Eugene Cho

an update on global poverty organization

Things are s-l-o-w but moving forward.  After 7 years of Quest and 6 years into Q Cafe and enjoying the fruits of these labor, I confess that I had forgotten how hard it is to start something new.  I had forgotten how incredibly painful and arduous the first years were.  They were really hard.

I just assumed that with my vision and passion, a few letters, some of our connections, write to a few local papers, send out a few emails to friends and supporters and BAM – instant momentum and birth to a world class global grassroots organization that fights global poverty.

Sometimes, I can be so damn stupid & self-reliant.  Forgive me Lord.

Here are some stuff that’s going on and ways you can be praying for our family as we go through this transition:

  1. All documents are filed.  Now, we are just waiting word from the IRS regarding our 501(c)3.  We’re hoping that it will be issued to us in about six more weeks.  That’s the earliest we’ll get it.
  2. Fundraising has been really difficult and slow.  Mainly because of #1.  It doesn’t help that we’re going through some painful economic downturn – just like in 2000-2001 when we started Quest.  I tend to have horrible timing.
  3. We’ve selected a real estate agent and hope to have our home listed by the 2nd week of July and sold by the end of August.  Trying not to be anxious but the real estate market isn’t doing too well – even in Seattle. 
  4. We’re still trying to find someone to sublet the home we’re currently living in from the end of June to August 18.  Let us know if you know of anyone who’s looking for a furnished home for about 8 weeks.  Usually, we’d just ask couple folks to watch the home for us but we need the funds.
  5. Finally have the guts to sell my mid-life crisis car.  If you know someone who’s looking for a sweet first year 1989 Miata classic convertible, it’s advertised via Craigslist. 
  6. We’re still looking for office space for our organization.  Have not been able to hire any staff but I have couple of committed volunteers and they’ll eventually be recruiting the next tier of volunteers soon.  Know of any ideas for office space?  Any cheap or freebies? 
  7. Our first meeting to introduce our vision to people who are interested will take place next weekend.  More info to come.
  8. People have many questions and so I’ll attempt to answer some of them in a post next week.
  9. We’re leaving for our sabbatical on June 23 and heading off to Korea.  We were hoping to visit various countries but that’s looking like a no-go.  My trip to Haiti will be postponed to August or September and hoping to do another trip to Africa or India with Minhee.  But at this point, who knows?  Will try to rest a little and work passionately to launch this organization.  Not thinking and worrying about church for 3 months will be refreshing in itself.
  10. We’ll be fine.  But do pray for us and we genuinely ask for help as we get this started.  Soon, we’ll share 3 simple things you can do to help us launch this organization.

One of the most common questions I get is, “Why do you need to start another organization?”

Why?  Because I honestly believe we need to have thousands more – provided they are efficient and have integrity.  Why are people so disturbed about starting new organizations?  The issue of global poverty is so vast, complex, and arduous that many organizations – on many layers, from different angles, and with diverse philosophies need to be involved.

Seven years ago when Minhee and I planted Quest Church, nearly every pastor and leader kept asking the same question, “Why do you need to start a new church?”

Why?  Because Seattle needs hundreds of more churches…

 Why are so many so skeptical and cynical?  

How will you give?  Who will you give to?  Why do you give?  How do you determine?  What are your criteria?  How do you trust these people?  How can you make an impact?  How do you ensure integrity?  Are you just putting a band aid on?  Why are you doing this?  Yada yada yada. 

They are all good questions.  But this is what Minhee and I dream and pray about:

We want to raise funds by creating a global movement of simple generosity.  Raise awareness and connect people to stories around the world.  Raise funds.  Distribute those funds.

We believe that many local indigenous men and women [and ex-pats] are already on the ground doing amazing things to fight global poverty and restore human dignity.  Many of them are orgs and movements you have NEVER heard of.  But nevertheless, they are doing beautiful things. They have history.  They have credibility.  They have respectability.

We want to go to these small organizations all around the world that are working in the areas that UNICEF have long considered key factors in fighting global poverty and we want to ask them a very simple question:

“How can we help you?”

That question is not intended to sound like arrogant Westerners but to simple say: “You are doing great work.  How can we support what you are doing?  How can we help?”

That’s it.

Filed under: family, religion

7 Responses

  1. Mike says:

    I’ve been thinking similar thoughts for a while now… we’ll be watching with interest from north of the border.

  2. Kacie says:

    Hey Eugene, I know you follow the news from Burma with interest, and I just found this blog from one of the organizations that was in Burma pre-cyclone.
    http://blog.theirc.org/tag/myanmar/

  3. DK says:

    Hey. Take heart and be encouraged. Just as God has blessed your passion and labor at Quest, He will bless your passion with this new endeavor.

    Fix your eyes on Christ. Make sure that your heart is focused on Him and it’ll all work out.

  4. Jason says:

    I think behind the question of “why?” that you get is probably equal parts cynicism, skepticism, and just plain “overwhelmed by it all.” In regards to the last one, globalization has caused us to be aware of not only how many problems there are but also how many people want us to join their organization to help them.

    On the skeptical note, I think the underlying question, whether it’s a new church or a new non-profit, is “Is this going to just shuffle people/money around or is it going to bring in new people/resources thereby expanding the possibilities?” In other words, does a new church just siphon Christians from an already good church or does it reach a neighborhood or people that weren’t being reached before? I think it’s a legit question which is why it’s probably important to highlight that you do hope to mobilize people to give via your vision of social connection and transparency that weren’t already going to give to some other non-profit.

  5. Linda says:

    Praise God that He has moved you and Minhee to trudge through the tough stuff to be His hands & feet!

    Er… good luck finding affordable airfare when country-hopping in the midst of travel season… I think we can pray for you about that too.

    Thank you for the prayers for me, by the way. That was a first for me, but it was truly empowering. It helped me clearly sense (acknowledge) the Holy Spirit

  6. eugenecho says:

    linda: we’re going to miss you at quest. it was a joy to have you here – even for a short season. i’m so glad we had a chance to pray for you as you trek out to kenya and alaska.

  7. Graham says:

    Why do we need to have loads of organisations? Because big organisations get fat, loose dynamism and very often become image obsessed. Many of the biggest NGO’s out there have basically become multi-million pound/dollar corporations, and allow people to give their money to “the poor”, i.e. that homogenous, faceless existence.

    I’d back what Jason says, by the way. Its easy to pilfer people, but that doesn’t make the situation a whole lot better, unless they really were supporting a dud cause. I like charities which have a localised approach at the Western/Northern end, because you can really challenge everyone in that area to give, and be more intensive in your pursuit of new donors.

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Grateful. Still reflecting on the letters that I've received from classmates and students that have come before me and after me. Never imagined all that God would have in store for me. Lots of humbling things but in the midst of them, there were literally thousands upon thousands of daily decisions and choices to be faithful. That's what matters. Seen or unseen. Noticed or unnoticed. You do your best and sometimes you stumble and fumble along but nevertheless, seeking to be faithful.

Also, you know you're getting old when your school honors you with a Distinguished Alumni Award. Lol. 47 is the new 27. Or something like that. Here's to the next 47. 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

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