Eugene Cho

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.

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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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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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one day’s wages | video

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Nakuru National Park, Kenya. Not your average neighborhood zoo. #flamingoes Kenya. Asante sana. Bwana asifiwe. So grateful for God's grace and provision. It's emotional and humbling every time we sign a check to award another grant. This is ONLY possible because of all of our generous donors and supporters.

This 19,932.90 grant is for a partnership with CREATE! ... that will train and empower 250 Sengalese women to produce and sell poultry, start their own businesses, etc.

Thank you and let's keep going!!! Share our stories. Share your day's wages. Or start your own birthday campaign.

ONEDAYSWAGES.ORG Seattle. Right now. That is all. Today is the last day of my 3 month sabbatical. That went by so fast... On the first day, our family went to Santa, Cruz, California. The first thing we did after we arrived at the San Jose airport was to go straight to In-N-Out. If these kids grow up and feel like they need counseling because their Dad didn't show them love, I'm gonna show them this picture as well and say, "I'VE GOT PROOF. I TOOK YOU TO THE BEST BURGER JOINT WITH NICE CHRISTIAN VERSES UNDER THE DRINK CUP." My prayer life always becomes a little more active when I go fishing. #NameItAndClaimIt #ComeOnSalmon

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