Eugene Cho

This is a hero you’ll never read about so let me share his story.

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All around us are people of great courage.
All around us are people that are true heroes.

We often miss them because we’re conditioned to look for the mighty, famous, and glamorous.

I was reminded of this again through a very tragic event.

Last Sunday (April 14, 2013), one of our church staff’s father tragically passed away. Jin An – a longtime friend and someone who has been with Quest Church from Day 1 – was part of our worship team last Sunday. After an amazing Sunday as he hosted Dr. John M. Perkins, he received news shortly after our 2nd service that his father, Mr. Se-Rok An, had passed away in a freak accident. According to KIRO News:

Se Rok An, 73, was fishing in the surf in Ocean City Sunday when he got in a rip current and disappeared.

Johanna An said her mother looked for her father and yelled for help.
“One minute she looked up and he was just gone,” said An.

“It was just one of those freak accidents where he got in the riptide and, you know, she went around trying to see where he was and she started running and nobody was around,” said An’s son, Jin An.

Our hearts mourn with Jin and the entire family.

This weekend, I flew up a tad bit early from my family vacation to preach at Jin’s father’s memorial service. Read the rest of this entry »

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What would we do if we only had one week to live? Jesus borrowed a donkey, washed dirty feet, and got crucified.

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Imagine if you had only one week to live, or one month, or one year. Seriously, take a few minutes to imagine the mental and emotional anguish.

Imagine if you knew that you were going to only live until you were 33 years old and that your death would come in the most horrific manner imaginable.

As some may know, “Palm Sunday” marks the beginning of Passion Week – the final week of Jesus’ life on earth. As we engage in Passion Week, it’s important to take some time to reflect on the life of Jesus and in particularly, his final week. Some may make the mistake of thinking or assuming that since Jesus was fully God, he didn’t experience human anguish. But Jesus wasn’t just fully God, he chose to be fully human. He was God who assumed humanity. He took upon himself flesh and bone. And in and through this…Jesus understood the fullness of our human condition. Jesus understood hunger, thirst, temptations, anguish, the pain of human betrayal, sadness.  During the final week of Jesus’ life, we see a glimpse of his humanity as he anguished in prayer at Gethsemane.

Before we try to jump to the celebration of His resurrection, we need to take the time to walk with Christ during the last week of his life.

So as I reflect upon the final week of Jesus’ life, it’s only natural for me to ponder what I would do if I knew I only had one week to live.

Don’t we all have what we call a “bucket list?” 

…Stuff that we want to do before experience our physical death?

I do. I have both a mental list and a list of some stuff I’ve started compiling in my notebook. Here’s at least 5 things I’d like to do if I have a week (or month) to live: Read the rest of this entry »

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Remembering Trayvon Martin: The danger of the singular story of the suspicious, scary black man.

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Remembering Trayvon Martin.
Today marks the 1 year anniversary of the death of Trayvon – the then 17-year-old unarmed young black man.

As the debates get renewed on this one-year anniversary and most likely to be intensified when the trials for George Zimmerman begin in June, I’m reminded of the ongoing healing and reconciliation that is necessary – not just in “our country” or in “our world” but in truth, in our own hearts and lives.

As we come to the one year mark since Trayvon’s death, we can’t forget his death. There’s too much at stake. Whatever the results of Zimmerman’s trial, we cannot forget Trayvon’s death.

We have to remember that hoodies don’t kill as short skirts don’t rape. Read the rest of this entry »

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Abortion? To whom it may concern: Imagine the possibilities. Imagine the story that can be lived…

The “a” word: Abortion.

Is there a more emotional conversation in the current landscape of America? Probably not.

Go ahead. Throw stones.
Scream and shout.
Put labels on each other.
Picket. Protest. Make posters.
Conceive rhyming & non-rhyming phrases.
Hurl insults and judgments.
Murder. Murderous. Murdering. Murderers.
Use bible verses, statistics, graphic photos.
Do what you’ll do.

If I may, I’d just like to offer one simple alternative.

My views haven’t changed over the years. I’m against abortion. I believe it is a sin. I have no reticence or ambivalence. I believe it is absolutely and utterly tragic – for all involved. I believe God deeply grieves as with any injustice…but perhaps, a better way to articulate my convictions is that

I believe in the sanctity of life.

Left. Right. Center. Liberal. Conservative. Moderate.

Whatever your adjective, all Christians should be for the sanctity of life – from womb to tomb.
Not just our lives but their lives.
Not just American lives.
Not just the unborn babies’ life but the mother’s life;
Not just his life but her life.
All lives.  Read the rest of this entry »

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What I would say to Manti Te’o if I were his pastor…

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There might be something to learn for all of us in this story.

You might not be a sports fanatic like I am (but let’s not forget: Jesus above all things including football), but you may have heard the story of an incredible college football player from Notre Dame named Manti Te’o. If you follow sports and especially college football, you know that name. He was one of the final three Heisman Trophy finalists and won eight postseason awards this year becoming “the most decorated collegiate football player of all time.” In short, a football stud.

But over the past year, he gained even more attention for two particular personal tragedies that took place in his life – both within the same week time frame.  First, his grandmother passed away and then, his girlfriend passed away just hours after he learned that his grandmother passed away:

Te’o had talked openly during the season about his supposed relationship with a former Stanford student named Lennay Kekua, whom he claimed in a South Bend Tribune article to have met in 2009 after a football game. Kekua was said to have lost her battle with leukemia on Sept. 12, just hours after Te’o learned that his 72-year old grandmother had passed away. The story of how Te’o dealt with massive personal tragedy became front and center in his rise to national consciousness… [USA Today]

Like others, I was gripped and compelled by his story. I may or may not  have shed a tear after one of his interviews. Read the rest of this entry »

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Jesus above all things…including football.

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In case you don’t know, Seattle has football fever. And for a city that hasn’t had much to root for, it’s an exciting season for the city of Seattle as the Seattle Seahawks advance to this Sundays’s playoff game versus the Atlanta Falcons. After living here now for 16+ years, I’ve adopted all things Seattle culture and sports. Or at least most things. I still get weirded out by the Subaru automobiles everywhere and the Starbucks coffee shop to my left, right, front, and back.

But I digress.

The Seattle Seahawks is in the playoffs and by the time you read this post, there’s a good chance that they are playing against (and likely beating) the Atlanta Falcons.  This entire week, several of our church congregants – have jokingly, half-jokingly, and seriously asked:

  • “Will Quest move our church worship service times to accommodate the Seahawks playoff game at 10am?
  • “Will Quest cancel services altogether?”

Heck, even the Seattle Times called to ask what I would do as the senior pastor of Quest Church.

What is Quest doing on Sunday in light of Seattle Seahawks playoff game? Read the rest of this entry »

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No one is an island to themselves. Remembering my journey as a Korean-American immigrant. Rejoicing in God’s grace.

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I didn’t expect writing this post to get so emotional or for this weekend to be so emotional but such has been the case. I’ve been particularly reminded of my immigrant story – my personal journey trying to find my identity in a foreign country when I first came to the United States at age 6. After immigrating to the Land of Opportunity, I soon began to be pounded with questions like “Where are you really from?” and “Why don’t you go back where you came from?”…and of course, the mixture of insults which included words like chinks and gooks and commentary about my beautiful slanty eyes…

It’s been emotional as I’ve been reminded of the courageous story of my parents, the future for my children, and the investment of so many in my life.

It’s been emotional as I’ve been – again and again – reminded of God’s grace.

This weekend, Minhee and I are in Washington DC to attend a banquet to commemorate Korean-American Day in United States history (January 13). Be honest. You didn’t even know there was a Korean-American Day, huh? Read the rest of this entry »

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What would Jesus do with guns?

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What would Jesus do with guns?

Would he own guns? Sell guns? Perform miracles and multiply guns for 5000 people? Would he use guns? Would he ask his followers and disciples to own guns? I’m no expert on the topic of Jesus and guns but I do know Jesus and for this Jesus who encouraged people to “turn the other cheek” and gave encouragement to be “peacemakers”,  my guess is that he wouldn’t be a member of NRA.

I know that Jesus has many names but he is also the “Prince of Peace.” Right?

The sad truth is that guns and violence are no laughing matter.

Today only marks a week since the horrific mass shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School at Newton, Connecticut. Even as of today, families are burying children and loved ones. A week later,we still can’t make sense of something so senseless.

When the shootings at Columbine took place in 1999 that left 70 shot and ultimately killing 13 people, I heard some pundits explain that we need not fear and that Columbine was going to be an isolated once-in-a-lifetime incident. Since Columbine, there have been 181 shooting at schools across the United States. 61 mass murders since 1982 and 6 alone here this year including one about 3 miles from our home that left 6 people killed on May 30, 2012.

I don’t care what you say, we have a problem. Read the rest of this entry »

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Making sense of something so senseless: The tragic shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

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How do you make sense of something so senseless? That is what I hope to address in this post.

Like all of you, I was initially stunned and shocked to read the news. I was in the middle of an amazing day long church staff retreat and development day when I glanced at the headlines on the internet and couldn’t believe what I had just read.

The shock turned into utter heartache.

These were some of my thoughts over the course of the day via my Twitter account.

Heartbroken.

Heartbroken. Grieving. Devastated. Speechless. Praying for those impacted in the Connecticut school shootings – especially the children. #lordhavemercy

A Time to Mourn & Weep…

Whatever your views, we should all agree on this: We must do all that we can to protect children – your kids, my kids, their kids, & our kids.

There’s a time to argue issues and there’s a time to just grieve, mourn, and weep. Read the rest of this entry »

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A theology, praxis, and lifestyle of enough.

Couple years ago, Minhee and I made one of the hardest decisions we’ve made thus far in our marriage and in our calling as parents.

In our hope to honor a conviction of the Holy Spirit to give up a year’s salary, we had begun the two year process of saving, selling, and simplifying in 2007. Our goal was to come up with our then year’s wages of $68,000 – in order to launch a movement called One Day’s Wages. With only a few months left to come up with the total sum, we were a bit short and decided to sublet our home for couple months and asked some friends if we could stay with them on their couches or their guest room.

“One Bag”

Needless to say, it was a very humbling time.

Our instruction for ourselves and our children were very simple:

Each person gets one carry-on bag for their belongings. Read the rest of this entry »

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A story of courage and generosity: Youth Pastor donates half of his salary to fight human trafficking.

* UPDATE: Amazing. Not only because Joon donated half of his youth pastor salary ($10,000) but in his attempt to get that matched through family, friends, and strangers…a total anonymous stranger (after reading his story) made a donation of $8,085 to help him reach $20,000 for the Human Trafficking Fund.

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You have to read this email I recently received. Crazy, radical, and an amazing story of courage and generosity.

First, let me set the table:

We all love our stuff. All of us. We all consume. We all get sucked into the lifestyle of  upward mobility. This is most apparent during the festivities that surround Black Friday, Cyberspace Monday, and Christmas shopping.

This isn’t a guilt trip but to simply state that which is obvious. What I do want to state is the importance of us also growing a culture of generosity in our lives. Generosity isn’t just for others…but also for us:

Generosity isn’t just merely for the sake of blessing OTHERS. Even more so, it’s to rescue US from the abyss of our greed.

Generosity is what keeps the things I own from owning me.

Let me share a crazy story of generosity and a reminder – once more – that you don’t have to be a rock star, a billionaire, or a celebrity to make an impact.

Recently, I received an email from a youth pastor named Joon Park  from Florida. I’ve never met him, don’t know him, and never heard of him. In his blog, he describes himself as:

I am a former atheist/agnostic, fifth degree black belt, recovered porn addict, and currently a youth pastor at New Light Church in Tampa, FL. Like every other dude with a laptop, I blog regularly. I can eat five lbs. of steak in one sitting. I have a German shepherd named Rosco. Read the rest of this entry »

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Homeless does not equate “Less Human.” More than a “transient” person. In loving memory of Don.

It’s sad when a person passes away and hardly anyone notices and when done so, it’s without a name and the simple description as a “transient.” This is my simply attempt to humanize and give dignity to a person that so many loved and respected. Yes, he was homeless…but he was more than “a transient.”

This past week, Quest Church and our ministry, The Bridge Care Center, hosted our annual Thanksgiving Dinner. It’s always good to not just host a one-time meal but to do in the context of ongoing relationship building and advocacy through the BCC made it even more meaningful and special. As I’ve shared before…

Relationship are important:

And when you start dehumanizing the poor, you have no desire to build relationships with them. You have no interest in their stories. You have no interest in relationships. You believe stereotypes that have been told about them. You believe the lie that they have nothing to teach us and are incapable of contributing to the larger society.

When we’re not interested in building genuine mutual relationships, you rob people of their dignity and they become projects and not people. They become statistics and not reflections of our selves. How can you love and serve the poor if you don’t even know the poor?

When you dehumanize the poor, you have no desire or investment in their redemption.

More than a “transient” person

But on the morning of the Thanksgiving meal, we heard some unfortunate news. Initially, I read it through the local neighborhood blogs and then the local papers: Read the rest of this entry »

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The “Make Me Asian” app is proof why we sometimes need to get angry, turn tables, and confront people.

*[UPDATE] Well, lookie here. We did it.

As of January 17, 2012, the ‘Make Me Asian’ app is no longer available on the Google Play Store.  And thankfully, so are the other offensive apps created by the same person. According to the NPR blog:

“Make Me Asian,” a smartphone app that drew the ire of Asian-American activists for what they say are stereotypical depictions, is no longer available on the Google Play Store.

The “Make Me Asian” app let users alter photos to turn faces into stereotypical Asian caricatures —- think Fu Manchu-style mustaches and rice paddy hats. Its creator, “KimberyDeiss,” developed similar apps, like Make Me Indian, Make Me Russian, Make Me Frankenstein and Make Me Fat. Those apps are no longer available, either, and KimberyDeiss’s Google Play profile has been deleted.

I want to sincerely thank everyone who read my initial blog post, engaged it (whether you agreed with it or not), and chose to act by signing the petition on change.org. Special props to Peter Chin for bringing it to my attention and initiating the petition.

Again and again, people often respond with “Aren’t there more important things to fight for?”

Absolutely, there is. There are. Always. But it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t pursue these convictions too.

Sincere thanks…

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Let me calm myself first. [Breathe in. Breathe out.]

There are a lot of other words I can say right now but let me refrain from the choice words and spell it out with other words.

What in the Hades is this? Have you heard about this “Make Me Asian” app on the Google Play Store?

  • Who in the hell made this?
  • Why did Google allow this to get through their application and filter process?

This is racist. Blatantly racist. Like crazy racist.

But then, why is this allowed to even happen? Again?

For a second, just imagine if this was a “Make Me Black” app? The world would go crazy as they should. That would be damn racist! But oh with Asians – hee hee. Those passive, quiet, and docile Asians…hee hee.

Or imagine if there was a “Make me Indian” app? Think I’m stretching too far here? Nope: the app is already there.

The Make me Asian app self-describes itself as: Read the rest of this entry »

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One Day’s Wages celebrates 3 years: A personal invitation to the Annual Gala.

Friends,

I want to invite you to join Minhee and I at our Annual ODW Gala on Friday, November 30, 2012. Whether you’re in Seattle, the Pacific NW, or anywhere, we’d be honored by your presence and support.

In three years, we have had over 10,000 people from around the world join the ODW movement. In addition, we’ve had numerous partnerships with musicians, artists, companies, and other organizations. Thus far, we’ve invested in 35 different projects around the world including our latest one to provide heart surgeries for 20 Iraqi children and provide 5000+ hours of training for Iraqi medical professionals so that in the future, they can perform these surgeries on their own.

From our inception, ODW has raised over $1.35 million dollars and our pledge is to invest 100% of donations in projects to empower those living in extreme poverty. Because of this pledge, the Annual Gala is the one public event that we ask supporters to donate directly to our operations. The funds raised tonight will help ensure that we are able to continue our mission of alleviating extreme global poverty and continue our commitment to allocating 100% of donations to projects to empower the poor.

Again, we’d be honored if you’d join us for the Gala. Read the rest of this entry »

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How can we love and serve the poor if we don’t even know the poor?

During this election season, there are many conversations that are going on. They’re all important. For example, the most recent and last of the three presidential debates centered around foreign policy. Clearly, very important in light of the ongoing global tension and relations. But what has been very troubling for me is the the lack of focus and substantive dialogue around domestic poverty in any of the debates is tragic.

Why are poor Americans invisible?

And if and when it’s discussed, mere numbers and statistics are thrown out…and then on to the next question.

When you break down the numbers, this is the reality.

15% of Americans are living at or near the poverty line.

Read the rest of this entry »

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No one is a self-made person. Thank you so much for praying, believing, and investing in me.

Thank you.

No person is an island to themselves. There is no such-thing as a self-made person. Someone invested in you and that’s certainly the case with me. Many people invested in me and I hope that I can be a source of encouragement to many as well.

I’ve been blessed by your support, prayers, and encouragements.

I wanted to take a moment to thank you for your prayers for many things but for this post, to thank you for your prayers and support for One Day’s Wages, the organization that my wife and I started almost 3 years ago. Before the organization officially started, I felt like we hit bottom – starting the org was more difficult than I thought, we needed to move out of our home and was couch-surfing for couple months, I had ruptured my Achilles (the other one) and couldn’t afford surgery, and felt my leadership at Quest Church was in disarray.

But God remained faithful. Our friends remained by our side. Strangers – literally – came to our aid.

I just wanted to share a few updates that might encourage you as well – that your prayers and support have not been for naught. Read the rest of this entry »

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The 10 Commandments of Engaging Politics

The Presidential election is only weeks away…and it’s getting ugly out there. I mean…really ugly.

And before you think I’m just talking about the political process, the political parties, or the respective candidates, I was actually talking about you, me, us, and them…the people. And by people, I’m also especially talking about Christians.

Sometimes, I feel it would be appropriate to label how some Christians engage the Presidential election season as “Christians Gone Wild.

Since it’s time for another presidential debate and there’s sure to be drama this week and next, and the following week, and each day leading up to Election Day on November 6 and likely some weeks afterwards, I thought I’d share with you my 10 Commandments of the Election Season for Christians in hopes that it might speak some balance, sense, and perspective to any readers – not just during this election season but thereafter; Not just in this country but in any country.

Why else am I sharing this?

Because I really want you to still respect yourself the morning after the election season.
Because I really want your friends to still respect you, too.

Know what I mean?

So, here are my 10 commandments of the Election Season

…….. Read the rest of this entry »

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Please do not dress up for Halloween as blackface, brownface, or yellowface. Don’t be stupid.

Update 10/27/2013: Absolutely heinous, disgusting, and abhorrent. Someone on FB recently posted their 2013 Halloween costume of George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin – with a gunshot to the chest.

Beyond reprehensible.

So, I’ll say it again. Don’t be racist. Don’t be stupid. [via Gawker]

bxk4hw-ciaaodr3

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Americans love Halloween. In fact, maybe it’s fair to say we go crazy about Halloween. How crazy?

Americans spend $310 million dollars/year on costumes…for our pets. Wow.

In total, Americans spend between $6.5 – $6.86 billion dollars on all things Halloween: costumes, candy, and decoration (2012). Now, it’s up to $6.9B in 2013.. More wowzers. And it’s no longer Americans…many in the global community are adopting the zanyness of Halloween.

So, as the average American consumer spends about $27 on costumes (as of 2012) and $79.03 on all things Halloween (2013), I thought it’s never too early to encourage folks to be careful how they dress up for Halloween…even if it’s “all in the spirit of fun.”

Listen, before you go crazy and call me crazy, a hater, a lunatic, an angry Asian man, or an angry Christian Asian pastor man…I like fun, too. I do. I really do. And while my social life is nearly zilch, I like fun parties but it’s all fun and games until someone shows up at a costume party or…err…at your front door trick-or-treating…in a borderline racist costume. Read the rest of this entry »

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stuff, connect, info

one day’s wages | video

My Instagram

Don't rush too soon to the empty tomb. Reflect on the cross. Thank you, Jesus, for your life & love. Thank you, Jesus, for you have redeemed this day of injustice and violence to be "good." You are truly the Light of the world. #GoodFriday Layover. San Francisco. Having grown up here, my heart still flutters. No other city like it. A quick, busy, & meaningful 26 hrs in Wash DC but managed to go for an hour walk for this view. One of the greatest monuments in the world. A true American hero. #AbrahamLincoln I may stand on different sides on several issues with this man but I'm committed to praying for my President.

Honored to be joining Christian pastors and leaders today for the White House Prayer Breakfast. The great wheel of Seattle. Cloudy on top. Sunny on the bottom. Such is life sometimes.

my tweets

  • Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? 1 Cor. 15:55 || 3 hours ago
  • "It is finished." - Jesus http://t.co/s4hHROxhf0 || 15 hours ago
  • Jesus, thank you for you have redeemed this day of death, darkness, injustice, & violence as "good". You are truly the Light of the world. || 16 hours ago
  • Don't rush too soon to the empty tomb. Reflect on the cross. Thank you, Jesus, for your life & love.… instagram.com/p/m8_UMXyWcy/ || 18 hours ago
  • In his last days, Jesus washed dirty feet, ate with misfits (incl. a man who He knew would betray him), & forgave his enemies. #AmazingGrace || 21 hours ago
  • RT @seattlequest: Join us tonight for Good Friday at 6pm & 8pm. Easter Sunday celebrations at 7am, 9am,11am. - seattlequest.org http:… || 21 hours ago
  • There is no Resurrection without the Crucifixion. Before we move swiftly to the celebration of the risen Christ, may we sit at the cross... || 1 day ago
  • Thank you, Jesus, for this day. For Holy Friday. For your obedience. For the cross. Thank you, Jesus, for your life and love. || 1 day ago

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