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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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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