Eugene Cho

in memory of carlos holguin | a year ago

On a Saturday, July 2, 2005, approximately 1.30AM, a local homeless man named Carlos Holguin died. There’s been much speculation how he died. Initial reports stated that he was badly injured as he was ‘burned in an accident while grilling with propane.’ Many of the local homeless community who knew and love Carlos thought otherwise believing there was a ‘hate crime’ involved.  In fact, they are certain of it.  The case is now closed with his death attributed to an accident. A week after Carlos’ death, we held a memorial service at our church for him. We were surprised how many people from the homeless community had gathered to pray and honor his life.

One conversation I had was with a man who was not homeless and he did not know Carlos at all. When I asked him, “Why are you here?”, he replied with this answer (paraphrase):

“Reverend, I’m here because I needed to be here. You see, I was once homeless many years ago and I remember how it used to be. Being alone. And no, I don’t know this man, Carlos, but I read the article about his death and felt I needed to be here to somehow let him know that his life mattered.”

Honestly, I didn’t know Carlos very well or “Los” as many in the homeless community called this dude.  We chatted a few times but one thing I knew about “Los” was that he was nearly always happy.  He was always smiling and encouraging people.  He called me “Rev” and shouted it at the top of his longs whenever he saw me.  He was always nearly drunk as well and could tell he was drinking away some of his pain.

There are times I’ll sit in my church office and wonder if what we’re doing as a church means anything at all. We are so far from being the church we ought to be but nevertheless, I find strength in knowing that in some way or another, we are communicating and demonstrating to ourselves and others that PEOPLE MATTER TO GOD and IF PEOPLE MATTER TO GOD, THEY OUGHT TO MATTER TO THE CHURCH. PEOPLE OUGHT TO MATTER TO QUEST…

As you soak in the words of GOSPEL this week that YOUR lives matter to Christ, may you be encouraged and convicted to speak those words of TRUTH to others in your lives – both friends and strangers.

Filed under: church

One Response

  1. Carlos Holguin was my uncle. A year and a half ago my family and I heard the news of my uncle.The family was very upset with the way the seattle police took the case.We are still very, sad and hurt about uncle los and his death.Because it was a bad way to die. We all couldnt understand how the seattle police dept took it so blunt.We would love justice to be handed down to the person who did this to the los.Our uncle the coolest of all uncles,brother,cousin,and father of carlos Jr.I can remember all the great times me and the los had.He was a great person.He would always come home back to michigan,to pay a short vist and party with all of us.There is no way that there was any propane involved with his death.Seattle Police didnt care because the thought he was just another homeless man.That was not true carlos was a worker,and the job rate failed here in michigan.So he ended up some how on one of the fishing boats in seattle.The police who ever they where that day should of did there jobs.But they where to dumb and shouldnt waved it off as another homeless mans death.That to all the others who held the service for our beloved unlce los thank you very much the the church

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Collaboration.

col·lab·o·ra·tion
kəˌlabəˈrāSH(ə)n/
noun

the action of working with someone or a group of others  to produce or create something.

May we hold our logos, egos, and tribalism have their place. May we hold them loosely for they too shall pass. May we collaborate for the sake of the greater Kingdom of God ... which endures forever. As we honor Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., don't forget the God behind the man. The one true God who deposited this dream into MLK is still speaking to us today. Are we listening?

Be courageous. Be brave.

Being invited by the King Family to speak at the MLK worship service at Ebenezer Baptist Church in 2016 remains one of the most unexpected honors of my life. On the right is his daughter, Dr. Bernice King and his sister, Dr. Christine King Farris. Walking throughstreet markets in different parts of the world is the best. Soaking in the culture. Listening to the local language and music. Enjoying the amazing cuisine. Meeting new friends. Praying for the Gospel to penetrate. #ChiangRai Blessed be the local, indigenous leaders for it is they who live in the very communities they seek to love. For it is they who understand their context and culture...better than a Westerner ever will. For it is they who will continue to tenaciously pursue a better world with hope, justice and love when visitors like me leave.

Yes, blessed be the local, indigenous leaders. What an honor and privilege to celebrate with the on-the-ground local @thefreedomstory team to celebrate the recent opening of their Education and Resource Center for the local youth in Chiang Rai, Thailanf. This was made possible through a partnership and matching grant by @onedayswages and The Freedom Story.

While it was an honor to be there to cut the cord and say a few words, this is an example of collaboration. Much love to the Freedom Story team including their co-founders Tawee Donchai and @Rachel Goble, to their staff who live in the community, who understand their context and culture, and who tenaciously pursue a better world with hope, justice and love. And of course, much love to the students themselves for they each matter. Finally, to each person that donated to @onedayswages to make this grant possible.

May hundreds and even thousands of youth be impacted, encouraged, and mentored. May they capture a glimpse of God's love for them.

Photo: @benjaminedwards Part 2 on my wrestling with the complex issue of human trafficking. In part, documenting my trip to Thailand for @onedayswages...to listen, learn, and visit one of our partner orgs @thefreedomstory. More to come.

There's such painful and poignant irony in pursuing justice...unjustly. One way we do this is when we reduce people into projects...and thus, propagating the dangerous power dynamic of US as heroes and THEM as helpless and exclusively as victims. So dangerous.

Human trafficking is not just an issue. It’s ultimately, about people. Depending on the sources of statistics, there are anywhere from 29-40 million people in some form of forced labor and slavery, including sex trafficking.

And one thing I’ve learned, personally, is how easy it is easy to reduce people into projects which is why mutuality, reciprocity, and dignity are so vital. These are critical because God never intended people to be reduced into projects.

We forget this and we indirectly foster a culture and system of victimization or worse, the pornification of the poor or in this case, "the trafficked." And when you start dehumanizing the poor or trafficked, you have no genuine desire to build relationships with them. You believe or build stereotypes in broad strokes, singular, black and white narratives 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.

Lord, break our hearts for the things that break your heart. Give us eyes to see others through your eyes. Give us humility so that we acknowledge our own need to learn and grow. (Photo via @thefreedomstory)

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