Eugene Cho

blessed to bless others

time magazine’s front cover recently read, ‘does God want you to be rich? (yes, say some megachurches.  others call it heresy.  the debate over the new gospel of wealth).  that debate will be ongoing so i thought i’d chime in a couple thoughts…

+ i do believe that God wants his creation to prosper.  if he wants his creation to prosper, i believe, he’d want the jewel of his creation, humanity, to prosper as well.  so, then, the issue becomes, ‘how do we define prosperous or prosperity?’  why are we so infatuated with prosperous equating monetary wealth or financial affluence?  can’t it equate to peace?  joy? contentment? especially here it the western world, i’m alarmed at the infatuation with financial wealth?  money:  it is what it is.  it’s a TOOL.  a tool to a) enjoy stuff, b) take care of family and loved ones, and c) give away to help others and build the work of God.  but when we start loving money rather than seeing and using it as a tool…the apostle paul in his letter to the timothy addresses the grave repercussions.

+ there’s still poverty and economic injustice here in the US, but on the most part, we are wealthy.  in fact, we’re a filthy wealthy nation.  on a personal level, i make approximately $60-65K/year (church salary + writing + speaking).  minhee and i strive to give away a minimum of 20% of our salary.  i share this not to boast but to serve as ‘mentors’ to those at quest who look to us as ‘one voice’ for guidance and direction.  we’re able to give more (and seek to give more than we keep) because our parents have allowed us with their legacy for us to be generous and transfer a legacy for our children.  we calculated that if we worked another 30 years (on one income), that would come out to $1.95 million dollars.  if we gave 20% over the next 30 year=$390K.  our goal is to give away $500K beyond ourselves/family.  we dream: “what if 100 other folks/families share that same principle?”  that would equal $50million dollars over 30 years!  that’s a substantial foundation!

this past week, one of our other pastors, leah mccann, preached from matthew 25.  she and eight others just returned from thailand/burma.  she shared a solid ‘heart’ message about what it means to be blessed.  we are blessed in order to bless others.  we do so well in enjoying stuff and try to do well in loving our families but we honestly suck at blessing others and investing in the work of God.  at quest, we have appropriated 20% of all giving to the global presence and churchplanting fund.  another 10% is appropriated for the building (maintenance) fund.  within two years, we need to increase the GP/CP fund to 30% and within five years, hopefully, to 40%.  within five years, we hope to have the church communty give (minimum) an annual sum of $1 million.  potentially, $400,000 (40%) can be appropriated for churchplanting, justice and compassion causes, sending and supporting missionaries and visionaries, funding microbusinesses, etc.  over the course of thirty years, that amount would add up to $12 million.  the ministry of ‘redistribution’ is tangible for all churches.

according to the Global Rich List, i am the 53,205,017 richest person in the world.  i’m in the top .88% richest people in the world!  damn i’m rich.  we’re not called to save the world.  jesus has done that already.  but we are called to bless folks in the name of jesus.  i often struggle with the tension of how do i enjoy? how much is enough for my family? who do i give to? how do i give? and on and on.  my conclusion: i just need to live generously  for example, i discovered from some quest folks that $250 can help build a food shelter in the refugee camps by the border of thailand/burma and another $250 can help stock it=only $500.  $30 can buy a first aid kit for a village in haiti.  $73 can purchase a new mobile health clinic to care for AIDS orphans in uganda.  $2400 would provide schooling for an entire generation of school children in an angolan village. 

tonight, i will go to my large home in ballard, enjoy a home cooked meal with my wife and kids, and sleep in my king sized bed.  in years past, i’ve struggled to ‘enjoy’ things but honestly, i will enjoy the home, the meal, the bed, and my family.  i no longer have regrets or reticence about enjoying god’s provision but i want to fully understand the blessings of his provision.  i am called and sent to bless others: ‘how can i bless you, Lord, and bless others?  give me vision, creativity, and courage.’

Filed under: christianity, emerging church, quest church

5 Responses

  1. Andy says:

    PE-

    Thanks for pointing out the Time article, thought it did a pretty fair job of explaining the issues with the prosperity gospel.

    On the subject of giving. The most recent Fortune magazine has Bill Clinton on the cover and a few months back it was Warren Buffett. Never before have I seen such enormous coverage and awareness of philanthropy – the rich and famous are all there – Gates, Buffett, Turner, Brokaw, Clinton, Bono, Branson, etc. Not only are they giving enormous sums of money, but they are applying business principals of efficiency, accountability, and sustainability to their giving. There are thousands of African AIDS patients that are saved daily by the negotiating of these foundations with drug companies to lower prices and buy ART’s in bulk. There are programs run by Robin Hood in NYC that focuses on the raising the income of the impoverished and utilizing outside economists to verify the impact. Many of these organizations are non-religious groups and individuals making a huge impact on global issues that has long-term ramifications for poverty and world security.

    For me, these stories are a real encouragement to me in three ways – it brings awareness to the issue of extreme poverty and human dignity, our ‘moral’ responsibility to get involved, and our dollars now can go a lot further with accountability and efficiency. We can make a big difference, not enough time or space here to discuss all the ways we can do it, but we can. I figure I have two levers to make the most of my giving – give more and make the dollars more efficient – there are just too many inefficient ways to give and if I can give to organizations or people who can make a larger impact than others I will. I’d love to meet with anyone to talk about different organizations and different people who are doing great work and see how we can best partner with them and learn from them to make a big impact for Jesus.

  2. elderj says:

    i saw the article also. I think there is a real struggle for the soul of the American church which has been very captivated with personal material prosperity which is an indication of its view of salvation as being mostly personal, and even then mostly about making a person comfortable in their own life

  3. nicole says:

    That’s a really good point (about the prosperity teachings putting the focus of salvation on primarily a personal level that aims to make a person comfortable in this life on earth). I’m reading a good book right now by John Eldridge which addresses our tendencies as human beings to get caught up in the life we have now, and lose sight of the ‘eternity’ part of the gospel, and of the kingdom of heaven. This is what we know, and sometimes we spend too much effort feathering our nests here, instead of using what God has given us, and learning how to fly, and glorify Him with what we were meant to do with the gifts He gave us.

  4. […] family and I are not wealthy by any means.  Yet, in the context of the larger world, we are filty rich.  We live off my one income of $60,000 as a pastor.  But we’ve made some sound financial […]

  5. Ella says:

    I do not have a sob story. I live in the US and the economy has beaten me up.
    In order to be blessed it will take $400,000.00.
    I need to be blessed, urgently. Thanks for listening. Ella

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One Day’s Wages

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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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