Eugene Cho

we finally did it and excited for the future

We’ve received our share of criticism about our public pledge to donate our 2009 salary to fight extreme poverty. Everything ranging from “Stop boasting” to “You’re lying” and

How about Matthew 6:3 and “…when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.”

For the record, I have no good response to people rebuking me with that scripture.  I know some of you are sick of me mentioning it but this will be the last time I mention it (although I know that this is what most of the media and bloggers will focus on as we get started).

I need to share it because there were many (mostly anonymous Facebookers) that doubted our pledge. While we weren’t able to honor the pledge by the October 20, 2009 launch date as we had hoped, I went to the bank yesterday and walked out with a cashier’s check for $68,000.

When we made our pledge, we had a plan to make it work but the year proved to be much more difficult than we had anticipated.  But after this past year+ of saving, scrimping, subletting, saving, borrowing, and other creative things, we were finally able to make the donation.

And while it was a difficult year, we learned much; grew more in love and respect for my wife; experienced many teaching moments with our children, and are excited for all that is in store…

There are two main reasons why we did this:

  1. It was a matter of obedience. We felt this was what God was inviting us to do. ODW is a non-religious organization but our faith compels us to do what we do.
  2. We didn’t want to ask you or others to do something we’re not willing to do ourselves

If you choose to partner with us by donating your one day’s wages (and renewing that gift monthly, quarterly, or year), we hope the reason behind it isn’t fear or guilt but because you encouraged by our story or inspired by stories like the one I shared yesterday of a Harvard professor & her fiance who asked people to donate to ODW in lieu of engagement/wedding gifts for them.

Last month, I did a brief interview with a small news source in California.  Take a few minutes to watch it and if you feel compelled, share the video, this blog entry, or the ODW website with others.

Thanks for your patience this past year, for your prayers, for your investment in the startup costs for ODW, and for dreaming with us.

I know it’s not going to be easy but let’s kick ass.

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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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