Eugene Cho

out of the comfort zone

The Seattle Times published an inspiring article entitled, Out of the Comfort Zone, as its feature article in today’s Sunday Pacific Northwest Magazine.  It’s written by Paula Bock who has traveled/vacationed with her husband [and now daughter] to the Thai-Burma border annually since 1996.  During their trips, they volunteer with the refugees on the border.  In her words:

Volunteering on the Thai-Burma border for a dozen years has changed me.  I’m humbled and inspired by friends who’ve had everything ripped away – famimlies, home, jobs, safety – and still care about others.  They connect me to the rest of the world, help me see behind horrible headlines.  Back in Seattle, I relive certain moments, a dusty afternoon, the smile of a child recovering from fever.  I feel human.  My life is not only about me. 

I enjoyed the article not only because I personally trekked out to the Thai-Burma border last year but because I love the premise of traveling [even on vacations] with a sense of purpose.  Here’s another excerpt:

A reminder that helping is complex. Over time, you make mistakes; you learn. You learn to provide what’s really needed, not just what you want to give. You learn fulfillment can’t come solely from checking off items on a do-good list.

What if you help rebuild a library in a refugee camp that was burned to the ground — and it all gets torched again? Do you erase the check mark? Abandon your altruistic agenda? Spend your next holiday on a Maui beach? (Tried that, felt hollow, sat by pool with computer plotting next volunteer visit.)

You learn to find joy in the unexpected. Stray moments. Momentous events. [read full article]

My trip to the Thai-Burma border and into one of the Karen villages was eye and heart opening.  I only regretted not being able to travel with my wife which is the reason why we are making plans to travel “out of our comfort zone” this upcoming summer for our 3 month sabbatical.  Our family, including our three kids, hope to travel to couple destinations to remind ourselves

  • that we live in a larger world
  • that we are connected to others
  • the way that we live is not normal
  • and much has been given to us and much is to be expected.

Filed under: family, seattle, travel

3 Responses

  1. d says:

    PE, if Quest ever put together a team to go, I would be your volunteer from la…

  2. e cho says:

    d:

    we sent a team last summer to the thai-burma border. the team also crossed the river into burma as well and visited some of the refugee camps. when u work in that area, it seems like most people know of each other. we’re hoping to permanently sent someone that has a heart to work in the area in the future.

  3. d says:

    Oh wow, that is so awesome. I wonder where I could find resources on organizations that send teams there…?

    d

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One Day’s Wages

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In our culture, we can be so obsessed with the "spectacular" or "glamorous." The Church often engagws in thia language and paradigm...but what if God has called many of us to small, ordinary things?

Will we still be faithful?
Will we still go about such things with great love and joy?

I recently came across this picture taken by @mattylew, one of our church staff...and I started tearing up: This is my mother; in her 70s; with realities of some disabilities that make it difficult for her to stand up and sit down...but here she is on her knees and prostate in prayer. She doesn't have any social media accounts, barely knows how to use her smartphone, doesn't have a platform, hasn't written a book, doesn't have any titles in our church, isn't listed as a leader or an expert or a consultant or a guru. But she simply seeks to do her best - by God's grace - to be faithful to God. She prays for hours every day inteceding for our family, our church, and the larger world.

Even if we're not noticed or celebrated or elevated...let's be faithful. Our greatest calling as followers of Christ is to be faithful. Not spectacular. Not glamorous. Not popular. Not relevant. And not even successful in the eyes of the world.

Be faithful. Amen. #notetoself (and maybe helpful for someone else)

At times, we have to say ‘NO’ to good things to say ‘YES’ to the most important things.

We can't do it all.
Pray and choose wisely.
Then invest deeply. May our compassion not just be limited to the West or to those that look like us. Lifting up the people of Iraq, Iran, and Kurdistan in prayer after the 7.3 earthquake - including the many new friends I met on a recent trip to Iraq.

The death toll rises to over 400 and over 7,000 injured in multiple cities and hundreds of villages along the Western border with Iraq.

Lord, in your mercy... We are reminded again and again...that we are Resurrection People living in a Dark Friday world.

It's been a tough, emotional, and painful week - especially as we lament the horrible tragedy of the church shootings at Sutherland Springs. In the midst of this lament, I've been carried by the hope, beauty, and promise of our baptisms last Sunday and the raw and honest testimonies of God's mercy, love, and grace.

Indeed, God is not yet done. May we take heart for Christ has overcome the world. "Without genuine relationships with the poor, we rob them of their dignity and they become mere projects. And God did not intend for anyone to become our projects." Grateful this quote from my book, Overrated, is resonating with so many folks - individuals and  NGOs. / design by @preemptivelove .
May we keep working 
on ourselves 
even as we seek 
to change the world. 
To be about the latter 
without the former 
is the great temptation 
of our times.

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