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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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. Seattle. 7:00pm. Desperately holding on to summer. #goldengardenpark #nofilter Happy Birthday, Minhee! I'm so grateful for you. You radiate faith, hope, and love.  No...you don't complete me. That would be silly and simply humanly impossible but you keep pointing me and our family to Christ who informs and transforms our lives, marriage, family, and ministry. Thanks for being so faithful. I love you so much. (* And what a gift to be in Korea together.)

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