Eugene Cho

my jason bourne impression

I had the chance to travel to New York and New Jersey for a few days last weekend.  It was incredibly hot, muggy, and humid.  Typical for summers in the East Coast but unbearable for someone who’s used to the temperate and beautiful [summer] Seattle weather.  I was there for a speaking engagement at Metro Community Church.   If you’re in Northern Jersey/Fort Lee or even in the Manhattan area and you’re looking for a church, check them out. 

I don’t travel too often for speaking engagements anymore but when someone in New York City or New Jersey calls, I’m there. Why? It’s like a second home. Exactly 15 years ago, I got into my parent’s Toyota Camry station wagon and trekked solo across country from San Francisco to Princeton, New Jersey for grad school at Princeton Seminary.  I have many fond memories including enjoying the first five months of marriage there.

During this trip [because I have the hunch it may be my last trip to Princeton for a while], I did my best Jason Bourne impression [without the violence] and visited some of the significant and memorable places that helped shape my identity…

1st stop: Got right off the plane at Newark Airport and thought food. Met up with seminary classmates Joseph and JP and trekked into Manhattan to dine at Gahm Mi Oak. They got some scary looking hot peppers that are the size of your arms.

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2nd stop:  Minhee and I enjoyed the first five months of our marriage at this simple 1 bedroom apartment in a town called Cranbury [just east of Princeton].  We had some pets called rats that gave us company.  No furniture, one TV, and no bed but when you just got married, everything is fun.

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3rd stop:  If you’re from that area, you know what this is all about.  Hoagie Haven is legendary. 

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4th stop:  Miller Chapel at Princeton Seminary.  I spent lots of time praying, questioning, doubting, and reflecting – mostly the last three.  After getting married in Korea, Minhee and I “officially” got married again at Miller Chapel.  Woke up one morning and asked six of my friends to meet us there for our wedding…  Life was so simple then.

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The beautiful organ inside Miller Chapel.

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Filed under: travel

3 Responses

  1. Are these really peppers??????????????

  2. daniel so says:

    Eugene — I know what you mean about the NY/NJ area… We spent four years there after seminary and — though I grumbled about plenty of things while we were living there — seeing these photos really brings me back.

    A couple of weeks ago, my wife and I saw this jogger here in SD wearing a Hoagie Haven t-shirt and it made me all nostalgic… Simple is a great way to describe those days… Remember that noodle place — YY Doodles/Tiger Noodles (or some such iteration)?

    I do have to say, though, I kind of prefer the old-school Miller Chapel interior (the one with a middle aisle and pale yellow interior)… But that organ is really amazing.

  3. Joseon says:

    How was Gahm Mi Oak? Check out some of the Korean fried chicken joints in the Ft. Lee/Pal Pk./Leonia area next time you’re here. It’s finger lickin’ good!

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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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