Eugene Cho

“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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If our black brothers and sisters are hurting, can’t we at least listen, seek to understand, and mourn with them?

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Soon, the headlines and media coverage will turn to the next magnet. And soon, another frenzy will ensue. What will it be about? Who will it be about? The answer I do not know but the fact that we’ll move on is certain.

But some will stay. Not because they want to per se but because it’s the reality of their lives.

It’s not that I’m trying to be a downer or “that pastor” that keeps bringing up the issue of race. I could contend that race doesn’t exist. Or it shouldn’t. It’s a human construct. It was a gift from God to reflect His creativity, beauty, and diversity but as a result of our human fall, depravity, and sinfulness…it has been constructed for domination, exploitation, and separation.

As a result, it is sadly a part of our reality and will continue to be so – until that glorious Day when all things will be restored. But in the here and now, we must continue to labor through the consequences of the curse of that suspicion and separation.

Read the rest of this entry »

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The power of the Gospel is such that God sees us, meets us, and adopts us as sons and daughters.

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The power of the Gospel is so profound that it meets us where we’re at. The power of the Gospel is such that God knows everything about us and nevertheless, continues to pursue us, court us, woo us. God remains jealous for us. This is the power of the Gospel…

The Gospel sees us.
The Gospel meets us in all of our brokenness, sinfulness, and depravity.
The Gospel meets the lost and brokenhearted.
The Gospel welcomes the sick, the lepers, the widows, orphans, the AIDS stricken, the ostracized and marginalized…
The Gospel even welcomes us.

When we receive the Gospel, the power and grace of the Gospel is such that God adopts us as His sons and daughters.
The Gospel is Jesus and Jesus is the Gospel.

This truth was especially revealed in a powerful way through an experience and conversation I recently had this weekend and further affirmed through a video I desperately invite you to see below.

First, the story:

This past Saturday evening, I spoke at a “Family Camp” in the Camp Cascades retreat center where numerous churches from the Northwest gathered. After my sermon, a family came up to greet me. It was an older couple and they were pushing along a very large mechanical wheelchair. To be honest, it was large and impossible to miss. In this wheelchair was their 19-year-old son who I’ll refer to as “John”. As we talked, they shared how something I preached on deeply resonated with them. It was the point I was making about our human inability to look at people in the eyes – especially those that don’t fit into our boxes of “normal.” They shared the pain of how literally none of the adults had asked about John thus far at this “family retreat.”

This, it itself, convicted me. I had noticed John but I didn’t bother to take the time to say hello to him or ask of his story.  As I shared earlier, it was impossible to miss him – not only because of the humongous mechanical wheelchair – but also because of his heavy breathing. While I was preaching, I could occasional hear his heavy breathing.

So, I asked this older couple,

“What’s your son’s story? What’s John’s story?”

Over the next couple minutes, they shared a glimpse of John’s story. John is paralyzed, deaf, mute, mostly blind. He is only able to feel some touch. They explained that when John was three months old… Read the rest of this entry »

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Parenting for dummies. Parenting do’s and don’ts.

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Do yourself a favor and bookmark this post – especially if you’re a parent or a parent-to-be someday. Or if you have babies around you.

Refer to it often. Study it carefully.
Take notes. Draw diagrams. Connect the dots.
Consider this as a gift.

I still recall when we planted Quest Church about 12 years ago. The picture above was soon after our 2nd daughter was born and right when we started the church. How fast time flies: She’s already 12 and her sister (our oldest kid) is now 14.

[Note to self: breathe in. breathe out.]
Read the rest of this entry »

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stuff, connect, info

one day’s wages | video

My Instagram

The 2nd baby turns 14 today. Oh my. How time flies. Every birthday now is bittersweet. So amazed at the young woman she is becoming ... and that much further away from being that little baby. Happy Birthday, @trintaay! The world is fallen, broken, and messy. This is the truth.

But the story is not yet finished. God is not yet done. This is the Truth. There is Hope. God is our Hope.

#Advent #MyanmarSunset #NoFilter #BackHomeSafe In solidarity. From Thailand. #ICantBreathe I'm in Thailand for two days to meet @theexodusroad - one of @onedayswages' partners doing compelling work in the fight against child sex trafficking in Thailand and other countries.

Several of their team members took me and Phillip (one of my staff ) into several brothels as part of their investigation. Needless to say, it was very disturbing but an important experience. Women were scantily dressed and places on stages ... as commodities. As part of the investigation, we spoke with some of these young women to collect information, liberate underaged girls, and shut down brothels that exploit underaged girls. To be honest, it's complicated... The evening was intense and my heart was beating so rapidly...but as the hours passed and my initial shock and fears subsided, I felt the Holy Spirit remind me that God loves each and every person and desires to draw them until Himself.  And so I prayed for these women, men, girls, pimps, johns, mamma sans... Lord, break these strongholds.
Lord, give us courage. When in a remote village in Myanmar, ask local fishermen to teach you their techniques. Then catch a big sea bass with them and have it prepared over a wood fire. Then enjoy it. #thankyoujesus #bucketlist Six years ago in 2008, Cyclone Nargis wiped through Myanmar killing about 140,000 people. We visited 6 villages and the stories were unreal. Some villages had everything destroyed. Every home. Nothing standing. One village had 3 homes left...and everyone in the village stayed there for several days. 
One village had a population of 870 people. Only 120 survived...90% of their village died in a moment. Mothers, fathers, children, siblings, grandparents... It was surreal speaking to them. While you can sense their noticeable scars and emotional pain...it was also humbling and inspiring to tangibly see and feel their hope. Their spirit of unity, community, and courage. For many, their faith in Christ. Their yearning for better things for their children.

This was one of the villages we visited. I spent some time talking and hearing their stories and dreams...and all they could talk about was wanting a better school and education for their children. Again and again. 
It's obvious that the Western world is incredibly rich but in many ways, we are so impoverished ... and have much to learn from our global neighbors.

my tweets

  • "There are two ways to get enough. One is to continue to accumulate more & more. The other is to desire less." - GKC youtube.com/watch?v=EAqNV2… || 6 hours ago
  • If the God of the universe was born in a dirty messy manger, there is no mess in our lives that God is not willing to step into. God cares. || 1 day ago
  • Grieving & praying for the families of the 141 children & school staff killed in #PeshawarAttack. Lord, in your mercy. Lord, come quickly. || 1 day ago
  • The great deception of racism is to exist while many people believing it doesn't exist. Reconciliation first acknowledges pain & brokenness. || 2 days ago
  • God often leads us on journeys we would never go on if it were up to us. Don't be afraid. Take courage. Have faith. Trust God. || 2 days ago
  • Praying for the city and people of Sydney and nation of Australia. We are grieving for this tragedy. #sydneysiege || 3 days ago
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