Eugene Cho

a difficult week

This past week was incredibly emotional and difficult.  The life of a pastor and shepherd is such that in some form or another, you go through the ups and downs – not only of your life but the lives of the men, women, and children you have the privilege calling “the body of Christ.”

In these recent days:

  • One of our community group leader’s mother past away.  She lived a long life but nevertheless emotional.
  • One of our pastor’s grandfather passed away.
  • One of our congregant’s cousin – at the age of 29 – passed away in a car accident.
  • One of our congregant’s father passed away.  Thankfully, she and her husband moved back to the East Coast this past month and was able to spend couple weeks with him before his passing.
  • The expectant couple [who I’ve blogged about before] had a difficult turn of events.  This past week, she again lost much of her amniotic fluid and was rushed to the emergency room.  I’m thankful I had an opportunity to spend some time with them at the hospital yesterday.  Things appear precarious as doctors expected the baby to arrive “any hour” since she was several cm dilated [she is only 23 weeks into her pregnancy].  Fortunately, the baby’s still inside her womb and needs to stay in for at least couple more weeks.
  • And then, last night…incredibly painful news as I heard the news of a young man at Quest  [recent college graduate] who lost his father yesterday in a tragic accident.  According to the Bellingham Herald:

A 59-year-old Glacier man died Friday after apparently falling off a cliff near the Mount Baker Ski Area.

Robert K. Lee was found unresponsive at the base of the cliff near Chair 1 by members of Mount Baker Ski Patrol at around 2 p.m., Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Doug Chadwick said. He was pronounced dead shortly afterwards.

Deputies examined footprints in the snow and believe that Lee was searching for skis at the top of the cliff when he fell, Chadwick said. It appears he was alone at the time.

Chadwick said the area where Lee fell is separated from the ski area by two rope barriers and signs advising of the danger of cliffs.

JL’s former college pastor in Bellingham remembers Mr. Lee who was a missionary in Thailand.  Deep condolences to JL and his family. 

My temptation is to want to “fix” things. I can’t fix them.  I can just be present to come alongside these moments of deep pain and questioning.  While it may not always soothe the immediate pain, our source of hope and meaning is in knowing that God through his son Jesus Christ ultimate has fixed things.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, “For Thy sake we are being put to death all day long; we were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 8:36-39

Filed under: christianity, religion

5 Responses

  1. Dan Price says:

    Eugene,
    I’m a co-pastor with Noel Heikkinen at Riverview in Michigan, and I’m sorry to hear about all the loss. I feel the same way many times. I wish I could fix things for people, but that’s not my job and it’s not usually going to get “fixed” like we think it should.
    Hang in there. Praying for you this morning.

  2. Randall says:

    When I heard about JL’s father this past Friday, it was from others in our Cgroup. We’re all still kind of shocked and aren’t sure what to do or how to help apart from praying and voicing support through a card that was being passed around at last night’s Christmas party.

    To be honest, I’ve never really liked Christmas (the kitsch and the way everyone turns into retail animals) and this has made a difficult Christmas even harder but Advent is lovely because we are reminded to “rejoice, rejoice, Emanuel has come to thee, o Israel” (and to the rest of the world) and in his birth here on earth we are reminded (as you reminded us last week) that God left the splendor of heaven to commune with us on this dark planet. Because he loves us that much.

    No, we can’t fix things but you know, even though Christ could have fixed everything while he was here, he somehow saw that it was more important to just be here with us for a while. And maybe that’s a message for us – that being there (which is something we can do) is as important as miracle fixes (which we can’t).

  3. Jeff Mangum says:

    Eugene, my heart goes out to you and your church. Amazing how pain and suffering has this beautiful refining process…yet how painful that pain really is. Keep journeying through my friend.

  4. Mrs.K. says:

    Something else from Romans: Romans 5:3-5 “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.”

    Pastor, you are dearly loved by God. I have greatly enjoyed getting to know you and your church through the internet, even though I’m sixteen hours away in BC. I grew up south of Seattle, so I feel a kindred spirit in some of your musings (the ones relating to Seattle…they make me miss it). Thanks for keeping up God’s work.

  5. […] service, I was surprised to run into JL and his mother.  I wrote a brief blog entry about them and the tragic loss of JL’s father.  They had trekked down all the way from Bellingham…with the hopes…of worshipping and […]

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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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