Eugene Cho

tragedy at virginia tech

update: 4.24 – here’s the guest column i had a chance to write for the seattle post intelligencer. 

update 4.18 – posted a follow up entry to this initial entry – ‘making sense of the senseless…’ 

update 4.17 [8.13am] – my wife woke me up early this morning to reveal that the killer’s identity had been revealed – a 23 year old korean-american virginia tech senior student.  she was shocked when i said, “i already know…is his name seung cho?”

early last night, i was chatting with a va tech alum about her days in blacksburg, viginia.  in my conversation, i asked her, “do you know someone named ‘seung or sung cho’ in virginia?” why?  last night, i couldn’t believe the incredible number of people that were searching the following things to get to my blog: virginia tech shoot cho, cho virginia tech myspace, cho virginia tech, virginia shooter cho, cho seung virginia tech, and on and on.  nearly 100 searches were made with some element of his name and made my way via the blog [because of this post and because of my surname: CHO]. 

i have many things on my mind and heart.  most importantly, i am grieving for those who lives have been taken by this senseless and evil act.  what tragedy.  i am also wrestling with my response – as a pastor, as a believer of jesus, and as a korean-american man.   someone emailed me last night thinking that i was being insensitive by highlighting the killer’s likely ethnic identity.  it was and is not my intent to be insensitive.  in these moments, we need to focus on the victims, the students, the blacksburg community, and all those that are involved – this includes the seung hui cho’s family as well.

but in the weeks ahead, the backlash of the killer’s asian heritage may come more to the forefront.  minhee and i are both deeply saddened.  we are also worried for our children and the aftermath of this tragedy.  for now, we join the nation – in praying and grieving..  we pray for the parents, siblings, and friends of those who have passed.  our prayers are with you.

___________________

original post 4.16 | There really isn’t much to say.  Actually, much to say but not sure what or how to say.  What an incredibly tragic and devastating event today in Blacksburg, Virginia.  Not only was this the worst shooting on a ‘school campus’ but the worst shooting incident in the history of the country.  When I got on the internet this morning, I read that one student was killed in Virginia Tech and as the day progressed, news simply got worse and worse…

Can you imagine receiving the following email announcements in your inbox as a student? 

9:50 AM
A gunman is loose on campus.  Stay in buildings until further notice.  Stay away from all windows

9:26 AM
A shooting incident occurred at West Amber Johnston earlier this morning. Police are on the scene and are investigating.

The university community is urged to be cautious and are asked to contact Virginia Tech Police if you observe anything suspicious or with information on the case. Contact Virginia Tech Police at 231-6411

Stay attuned to the http://www.vt.edu.  We will post as soon as we have more information.

What is most important: we need to be in prayer for all involved – especially the families and loved ones of those who have passed.  This is a national tragedy.  Like many, I am deeply saddened…

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11 Responses

  1. GS says:

    I know that it’s tough but after the wave of emotions, how do we process this?

  2. L T says:

    it appears the shooter is an asian male student that lived in the dorms. as asian american spiritual leaders we need to provide a very thoughtful response. undoubtedly, this will test us all.

  3. e cho says:

    indeed. it’s one of those things i think i’ll need to address from the pulpit on sunday. already, i’ve received several emails from folks asking “how do i process this?”

  4. Blake says:

    It deeply saddens and disturbs me, a member of the “Columbine” generation, that our age group would have to handle yet another massive school shooting in our lifetime from within said age group. Even more, there is a real probability that at least one of the Columbine freshmen is now a VT 5th-year senior: a second shooting in their lifetime. God be with those students.

    Also saddening, and a cause for soul-searching within myself, is that I am not nearly as impacted this time around as I was the first time back in ’99. How is it that I have become so desensitized? Sure, it impacts me (I don’t have a heart of stone), but I don’t have the sense of “vertigo” that I did before. God be with us all as well, and may he show us how to act/react/process/love.

  5. Blake says:

    Okay, I just re-ran the math…. that double-incident I mentioned above isn’t possible. Though I wouldn’t doubt that students who came into Columbine in the years shortly after the shooting experienced this.

  6. James says:

    Pastor Eugene,
    I really do hope you preach about this situation on Sunday.

  7. Diana says:

    Let’s sincerely hope that people don’t attribute the actions of one individual to the entire Asian-American community in the States. Reading his story has also been very painful.

  8. Ken says:

    Please know that most Americans — that is the majority — do not see this event or any similiar event as anything other than what it is: The senseless act of violence from a very troubled individual. One’s race, creed, or color does not enter the equation at all. And it should not. Bigoted individuals will always hate someone because they are different. But I wish the media would grow up and stop repeating where this individual came from each time they report this story. Alas, the media treats all stories as if someone saw the story for the first time today. And the sensationalism factor keeps people watching the news (at least those who are predisposed to not turn the channel to something entertaining or safer for the children to watch). We all need to get along everywhere. And here in this country (USA) we need to be aware that with freedom comes responsibility to see and report those who need help to the authorities. People did that in this case. But a better job can be done. Let us concentrate on the injured and the dead first. Let us grieve. And then let us work out ways to try to avoid these situations in the future. God’s blessings are prayed for on those touched by this tragedy. And on the families of the victims.

  9. jeff says:

    i definitely wish/ hope that most would not see the shooter as representative of all asians, but in america, if the person in question is not a white, heterosexual, protestant, middle class, educated man, then their race, creed and color seems to always be part of the equation. he has been marked as the resident alien from abroad who came into our land and terrorized us, and with our heightened fear of the other, this situation seems to be full of potential for type casting and APIA caricatures. and i think if these kinds of caricatures flourish (as they did with mid-easterners post 9/11), then it’s not unreasonable to fear violent reprisal. and so while i certainly hope that people can view the event as isolated, i know that it’s very difficult for our culture to separate media representations of people groups from ‘reality.’

  10. ian says:

    it’s true that many, if not all, asians are making seung seem more human than the press are presenting him to the world. and as an asian i feel doing the same way but not because he is asian but because he is very young. it is possible that since he is very lonesome he thought his last resort is to end his misery. but not after taking, up to 32 people with him. and that is immature. unfortunately the only ones who may be able to question him regarding that, are the people he killed with him. and it’s sad, he didn’t weight his options, at all(at least for me). he is still young.

  11. thebittersea says:

    I don’t think he’s Korean-American.
    He’s a South Korean national with legal resident status in the United States.
    God Bless.

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stuff, connect, info

One Day’s Wages

My Instagram

Back safely from Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan. Thanks for your prayers. 
I have numerous stories to share but for now, the following came up in every conversation with Iraqi/Syrian refugees:

1 Have tea with us. Or coffee. Or juice. Or something with lots of sugar in it. Or better yet, all of the above.
2 We want peace. We want security. 
3 We hate ISIS. 
4 We just want to go home.
5 Please don't forget us.

Please don't forget them... Father, please bless and protect these Iraqi and Syrian "refugee" children that have already endured so much. Protect their hearts and mind from unfathomable trauma. Plant seeds of hope and vision in their lives. And as we pray for them, teach us how to advocate for them. Amen. "We don't call them refugees. We call them relatives. We don't call them camps but centers. Dignity is so important." -  local Iraqi priest whose church has welcomed many "relatives" to their church's property

It's always a privilege to be invited into peoples' home for tea - even if it's a temporary tent. This is an extended Yezidi family that fled the Mosul, Iraq area because of ISIS. It's indeed true that Christians were targeted by ISIS and thatbstory muat be shared but other minority groups like the Yezidis were also targeted. Some of their heartbreaking stories included the kidnapping of their sister. They shared that their father passed away shortly of a "broken heart." The conversation was emotional but afterwards, we asked each other for permission to take photos. Once the selfies came out, the real smiles came out.

So friends: Pray for Iraq. Pray for the persecuted Church. Pray for Christians, minority groups like the Yezidis who fear they will e completely wiped out in the Middle East,, and Muslims alike who are all suffering under ISIS. Friends: I'm traveling in the Middle East this week - Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan. (Make sure you follow my pics/stories on IG stories). Specifically, I'm here representing @onedayswages to meet, learn, and listen to pastors, local leaders, NGOs, and of course directly from refugees from within these countries - including many from Syria.

For security purposes, I haven't been able to share at all but I'm now able to start sharing some photos and stories. For now, I'll be sharing numerous photos through my IG stories and will be sharing some longer written pieces in couple months when ODW launches another wave of partnerships to come alongside refugees in these areas. Four of us are traveling together also for the purpose of creating a short documentary that we hope to release early next year.

While I'm on my church sabbatical, it's truly a privilege to be able to come to these countries and to meet local pastors and indigenous leaders that tirelessly pursue peace and justice, and to hear directly from refugees. I've read so many various articles and pieces over the years and I thought I was prepared but it has been jarring, heartbreaking,  and gut wrenching. In the midst of such chaos, there's hope but there's also a lot of questions, too.

I hope you follow along as I share photos, stories, and help release this mini-documentary. Please tag friends that might be interested.

Please pray for safety, for empathy, for humility and integrity, for divine meetings. Pray that we listen well; To be present and not just be a consumer of these vulnerable stories. That's my biggest prayer.

Special thanks to @worldvisionusa and @worldrelief for hosting us on this journey. 9/11
Never forget.
And never stop working for peace.

Today, I had some gut wrenching and heart breaking conversations about war, violence, and peacemaking. Mostly, I listened. Never in my wildest imagination did I envision having these conversations on 9/11 of all days. I wish I could share more now but I hope to later after I process them for a few days.

But indeed: Never forget.
And never stop working for peace.
May it be so. Amen. Mount Rainier is simply epic. There's nothing like flying in and out of Seattle.

#mountrainier
#seattle
#northwestisbest

my tweets

  • Every convo with Iraqi/Syrian refugees included: 1 Have tea with us 2 We want peace 3 We hate ISIS 4 We want to go home 5 Don't forget us || 2 days ago
  • Back safely from Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan to assess @OneDaysWages' partnerships & to film mini-documentary on refugee crisis. So many emotions. || 2 days ago
  • Pray for Mexico. For those mourning loved ones. For those fighting for life - even under rubbles. For rescue workers. Lord, in your mercy. || 2 days ago
  • Don't underestimate what God can do through you. God has a very long history of using foolish and broken people for His purposes and glory. || 4 days ago
  • Father, bless these Iraqi and Syrian refugee children that have already endured so much. As we pray, teach us how t… twitter.com/i/web/status/9… || 6 days ago
  • Pray for Iraq. Pray for persecuted Church, minority groups (Yezidis) and Muslims alike who are suffering under ISIS: instagram.com/p/BZF2j6Ngrna/ || 6 days ago