Eugene Cho

this is the reason why i am in ministry…

If I am truly honest, there are times – every now and then – when I wonder, “Am I making a difference?”

Do you ever have doubts?

Should I continue with ministry?

[insert your questions here…]

But somehow by God’s grace, He sustains you and reminds you that despite our insufficiencies and insecurities, God can still work through your life.

I received this email this week and with permission, I share it with you in hopes of encouraging anyone who’s reading it – either because you are going through something gut wrenchingly similar to this person or if you’re wondering if your ministry, prayers, counseling, or teaching might be in vain.

To the person in deep pain:

  • Despite what you may have heard or been shown, “You are loved. You are not alone. God loves you. God is with us.”

To the pastor or ministry leader drowning in doubt:

  • Your ministry is not in vain. Keep loving, serving, teaching, and encouraging. “Feed my sheep.”

Being a pastor can be so overwhelming but it is so amazing to see Hope Restored.

This is the reason why I am in ministry:

My name is _______, and I’ve been coming out to Quest for _______.  I just wanted to email you and tell you how much your sermon today on family relationships meant to me; and I just wanted to briefly tell you of my story behind why I connected to today’s sermon so much.

I’m in my second year at the University of Washington, and I have been living with my parents all my life.  I really related to your story when you talked more about your family; perhaps I could relate because I come from a Korean background as well. Even still, I have never really heard my parents apologize to me or even tell me the simple but meaningful phrase of “I love you.”

My mother has criticized me for as long as I can remember about my body image and the appearance of beauty – she always told me (and still continues to tell me) that I am not quite “beautiful” yet and how I have much work to do to get myself to “beauty”; There hasn’t been a day where I haven’t been reminded about how I’m not as “skinny as other Korean girls.” My father criticizes me about the career choice I am studying for and always reminds me how disappointed he is about me giving up my previous hope of going into the field of pre-med; I have heard from his own mouth that I am a failure countless times.  I’ve held onto every negative thing they have thrown at me and eventually found myself feeling guilty as if perhaps I just wasn’t good enough.

In the past month and a half, the anger, guilt, and sadness inside of me had been increasingly building up because the hurtful words seemed to escalate even more.  I was so blinded with these negative feelings that I never once asked God to help chip away the hardness that I had created in my heart.  I tried to handle all the negative feelings I had kept inside on my own and it backfired; a week ago, I took a bottle of sleeping pills and I tried to end my life.  At the time I felt as though there was just too much sadness and hurt for one person to handle.

However, now I realize that we’re never alone; God has been with me the whole time – I just failed to take a closer look.  I thank God that my attempts failed since I am here today writing you this email.  When listening to your sermon today, the part that hit me was when you said that we needed to reconcile our relationships even though it may take a lot of time.  So for the first time in a while, I fell to my knees and prayed to God that he would chip the hardness of my heart away.  And I can say with all honesty that I feel him working within my heart.  I just wanted to thank you for your message today.  I also was wondering if you would pray for me and my journey of reconciliation and healing…

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13 Responses

  1. your friend says:

    I was trying to help a friend with very similar pain. As I prepared MY OWN PAIN from the past came up! That made me feel incapable of being able to help my dear sister in pain. Then God spoke to my heart that I should not attempt what on GOD can do. All I can do is to point to the HEALER! And doing this together is a comfort in itself.

  2. Ben says:

    Simply awesome. Thank you for sharing this e-mail. I pray that as a future father I may not exasperate my children, but love them for who they are. I just prayed for the person who sent the e-mail.

  3. Eric says:

    Eugene, such a great story! Thank for sharing!

  4. Colleen says:

    Thanks Eugene, what an excellent reminder.

  5. Wow. Thanks, PE. In Henri Nouwen’s book, “The Wounded Healer” he talks about how as Christians, as ministers of the gospel who “proclaim liberation [are] called not only to care for [their] own wounds and the wounds of others, but also to make [their] wounds into a major source of [their] healing power.” It sounds like God is already redeeming the story of the author of this letter. 🙂

    Sister, whoever you are: Know that I am and will be praying for you. Praise Him for your life, your story, and your testimony to his transformative power. Peace be with you.

  6. Mark says:

    That’s a good reminder for doing what we have been called to do. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Josh says:

    It seems that these sorts of things always tend to find us at just the right time….good stuff.

  8. Angela N says:

    I can understand her pain. Sometimes life can be so overwhelming that you feel like there is no reason to continue. But God always finds a way to show you he is till there & that he loves us even in the midst of our pain.
    Thanks for sharing this w/ us.

  9. […] this is the reason why i am in ministry… […]

  10. Thank you for sharing this, what a powerful response to God’s power. What a great reminder to all of us, in ministry or not, that we must continue to share God’s love with others. Only He knows where and how it will work.

  11. […] this is the reason why i am in ministry… […]

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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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