Eugene Cho

trying to re-live the past

I’ve spent the past couple days in Princeton, New Jersey and will be returning to Seattle shortly.  I so much enjoy returning to Princeton for various reasons.  I went to grad school here at Princeton Seminary and Minhee and I began our marriage here before we trekked out to Seattle.  But mostly, I return to Princeton as often as I can because of REGRETS.  Watch the video reflection for my explanation and enjoy the pics. 

I was 21 when I entered seminary.  I breezed through college in 3 years and just wanted to get through seminary as fast as I could.  Now 38, I wish I knew then what I know now.  Sigh.  I would have enjoyed and learned so much more.  Whatever season you are in: student, worker, transition between jobs, stay at home mom or dad, or whatever…learn to find beauty and meaning in the mundane and daily.   

You have some regrets too, right?

And for your enjoyment, some pics of the incredibly beautiful campuses of Princeton Seminary and University:

Filed under: , family, religion, ,

24 Responses

  1. Pastor,

    When the email went out for a student driver to pick you up from the airport, I immediately volunteered. I did so because after having followed your ministry for a few years now I really wanted to spend even just a few minutes one on one… and here you didn’t have a choice! I wish I had talked less about myself and asked more questions of you. Maybe I’ll get another chance to buy you a cup of coffee one day, and hear more of your story.

    I hope you had a great visit here, and I know our community was enriched by your presence. Thanks for the video, too… especially at this point in the semester, it was a welcome message. Thank you for sharing a little bit about your family and background. I will pray for you, your wife and children, and your ministry. Please continue the incredible work you are doing in Seattle.

    -Aaron Twitchell

  2. Thanks for the honest reflection and for the reminder to fully engage in the present and enjoy it for what it is now. May we find a redeeming value in experiences like yours at Princeton.

  3. Tyler says:

    well said. thanks for the reminder.

  4. Daniel says:

    Great video Eugene and a great reminder.

  5. Emily says:

    I started seminary at 21, too, and graduated two years later. Now (less than five years later), I have the same regrets of wishing that I had taken more time to soak-up the opportunities to learn and grow. I did enjoy it as much as I could, but my husband and I were dating long-distance, and I just couldn’t wait to finish so I could move back home and get married. Marriage has been great, but soon after graduating I realized everything I had left behind and wished I had taken more time to get through my program rather than going through it as fast as I could. Even just having a few more years of life experience under my belt, I get everything on a deeper level than I did in school, I see the real-life application of what we were studying that I just couldn’t as a new college grad. Now I would kill for the opportunity to sit through another class, and I wish I could just go back and do it all over again because I would learn and appreciate it so much more.

  6. Sarah H says:

    Thanks for your honest reflection. I often advise people to wait a little bit after undergraduate before coming to seminary because those that do approach it differently. As I am nearing the end of my seminary education, I am so thankful for the process that this has been. Yes, there have been a few “hoops”, but overall I have had a lot of self-reflection, processing, and have made life long friends to journey with me along the way that I know will make me a better pastor. Last year I wasn’t at all ready to be done. Now, I am ready and looking forward to the next season God has for us.

  7. jason says:

    very timely post…i just happen to be in a season where I needed this encouragement…

    okay now that I have unlurked myself…[is that even a word?]…..been reading this blog for a while….great stuff here

  8. eugenecho says:

    @aaron: hey, thanks for picking me up at the airport and taking me to hoagie haven. 🙂 i did have a good visit. let me know when you’re back in seattle.

    @emily: where did you go to seminary?

    @jason: glad you unlurked. welcome…

  9. daniel so says:

    Eugene — Thank you for these timely and encouraging words. I always feel the same way about my time at Princeton. I would gladly jump at the opportunity to do it again and really *be* there. I was so caught up in the “real” ministry of serving as a youth pastor and trying to get ‘er done and get out of town, that I wasn’t really there either. As a student, a learner, a listener and as a friend, I would want to approach things very differently. About the only thing I would do the same is meet my amazing wife there! 🙂

  10. wayne park says:

    oddly i regret taking too much time to finish school. now in my 30’s i often ask why in the h did i take so long?

  11. Jennifer says:

    Wayne,

    I entered seminary in my 30’s and have often thought that I am getting much more out of it now than I would have in my 20’s. This wouldnt be true for everyone, but it sure is for me. I’m a year and a half into a 4 year program, and I’m already wondering if I’ll really be ready to leave when its over. I’m soaking in every bit.

  12. Emily says:

    I went to the Institute for Spiritual Formation at Talbot School of Theology. (that’s a mouthful!)
    http://www.biola.edu/spiritualformation/programs/

  13. Jon says:

    Wow. I kind of have the same feeling like what you said when i was in bible college. I was more into finishing it and moving on because I was concerned with my age. I was 24 when i was in bible college by the way. Your advice is right on!

  14. Hi Eugene, I came to this video through God’s Politics links where I also blog every so often. The Princeton chapel in the video looks just like the one at Eastern Seminary in Philly where I attended, which looks just like the one at Asbury Seminary where I also attended…so my first impressions of the video were nostalgic (but also a bit creepy when I think of why they all look alike).

    I breezed through my first two years at Eastern in the way you said. The summer before my last year I became a single dad and was forced through personal pain and reflection to notice the beauty and love coming from all the people around me. I learned much more that last year than the two prior because I think I was ready to learn.

    I also went through four years at Asbury on the slowed down friendly pace. Sure, lots of people sped by me but there were also some profs, fellow students and others who acted like real people with lives and feelings. It was great! I’m now teaching adjunct at George Fox Seminary in Portland and I see students choosing both ways…I hope I am there for the ones who want the less fast track..

    I just want to chime in as one who learned this lesson early and can attest to the rewards of practicing being a human being while in seminary. The dividends come in a sorts of ways, and really didn’t effect my grades probably by more than 2/10 of a point-which I can live with. Thanks for the space. I hope we can connect sometime.

  15. Recently I’ve been regretting the number of relationships that I obliterated in the varying stages of pious arrogance that encompassed my Sophomore and Junior years of college. I really made some mistakes that I wish I could undo. 😦

  16. mike says:

    I’m glad to have stumbled across your blog. I don’t know about most people, but I think I am defined by failure and regret, not by my so-called successes. By the way, one of the priests at the orthodox parish where my wife and I worship is a Princeton Seminary school grad. Does the name Danny Reese ring a bell? This parish, by the way, is mostly comprised of evangelical ex-pats with a few Catholics and Episcopalians thrown in just to make it interesting. I fowarded a link to the Angry Asian web site to my oldest son, Sam, who is a junior at Gonzaga. He’s Korean, as are my other two kids.

    Warms regards!

  17. eugenecho says:

    hmm. i didn’t intend this to be about just about regrets & reflections about bible college and/or seminary but very interesting comments.

    @mike: i do like the thoughts about us being defined by both our “failure and regret.” i think even that takes a certain level of wisdom to get to that point.

  18. Vicar of Grace says:

    Eugene. Thanks. Regret and Gratitude can co-mingle. I was at Princeton from 80-82 and regret not staying longer or enjoying the challenge of being an Anglican in the land of Reform. I was there with Danny Reese. And Eugene, thanks for your work and honesty here in the “None Zone.” From my perch on Bainbridge Island I can almost see you lighting up the horizon in InterBay.

  19. Terri says:

    Thanks for the reminder, PE. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

  20. Stephen Mook says:

    I’m visiting Princeton for an interview next week after recently applying there.

    I’ll be remembering your words during this season.

    Thanks!

  21. stefan says:

    some of my friends went to hoagie haven this summer but i decided to get a burrito from some place across the street. that is my one regret.

  22. Kevin Sam says:

    Seminary for me seemed kind of slow. I did get to enjoy my friends, chapel and classes. Maybe because it was because I already got my masters so seminary was just a time to relax and soak in what I can. Now I’m getting ready to look for a call.

    Blessings to you,
    Kevin Sam

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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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