Eugene Cho

“…a fallen and broken world”


I can’t stand looking at the picture above and yet, at the same time, I can’t stop looking at the picture. (Click on image for larger image.)

  • What are your thoughts?
  • What goes through your mind?
  • What stands out the most in the picture?

The picture is simply heartbreaking. I hold in tension the world God intended for humanity and the dire reality of a broken and fallen world and long so much for the restoration of shalom – and left wondering…

And wondering some more.

Kudos to the Boston Globe for their regular contributions to some of the most compelling photo-journalism. This time, they cover photos to mark 8 years of the War in Afghanistan. // Part 1 and Part 2.  Do yourself a favor and click these links.

Today, nearly eight years after the initial invasion of Afghanistan, the country remains unstable at best, and the U.S. is now pouring thousands of new troops into the country, joining the international coalition to combat the Taliban insurgency. This year, bomb attacks on coalition troops have reached an all-time high – at least 46 American troops killed by IEDs this year, part of the larger figure of 1,249 coalition deaths to date. On June 25th, U.S. officials announced the launch of Operation Khanjar – 4,000 U.S. Marines and hundreds of NATO and Afghan forces pushing into various parts of Helmand province attempting to secure the area ahead of Afghanistan’s presidential election next month. Consider this entry a double-issue – there has been so much powerful photography coming out of Afghanistan the past few months, I had a very hard time editing down to just these, recent photographs from Afghanistan.

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16 Responses

  1. esther says:

    as a mom of young kids, with a daughter about the same age as this little girl, my heart breaks. i can totally picture my own kids reaching out in this same manner if this was their daddy. this image is heart wrenching.

  2. Corrine says:

    I agree with Esther and I’m not a parent, it is heart wrenching. The little girl has no understanding that her daddy has passed away. How do you explain death to a child so small? How do you help her with her grief, a loss which she probably can’t communicate and doesn’t understand. I also feel for the mom; her baby is so young and she and her husband also fairly young. She thought she was beginning her life as a family and now she has lost her husband too soon.

  3. Lisa Eastman says:

    My heart feels like it is being ripped out of my chest. My oldest son (19) is leaving for Marine bootcamp on Monday morning. I am trying to be brave for him and continue to wrestle with God over this. He is close to completing two years of college and we were so sure he would continue on and now this. This is the ultimate test in trusting God knowing my son could be the one posted in a picture like this. God is with us in our suffering, in the joys and in the sorrow, in life and in death…..but why does it have to hurt so

  4. Eugene Cho says:

    @lisa: thanks for sharing that.

    despite my opposition to the reality of war, i understand the necessity of the military and am thankful for those who have sought to protect certain liberties we often take for granted.

    i’ll remember your son in my prayers today.

  5. keithferrin says:

    Gotta say I am ripped in many directions with this. My first reaction is to scream and cry at the same time (as a father of three kids under 7 yrs old).

    Then I remember a conversation this May with a military chaplain who performs many of the Military funerals at Arlington National Cemetery. He’s also served a couple tours (three years apart) and told me how much better life is now for most people over there. How much the average person loves to see the U.S. Military and the joy on their faces. Conversations of freedom. Expressions of thanks.

    Ugh. Screaming, crying, and longing for peace AND freedom…

  6. kate says:

    those pictures….wow.

    Jesus reprimanded Peter for his use of the sword…….enough said.

  7. Lesley says:

    Thank you for linking to these images. I’ve gone through them again, and again. I am struck by how photographs can show so much, and tell such stories.

    While I’d imagine we all interpret these pictures a little bit differently, the image you posted can’t be argued- it is painful, it is gut wrenching, it is not fair. Indeed, we live in a broken world.

  8. […] found the above picture through a post on Eugene Cho’s blog (highly recommend you visit- he discusses good […]

  9. […] picture and story from my friend Eugene Cho make me want our country to avoid war at all […]

  10. levittmike says:

    It reminds me of how blessed I am to be able to hug my daughters today.

    Pray for the military families, as well as those that face threats of war, crime, fires, etc.

  11. peterwchin says:

    i wonder if i would have the courage to do what i believe is right, even if it might cost me everything i hold dear.

  12. Pam says:

    As a military spouse and a family readiness (family support) volunteer, the myriad of emotions when I see a picture like this is difficult to describe. I attended a military memorial service last week and what struck me most was the amount of pain and pride in each young soldier’s face as they rendered honors before the equipment stand. Many left coins and medals, some stopped to touch his boots or his dog tags. I live this life, and yet, I could not begin to explain how these men and women say goodbye to a fallen colleague, friend, and brother in arms, then go out and fight again. Most are scarred, many are broken. I pray for peace, not only in our world, but in their hearts.

    If you get a chance, check out the HBO movie “Taking Chance” (recently came out of DVD. I was able to find it on Netflix). Extremley well done, apolitical relfections of a Marine LTC.

    @Lisa: I wish I could tell you that it get’s easier, but you are not alone. Once your son gets into a unit post-basic, connect with the unit’s family support. That network makes a huge difference.

  13. Eugene Cho says:

    @pam: thanks for sharing that pam. i did see that movie several months ago and was both extremely impressed & moved.

  14. Andy M says:

    While I have many thoughts conjured by a photo like that, I will focus only on one.

    I mourn for all of the soldiers who have died, and for the soldiers traumatized by war and will never be the same again.

    But I also mourn for the thousands of people from Afghanistan and Iraq who have died because of these conflicts. Their numbers are far greater than the soldiers we have lost. It is far too easy to forget those people in the midst of our own sufferings.

  15. Frank Kim says:

    Thanks for this post. The photos are unspeakably powerful.

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One Day’s Wages

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As I soaked in this breathtaking sunrise this morning above the clouds, I felt compelled to pray for so my places in America and around the world that are experiencing such pain, heartache, injustice, and violence. At times, it feels so overwhelming but in prayer, I was reminded of these words from John 16:33. As we keep striving, working, hoping, preaching, loving, truthtelling, reconciling, repenting, forgiving, dismantling, peacemaking, Kingdom building...may we fix our eyes on Christ: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” - John 16:33 Grateful for a very full weekend of ministry and preaching in Toronto, Canada (GTA). Such a privilege to partner with @worldvisioncan @wvcollective to advocate for the most vulnerable around the world. God is so gracious. A true honor to meet and encourage local pastors, lecture at Tyndale University & Seminary (photo), and preach at Richmond Hills Community Church, Compass Point Bible Church, and New City Church. Thank you, Lord, that you use broken and imperfect people like me to speak of Your love. Today, Minhee and I dropped off our eldest child at her college. We have been thinking and praying about this day for many years. On some days, we hoped it would never come. On other days, we couldn't wait for it to come. On some days, we prayed for time to stop and other days, we prayed with anticipation. 
After an entire summer of laughing it off, it hit us...hard...this week. Seeing all of her stuff laid out on the basement floor was the catalyst to a load of emotions.

After unloading the car and taking her stuff to her new home for this year and mindful that she might never live with us again; helping sort out her stuff, saying hello to her roommates...I wasn't sure what to do or say.

A flood of thoughts rushed my mind.

Is she ready?
Have we done enough?
Have we taught her enough? 
What if this? What if that?

And so we shared what we have shared with her the moment she began to understand words: "Remember who you are. Remember WHO you belong to. Remember what you're about. God loves you so much. Please hold God's Word and His promises close and dear to your heart. We love you so much and we are so proud of you." And with that, we said goodbye. Even if she may not be thousands of miles away, this is a new chapter for her and even for us. I kept it composed. Her roommate was staring at me. I didn't want to be that father. I have street cred to uphold. Another final hug. 
And I came home.
And I wept.
Forget my street cred.
I miss her. I love her.
She will always be my little baby.

I'm no parenting guru. I just laughed as I wrote that line. No, I'm stumbling and bumbling along but I'd love to share an ephiphany I learned not that long ago. Coming to this realization was incredibly painful but simultaneously, liberating. To be honest, it was the ultimate game-changer in my understanding as a parent seeking after the heart of God.

While there are many methods, tools, philosophies, and biblical principles to parenting, there is – in my opinion – only one purpose or destination.

Our purpose as parents is to eventually…release them. Send forth. For His glory. Met a friend and fellow pastor who I haven't seen in over 20 years. In him, I saw a glimpse of my future. While only 10 years older, his kids are married and he's now a grandfather of 3. His love for his wife and family were so evident and his passion for the Gospel has not wavered. It was so good to see someone a bit older still passionately serving the Lord with such joy and faithfulness. Lord, help me to keep running the race for your Glory. Happy wife.
Happy life. - Eugenius 3:16

I still remember that time, many years ago, when Minhee was pregnant with our first child. She had left her family and friends in Korea just two years before. Her morning sickness was horrible and when she finally had an appetite, she craved her favorite Korean food from certain restaurants in her neighborhood in Seoul, Korea. I had no way of getting that food from those restaurants so I actually said, "How about a Whopper? Big Mac?" Sorry honey. Eat away. You deserve it. I don't care if it sounds mushy but sunsets are one of my love languages. Seoul, Korea was amazing but WOW...what a breathtaking welcome back sunset by Seattle. Not ready to let go of summer.

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