussing content

Some of you may know but I’m currently on a three month sabbatical. I so deeply appreciate my church, my congregation, my leadership, and my fellow staff – for allowing me to take this time to rest, retreat, and in the middle of this, to prepare for the release of my first book, Overrated.

Since the launch of my sabbatical (since July 1), I’ve been retreating, hiking, resting, fishing, disconnecting and spending much time with trees. It’s been refreshing to say the least. This is also good because I’ll need to do a little juggling as the book releases on September 1 and I’ll soon be traveling (just on weekends) to visit some churches to share the message that I feel God has placed upon my heart in authoring this book.

As a first time publisher, this is all new to me. And I suspect that – by God’s grace – as I write future books, this will always feel a little strange to me.

Which is why I’d really appreciate your prayers. Read the rest of this entry »

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We have to see justice as part of discipleship and ultimately…our worship of God.

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Over the years, I’ve been given by some the mini-reputation as a leader in the field of justice. At first, I took it as a compliment and  of course, I still do because I care a lot about justice. I know that people mean well. But I care about justice not  just for the sake of justice. I care about justice…because I care much about the Gospel.

And sometimes, when I hear folks talk about justice in the church, I cringe…

I cringe because if we’re not careful, we’re again compartmentalizing justice rather than seeing it as part of the whole Gospel; We need to see justice as a critical part of God’s character and thus, our discipleship and worship.

Just like we shouldn’t extract the character of “love” or “grace” or “holiness” from God’s character, such must be the case with justice.

People often ask me, “What’s the most critical part about seeking justice.”

My answer:

We must not just seek justice but live justly. Justice work and just living are part of our discipleship. Justice contributes to our worship of God. Justice is worship.
Read the rest of this entry »

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Great news: I’ve finished writing my first book, “OVERRATED”. Here’s the official cover and what it’s about.

Well, I have some exciting news to share with you all.

My first book, Overrated, is done. Manuscripts. Revisions. Edits. Rewrites. Edits. Copyedits. More edits. Copyedits. Then I thought I was finished. And then I wasn’t. More edits. Copyedits.

And ready or not, finally…the book is finished. The book is at the printers right now.

So, here’s some info about the book: Read the rest of this entry »

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Mourning with Seattle Pacific University. Remembering Paul Lee – SPU freshman. Rest in peace.

Another day. Another shooting.

Everyday lives impacted and scarred forever.
An innocent life lost.

The last day or so has been a blur. We live in a world where one can point to numerous recent examples of senseless shootings. Just typing that is infuriating. It happens in neighborhoods, street corners, houses, navy yards, sororities, and schools of all levels. Remember Sandy Hook?  Heck, two men were shot and killed just this past weekend in Central Seattle. But when you watch it or read it on the news (likely on your smartphone or tablet), you can’t possibly fathom it happening in “your school.” Well, yesterday, on a nearly perfect 72 degree Seattle day, that shooting took place at Seattle Pacific University.

And while SPU is not technically my school, it’s the closest thing to a school being your school without one graduating from that school.

SPU is located about a mile from Quest Church where I pastor. Numerous professors and administrators worship at Quest. Numerous. Several dozen undergrad and graduate students (and alumni) also worship there.  My wife, Minhee, recently completed graduate school at SPU. Several of my church staff went to school there. Q Cafe’s manager went to school there. One of our baristas is a freshman there. Couple of One Day’s Wages’ interns go to school there. My kids do summer basketball camps there.

It’s surreal. It’s painful.

While two were wounded but on the road to recovery, one was tragically killed. It is painful no matter what. And even more so when a nameless, faceless victim becomes named and identified. Couple hours ago, this faceless and nameless victim was identified. It was inevitable. It becomes even more painful and surreal when it is someone you’ve met. Read the rest of this entry »

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Churches Standing Together for Oso Mudslide Relief.

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UPDATE (4/24): Grateful for the spirit of collaboration between churches. Grateful for the spirit of generosity. As of today, 29 30 churches have covenanted together to pray and raise funds. Thus far, we’ve raised $129,000 for Oso Relief and Rebuilding efforts (of which 100% will go directly to efforts). Hoping for at least one more church to join us to come alongside the 30 churches in the Oso/Darrington/Arlington area.

——————-

It’s been such a heavy week processing all the news from the tragedy of the mudslides in Snohomish County in Washington or otherwise known by locals as the Oso Mudslide.

On Saturday, March 22, 2014 at 10:37 am, “a major mudslide occurred 4 miles (6.4 km) east of Oso, Washington, United States, when a portion of an unstable hillside known as the “Hazel Landslide” collapsed, sending mud and debris across the North Fork of the Stillaguamish River and onto the adjacent river valley, covering an area of approximately 1 square mile (2.6 km). As of March 28, 2014, the Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s office confirmed 17 of the dead have been identified,and that a further 10 bodies have not been formally identified, and 90 people remain missing or unaccounted for as a result of the landslide. [link]

To be honest, I had no idea this took place until later on Saturday evening. And by then, I was too focused on  getting my heart and mind ready for my Sunday sermon…and had no idea of the depth of tragedy and human suffering.

17 37 confirmed dead.
10 6 not formally identified
90 30 missing
And we know these numbers will increase.
Hundreds of families directly impacted.
Thousands grieving and mourning.

We cry. We mourn. And we cry more…

Sometimes, you just cry because that’s all that you can do. But we keep praying for all those that have passed and their loved ones. We pray for those missing. We pray for all the relief efforts and the relief workers.

Oh Lord, in your mercy, we pray…

As we pray, we act. We come alongside…

A vision has sprouted among some leaders within several Seattle area churches. Read the rest of this entry »

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Invest in women and girls around the world as an affirmation of dignity that has already been given to them by God.

This is one of the reasons why my wife, kids, and I started One Day’s Wages. It’s because we believe in local heroes like Diana Keesiga who was  born in Western Uganda and at a very young age decided she wanted to be an engineer. She defies the dangerous stereotypes that we have about Africans being absolutely lost and helpless without Western saviors or only looking for handouts. Diana has a love and understanding of her Ugandan people and culture that we will never fully grasp – which is why its best for us to come alongside people like Diana but we should never take their place.

In doing the work of justice, one of the most fundamental questions we must ask is this:

“Who are we trying to elevate? The people we serve or ourselves?

I dare you to watch this short video (above) about Diana and the water partnership between One Day’s Wages and The Adventure Project – that is currently being featured on Upworthy. There are many but here are four reasons why I love this partnership:

1 in 3 water wells are broken in Africa

While there are few things in development as spectacular as seeing water gush out of the ground after a well is drilled, what happens in year 2, 5, and 10 is far more important and difficult. Read the rest of this entry »

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stuff, connect, info

one day’s wages | video

My Instagram

I love my church. So proud of the ways they seek to embody compassion and justice. Some of them were in downtown Seattle this week to demonstrate their solidarity with Ferguson.

I'm in the middle of a 3 month sabbatical at Quest. I'm grateful for this time of rest and rejuvenation...but I miss my church dearly. Can't wait to be back in October. There are some amazingly beautiful churches around the world. Just remember though that true worship begins when you exit the church walls and live out your faith and convictions.

#LightandSalt
#PrincetonUniversity Home, sweet home. 
#seattle 17.5 Year Anniversary!
We still got it. We look gooooood!

Blessed to be back in Princeton, NJ for couple days recently. We had our wedding ceremony in Korea but got "legally" married in the US at Miller Chapel in Princeton Seminary. So, it was only fitting to go back and have my kids take our 17.5 Anniversary  pics. Someday when our kids become adults and they feel like their parents wronged them or neglected them, and they feel like they need to get counseling... I'm going to show them this picture and say, "I HAVE PROOF. WE TOOK YOU TO NYC AND BOUGHT TICKETS TO WICKED ON BROADWAY!" RIP Robin Williams. 
Folks: Please go and - call or hug your loved ones. Tell them you love them. Remind them how you much appreciate them.

We need to (re)learn how to be more human. Don't avoid eye contact. Don't hide behind gadgets. Smile often - both to neighbors and strangers alike. Ask about peoples' stories. And listen.

And most importantly, remind yourself that YOU are loved. Not just merely by your loved ones but also by the ONE who created all that is good and beautiful.

my tweets

  • Getting on a plane. Going to recline my seat. Pray for me. || 14 hours ago
  • Breathe. Show yourself some grace. We can't do everything for everyone in every situation. Do what you can and do it with a cheerful heart. || 1 day ago
  • You don't need to be the "most influential" to everyone, you just need to influence the people you've been called to. || 1 day ago
  • Rather than always looking for the spectacular, we have to learn to find purpose, beauty, and meaning in the mundane and every day. || 1 day ago
  • Let's be wise. Let's be humble. Let's be careful of the hero complex where it's about us...rather than about God. - youtube.com/watch?v=s7j68b… || 2 days ago
  • The proof of God's love is that He knows everything about us - incl. our mess, brokenness, and shame - and still pursues us. This is grace. || 2 days ago
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