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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Window seat. For the win. As leaders, we must not see ministry and family as competing commitments.  We must not sacrifice our marriage and kids for the sake of "ministry." How can we? Loving our families IS ministry & good leadership.

And on a side note, we took this goofy photo for Mother's Day last Sunday at @seattlequest. I was shocked! What in the world happened to our kids? Our 13 year old son blocked four of my shots on the basketball court yesterday. He's since been grounded... I fear that we ask God to move mountains, forgetting that God also wants to move us.

In fact, it's possible that we are that mountain. Time flies. The eldest is wrapping up her 1st year in college and the college tours have begun for the 2nd child. The youngest enters high school in the Fall. Can't say enough about how proud Minhee and I are of the kids - not just of their accomplishments but the people they are and are becoming.

But...man...we can't wait to party it up when we're emptynesters. Party at our house. It's going to be epic. Humbled. Grateful. Mindful of God's grace and faithfulness in my life. It's all grace... It's an unexpected honor to be invited back - even with some mini-drama - to @princetonseminary to receive the 2017 Distinguished Alumni Award - exactly 25 years after starting my journey there as a student in 1992. Wow.

Princeton isn't necessarily for everyone. And to say that I loved everything about my experience would be misleading but it was very formative. Ir challenged me to examine why I believed in what I believed. It reminded me that God could handle my questions. It prepared me for a post-Christian context where I am not entitled to be heard but I had to earn the right to be heard, and of course, it taught me that all is good with a Philly cheese steak at Hoagie Haven.

No one is an island to themselves and I am certainly an example of that. Many people - women and men, young and old, and of many backgrounds - prayed, encouraged, mentored, and loved me along the way. Grateful for my professors at seminary, my many classmates, and the numerous fellow staff and co-laborers I've had the privilege of serving Christ with past and present. And of course, I'm forever inspired by my parents, my children, and my wife, Minhee. Thank you for your faith, hope, and love...and oh, for your patience. Only your family will know and see both the best and worst of you. They've seen my worst...and keep on believing in me.

Thank you again, PTS and President Barnes, for this honor. Then, today, and tomorrow...by God's grace, just striving to be faithful to my Lord and Savior...to preach and live out the convictions of the whole Gospel. Amen. So humbled and grateful to be with @catalystleader in Cincinnati to encourage leaders from all around the country about the invitation to Uncommon Fellowship.

Preached from John 4. We can talk, preach, sing, philsophize, liturgize, and spit rhymes about Samaria...but we still have to talk through Samaria.

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