Eugene Cho

the most difficult year of my life

Since everything is so current, I may be biased but 2009 has been one of the most (if not the most) difficult year of my life – and yet, incredibly formative for the reasons I share below.

How was this past year for you?

As part of our human inclination and disposition, we make plans and we do all that we can to pursue those plans. Things turn bad when some of those plans don’t come to pass. Things suck when everything feels it’s moving in the opposite trajectory of what you hoped for.

In their hearts human beings plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps. Proverbs 16:9

To list a few challenging things in 2009:

  • Absolutely bizarre but someone managed to hack into our ATM card and emptied out our account as we began 2009. We managed to work with the bank to get most if it back but it was so weird.
  • Two of my closest church staff moved on from staff. One is still at Quest but is traveling the world with his wife (lucky jerk) and the other moved on to greener pastures to plant her own church in Seattle (lucky jerkette). Thankful for them but emotional nevertheless.
  • I ruptured my Achillesthe other one. It really hurt – physically and emotionally. I officially retired from basketball and relinquished any ambitions to be the first 39 year old rookie in the NBA.
  • My wife practically became a full time student and that was exhilarating for me to see her soar, fly, and pursue her passions…but it was tough on our collective schedules. Really tough.
  • Financial pressures galore this past year as we sought to honor our pledge of donating our year’s salary to One Day’s Wages. Who in the world could have anticipated the financial crisis? The lowest point: Being quasi-homeless and couch surfing for 8 weeks. Thankfully, we had dear friends who took us in. Thank God for friends.
  • Had one of the scariest experiences of my life when our eldest daughter (food allergies) had a bad reaction and resulted in us doing what we feared the most: injecting her with an epi-pen and the ER when she began to have difficulty breathing.
  • It felt like numerous folks questioned my leadership, sensibility, and integrity or at least that’s how I felt. But then again, how could they not? But it was tough – really tough. And after awhile, I began to question myself until Grace sunk in again. In my weakness, He became my sufficience again.

Yeah, I think it was the most difficult year. But as the year winds down, I can’t convey how grateful and blessed I feel. Why?

We made it through. I feel like my family and I endured the eye of the storm but nevertheless, our love, respect, and care for one another has only grown. My faith, trust, and love for Christ not only endured these trials but only grew deeper. I was humbled this past year and learned to trust again, rest again, and rely again

I share all these things to give God glory for the ways that He works in my life – even the ones I dislike –  and in some way or another, to a be a source of honest encouragement to you.

And I have this strange feeling in my gut (that’s also hard to explain)…

that 2010 and beyond are going to provide some of the most abundant and fruitful years for me, my marriage and family, and my ministries and leadership.

A videographer from Recycle Your Faith swung by Seattle several weeks ago and interviewed me about life. It was a fairly long chat but here’s one of the clips about things not turning out as you expect…

Filed under: , , , ,

16 Responses

  1. Janet says:

    I agree. You had a pretty sucky year. May the Lord continue to bless you.

  2. luke says:

    i always appreciate the reflection process at the end of a year–something that quite possibly could be more important and impacting than any resolutions about the upcoming new year. at the very least your resolutions will be much richer coming out of significant reflection. thank you for the reminder to look back on the year.

    2008 was quite possibly the worst year of my life, and i remember sitting on the verge of 2009 literally cursing the past year. but now as i think over 2009 in hindsight, God has really shaped some things and made this year a true blessing. not only that, but much has happened that helps color 2008 in a better light because i understand more and see with greater perspective.

    i guess my question though is if things hadn’t have gotten better, would i still appreciate 2008? if things do not turn for you in 2010 will you still feel thankful and blessed? do we define our bad times only through the lens of future goodness? just questions i suppose–not too much sense to them.

  3. Wow. It seems that you and I as well as some of my closest friends have the same observation about 2009. This year was marked by hope and then crashed into grief and financial disaster. I just posted last night about trying to redeem the entire year by seeing what God has taught me throughout the year.

    You’re right: we made it through. To God be the glory when I don’t understand the story.

  4. Eugene,

    Thanks for everything. I had a great visit.

    Like I said, those shiny and spirit-lifting skyscrapers would not stand long if it isn’t for the depth of their foundations. Sounds like that’s what God has been doing with you in 2009. I am totally looking forward to praying with you throughout and enjoying with you your 2010.

  5. Matt says:

    your faithfulness to your commitments and convictions inspire. thank you.

  6. Kacie says:

    Eugene, I just want you to know that I find great encouragement in your blog and your ministry. You mentioned that you felt many questioned you, and you know, the more publicly active you become, the more those questions will come. You are human, you and your humanity will be on display.

    I personally find your honesty and your pursuit of truth and passionate service and sacrifice to be a huge encouragement and challenge. I DO see you as a person, with flaws. I’m glad, though. I’d much rather watch the example of a flawed person than a false facade.

    Thank you, brother.

  7. Rebecca says:

    There is always pain involved in bringing new things into being-just think of this year as labor pains! The blessings and fruit will come!

    2009 was a worst and best year. Obviously best because I met and married my husband, but health issues have been the worst of my life. Mono, allergies, eye infections, skin infections, you name it. Looking forward to good health in 2010!

  8. For me this year has been one of the most difficult, and yet the best of my life. There have been a constant stream of trials and problems, and yet God has shown Himself strong through it all, and brought me through it all. Glory to His awesome name!

  9. chrisbscott25 says:

    Thanks for your endurance and your faith in trusting your very family to God. Its been an inspiring and challenging story to watch from a distance (San Francisco), but please know Eugene, that through your story God is working…. Thank you, thanks to God. Kyrie eleison, Christi eleison!

  10. Kris says:

    These last two months have been personally difficult (and for Scot too as my spouse) as I have had two cancer scares which resulted in two biopsies (breast and uterine) and a day surgery. Thankfully, just today I have been given a clean bill of health with respect to these two matters and ultimately both biopsies came back cancer-free. It has given me a new respect and empathy for friends and acquaintences who are going through cancer treatment. The anxiety that goes along with this whole process of biopsy, waiting for the results, etc. is quite wearing on the soul.

  11. Tyler says:

    It has truly been amazing to see tough things come your way all year long and yet God’s provision has been steady as well.

  12. […] Last year was tough but I learned so much and look forward to the adventures and lessons for the upcoming year: […]

  13. […] Eugene Cho, author of the blog beauty and depravity.  I love reading his blog because Eugene is so transparent and open.  He is a courageous and compassionate person who is an inspiration to me.  I have to admit that […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

stuff, connect, info

One Day’s Wages

My Instagram

Back safely from Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan. Thanks for your prayers. 
I have numerous stories to share but for now, the following came up in every conversation with Iraqi/Syrian refugees:

1 Have tea with us. Or coffee. Or juice. Or something with lots of sugar in it. Or better yet, all of the above.
2 We want peace. We want security. 
3 We hate ISIS. 
4 We just want to go home.
5 Please don't forget us.

Please don't forget them... Father, please bless and protect these Iraqi and Syrian "refugee" children that have already endured so much. Protect their hearts and mind from unfathomable trauma. Plant seeds of hope and vision in their lives. And as we pray for them, teach us how to advocate for them. Amen. "We don't call them refugees. We call them relatives. We don't call them camps but centers. Dignity is so important." -  local Iraqi priest whose church has welcomed many "relatives" to their church's property

It's always a privilege to be invited into peoples' home for tea - even if it's a temporary tent. This is an extended Yezidi family that fled the Mosul, Iraq area because of ISIS. It's indeed true that Christians were targeted by ISIS and thatbstory muat be shared but other minority groups like the Yezidis were also targeted. Some of their heartbreaking stories included the kidnapping of their sister. They shared that their father passed away shortly of a "broken heart." The conversation was emotional but afterwards, we asked each other for permission to take photos. Once the selfies came out, the real smiles came out.

So friends: Pray for Iraq. Pray for the persecuted Church. Pray for Christians, minority groups like the Yezidis who fear they will e completely wiped out in the Middle East,, and Muslims alike who are all suffering under ISIS. Friends: I'm traveling in the Middle East this week - Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan. (Make sure you follow my pics/stories on IG stories). Specifically, I'm here representing @onedayswages to meet, learn, and listen to pastors, local leaders, NGOs, and of course directly from refugees from within these countries - including many from Syria.

For security purposes, I haven't been able to share at all but I'm now able to start sharing some photos and stories. For now, I'll be sharing numerous photos through my IG stories and will be sharing some longer written pieces in couple months when ODW launches another wave of partnerships to come alongside refugees in these areas. Four of us are traveling together also for the purpose of creating a short documentary that we hope to release early next year.

While I'm on my church sabbatical, it's truly a privilege to be able to come to these countries and to meet local pastors and indigenous leaders that tirelessly pursue peace and justice, and to hear directly from refugees. I've read so many various articles and pieces over the years and I thought I was prepared but it has been jarring, heartbreaking,  and gut wrenching. In the midst of such chaos, there's hope but there's also a lot of questions, too.

I hope you follow along as I share photos, stories, and help release this mini-documentary. Please tag friends that might be interested.

Please pray for safety, for empathy, for humility and integrity, for divine meetings. Pray that we listen well; To be present and not just be a consumer of these vulnerable stories. That's my biggest prayer.

Special thanks to @worldvisionusa and @worldrelief for hosting us on this journey. 9/11
Never forget.
And never stop working for peace.

Today, I had some gut wrenching and heart breaking conversations about war, violence, and peacemaking. Mostly, I listened. Never in my wildest imagination did I envision having these conversations on 9/11 of all days. I wish I could share more now but I hope to later after I process them for a few days.

But indeed: Never forget.
And never stop working for peace.
May it be so. Amen. Mount Rainier is simply epic. There's nothing like flying in and out of Seattle.

#mountrainier
#seattle
#northwestisbest

my tweets

  • Every convo with Iraqi/Syrian refugees included: 1 Have tea with us 2 We want peace 3 We hate ISIS 4 We want to go home 5 Don't forget us || 2 days ago
  • Back safely from Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan to assess @OneDaysWages' partnerships & to film mini-documentary on refugee crisis. So many emotions. || 2 days ago
  • Pray for Mexico. For those mourning loved ones. For those fighting for life - even under rubbles. For rescue workers. Lord, in your mercy. || 2 days ago
  • Don't underestimate what God can do through you. God has a very long history of using foolish and broken people for His purposes and glory. || 4 days ago
  • Father, bless these Iraqi and Syrian refugee children that have already endured so much. As we pray, teach us how t… twitter.com/i/web/status/9… || 6 days ago
  • Pray for Iraq. Pray for persecuted Church, minority groups (Yezidis) and Muslims alike who are suffering under ISIS: instagram.com/p/BZF2j6Ngrna/ || 6 days ago