couch surfing is not what i envisioned

Eights years ago, I endured through one of the most difficult seasons of my life.  I left my (then) current pastorate in hopes of planting a church called Quest but everything I had envisioned didn’t immediately come to pass. Instead of planting a church, I was working as a custodian scrubbing toilets, vaccuuming and struggling to provide for my (then) one child and pregnant wife. I still remember bitterly sobbing in my room one night and saying  a few choice words to God:

I am so angry at you. I feel like I lost control of my life.
(the PG version)

I learned through that experience that (again) I don’t have ultimate control over my life and prayed I would never go through anything like that again…

Well, I guess life has its seasons of unexpected turns. Nearly two weeks ago, I had to make one of the most difficult decisions of my life. It was a painful decision but consulted with my wife, and then informed our kids that because of some financial situations (and investment with One Day’s Wages), Dad & Mom had chosen to sublet our furnished home for couple months to some strangers and within 72 hours, we’d have to pack up some stuff and stay with some friends.

And for the past couple weeks, we’ve been “couch surfing” with one of my members of our church staff and living out of 3 suitcases. Seriously, I like to think of myself as adventurous and living on faith, but I could not have envisioned at the age 38 – placing my wife and kids in this situation.  And to be honest, had I known, I would never have gone forward with our pledge to give up our year’s salary in starting the vision of One Day’s Wages.  I wish that wasn’t the case but that is the truth…

Now that some days have passed, I feel a little more comfortable sharing this – not to elicit pity but in hopes that in some mysterious way, our season of struggle and unexpected turns may encourage at least one reader who is experiencing “things not going as planned.”

What I’m learning – again – is that despite our best laid plans and intentions, things don’t always work out the way we envision – and that’s OK.

A year ago, we envisioned starting One Day’s Wages, selling our rental home for top money to fund the vision & pay off debts, getting lots of support, getting on Oprah, chillin’ with Bono, funding hundreds of organizations doing amazing work…

Umm, not quite…  But nevertheless, we feel as convicted (and a little battered and bruised) and reminded in a fresh way that our hope is not in a vision, a donor, a website, or an idea, but ultimately, in the Lord who is the author of all such things…and the Lord who loves my children more than I can every imagine.

I hope folks don’t construe this as a circuitous request for personal financial help. No, but we do covet your prayers. Could you take couple minutes to lift up a prayer for my family and especially for me? There are moments when I feel like I’m drowning in these thoughts that I’m miserably failing my wife and kids. I love them so dearly that it hurts so much to place them in this situation. Needless to say, my male pride and ego has taken some shots.

It’ll all work out in the end – not the way I envisioned – but it’ll work itself out.

God has been gracious and I don’t doubt that He is using us to participate in His Kingdom works. Friends have been gracious to allow us to stay with them. Our church board and community has been gracious to our family. I wasn’t feeling this way two weeks ago when I had to make this decision but we are indeed thankful that we get to birth One Day’s Wages (official launch on October 20) and dream about collaborating with many of you, with thousands of organizations, and people around the world to empower folks to lift themselves out of poverty.

Thanks for your support and prayers.

There are times I wish my faith and thinking was indeed simple like my 6 year old son. In response to Minhee and I sharing about moving out, he responded with just one question:

“Can we take our Wii?”


Here’s the vision of One Day’s Wages

65 Replies to “couch surfing is not what i envisioned”

  1. Your vision and drive inspire me, and your words in this posting have blessed me. “things not going as planned” is, well… sucky! And something this youth pastor and soon to be father can completely relate too!

    It would be an honour to come to God on behalf of you and your family!

    Your blog Rocks!


  2. Just spent some time praying for you and your family Eugene. I can’t imagine what you’re going through. I’m praying for many things but felt very impressed to pray for the quick sale of your rental home, which I’ve heard you mention before.

    There are moments in ministry – and I’ve never even come close to experiencing what you are – that all we can hang onto is our calling. Praying that will remain clear and white hot for you my friend.

  3. Eugene, thank you for your honesty and being a real person. Too few people keep it real. Your words challenge and encourage; thank you. It would be an honor to pray for you and your family.

  4. Just prayed for you and your family. I’m sure we’ve all been there before. I can relate jobwise. I had been praying for a job, and last spring the Lord provided two jobs. A clear answer to prayer. I worked hard thanking God every day. Now, I may lose both of them due to funding issues with the state government. I’ve got about a month left till funding runs out. Hoping they’ll vote to pass the bill. I’m trying my best to trust God and I’m actively applying to other teaching jobs for the new school year. The Lord loves us. I hold the victory now.

  5. I have been praying and I will continue to do so.

    The way you wrote came as a personal encouragement to me since I had my own big struggles about much smaller issues today, and had a hard time to see the BIGGER PICTURE as you do.

    I was knee deep in dirt water, since outside there was severe flooding (we live ground floor), and I carried about a thousand liters of dirt water to the street, in order to prevent flooding in our home, but then gave up, crying and totally exhausted.

    It was after 4 hours when finally, the (professional) person whom I called for help, arrived with a water pump. One inch more rising of floodwater and it would have flooded our home.

    Late night I found out that this person intentionally came late, in order to frighten me, for the sake of personal gain.

    But reading your mail helped me to see things in perspective again. Thank you.

  6. Eugene, I’m glad you’re honest on here, and let me tell you how loudly your commitment to the missions of One Days Wages speaks. It’s one thing to commit money when you know you’re comfortable without, but to have watched as your commitment to helping fund the foundation is challenged to such extremes…. and you still stand by it… that’s awesome.

  7. Eugene, your post is such a blessing to me. I have recently come to understand that my insistence on blaming myself for life events that haven’t gone as I had planned is making it harder for the Lord to bless me. It is indeed difficult to relinquish control and walk in faith, especially when the path ahead seems so uncertain, and we are facing very real pressures to provide for others. Nonetheless, you are living out your convictions, and I know that the Lord will bless, and provide for, you and your family — better than you can imagine. May you experience God’s peace that “passeth all understanding.” I will continue to pray for you and your family.

  8. I understand wholly what you a talking about “Things Not Going As Planned”. I had conferred with God after being laid off in the Winter of 2005. He knew my passion and desire to have my own photography business. So I laid it all at before Him and told Him, “if this is not Your Will, then stop me, stop anything that wold help this progress. I was refinancing the house to start the business.

    Long story short and over $25,000 gone.. the business failed.. we had to file bankruptcy, and now the ARM loan had jump , so now we are reaping the effects of that.

    So, get a job, work there for a while then I get to enjoy the economic boom of 2009. I lose job in Feb.

    So here I sit, asking, where did I miss it, this can’t be it. This is not what I had planned.

    But, God is faithful, and I believe He has me on an adventure that will be a blessing to Him as it blesses others (and hopefully one day I can make some money to live on). I have started a running/fitness magazine. The only one in Indiana at this time.

    Now I can use my photographic skills along with my passion for running and fitness and help others achieve a level of fitness. MY wife Kisun, tells me I should have been a pastor, I do not feel that is my calling, but I a called to help and reach out to others and this is the vehicle that I believe God is going to use (I so hope).

    So yes, I understand the term, “Not What I had Planned”, very well.. this is not what I had planned, but God did and so we are a new unplanned venture.

    You and your family are in our prayers,


  9. P.E.
    I’m praying for you and your family. I want you to know that your story has inspired me and my family. It’s easy for me to feel alone when I’m struggling, and it is very comforting to know that that is not the case.

  10. Hey, Eugene,

    I really appreciate your prayers for me last week in light of not getting the teaching job. My heart goes out to you and your family. I know you took a risk for a great cause, and I want to see that risk rewarded.

    Please, God, open the doors of heaven and rain down a blessing on the Chos. Let them not lose heart.

    Hugs from Ohio, Elena

  11. Thanks for sharing this today–I am the one (or one of the many, judging by the comments) who definitely needed to read that today. Your courage and your willingness to serve and do what God is asking you even when it may seem scary/impractical will be recognized and rewarded–unfortunately maybe not in the way you would like it to be right now, but it will be!

  12. wow… middle-age, as I’m finding out (we’re the same age) is a tough place to experiment with the point of your existence… loooong story.

    Anyway, something I’m a member of which you may find useful right now…

    not seriously suggesting you do that now but something for the future perhaps on your travels.

  13. My prayers are certainly with you. But the older I get, the more I realize that as hard as you try in this short life, even when you think you are going up the righteous path, God often has a plan that you never envisioned for yourself. And what you may see as failure, He sees as success in His greater scheme of things.
    You may lament, ask God why hast thou forsaken me? Why do you make me suffer , why do you lay me low?

    the most difficult thing that Jesus asked us to do was… cast off your riches. Riches meaning everything you ever thought you wanted for yourself in this life.

  14. I remember when you tweeted about failing your kids. It came on a day when I had never felt worse as a parent (i have 3 boys…age 5, 3, 8mo.)

    I’m thankful today for your honesty and can assure you that several people from our church are praying for you and your family.

  15. it seems like frequently God spoke just as loudly through the lives of his prophets (Hosea comes to mind) as he did through their words…your life is matching up to your words and in this i believe God is revealed as a precious treasure. i will pray for you guys…

  16. Oh, boy! Thanks for sharing this, Eugene. It’s called active faith – the evidence of things not seen – being put into practice. You probably don’t want to hear that you are an inspiration. I used to hate being told that – I wanted someone to get me OUT…! But, remember that God is with you, even when the day is darkest (especially then) and he cares for you so much. We are going to be praying for you.

  17. Eugene, you inspire me. Francis Chan always says there better be a heaven because this world stinks, and that, is how it should be. My prayers are with you Eugene, you are doing the right thing.

  18. You were hoping for that ‘one reader’ to be touched…here i am.deeply,seemingly unendingly sad.unable to see the lesson in my despair.but holding on to the stories of other believers in the desperate hope that one day,too,these stories of triumph and growth shall become my own.thank you.

  19. Pastor, as always, thank you for sharing. My wife and I will be praying for you and your family. At this stage I am a poor graduate student trying to provide as best as I can for my wife and child and so believe me when I say that I understand something of what you are going through.

    Come Septemeber we will be doing the financial planning for the upcoming year and one promise that I will make to you that is that in whatever way that we can, we will commmit to giving to OneDay’sWages.

  20. Thanks folks for your words and prayers.

    We’re doing well and as I shared above, we’re so blessed. We have a great church community and a gracious elder board/staff that have supported us, friends we can stay with and it looks like we’ll move into our empty rental home for a few weeks.

    I know that I often think about how “tough” it is for us but can’t imagine the condition (and in some place, the worsening condition) for those who live in conditions of extreme poverty – those that live under 1.25/day.

  21. Thanks for sharing. I would say you’ve definitely encouraged many people. I would be one of them: I’m working on starting a second site for a church and launching a nonprofit, and things are not going as planned. It was encouraging to hear your thoughts as you go through a more difficult situation than I’m facing.

  22. Brother Eugene, your family is in my prayers. I have been admiring your ministry for years and have encouraged one of my elders who recently moved to the Seattle area to visit your church, and he is really enjoying the services there. You are right to be hopeful, “For we know that all things work together for good for those who love God.” The Lord be with you.
    PS My kids love Wii too!

  23. Thanks for sharing this with us Eugene. I think a man who’s able to face reality with his family is much greater than one who simply provides resources. I have no doubt that your children will mimic your character and grow to be godly from the example they’ve seen.

    And I pray that your family finds great joy somehow as you live from couch to couch. If we had a house it would be open to you guys for sure.

  24. eugene,

    i share everyone else’s concern and support for you, as well as our hope that your ministry continue fruitfully in every way possible.

    i do have a question for the people who are responding here on this blog. you (Eugene) seem to have developed your theology of sovereignty over time and, very fortunately, have seen that play out concretely in your life.

    my question for the people on this blog is: does anyone else (besides me) find the same or similar comfort through a theology that does NOT include God having “ultimate control over your life?”

    if this is not the place for this discussion, Eugene, please let me know and I’ll move it elsewhere. I don’t want to be tacky.

    again, i am hoping and praying for your vision to increase.

  25. My experience has been that if you embrace two truths: a) God loves me, and b) God is sovreign – then everything makes sense. It does not make it fun. And it does not mean it will all go well. and it does not mean there will not be times when faith and trust in God is stretched.

  26. ‘not as I planned’ and the effect on my kids… I so get this. walking with my kids and helping them process, but ultimately realizing that God is developing them all on His own. The prayers of others is what is holding us together right now.

    Your entry today gave me an understanding of God’s movement at a deeper level.

    People tell you God is preparing you for more. My oldest calls this time in her life an exfoliation of the soul and spirit. Your description gave me a picture, hope for the future – beyond the pain of today. Thanks.

  27. It is never that we have to worry about us pushing back the forces of hell but rather, we rejoice and celebrate as the gates of hell cannot possibly contain the greatness, power, glory, victory and majesty of our loving God as he works through us, His church and His bride. (Matthew 16:18)

  28. when the $ is easily attainable, it seems like god’s blessing/provision. when its not we often feel “tested.” maybe our western ideas of blessing and testing are upside down? perhaps when our cup is overflowing we are being tested as to what/whom/where our faith is, and when our belt is tightened is when we experience god’s blessing… think of when we pray the most- when your stomach is full or empty?

  29. I have a feeling I know somewhat how you feel. Moved to a new community 2 1/2 years ago with a little debt, but things going well, only to end up with a house in foreclosure, mounting debt, and the stress and feelings of failure growing inside me. Not at all what I planned. Oh, also got booted from a church because “I wasn’t a good fit.” Had no job in sight and had to pull my kid out of school to move yet again. Fun.

  30. Eugene:

    The bottom line is that you have done what you committed to do FOR THE POOR. While no good deed goes unpunished, the point of this was that you help the poor…anyone who truly sets out to do that sees how much the enemy wants to do to dissuade and discourage. Unfortunately, there are more who turn away, than there are who are like you, and respond to adversity with transparency.

    I love you, Man! I love your wife more! Your kids are my heroes!

    Please see my url, and especially our mission page…and see if we cannot collaborate. NOT that I want to receive financial support from you, but that I network with dozens of incredible works here in Guatemala, and would appreciate the possibility of sharing in your endeavor to find works that are worthy of this inspired program.

    Bless you! God make that couch a delight, and an encouragement to depend on Him each minute of the restless sleep!

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