Eugene Cho

christmas in community

I had intended to write my family’s official Christmas and 2007 Year in Review letter today.  But, as it turned out, there was no time.  It was an emotionally draining but yet, hopeful day on this Christmas Eve.  I will eventually get to the letter at another time.

Early this morning, I received word that the young couple in our church who we’ve been praying for some time had lost their baby.  Their son was born prematurely in the 24th week and three minutes later, the baby past away.  With heavy hearts, Minhee and I spent this afternoon with this couple to mourn and grieve with them and to offer a word of hope. 

The Hope I speak of is not one that I share lightly or flippantly in response tragedy, pain and suffering.  This Hope is the one testified in the gospel of the Scriptures and embodied in the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  This Hope is given to us – again and anew – in this Christmas season – in the Birth of Jesus Christ.  It is a Hope that passeth human understanding…Hope that cannot be separated even by death.

Our church, Quest, hosted our first ever Christmas Eve service tonight.  Honestly, I didn’t initially have the energy or motivation to go and was skeptical since we weren’t expecting too many folks to show.  But when 7pm rolled around, I was stunned to see nearly 200 people walk through the doors.  I had no responsibilities tonight but to simply welcome people and extend Christmas greetings.

As the hour gathering progressed, I was immensely thankful for the profound joy of expressing hope in COMMUNITY.  Hope for healing.  Hope for mercy and compassion  Hope for justice.  Hope for the end of human suffering.  Hope for peace.  Hope for the end of global poverty.  Hope for reconciled relationships. 

Hope for the return of Jesus.

After the 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 hopesof worshipping and celebrating the birth of Jesus…in COMMUNITY. 

I shed more tears today on Christmas Eve than I had ever imagined and ever hope to.  But today, probably more than any other Christmas season before, His presence was evident.   It was “good” because it was shared in community.

Build up, enjoy, nurture, serve, and love your communities – whoever and wherever they may be.  Merry Christmas.

Filed under: family, religion, , ,

13 Responses

  1. chenster22 says:

    wow, did not know. will be praying.

  2. Andy Larsen says:

    May that hope and the peace of Christ continue to sustain you. You have been a tremendous blessing to us this year. Looking for to a new chapter this coming year.

  3. Tess says:

    Thank you for sharing with such poignancy. Merry Christmas to you and your family as we celebrate the HOPE of Christ.

  4. Wayne Park says:

    we’re so sorry to hear about the loss of the child. It’s heart-rending…
    I’m glad JL got to make it w/mom to church on Sun… glad they got to be with the community that helps them back on their feet….
    It is indeed poignanat that Christmas was spent more in tears than in celebration but… somehow makes more sense.. .gotta go – little a’s crying…

  5. dashed says:

    while i’m sad to hear about the losses of ppl in your community, i have to fight not to call you a liar when you talk about this hope. i don’t see how you can believe such a thing. i don’t see hope as something separate from death – death is the only hope there really is.

  6. BK says:

    Eugene,

    How do some of these folks get on your blog?

  7. Dan Hauge says:

    Really appreciate this post, Eugene. Not much more I can say about that. In the case of dashed, I actually appreciate how you’ve expressed yourself, it sounds very honest and not mean-spirited (unlike one or two other posts on this blog have been). Sometimes I feel exactly the same way. And I’m tempted to try and answer with something from my own faith journey, but right now I’ll refrain and just let it sit.

  8. Dan Hauge says:

    Oh, and when I said one or two other ‘posts’ have been mean-spirited, I meant to say ‘comments’, and not ‘posts’. I don’t think Eugene has ever been mean-spirited–Gotta get my blog lingo right.

  9. Danielle Ritchey says:

    Thank you so much for your post! I really appreciate it! I too am learning that the only hope we really have is in Christ Jesus!

  10. dashed says:

    dan, thank you for hearing me the way you did. upon re-reading my previous post, i can totally understand how it would come across horribly. i wrote it out of a place of bare honesty and despair – perhaps not the right thing to communicate here. i’m sorry to anyone that i might have offended.

  11. e cho says:

    dashed: no need to apologize.

    i’m just sure if calling me a liar was the clearest summation of your feelings. maybe, you meant delusional?

    i do believe in such hope. i am not lying about that so you must think i’m delusional and that’s ok.

    regardless, i wish you a happy new year.

  12. dashed says:

    eugene – you called it right. i don’t think you are a liar, i don’t think that is your heart. i think i had a visceral kind of reaction to something that i see as brutally false, and like i said, i had to “fight to not call you a liar”. that was too personal and i didn’t intent to attack you… i guess i do see you as delusional, in a sense, and i’m probably making all sorts of assumptions about how much you must not have experienced in order to believe such a thing. it is beyond hard for me to understand.

    thank you for your good wishes in spite of my words, and i return them as well

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One Day’s Wages

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Checking out Canada in case I need to move up North after the presidential election. Just saying, eh.

Downtown Toronto. Fascinating architecture. Amazed by the diversity of this city. We desperately want our children to not just be captivated by the beauty of creation...but more importantly, to the actual Creator of all that is good and beautiful.

Actually, we want and need this truth for our souls, too. What a privilege. This isn't possible without all those who give, pray, and support the work of @onedayswages. This week, I signed and mailed grants to three partner organizations totaling over $170,000. These grants will empower people by supporting maternal health care, refugee relief efforts, access to clean water, provide education, etc.

Sometimes, the brokenness of the world feel so overwhelming but let's keep running the race with endurance. Let's keep pursuing justice, mercy, and humility. Let's be faithful and may we be spurred on to keep working for God's Kingdom...on earth as it is in heaven.

Again, thank you so much for your support for @onedayswages! My wife, Minhee, and I stand on the shoulders of praying mothers. I'd like to take a moment to honor my mother-in-law. It's hard to put words together to embody her life but she is a very special, anointed person. I'm so blessed to have her as a mother in my life.

She was a devoted wife until she lost her husband to cancer, mother to three daughters, and later became a pastor. She became a follower of Christ as an adult and as such, led her her family to Christ. In her late 50s, she obeyed God's calling to go to seminary and be a leader in the church. She graduated #1 in her class and reminded us that it's never too late to follow a new dream or calling.

As she'll soon celebrate her 80th birthday, I'm especially grateful for the ways that she poured into and prayed over Minhee and her other children.  Even though she's officially retired, I'm inspired that the concept of retirement is not in her vocabulary.  She continues to serve the local church, evangelize and bear witness to Christ, and goes to the early morning prayer meeting at 5am everyday to pray for our family, our church, and for others. 
Jangmonim, we love and honor you. 어머니, 사랑합니다.

Someday, I hope that when my kids speak of Minhee and I...above all, they would say with integrity that their parents prayed for them and kept pointing them to Christ. On this Mother's Day, I want to take a few words to honor mother.

There’s a moment from a few years ago that will stick with me until the day I die. It’s regarding Sung Wha, my mother.

Minhee and I were at a point of transition, between working at an ethnic Korean church in the northern suburbs of Seattle called Lynnwood and launching Quest in urban Seattle. As I shared earlier, I was in desperate need of a job. I had a mortgage to pay. A pregnant wife. A kid at home. 
Then, praise God, after months without work, I finally landed a job.

My mom was in between jobs at this point in her life. She was in her late fifties, but she had such bad knees and degenerative hips that it was, and is, difficult for her to walk. My mom is like a human barometer—when a storm is coming and when it rains, her hips throb. Although my parents lived in San Francisco, she was visiting us in Seattle to encourage us in this difficult season.

As I prepared to go to work one early morning, I walked downstairs to put on my jacket and shoes, and forgot that my mother woke up early every morning to pray. In fact, she had been praying for months that I would find a job. “Eugene, where are you going?” she said when she saw me.

I hadn’t told my mother the news that I had just recently been hired for the janitorial gig at Barnes and Noble. I chose not to because I thought she and my father would be devastated. I didn’t want them to think that after laboring, sacrificing, and doing so much for us over all those years that their son had failed them.

But I couldn’t lie to her, so eventually I told my mom that I got a job and was going to work. “Great! What job? What are you doing?” “Um, I’m working at Barnes and Noble as their custodian,” I said finally.

Without asking another question, my mother got up from the dining table where she had been reading her Bible and praying. She slowly walked slowly toward me.

She approached me, then walked past me without saying a word, and I realized she was headed toward the closet. She opened the closet door, put on her jacket, turned around and said to me (in Korean), “Eugene, let’s go together. I will help you.” This is my mother. I love all the free amazing views in our Evergreen State. #RattlesnakeLedge

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