Eugene Cho

the closest i got to the olympics

I don’t share this too often because it’s a reminder of the ugly monster called the “fear of failure” that still occasionally creeps up in my life.

It’s good that I’m on sabbatical right now because my entire family and I got really consumed by the Beijing Olympics.  Actually, it was a great family bonding event – watching the events, cheering for athletes, learning about stories, and soaking in the Opening and Closing Ceremonies.  The Olympics were great but then again, when you [China] spend a total of 44 billion dollars on hosting the Olympics, it better be good.

Perhaps like many others, I had dreams of being a future Olympian when I was a young boy.  I grew up loving sports and still do. It was my escape for so many things including my identity crisis as an immigrant.  During middle school, interestingly enough,  I was voted both the shyest and most athletic person.  During high school, I lettered 9 times but the sport I most excelled in was fencing.  I was called “Little Flying Warrior” way before the Chinese game that nickname to Kobe Bryant. 🙂

In 1989, I qualified for the U.S. Junior Olympic Championships.  I had the future lined up.  I would make the U.S. Junior Olympic team, receive a Division I fencing scholarship, and eventually become an Olympian.  The problem was I never got to the 1st phase.  I lost in the quarterfinals and placed 21st in the Junior Olympics.  That was the closest I got to the Olympics.

I was pretty discouraged and quit fencing altogether later that year.  That competition was my last offical fencing bout.

Why did i quit?  Losing sucked and I was afraid to lose again.  I was afraid to fail and that fear of failure paralyzed me.  I have numerous regrets in my life and quitting fencing is one of them.  I can easily concede that I would have never made the Olympics.  Not even close.  But the consistent lessons I’ve learned then and now is that the process, experience, and journey is as, if not, more important than the end result.

While I do have my list of regrets, I’m trying to live my life with hopes of not adding too much to that list.  Here’s to our dreams, goals, and aspirations.  May we all continue to pursue them – in hopes of honoring Christ through our very lives.

Questions:

  • Want to share one or two of your regrets?
  • How about a dream or aspiration you hope to pursue?

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[photo from Getty Images]

Filed under: family, sports, ,

9 Responses

  1. JEN WALTERS says:

    PASTOR CHO, JUST WANTED TO TELL YOU HOW ENCOURAGING IT IS TO HEAR SOMEONE LIKE YOU WHO HAS ACCOMPLISHED SO MUCH TALK ABOUT HIS FAILURES. (EVEN THOUGH TO ME IT DOESN’T SOUND LIKE MUCH OF A FAILURE TO MAKE IT TO THE JUNIOR OLYMPICS) YOUR BLOG REALLY HELPS ME SEE THAT IM NOT THE ONLY ONE AFRAID OF DOING THINGS BECAUSE I MIGHT FAIL AT IT. I’M AT A CROSS ROAD RIGHT NOW WITH MY KIDS GETTING OLDER I CAN GO BACK TO WORK AFTER A LONG ‘BREAK’ LOL! OR GO TO SCHOOL. GULP! HOPE YOU AND YOUR FAMILY ARE FEELING RESTED FROM YOUR SABBATICAL, CANT WAIT TO HAVE YOU BACK. JEN WALTERS

  2. Randall says:

    A friend asked me once, “what do you regret more: the things you’ve done or the things you didn’t do?” And I think the question was more important than the answer. I keep it in the back of my mind and think about it when trying to make big decisions.

    Questions:
    Want to share one or two of your regrets?
    How about a dream or aspiration you hope to pursue?

    * I regret not pursuing that girl, thinking that nice guys just let them go…I mean I’m not stalker material but I really could/should have tried harder. Nuf said.
    * I want to change the world.

  3. Eddie says:

    I regret not writing more. I keep telling myself I’ll start a blog to get started. As for hopes and dreams, I guess it’s related to the first.

  4. miles says:

    Mahalo for the inspiration P.E. I guess there’s not a lot of aspirations that i don’t take risks or give up on. Is there a point when it works in reverse and you persue things too much? =-)

  5. Blake says:

    I regret choosing to not pursuing Tae Kwon Do any further when I was 7 or 8. I could have been a black-belt by the time I was 10 . However, I also don’t regret the choice I made to play in a softball with my best friends instead. Just wish I could have done both.

    I dream about getting my private pilot’s license one day and maybe using that to share the love of flying with inner city kids.

  6. Ben says:

    Given your b-ball court skills back in the days, I can certainly believe you had the athleticism to succeed at a high level in a number of sports.

    You also have a great talent at public speaking and being credible. I really do feel you’ve reached the Olympics in your field which to many (including myself) is greater than the athletic Olympics. Keep up the good work.

    Too bad Korea couldn’t get a W v. Cameroon.

  7. sis says:

    I once had numerous regrets, and adding them up, I felt like a failure. God has healed me. I am beginning to notice how God is now USING even my failures!

    1. I am LEARNING from past mistakes and regrets
    2. I am able to empathize with others at a deeper level
    3. I am witnessing how God is turning many of my failures around

    God is able to make drastic changes, and most of all, HE HAS CHANGED ME.

    Now isn’t that good, or what?

  8. Eugene, I love your blog, and I wish I had more free time to get over here more often. My big regret is wasting time thinking about my failures so that I’m afraid to try again. But I’m working on it! It’s been a rough couple of years for us. But I have to believe God has a plan somewhere in all this mess. Thanks so much for sharing.

  9. Jason Gee says:

    Eugene did u fence for lowell high? If so do u remember me as ur team? I have a request if u know any good coaches for a niece of mine.

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One Day’s Wages

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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) May our hearts break for injustice and exploitation - whether abroad or in our own backyard. Spending a few days for @onedayswages in Thailand. Along with one of our board members, I'm traveling with a group of 10 others to learn, listen and visit a few NGOs including one of our partners, @thefreedomstory. Couple days ago, we spent an evening walking through Soi Cowboy. On a given night, about 10,000 people are in the ring of prostitution in Soi Cowboy, Nana Plaza, and Patpong. Much of this is driven by the consumer demand. Approximately 70% of male tourists go to Thailand for the sex industry.

Human trafficking is complex. Anyone that says otherwise is lying or selling you something. 
To reduce it to simple terms, or simple problems, or simple solutions…cause harmful consequences. While we can all agree that it is sinful, egregious, evil, and wrong…there are many nuances and complexities. It would serve all of us to grow deep in the awareness not just of the larger issue but the nuances and complexities.

When people speak of human trafficking, they tend to be ‘attracted’ to the issue of sexual exploitation. Dare I say it, human trafficking has become trendy as a justice issue.

Clearly, it’s evil and egregious. But to reduce the entire issue of human trafficking into one form is not helpful. Because the mission is to fight the entire injustice of slavery. And if that’s the commitment, we have to not only combat sexual exploitation but engage in issues of poverty, forced labor, commercial exploitation in tourism, land rights and power abuses, organized crime networks, cultural and economic realities, etc.

Oh, it's so complex but we have to be engaged whether in Thailand or in our own backyards. May our hearts break for the things that break the heart of God... More thoughts to come.

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