Eugene Cho

caring: putting a “face” to the other

I had the privilege today to give a short chat in a class at Princeton Theological Seminary on the topic of justice and compassion and it’s intersection with the church.  The challenge of the church and its leaders is to raise the consciousness of the larger world – including the church – to a calling and purpose towards the reconciliation and restoration of ‘Shalom.’  We have to remind people that there are suffering and injustice in our cities and larger world – because many choose not to believe.  We know it’s there but we choose not to believe. 

We are competing against the principalities and forces of the world – compounded by the simple issue of human depravity – that prefers and chooses the stories of gossip and entertainment rather than the ways of Mercy, Justice, and Compassion.  The church struggles also with the church. We struggle with ourselves and our temptation to build up the Institution, Fame, and Programs of the church rather the elevate the Trinity and the work of the Larger Kingdom. 

Amongst many things that we can do, one that is absolutely critical is to put a “Face” to the other – or, to put a “story” to the other.  Everyone has a story: The victim, the victimizer, the suffering, the hungry, the homeless, the prostitute, the poor, and the list goes on.   On that note, today happens to be National Burma Day.  About two years ago, I was crossing a river from Thailand to Burma. I was preaching at a church in a Karen village in Burma.  I was playing and laughing with kids in a small village in Burma.  The experience was formative because it helped put a “face” and a “story” to the other.  

I’d like to share a face and a story with you through these videos.  10 minutes is what you need to view these two videos.  My invitation is to simply encourage you to CARE:  whatever the cause.  whatever location in the world.  whatever the issue of compassion or justice. 

Care.  And as you learn the faces and stories of the other, become an Advocate and share their faces and stories.

I was first introduced to the situation in Burma through a U2 song called, Walk On which was inspired and dedicated to Aung Sun Suu Kyi, ‘leader’ of Burma who’s been under house arrest the majority of the time since 1989. Couple friends at Quest through organizations called World Aid and Free Burma Rangers shed more light in the situation through the personal convictions. A year ago, I actually had an opportunity to travel to Burma [via Thailand and ‘illegally’ w/o a visa but that’s another post]. One of the highlights was preaching at a Karen church in Burma (just across the border from Thailand). I remember a conversation I had with one of the Karen ‘teachers’ in their make shift school system. She was young, intelligent, and a believer of Jesus Christ. She responded with these words in her broken English, “I stay because I believe in Jesus and I must fight for my people.”

The visit to Burma was eye opening and heart convicting. The recent events have embarrassed me as I consider how distant my heart had grown to this and other injustices around the world. Consider the following documented statistics:

The U.S. State Department and two credible NGOs found in 2002 that Burma’s military regime is using rape as a weapon of war.

There are approximately 1,600 political prisoners in Burma, including 38 elected members of parliament.

Millions of Burmese have been pressed into what the International Labor Organization, a United Nations agency, calls “a modern form of slavery”.

More persons died from landmines in Burma in 2002 than any other country in the world.

Burma is ranked “Not Free” by Freedom House’s international reports.

Burma was ranked the fifth most repressive government in the world by Parade Magazine.The Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act of 2003, which passed the U.S. Congress overwhelmingly, found that Burma’s regime is using ethnic cleansing against Burma’s ethnic peoples.

Praying for an end to the violence and a beginning to a new democracy and diplomacy. To learn more about the situation and ways to ACT, visit the following links:

Filed under: quest church, religion, , , ,

3 Responses

  1. Daniel says:

    Thank you for that challenge.

  2. Ron says:

    As someone who has only recently decided to live up to the challenge of loving His church (there is pain there that I have been afraid to face until now), this continues to be the most frustrating thing. I want to love my brothers and sisters, but I cannot accept complacence. I know that while I feel called to work in international development, not everyone is – but at the same time I struggle to accept as genuine a faith that is ok with the status quo. In short, I’m wondering why so many are afraid to be challenged? Did we not understand what we were getting into when we became Christians?

    The hardest part is challenging out of love, not anger. Thank you for the challenge.

  3. […] Rich and Teresa Norman from Quest helped start a church community for refugees from Burma including the Karen and Chin people.  The group has since grown to over 100 people the last time I heard including tons of young […]

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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

my tweets

  • Someone tell Steph Curry that he's the MVP because he's playing a lot like me in my rec league. || 8 hours ago
  • .@SeattleQuest recently hosted Kenneth Bae (Prisoner 103). He was detained in DPRK for 735days. WATCH his testimony: vimeo.com/167680426 || 1 day ago
  • RT @seattlequest: Suffering is a short cut to God's heart. Even if your circumstances don't change, God is always w/ you. - KennethBae http… || 2 days ago
  • Oh Lord, You love North Korea, Syria, Iraq, Congo, Nigeria, Turkey and ______. You love the nations. Give us Your heart for the world. Amen. || 3 days ago
  • Please remember and pray for Pastor Lim Hyeon Soo who was sentenced for life in North Korea. goo.gl/VvuyQs https://t.co/XonidqDlhb || 3 days ago
  • If the grass looks greener on the other side...stop staring, stop comparing, stop complaining & start watering the grass you're standing on. || 4 days ago

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