Eugene Cho

“innerview” – 20th anniversary of brain tumor

Couple weeks ago, I shared the story of Chad who was celebrating 20 years of life after being diagnosed with a brain tumor at the age of 12.  This past weekend, we had a chance to “innerview” him and shared the video below at the Quest Church services.

As a pastor, I know I’m not supposed to have “favorites” but there’s something about Chad that just encourages my soul.  If you have six minutes, check out his story.  While it’s unique, it’s really like all of our stories…our need for community and Christ.

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Please take a few moments to read this story of hope, courage, and faith – not lived in isolation but in community.  Chad was diagnosed with brain tumor 20 years ago.  His future was uncertain but 20 years later, he has been a source of great courage, inspiration, and blessing to so many.

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I first “met” Chad over email.  He randomly emailed me years ago.  He introduced himself, shared he might be moving to Seattle from Chicago, and offered his friendship and prayers.  I thought he was weird until I finally met him and realized that his correspondence was genuine.  He is one amazing guy. I later met his fiancee and eventually had the privilege of flying out to Iowa to officiate their wedding.  Yes, some pastors have all the luck.

This month, Chad celebrated the 20th year anniversary of his brain tumor diagnosis that has forever changed his life.  He was twelve then and doctors were unsure what the future would hold for him.  But over the last 20 years, Chad has lived to bless so many people.  Last night, I had the privilege of joining a “celebration of life” with Chad and his wife, Melinda, their family, and a bunch of folks in the church community group.  With permission, I am sharing a gliimpse of his story as shared by his wife, Melinda and his family.  

Twenty years ago this month, Chad was diagnosed with the brain tumor that has changed our lives forever.   Your prayers through the years have sustained and strengthened each of us.  We have learned so much about God’s love through your friendship and acts of presence and love.  We have learned new ways to trust.   We know that God’s promises are true.  We thank you for your part in our lives, in the story of our faith.

 

God has answered many prayers along the way.  Chad completed high school.  The whole family went with him on his Make A Wish trip to France and visited old friends.  He went to college in Canada and in Chicago.  We all spent almost a year in Spain as he tried a form of acupuncture.  He earned a Masters’ in Family and Marriage Counseling with a Medical Crisis specialty in Seattle.  He got married to a wonderful woman named Melinda in August 2003, in Iowa.  They have lived in Seattle ever since.  Melinda has been a huge gift and support to Chad and a great gift to all the rest of us.  Chad has an interesting job.  As of September 2007 he has been working in the Bilingual Orientation Campus for junior high and high school students who’ve moved to Seattle from 40 different countries, and are learning to fit into the US school system.  He knows what it’s like to be different, to learn a new language and culture, and to stand out visually.

 

We continue to pray for physical healing for Chad, but we’re thankful for the ways God is using him in our lives to be a blessing.  People around the world have prayed for him.  What a strength that connection is!  What a common thread and connection prayer is!  We are so thankful!  And we continue to pray for Chad, as we pray for so many others who enter our lives.  The surrounding culture celebrates strength, independent action, beauty and ability; we have learned from Chad’s example to live with our weakness and God’s strength.  Chad has lived it before us.  He still sleeps with a machine to help him breathe, though the technology has improved and the machine is small and light.  He has a forearm brace named “Silver” for walks and a motorized cart for longer distances.  He still speaks softly, has some trouble swallowing, can’t feel the edges of his skin (like the bottoms of his feet, for instance), and has learned to live with spasms in the optic nerve that leave him in a fog, unable to see.  He is still stubborn and has a disarming, quirky sense of humor.  He is very human.

 

Please celebrate with us God’s gift of Chad’s presence.  His surgery was on April 28th, 1988.

Filed under: family

20 Responses

  1. Danny says:

    This is a beautiful story. I don’t know Chad personally but one of my dear friends was diagnosed with a brain tumor several years ago. I was so moved by her strength and hope. Reading this story reminds me of the power of hope, faith, and love.

    Congratulations Chad!

  2. chad says:

    Hey Chad! Congratulations on the milestone! I remember you quite well, you were so friendly and welcoming. You were one of the first people to make me feel welcome at Quest and I am so happy to have known you.
    Keep up the good fight man,
    -(the other) chad

  3. sam says:

    Chad is my friend! God bless Chad!

  4. Wow, it’s been 20 years? Way to go, Chad.

    If this is the same Chad I’m thinking of, I remember him from North Park. Good guy.

    (I’m assuming that it is because how many Chads would I know that had a brain tumor, went to college in Chicago, now lives in Seattle, and works in a program that I first heard about through my friend Darrell last year?)

  5. Jeff Lam says:

    chad’s been a source of encouragement & hope for my family and i, and i appreciate how he uses his story to bless others everyday.

  6. Wayne Park says:

    ditto on (the other) chad…
    you were kind, welcoming and embracing to us… when we first came out to Quest. I’d give my right arm for a few folks like u w/us up north.

  7. cho mama says:

    we are so thankful and proud of you!!!

  8. Eric Rager says:

    Praise God for His mercies and also for all the Glory He receives from the trials in our lives which He allows.

    I enjoyed the story, Chad. My son Matthew is about 10 months since his BT dx and we pray for the same future years for Him but must trust in God for His will since it is surely more wise than ours.

    May you and your family be blessed.

  9. georgesong says:

    i heart team cha-linda! 🙂

  10. Barbara says:

    Chad, you are a blessing to all of us. Your kindness and sensitivity in conversations during the merger and transition meant so much to all of us. Thanks to both you and Melinda for your loving presence at Quest.

  11. Your presence lights up a room. Your warmth is felt past the window sills. Your smiles makes me smile. 20 years. they go fast, eh? Be well, (loved) Kay

  12. brandonsneed says:

    Good story.

  13. CPT Tobin Dale says:

    Chad,
    Greetings from Fort Hood, Texas. You and your wife are an inspiration to those around you and those afar. I will see you this fall.

  14. Mleinda (wife of chad) says:

    Thank you, Eugene for sharing this. And thanks to all the people who send words of encouragement. We are so dependant on community and appreciate the people of Quest, our family, small group and other friends around the world who are praying for us and support us. May God continue to amaze us.

  15. Judy Anderson says:

    Yes, it’s true.
    We still pray for complete physical healing, as it tells us to do in the Bible. But God’s peace has been a huge part of this process, and the spirit of Love Jesus promised is true, true, true. The process of living is in the daily choices we make. Chad, you’ve helped us live life one day at the time, and enjoy it! We thank God for you, for Melinda, and for the community at Quest. Thanks, Eugene, for sharing the journey with us all!

  16. John Scott says:

    That’s amazing! Thanks for sharing.

  17. Ben says:

    You are the MAN Chad. 🙂 Thx for sharing

  18. aaron says:

    Thanks to Chad for sharing his story. I often notice how people who have encountered such difficult circumstances have gained a lot of wisdom and peace through their experience. I keep thinking about how Chad said he often does not want to be noticed, but I encourage him that his story is powerful and that others have so much to learn from him…. Your story is a blessing!!

  19. Jim and Kathie Liljemark says:

    This was forwarded by Bev and we so appreciated your story. What a reminder of your faith and walk with with Christ. We have sent the link to our children Heidi (in New Zealand) and Brady (in Chile).

  20. Tracy L. Hoctor says:

    This is such a heart warming story. Cody is blessed by God’s hand and I fully understand what his family has and is going through. I have a nephew (will be 12 in September) that has been dealing with brain tumors since he was 6. He has had 6 surgeries and currently looking at surgery #7. Cody has a growth on the stem of the brain that was dormant for almost 5 years. Though Cody has had to learn to ready and write numerous times he has never given up hope. My sister is blessed to live in Kremmling Colorado where the school system is wonderful. Cody is still attending school with the same classmates that he started with. Cody you are an inspiration to us all. God bless you.

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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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