Eugene Cho

an update on our global poverty initiative

from flickr

I hope that while this entry topic might not be as alluring as your top search engine topics like Britney Spears and Barack Obama, you’ll take a few minutes to read up the progress of our global poverty organization.  This has been one of the most humbling seasons of our life.  When we went public with our vision to give our year’s salary to start this poverty initiative, we had absolutely no idea about what was in store with the financial crisis and meltdown.  Our convictions have been tested but each time we think about how “bad” we have it, we’re reminded of the grave situation for the poorest of the poor – those affected by “extreme global poverty.”

Here’s 5 Updates on our Progress:

  • FACEBOOK.  On Friday, December 5, our Facebook Group – which can be accessed at http://fightglobalpoverty.com – surpassed 200,000 members.  It’s pretty amazing considering we started the group on May 15, 2008.  While there are no guarantees if folks will ultimately support our organization, it confirms our aspiration for our initiative in helping change the world:

Human Relationships + Technology + [Vision] = Movement

  • IRS.  Early last week, we received word that the Internal Revenue Services is now finally processing our application.  As we suspected [and was notified by the IRS], it has taken six months for them to get to our application and we hope to soon receive good news of our official 501(c)(3) issuance.  However, we’ve also confirmed that all donations are tax-deductible [retroactive] once we receive our 501(c)(3) so we’ll go ahead and deposit some of our donations next week.  So, your donations are tax-deductible.
  • THE HOUSE.We’re currently renting to own our current home.  To help make our year pledge, we have placed our ‘rental home’ on the market.  Unfortunately, it’s been sitting on the market for about five months in this current horrible housing debacle.   Because we’ve had our renters move out in the Fall with hopes of having a clean and staged home to lure buyers, we’re current mired in some financial stress.  It’ll all be ok.  While we’re still praying for a buyer of the home, we now need to try to find renters to avoid further trouble.  We hope to rent out for about 6-9 months or when the housing market improves but are still committed to selling the sucker to help fund the organization.
  • VOLUNTEERS.Our one part-time staffperson needed to get a full-time job since we were not in a position to offer employment.  Another person, a lawyer, has been donating a few hours/week to help us with all of our paperwork.  It’s possible that we’ll need to hire a part-time administrator in the upcoming year while still doing our part to conserve our limited funds.
  • DONATIONS.   With a few letters we’ve sent out and through this blog, we’ve raised over $42,000  in checks and pledges.  While some have expressed the possible inability to honor their pledges [in light of the financial crisis or unemployment], we’re still very thankful for the women and men that have chosen to support us.  If you’re interested in receiving our Vision & Support letter, you can send me an email at eugene@seattlequest.org.

How You Can Help?

  • Join our Facebook Group and invite as many people as possible.  We’ve started this group to raise awareness and mobilize people when we launch the group.  Please share the group on your status, posted items, etc.
  • Please keep us in prayer.  It’s been a tough and humbling time.  Several weeks ago, Minhee and I were feeling pretty down but we know it’s going to work out but I needed to get over things not working out the way I wanted.  What’s new?  Specifically, keep the 501(c)(3) process and the home rental/sale in prayer. Here’s our Craigslist Ad for the rental if you know someone looking for a home.
  • Consider making a donation.  I have no qualms inviting and challenging people to join us.  We’ve pledged our year’s salary – $68K in 2009 – and additional funds over the next few years to total $100K.  And we invite you to join us in seeding this vision.  We’re hoping to raise an additional $100,000 and we’re about 42% there. The vision letter will explain why we believe it has the capacity to make an impact.  You can also make secure online donation here:

photo: from Flickr photographer

Filed under: seattle, technology, , , , , ,

16 Responses

  1. Sue says:

    Eugene,
    Thanks for keeping us updated. I read your vision letter last month and am excited for what you guys are trying to do. We are not in a position to give right now but will do so when you start your website. Be encouraged!

  2. jason says:

    Have you thought about widgets? I was thinking about adding a widget on my blog and making a post about your cause. If you could drop me an email with the info that would be cool.

  3. Christine says:

    Congratulations on reaching 200,000 people on your group. I was thinking how awesome it would be if each person even gave $10 to fight poverty. That’s 2 million dollars.

  4. […] might be a redneck if from Ben WItherington Defining “missional” with Michael Frost Learn more about what Eugene Cho is doing – This guy doesn’t ignore emails from people, even little people like me. Looking to speed up […]

  5. Pete Wilson says:

    Can’t believe I hadn’t joined the Facebook group yet. I’m in now!

    Praying for you guys Eugene!

  6. DK says:

    What you guys are doing is phenomenal. Don’t give up. Things will get better.

  7. jason says:

    you have been given an award on me blog

  8. Tom says:

    On the same page.

    I’m in the middle of creating an incubator for innovative non-profit approaches to serving the poor.

    Too many people–even many Christians–are panicking. Markets are down 30% but confidence has dropped far more.

    So we’ll probably end up with people losing a third of their wealth while cutting off 100% of their giving.

    I’m just wondering why so few people in the progressive Christian community are talking about all this other than Sojourners.

    We keep talking about gay marriage and abortion while most people are desperate to hear something about what to do about their fears about money.

    You’re one of the few online folks I know that are addressing the financial fear.

    It almost seems like many online evangelicals think this will all go away if we just pretend it’s not happening.

  9. […] examined, explored, researched, analyzed, and criticized–yet. Inspired to Action, Flowerdust, Eugene Cho and others often call our attention to opportunities to make a real difference in the world—do […]

  10. […] Poverty Org.  This is my “biggest goal” for the upcoming year.  It’ll take the most work, […]

  11. Patrick K says:

    In the description for your facebook group it says that you’ll donate $1 for every person that joins. Is this a promise you can keep?

  12. LH says:

    Hi Eugene, I find your blog most moving, honest and inspiring ~ that in the face of the changing climate you still plan to honour you pledge. And yes of course our level of poverty compared those we seek find support and solutions for as their own stability is unthinkable as the 30,000 or more children under the age of 5 are dying of lack of food, … Read Morewater, medicine day in and day out. It is as you say good to remind ourselves of our blessings even in changing times and by reaching out to each other & creating support here now, can only make us more connected to those we wish to help. I hope that your endevours find the support you need in volunteers & the donations you need from those who still can adjust to living more frugally and without fear. Meanwhile, we have to see how to raise each other up by being there for each other and offering any solution or support we can muster up. As one global community we can thrive even if it is a kind word and helping each other in the smplest ways

  13. eugenecho says:

    @jason: we’ll get widgets ready when we launch the website. one of our goals is making ‘spreading the word’ as accessible as possible.

    @patrick: when my wife and i started the group, our goal was to get close to 100,000 people since we were pledging 100K. we’re still going to pledge 100K but the 501c3 application has taken longer than our initial guess of 2 months. subsequently, the group has grown and continues to grow. we’re raising additional funds and we’re going to try to raise as much funds as possible.

  14. kate says:

    i definitely baked a cake that said “happy 501c3” when ours became official….crazy long process. sounds like you’re getting close though!!

  15. […] have some both good and bad news to share during this Feb/March update.   As I shared in the December ‘08 update, this has been one of the most humbling seasons of our life. When we went public with our […]

  16. […] I have some both good and bad news to share during this Feb/March update.   As I shared in the December ‘08 update, this has been one of the most humbling seasons of our life. When we went public with our […]

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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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