Eugene Cho

In honor of Rosa Parks: Quiet, confident, strong, courageous, prophetic…and a follower of Christ.

Rosa_Parks_BookingRosa Parks.

This woman.
Quiet but not timid.
Confident but not arrogant.
Fierce but not violent.
Strong, Courageous, and Prophetic.
…and a follower of Christ.

Rosa Parks.

“People always say that I didn’t give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn’t true. I was not tired physically, or no more tired than I usually was at the end of a working day. I was not old, although some people have an image of me as being old then. I was forty-two. No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in.”

As many seek to honor her, it’s common and tempting for folks to only acknowledge parts of her. In a fast changing post-Christendom world, many will not want to acknowledge (or even know) the significance that her faith in Christ played in her life and thus, her activism. In other words, her activism was part of her discipleship. Read the rest of this entry »

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Garrett Swasey: Christ Follower, Son, Husband, Father, Pastor, and Police Officer. We see you. We honor you.

PhotoGrid_1448697030787* Appreciate the comments and especially the critique via social email and email. Certainly shows my personal blind spots and privilege and my need to keep learning from others. Much to learn.

It’s just utterly tragic. I’m just starting to read the horrendous news of the shootings at Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs. Information is still being gathered for the shooter, his motivations, and the victims.

One of the killed was a first responder – Officer Garrett Swasey, a six year veteran of the campus police force of Univ. of Colorado (Colorado Springs). It wasn’t even his responsibility as a campus police officer to respond to this incident but he chose to go. If this isn’t heroism, I don’t know what is…

Let’s be honest: There’s been so much horrible news of police brutality throughout our country…that only reveal a glimpse of the reality of police abusing their power and authority including and especially with their engagement with Black Americans. As some of you may know, I’ve been a vocal supporter of racial injustice issues (here, here, here, here, here, and here).  Now, please hear me: The power dynamics (abuse of power) can not and should not be ignored, denied, or avoided. As we go about this urgent work of racial justice and fighting against police brutality, if one is not wise and discerning, one can make the error of making generalizations about anyone and everyone associated with the police. This is certainly my confession.

Couple of my friends who are in the police force have shared this very new reality and tension:

“Eugene, folks don’t see us as human beings any more. They just see the uniform and thus, public enemy #1.”

This is important: To support one is not to reject the other. These two things should not be viewed as competing, contradictory, or antithetical. In other words, I’m trying to articulate – not very well – that one can and must challenge and protest against systemic injustice and still value the individuals that work with integrity within such difficult, unjust systems. These are indeed challenging and complex times….ones that require much prayer, courage, tenacity, and humility.
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After Charleston: An Open Letter to White Christians from a White Female Pastor

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We are all still in shock and pain. Yesterday, I wrote these brief words on social media about the tragic events at Emanuel AME Church in South Carolina.

There’s a time to argue issues and there’s a time to just grieve, mourn, weep. Now is that time to grieve, mourn, weep.

Tomorrow will come and may God give us wisdom and courage to be both fierce and gentle, prophetic and pastoral…in pursuit of God’s Kingdom here on this earth.

But today…we lament. We lament. We lament.

Well, we continue to lament, and grieve, and weep. And as we do so, we must have the courage indeed to be both fierce and gentle, prophetic and pastoral. We must have the courage to speak up. Today, I asked Rev. Liz Mosbo Verhage, one of our pastors at Quest Church and also an adjunct professor at North Park Theological Seminary, for permission to share her courageous post entitled, “An Open Letter to White Christians From a White Female Pastor.” 

Please take a read. Please take this heart.

An Open Letter to White Christians from a White Female Pastor

I am grieving and lamenting and beyond angry over what feels like open season on the Black Community/Church right now in the United States.

White Christians, this is the time to pay attention and be part of our nation’s struggle to understand and address the continual violence happening against our black sisters and brothers. When one part of the Body hurts we all hurt – when one part of the Body is repeatedly targeted, killed, not protected, pulled out of swimming pools, seen as threats when unarmed – and then misrepresented, silenced, or made small through ahistoric excuses, side-stepping through political mess, or any other form of evil – we need to stand up. We need to show up – loudly. We need to demand a different response – and start with our people in the church.

White church – and the wider church in general – this is the time for all of us to engage. Read the rest of this entry »

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The injustice in McKinney reminds us again that we desperately need a fresh imagination of restorative justice.

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I need to share some thoughts. And I know that some of you may get confused, upset, or angry. That’s ok.

This past week, we saw another example of egregious mis-use of power; We witnessed another example or byproduct of systems, institutions, and structures that’s skewed or distorted; That diminishes the value of black bodies as lesser than…That’s what racism is. Not only can people be racist but what’s even more dangerous are structures that are distorted in such ways that it can be racialized … and people don’t even know. Which explains why after every nearly episode (Ferguson, Baltimore, Cleveland, McKinney, etc.) so many ask, “How is that racist?”

This is why – even at personal costs – we have to begin and continue to name certain things. Just name it! What officer Eric Casebolt did was wrong. He was out of control.

So, what’s justice in this situation? Is justice ensuring that he gets suspended or fired or forced to resign? That’s what happened, right? He resigned. (I initially thought he was fired). So, justice is served, right? On to the next story. Read the rest of this entry »

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Quest Church has purchased the building formerly known as Mars Hill Church. Full transparency: Here’s why and how.

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Update: Quest is currently renovating our new space and will be hosting our first service in our new location on Sunday, September 13.

I have some big news to share – news that will likely solicit mixed emotions for many people.

If you’re an internet junkie, it’s possible that you may have already heard as I’ve been receiving my share of texts and tweets. About two weeks ago, Quest Church – the church I lead – purchased Mars Hill Church (Ballard). Yes, that Mars Hill Church.

Since then, there’s been a trickling of blogs, online news, and television reports that have covered this. As such, there’s also been a trickling of criticism of why we would do business with MH, questions about the transactions, and simply, erroneous info about Quest on the blogosphere.

No, Quest is not a social gospel church. No, I’m not a socialist. No, we’re not an emergent church. No, I’m not an Angry Asian (OK, only sometimes). No, Quest is not a cult. No, I was not in a boy band in the 80s. Blah blah blah.

Because Quest deeply values transparency and integrity, I thought it would be good to answer the most common questions we’ve received thus far. We have nothing to hide and would actually ask for your help to clarify any false information or rumors that you may hear. We share this because of the highly sensitive firestorm surrounding MH this past year. We share this because we covet your support and prayers. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Drop Box film. Why it’s complicated, why it matters, and why you should watch it.

It’s true. The topics of orphan care and adoption are incredibly complex.

Anyone that says otherwise are naive or selling something. It’s complicated on their own and even more complicated in the same sentence. And even more complicated when you engage it on local, national, and international level. They might be undergirded by certain same principles but they can (and should) look different on the ground. There’s no one simple, generic solution. And whenever solutions are presented, eventually – surely enough – loopholes are found to be exploited or what’s relevant in one context and culture may not be as relevant – or even dangerous – in another context.

Adoption – locally and globally – are fraught with complexities and even justice issues. It’s sad but that is sometimes the case when people [in this case, adoptees and especially young children/babies] are seen as commodities – particularly in international adoption. When we speak about adoption or orphan care, we must begin with two overarching principles for us as followers of Christ: 1) God cares for children and thus, 2) Children must matter to us – their well being, their safety, and their future. But often times, children themselves are often what’s most forgotten in these conversations, complexities, and politics.

Having said that – and while others may disagree with me, my conviction about international adoption is that we must seek to keep children with their biological families if at all possible – if children are in a safe environment. This needs to be the pervasive ethic so that economics isn’t the ruling factor – especially with international adoption.

Now, having said that, we know that we don’t always live in a society and culture of ideals and thus, the tension. This is why orphan care and adoption require much prayer, discernment and critical thinking.

This leads me to a film that I’d like to encourage you to watch: The Drop Box.

The Drop Box is a powerful documentary coming to theaters in March of 2015.

The film tells the story of Lee Jong-Rak, a pastor in Seoul, South Korea, and his wife, who built a drop box at the front of his church as a safe location for babies who are otherwise abandoned on the streets. It has an inspiring message for all of us, challenging us to consider what role we might play in advocating for orphans and supporting adoptive families.

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There will come a time to hope but for now, we mourn. We lament.

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“…Mourn with those who mourn.” [Romans 12:15]

This picture.

Wailing.
Crying.
Disbelief.
Incredulity.
Oh no, not again.
Just utter pain.
Deep lament.

It hurts to just stare at this photo and even more so, to imagine the shrieks and intensity of this father’s deep scream. Read the rest of this entry »

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In prison or in freedom, the good news is that God has not abandoned us. Christ is with us…

Over two years ago on November 3, 2012, we heard about Kenneth Bae’s arrest in North Korea.

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Over a year ago on August 10, 2013, we held a special prayer vigil for Kenneth Bae and his family.

2021587226 Read the rest of this entry »

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Pray for the people of North Korea. Lord, may your light shine forth.

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I’m sitting in front of my computer and I’m crying. And I can’t stop.

There’s a tidal wave of emotions. As a follower of Jesus, I’m ecstatic over Kenneth Bae’s release from jail. Many will know that he was detained in North Korea not because he was trying to topple its government but because of his faith in Christ and his love for the people of North Korea. And while many question the wisdom of going to a country like North Korea, I know that following Christ will sometimes lead us to places that might be irrational to many – even to the Church.

As a pastor, I’m overwhelmed with joy for Terri and Andy Chung, and their two daughters. Terri is Kenneth’s younger sister and their family worships at the church I lead, Quest Church. Having had numerous meetings with Terri’s mother, Myunghee, I can’t imagine how she must be feeling right now. For goodness sake, her love and devotion to her son led her to visit him in North Korea about a year ago. Just last Sunday, our church spent time hearing from Terri and praying for their family. It was emotional as we pondered his two years in captivity. Kenneth was in captivity for a total of 735 days…and tonight, they will be reunited.

And as I genuinely rejoice…

I’m reminded of what remains: a people under a brutal regime. Approximately 24.5 million people.
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Two years. 730 days and counting. It’s time to release Kenneth Bae. #BringBaeBack

This is a deeply personal post and I hope you’ll take a moment to read it and share the video above. While I have never met Kenneth Bae personally, his sister and family attend the church I lead, Quest Church. He is an American citizen. He is also a son, a father, a husband, a brother…and also a follower of Christ. I do not know him personally but I consider him a brother-in-Christ. Yes, he is a missionary although he was not directly doing ‘missions’ work in North Korea but he was captured on November 3, 2012.

If you do the quick math, today marks 2 years. That’s 730 days. And every day adds another day to what is already the longest detainment of an American citizen in North Korea. Read the rest of this entry »

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stuff, connect, info

one day’s wages | video

My Instagram

People often ask, "How does one stand all that rain in Seattle?" Actually, it doesn't rain that much. I like the rain. Keeps everything "evergreen" and clean. Keeps our air fresh. What's challenging is the gray weather. Give me a few more sunny days. 99 more days to be specific. 
Regardless, still love this city. Checking out Canada in case I need to move up North after the presidential election. Just saying, eh.

Downtown Toronto. Fascinating architecture. Amazed by the diversity of this city. We desperately want our children to not just be captivated by the beauty of creation...but more importantly, to the actual Creator of all that is good and beautiful.

Actually, we want and need this truth for our souls, too. What a privilege. This isn't possible without all those who give, pray, and support the work of @onedayswages. This week, I signed and mailed grants to three partner organizations totaling over $170,000. These grants will empower people by supporting maternal health care, refugee relief efforts, access to clean water, provide education, etc.

Sometimes, the brokenness of the world feel so overwhelming but let's keep running the race with endurance. Let's keep pursuing justice, mercy, and humility. Let's be faithful and may we be spurred on to keep working for God's Kingdom...on earth as it is in heaven.

Again, thank you so much for your support for @onedayswages! My wife, Minhee, and I stand on the shoulders of praying mothers. I'd like to take a moment to honor my mother-in-law. It's hard to put words together to embody her life but she is a very special, anointed person. I'm so blessed to have her as a mother in my life.

She was a devoted wife until she lost her husband to cancer, mother to three daughters, and later became a pastor. She became a follower of Christ as an adult and as such, led her her family to Christ. In her late 50s, she obeyed God's calling to go to seminary and be a leader in the church. She graduated #1 in her class and reminded us that it's never too late to follow a new dream or calling.

As she'll soon celebrate her 80th birthday, I'm especially grateful for the ways that she poured into and prayed over Minhee and her other children.  Even though she's officially retired, I'm inspired that the concept of retirement is not in her vocabulary.  She continues to serve the local church, evangelize and bear witness to Christ, and goes to the early morning prayer meeting at 5am everyday to pray for our family, our church, and for others. 
Jangmonim, we love and honor you. 어머니, 사랑합니다.

Someday, I hope that when my kids speak of Minhee and I...above all, they would say with integrity that their parents prayed for them and kept pointing them to Christ. On this Mother's Day, I want to take a few words to honor mother.

There’s a moment from a few years ago that will stick with me until the day I die. It’s regarding Sung Wha, my mother.

Minhee and I were at a point of transition, between working at an ethnic Korean church in the northern suburbs of Seattle called Lynnwood and launching Quest in urban Seattle. As I shared earlier, I was in desperate need of a job. I had a mortgage to pay. A pregnant wife. A kid at home. 
Then, praise God, after months without work, I finally landed a job.

My mom was in between jobs at this point in her life. She was in her late fifties, but she had such bad knees and degenerative hips that it was, and is, difficult for her to walk. My mom is like a human barometer—when a storm is coming and when it rains, her hips throb. Although my parents lived in San Francisco, she was visiting us in Seattle to encourage us in this difficult season.

As I prepared to go to work one early morning, I walked downstairs to put on my jacket and shoes, and forgot that my mother woke up early every morning to pray. In fact, she had been praying for months that I would find a job. “Eugene, where are you going?” she said when she saw me.

I hadn’t told my mother the news that I had just recently been hired for the janitorial gig at Barnes and Noble. I chose not to because I thought she and my father would be devastated. I didn’t want them to think that after laboring, sacrificing, and doing so much for us over all those years that their son had failed them.

But I couldn’t lie to her, so eventually I told my mom that I got a job and was going to work. “Great! What job? What are you doing?” “Um, I’m working at Barnes and Noble as their custodian,” I said finally.

Without asking another question, my mother got up from the dining table where she had been reading her Bible and praying. She slowly walked slowly toward me.

She approached me, then walked past me without saying a word, and I realized she was headed toward the closet. She opened the closet door, put on her jacket, turned around and said to me (in Korean), “Eugene, let’s go together. I will help you.” This is my mother.

my tweets

  • Cheer up Toronto & Canada. Great season. Also, you have free health care, toonies and your political candidates are not as crazy as America. || 10 hours ago
  • Make friendships more than transactions. There's a huge difference between "I appreciate you" and "I appreciate what you can do for me." || 19 hours ago
  • There's much to ponder in this article. Much to repent. Much to grieve. "Seattle's vanishing black community." - seattletimes.com/pacific-nw-mag… || 1 day ago
  • People often ask, "How do stand all that rain in Seattle?" Actually, it doesn't rain that much.… instagram.com/p/BF2giXwyWTY/ || 2 days ago
  • Don't obsess about your platform.Just do your thing with passion, humility, integrity. We do what we do for God's glory, not human applause. || 2 days ago
  • Someone tell Steph Curry that he's the MVP because he's playing a lot like me in my rec league. || 3 days ago

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