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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Update: It’s been a heavy and reflective week here in Seattle in light of the recent shootings at Seattle Pacific University (June 5, 2014). We have been mourning and hoping with SPU and grieving the passing of Paul Lee – the 19-year-old freshman student who I had a chance to meet once during his couple visits to the church I pastor. Two days ago (June 10, 2014), there was another school shooting at Reynolds High School in Troutdale, Oregon.

Another shooting.
Yes, another shooting.
How many shootings?

If you’re keeping count, that makes 74 shootings (wait for it…) at schools…since Sandy Hook Elementary (Newtown, CT).

Let that sink in.
74 school shootings in the past 16 months in America.

And yes, I understand the distinctions that not all 74 shootings were mass shootings like Newtown. According to CNN, 15 of those 74 shootings were similar to Newtown and the rest were shootings in schools that invovled “personal arguments, accidents and alleged gang activities and drug deals.” It’s painful to speak to some teachers that I know (who mostly attend my church). For them, it’s not a matter of if…but when. Has this now become our new reality? Our new normal?

I am not suggesting we abolish guns altogether. Not at all. Please refrain from sending angry emails, or questioning my salvation, or telling me to “Go back home” or to “Move to Canada then.” I am asking that as we continue “the gun debate”, we – particularly the Christian community – ask the question:

Do we elevate the Constitution above all things, including the Scriptures, and our faith and love in Jesus. If so, isn’t that idolatry?

And yes, yes, yes…we can’t hide the conversation of mental illness in the big picture and in connection with guns but as we discuss gun violence, we can’t avoid discussing guns. Which begs the question I ask in the original post below: 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 the 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 Newtown, 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. An epidemic 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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