Eugene Cho

Why we should support #EndItMovement and why we must ask good, critical questions about fighting slavery.

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Like some of you, I’m sharing my support and partnership with #EndItMovement. It sickens me to even have such a day or movement for this purpose but such is the reality of our world. We can’t mince words: Slavery and Human Trafficking are evil.

But for those that don’t know about #EndItMovement, here’s a summation:

This February 27th, join us and other Freedom Fighters from around the world as we SHINE A LIGHT ON SLAVERY. Draw a RED X on your hand. Tell your world that slavery still exists and YOU WON’T STAND FOR IT. Just use your influence any way you can to help us carry the message of FREEDOM so even more people know. Let’s make this SHINE A LIGHT ON SLAVERY DAY even brighter than ever.

I support it and thus, I’ve taken the time to place an X on my hand…and to join with others in proclaiming that I don’t want this to be just merely a gesture, a red mark, a one time action…

I deeply appreciate Louie and Shelly Giglio – the founders of the Passion Movement and the instigators of the #EndItMovement. While it would be inaccurate to say that I know them personally, I’ve met Louis on couple brief occasions including at a meeting at the White House on the matter of human trafficking.

Since organizations, leaders, and influentials have done such a good job in bringing the issues of human trafficking to the view of the larger mainstream, it’s especially important to highlight not just that “Human trafficking is wrong” but the critical discussion of “How we engage this justice work…” Read the rest of this entry »

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Singlehood is a gift. Your future doesn’t begin once you find a “significant other”. It’s happening now.

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It’s that season that some call Valentine’s Day and as such, it may be an occasion of celebration or an occasion of some anxiety. Or maybe neither. Maybe it’s just another day.

Or maybe it’s somewhere in between…and so, I thought I’d shared some unsolicited advice about singlehood, marriage, and the in-between.

I ain’t no expert on anything but over the years of being single, being married, and being a pastor to both single folk and married folk, here’s some advice for those who are single – whether dating, engaged, interested in marriage, or not interested in any relationship.

Our ultimate identity.

Our ultimate identity is not as single people or married people.  No dating status defines us. No person can complete us. No human relationship defines us. Saying or believing anything else is dangerous, unhealthy, unrealistic, and borderline idolatrous.

That _____ relationship is not the answer to your life.
Marriage is not the cure-all to the longings of your heart.

How do I know? Because I’m married…and it’s not the answer. I’m not dissing my wife. I love her…dearly. And my wife is a marriage therapist in Seattle and she’ll tell you emphatically that I am not the answer to her deepest longings. Darn. To say that a relationship, a boyfriend, a girlfriend, a husband, or a wife, is going to be the answer to our lives and our deepest longings is simply just not fair to that person. And unrealistic and unhealthy for you.

God’s grand purpose for our lives … umm … is not for us to get hitched and married. Nor is it to be single and sexy. God’s purpose for our lives is that we be conformed to the likeness of His Son, Jesus Christ. God’s purpose is that our ultimate identity and mission are formed as daughters and sons of God…

Read the rest of this entry »

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These children share their dreams…and poignantly show that we still have a long way to go. #MLK

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On this Martin Luther King, Jr. day, it would be good to take a moment to pause, reflect and honor this man.

Martin Luther King Jr. was an extraordinary person.  Not perfect but nevertheless, extraordinary.  And as we pause, reflect, and honor this man…it would be prudent for us to consider how far we’ve come and how far we must go.

Clearly, we live in a much better world today in comparison to the days of slavery, lynchings, and Jim Crow. We live in a better day in comparison to the Japanese internment camps. We live in a better day in comparison to yesterdays when women weren’t allowed to vote.

Clearly. Thankfully.

There is much to celebrate…genuinely and sincerely.

But let’s not be fooled.
Let’s not fall asleep.
We have a long way to go.
We have much work to do.

We must keep pursuing and seeking the Kingdom of God. And to give one glimpse of how far we must go, I wanted to share (anonymously) with you some perspectives of children because while they may still be young of age, there’s something about their raw honesty and painful innocence that can challenge us.

I know because we have three children in our home…and sometimes, the questions they ask and comments they make. “Out of the mouths of…”

We have numerous teachers that attend Quest Church and one of them contacted me this week – heartbroken by many of the replies given by her students in response to the assignment to complete the sentence: “I have a dream…” Many of these teachers purposefully teach in low-income schools. I admire them, respect them, pray for them, and honor them…because what they do truly matter. They are living out the Gospel – and that’s often difficult to do in the public school systems but they do their best – in all their own personal brokenness – to love Christ and love on these children.

Here are some of their answers. I don’t know about you but I want our kids – all our kids, of every color, of every background – to be able to dream in ways that capture and fascinate their imagination…which is why there’s a deep poignancy in reading their “honest” dreams: Read the rest of this entry »

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“I have disabilities…I am broken but not because of my disability.”

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We live in a world where people are named, categorized, and labeled based on what they can and/or cannot do. Most often, those with perceived “disabilities” are primarily seen as less valuable, important, or worthy. In contrast to this, we know we are ALL created and made in the image of our God; this image includes our gender, ethnicity, and abilities.

Today’s guest post is from Pam Christensen, Associate Director of Children and Family Ministries at Quest.  This is important. Really important. And it is also really vulnerable as she shares of her “disabilities.” I need you to read it because it touches a topic that is rarely spoken of not just in our churches but in our larger culture. It’s the topic of disability and how we view or not view those who are disabled.

Read on and let me know what you think. Let me know of your experiences. Let us know how the Church can grow and learn in this area.

I am broken…

I have disabilities. I have two chronic illnesses and a learning disability (yes, adults can and do have learning disabilities and yes, they still affect us, even when we are not in school, but that is another blog posting for another day). Between them, my diagnoses affect how I sleep, how and what I eat, my relationships, my finances, my breathing, my work, even my driving.

I am broken…but maybe not the way you think.

Throughout human history, the myth of an “ideal” version of humanity has been repeated until it is believed. Over the years, this has come in different forms: the myth of being male as “ideal”, the myth of being white as “ideal”, the myth of one culture being more “ideal” than another. In all of these myths, there is a basic theme: if you are not a part of the “ideal”, you are “less than”.

Then there is the myth of ability: a whole, sound mind and body, as defined by science and culture, is the “ideal”. Anything else is “less than”. That’s made clear even in the language we use: disability, literally “not able”. A victim. A problem. Broken. Read the rest of this entry »

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Would you consider giving up a latte and donating $4.30 to help celebrate my birthday?

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Hey friends, blog readers, supporters, critics, stalkers, and everyone in between:

This week (October 20), I’ll be turning…43-years-old.
Yes, that’s not a typo. I am indeed turning 43 years old.
Wow, I am turning 43 years old. Someone pinch me. Someone punch me. But not hard.

As I reflect on the 43 years of my life thus far, I am mindful of how blessed I am. So very blessed. I can’t help but give God praise, glory, and honor.  As I reflect upon God’s blessings, my hope is to be a blessing to others – to my family, to my church, to my neighborhood, to my city, and to the larger world.

As I ‘celebrate’ my birthday this upcoming week, I am again asking friends and supporters – near and far – to help me continue the passion I have for coming alongside the poorest of the poor in the global community.  As most of you know, Minhee and I birthed One Day’s Wages about four years ago and during that time, we have raised over $1.7 million dollars and have funded 51 projects. We’ll be launching several more in the upcoming months. And by projects, we’re not talking about handout but thoroughly vetted projects that involved local leaders, community engagement, and transparency. These projects aren’t about investing in money but rather, investing in people.

But, did you know that 100% of all donations (minus credit card fees) go directly to these projects? My job as the executive director is to help raise resources to help fund our small grassroots operations.

So, here’s my birthday request:

If I’ve been of any encouragement to you or perhaps this blog or perhaps my words of encouragement on Facebook or Twitter, this is a chance to “give back” in a small way. In lieu of any gifts, drinks, cars, flowers, coffee beans, socks, ties, iPhone 5s, or whatever you were planning on getting me,  I’d like to humbly ask you to give to my ODW birthday campaign causeYour donation – whatever amount – will help ODW continue to grow its movement. And I really mean this. Any amount will help.

Because one of my life philosophies is to never ask people to do something I’m not willing to do, my wife and I are donating $4,300 towards this campaign. There’s a lot of toys and stuff we’d like to have but honestly, we don’t really need them. Instead, we’re trying to live a lifestyle of enough.

So would you consider giving up: Read the rest of this entry »

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It’s irrational, but sometimes, the love of a mother takes you to North Korea. #FreeKennethBae

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There’s something powerful about a parent’s love for their child. A father’s love or a mother’s love. For me, as a father of three, I understand. When they hurt, I hurt. When they’re sick, I wish I could be sick instead of them. When they mourn, I mourn. When they celebrate, I rejoice with them. It’s the heart of a father and mother.

If you’ve been reading my blog, you know the story of a man named Kenneth Bae. Kenneth has been detained in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK – also known as North Korea) since Nov. 2012. Kenneth is a tour operator and in the past has served as a Christian missionary. As I wrote in an earlier post, here’s a recap of his situation.

While we can speculate about the political nature or agenda that North Korea may have to use him as a “pawn,” Kenneth was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor because he was charged for committing “hostile acts to bring down the government” and “planning anti-North Korea religious activities.”

He was charged – in essence – for being a Christian. He was charged for taking his faith in Christ to heart. He was found guilty of wanting to share God’s love with those in North Korea. He was charged for being faithful to the convictions that God had placed upon his heart.

He was charged – officially – for wanting to bring down the government because like other missionaries or tentmakers, he spoke and preached at some of his sponsoring churches in the United States and prayed for a future day when the walls of North Korea would come down so that the Gospel may flourish. He said these things and they were recorded on videos and published onto respective church websites…and they were likely used by North Korea and their case against him. [full post]

You want to go where?

Several weeks ago, Mrs. Myunghee Bae – the mother of Kenneth Bae – and her daughter, Terri, (Kenneth’s younger sister and only sibling) shared of Mrs. Bae’s desire to go to North Korea to visit her son. My initial response as a pastor and someone that’s been seeking to advise them was: Read the rest of this entry »

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What we can learn from Rick Warren, People’s Liberation Army, Humility, Listening, and Cultural Sensitivity.

Oh man. I don’t know if I should be writing this. I’m supposed to be busy writing the manuscript for my first book…which is already late. But hey, I need a writing break and what’s a better way to take a break from writing by writing. Ok, not really.

As I’ve checked my Twitter feed yesterday, there appears to have been a controversy surrounding Pastor Rick Warren and this photo below that he posted on his Facebook and Twitter (It has since been removed). The photo was posted this past Monday morning as a joke by Pastor Rick (or someone from his staff?) and was meant to make comparisons of his staff to the People’s Liberation Army aka Red Guard, aka Red Army, aka These Folks Did Some Scary & Cruel Stuff:

“The typical attitude of Saddleback Staff as they start work each day.”

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Before I comment on this, let me first say that I have much love and respect for Pastor Rick. While I haven’t been a huge fan of his Hawaiian shirts, let he that has perfect fashion sense cast the first stone. So, I’ll drop my stones.

Seriously, Pastor Rick has been influential to many; He’s been a mentor to many – locally, nationally, and globally. And with the personal tragedy of the death of his son, he has been on the hearts of many. Like many other pastors and leaders, I took a moment to pray for Pastor Rick and Kay Warren at my church on that Sunday morning (the day after news broke of his son’s suicide).

Read the rest of this entry »

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My 8-year old son is HIV+. He is not scary…and I’m prepared to fight for my son’s right to live in the light.

In my mind, I’d be writing more and simultaneously, have more time to seek out guests for my blog. Neither have worked out but having said that, I read something recently and reached out to this mom and asked her to share her story on my blog. Today’s guest post is from Jodie Howerton – a friend, neighbor, follower of Christ, and fellow parent in the larger Seattle area. Minhee and I actually shared a meal with her and her husband, Mike, last year and were immensely blessed by their words and encouragement. We also loved exchanging stories of our respective three kids.

Through our friendship, I’ve since learned that their 8-year-old son is HIV positive.

Can you imagine if that was how your child was defined – seen only through that singular narrative?

Another reason why I love respect her so much is because while it takes courage to critique…it takes a whole new level of courage, faith, and audacity…to create.

But you know what…let me stop. I’ll let Jodie share in her own words.  Even if you’re unable to visit her page, I hope you’ll take a few seconds to leave a comment and encourage Jodie, her son, and their family.

Please read her post (and watch the video) and take a moment to act as you feel convicted.

I’m prepared to fight for my son’s right to live in the light.

Several years ago, when my oldest was in 5th grade, I previewed the HIV/AIDS video that our local public school uses to fulfill state educational mandates. The video was produced in the 1980’s (might have had an update in the early 90’s), was incredibly fear based, and contained very outdated information about the virus.

I was stunned. In most other ways, I’ve been very impressed with the curriculum our school district utilizes. The video featured newspaper headlines that read, “Thousands Die of AIDS” and even spliced in a shot of the grim reaper at one point. To illustrate how HIV attacks the immune system, the video used abstract concepts related to baseball that even I, as an adult, was confused by. Then there was the personification of HIV as a red monster.

My 8-year old son, Duzi, is HIV positive.

He is not scary and he is not contagious. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Church must not forget our own. Remember. Pray. #FreeKennethBae

UPDATE: November 3 marks one full year since Kenneth Bae has been incarcerated in North Korea.

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This post will likely only make sense for people of faith and for followers of Christ. For others, it might just come across as ludicrous…because seriously, who would go to the ends of the earth? Who would risk their safety to pursue their convictions in Christ?

[Please also read this post explaining why Kenneth's mother recently went to North Korea to visit her son.]

I’m writing to you about a man named Kenneth Bae. He is a son, a father, a husband, a brother…and also a follower of Christ. I do not know him but I consider him a brother-in-Christ.

Much like us…and unlike us.

Kenneth is very much like us and in another way, he is completely unlike us. He is like us in that we all seek to honor Christ with our lives. We seek to pursue our calling and convictions. We seek to live out our faith – whether that be in and through our families, neighborhoods, workplaces, schools, and in our larger cities. But sometimes, God’s calling and convictions lead people to faraway places. We know this to be true because God calls us in Scriptures to Jerusalem, to Judea, to Samaria, and even to the ends of the earth. [Acts 1:8]

And in this way, he’s very unlike us…because his calling and convictions have led him to a very distant, mysterious, and isolated place called North Korea.
Read the rest of this entry »

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His name is Messiah. He’s 17 so he’s prone to foolishness. But he is not a criminal. He’s just coming home.

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I love pastoring my church. It’s the hardest thing my wife and I have ever done but we are blessed to have planted Quest Church in 2001. One of our visions for Quest was that it would grow to be a multiethnic and multigenerational church – not for any other reason than it reflects the vision of the Kingdom of God.

The challenges are real but one of the blessings of such a community is that it exposes the blind spots that we all have. All of us. And if you don’t think you have any, that’s proof you have blind spots.  Imagine a church if only men were in leadership? Or if only women were in leadership? Imagine a church if only the older folks were in leadership? Or the entire church was completely homogeneous?

We would simply see things through a particular narrative or filter of lens.

And such is the general case, in my opinion, of how many are “seeing” the case and verdict of George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin.

I have encouraged my readers to consider taking the time to listen, seek to understand, and mourn with those who mourn.

I would additionally encourage you to not fall for the bait of the extremists or idiots on polar opposites. And by that, I’m talking about those that would resort to mayhem and violence or [shaking my head] those that would show up at a peaceful protest of young adults and kids…wearing a “Ni**er” shirt. These are rare stories and we would be wise not to allow them to hijack the large narratives of how people are genuinely seeking to process, understand, make sense, seek justice, and form their respective convictions.

But since we all have blind spots, we have to have the courage to examine our blind spots – perhaps even to begin by acknowledging we have them. Some of you insist you have none. We have to consider how we all choose (or have it be chosen for us) the filters by which we see and process things. This is why many have chosen to see the verdict purely from a legal or “evidence” perspective. As such, many of my readers or social media following  have pushed back,

“Where is the concrete evidence that race was ever an issue?

And that’s my point.

You’re asking the wrong questions.

It’s hard to explain if you haven’t experienced the nuances of being “an other”. I’ll write more of this another time but for now, I think we would all be amiss if we all don’t take the time to consider our respective blind spots. I have those blind spots, too, so I have been personally compelled to do so with all the respective comments, emails, and conversations that have been generated by the verdict.

As I shared earlier, I’m privileged to be a pastor to an imperfectly amazing church. Very imperfect. Very amazing. I wanted to share with you a very honest and raw piece written by one of my church folk. Her name is Wendi. Yes, she’s black. And yes, she has a son. And yes, he’s 17. And by the way, his name is Messiah. And yes, Wendi’s brilliant but I don’t need to spew her resume. 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

  • 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. || 2 hours ago
  • You don't need to be the "most influential" to everyone, you just need to influence the people you've been called to. || 7 hours ago
  • Rather than always looking for the spectacular, we have to learn to find purpose, beauty, and meaning in the mundane and every day. || 11 hours 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… || 1 day 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. || 1 day ago
  • RT @NaomiLizBlog: "Our contentment comes from a life of gratitude and generosity." Review of #overratedbook by @Eugenecho @David_C_Cook htt… || 1 day ago
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