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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It appears I brought a little Seattle to the NYC. Drizzle fest. 24 hour gathering with a small group of leaders from around the country. Learning. Listening. Asking hard questions. Head exploding. Heart trying to have hope. As I soaked in this breathtaking sunrise this morning above the clouds, I felt compelled to pray for so my places in America and around the world that are experiencing such pain, heartache, injustice, and violence. At times, it feels so overwhelming but in prayer, I was reminded of these words from John 16:33. As we keep striving, working, hoping, preaching, loving, truthtelling, reconciling, repenting, forgiving, dismantling, peacemaking, Kingdom building...may we fix our eyes on Christ: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” - John 16:33 Grateful for a very full weekend of ministry and preaching in Toronto, Canada (GTA). Such a privilege to partner with @worldvisioncan @wvcollective to advocate for the most vulnerable around the world. God is so gracious. A true honor to meet and encourage local pastors, lecture at Tyndale University & Seminary (photo), and preach at Richmond Hills Community Church, Compass Point Bible Church, and New City Church. Thank you, Lord, that you use broken and imperfect people like me to speak of Your love. Today, Minhee and I dropped off our eldest child at her college. We have been thinking and praying about this day for many years. On some days, we hoped it would never come. On other days, we couldn't wait for it to come. On some days, we prayed for time to stop and other days, we prayed with anticipation. 
After an entire summer of laughing it off, it hit us...hard...this week. Seeing all of her stuff laid out on the basement floor was the catalyst to a load of emotions.

After unloading the car and taking her stuff to her new home for this year and mindful that she might never live with us again; helping sort out her stuff, saying hello to her roommates...I wasn't sure what to do or say.

A flood of thoughts rushed my mind.

Is she ready?
Have we done enough?
Have we taught her enough? 
What if this? What if that?

And so we shared what we have shared with her the moment she began to understand words: "Remember who you are. Remember WHO you belong to. Remember what you're about. God loves you so much. Please hold God's Word and His promises close and dear to your heart. We love you so much and we are so proud of you." And with that, we said goodbye. Even if she may not be thousands of miles away, this is a new chapter for her and even for us. I kept it composed. Her roommate was staring at me. I didn't want to be that father. I have street cred to uphold. Another final hug. 
And I came home.
And I wept.
Forget my street cred.
I miss her. I love her.
She will always be my little baby.

I'm no parenting guru. I just laughed as I wrote that line. No, I'm stumbling and bumbling along but I'd love to share an ephiphany I learned not that long ago. Coming to this realization was incredibly painful but simultaneously, liberating. To be honest, it was the ultimate game-changer in my understanding as a parent seeking after the heart of God.

While there are many methods, tools, philosophies, and biblical principles to parenting, there is – in my opinion – only one purpose or destination.

Our purpose as parents is to eventually…release them. Send forth. For His glory. Met a friend and fellow pastor who I haven't seen in over 20 years. In him, I saw a glimpse of my future. While only 10 years older, his kids are married and he's now a grandfather of 3. His love for his wife and family were so evident and his passion for the Gospel has not wavered. It was so good to see someone a bit older still passionately serving the Lord with such joy and faithfulness. Lord, help me to keep running the race for your Glory. Happy wife.
Happy life. - Eugenius 3:16

I still remember that time, many years ago, when Minhee was pregnant with our first child. She had left her family and friends in Korea just two years before. Her morning sickness was horrible and when she finally had an appetite, she craved her favorite Korean food from certain restaurants in her neighborhood in Seoul, Korea. I had no way of getting that food from those restaurants so I actually said, "How about a Whopper? Big Mac?" Sorry honey. Eat away. You deserve it.

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