Eugene Cho

the $10,000 tip and other crazies

I’m not always comfortable with talking about money and mixing it with language of provision, blessings, and God’s grace…but I know that there’s some legitimacy and truth in God desiring to bless His work in us…

What I mean by this is that I’m extremely uncomfortable when religious folks speak of the aforementioned things with absolute clarity. And consequently, it becomes a formula and we try to sell it:

a + b + c & if you abc = d = 10x = wealth

While I don’t believe it’s a science, I absolutely believe that

  • we’re called to be faithful in our stewardship and resources
  • we’re called to be generous
  • we’re called to live in faith and obedience and God honors and blesses His work

As I recall the occasions of the past 9 years since we planted Quest, founded Q Cafe, and gave birth to One Day’s Wages this past year, I can’t share with you the number of times I was drowning in worry, anxiety, and fear. Often times, the question that swirled through my mind were various forms of the following question:

How will I make it work?

But eventually, fear, anxiety, and doubt would submit to trust – with great protest…and God would somehow again remind me of my foolishness and His provision and Grace.

What are your stories of God’s crazy provision?

For me, the list is too many but I’d like to share with you three stories of God’s provision including one yesterday:

Quest – In the beginning, we were struggling to even come up with paying our monthly $200 rent! In the first few months, I was so anxious and then one Sunday,  a newer couple came to me and asked one of the stupidest questions in the history of Questerverse:

“We’re new to Quest but we feel convicted to tithe to this church. We were recently on Wheel of Fortune and won a load of money. Can we tithe to Quest?”

Q Cafe – The coffeeshop business is cutthroat in Seattle and in the first year we were really getting our butts kicked. A customer walked in, ordered a latte, and asked to meet with me. She shared her story and we had a great conversation.  She eventually left and handed me “a tip.” I didn’t think it was that big of a deal but when I looked at the envelope she gave me later, it was a tip for $10,000.

We make good lattes but they’re not that good.

One Day’s Wages – Yesterday, I received this check and it was specifically a grant for ODW. It’s not a huge amount but I can’t tell you how much it encouraged me. So much!

So many crazy stories. The craziest one might be the story of this church and community giving themselves and a $5-6 million dollar property to Quest.

Be faithful.
Be generous.
Be courageous.
Be hopeful. Be encouraged.

And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
– 2 Corinthians 9:8

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12 Responses

  1. jchenwa says:

    Yeah, there are a lot of crazies out there. Thanks for that timely post, bro. Sometimes we don’t know what we’re doing, but GOD always does. And it’s very fulfilling to just be a part of what He is.

  2. Love the Wheel of Fortune couple. They don’t come around too often, do they? They just kind of pop up when they’re most needed, it seems.

  3. Eric says:

    Great Story! Thanks for the inspiration!!!!

  4. mo says:

    When I finally stated tithing about a year into being a Christian, my finances totally turned around. I was a mess, and didnt know how I could deal with 10% less than what was already always too little. But I did it faith, and crazy stuff happened almost immmediately.

    1) my dad paid off my house! he’s not even a Christian and had no idea that I’d started giving away 10%. (to be clear, he owned it and I was paying the mortgage as rent. But his decision to pay it off and let me live for free changed everything)

    2) I won a very competitive fellowship position (i was in grad school) and my salary went up by 50% overnight.

    3) I was offered a second job out of nowhere that only required a few hours work per week, from home, and paid 20/hr.

    I went from being broke to financial security in the span of a few months because I stepped out in faith and committed myself to tithing.

  5. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Eugene Cho, Christian Ray Flores. Christian Ray Flores said: check this out I’m not always comfortable with talking about money and mixing it with language of pro… http://bit.ly/9RV5eO by Eugene Cho […]

  6. Ben from TIC says:

    I can second tithing. Even though tithing is training wheels for giving, it’s the act of worship I most look forward to every month. God wants us to test him in this! That’s hard for me to swallow having grown up as a Calvinist. There are too many stories to tell. Just know that God has been gracious to me in his one-way love. Trust his promises and give. Make all you can, save all you can, and give away all you can.

    “Those who honor me I will honor” 1Sam. 2:30
    “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.” Malachi 3:10

  7. EC,
    Love the honesty! One of the reasons I love our senior pastor so much is because he is so quick to admit that he doesn’t have it all figured out! Thanks for being transparent in your “story” so that God may receive the glory!

  8. Teresa says:

    My craziest story was coming home and having my husband explain his great idea that we should do a Thai food booth at the local country fair to raise money for relief Internally Displaced People (IDPs) in Burma. My first thought was “This is crazy! (and where are we gonna get the money to even start)!” My next thought was, “Better talk to God about this.” I was on my way up the stairs to go ask God what a reasonable response was, when the phone rang, and a lawyer who had closed our house deal 6 years earlier was calling to say he was retiring, realized he owed us $800 and the check was already in the mail. God cares about people in need way more than we can imagine! While we are yet speaking He will answer…..

  9. Steve R says:

    As a pastor, I also hesitate sometimes to share stories like this for 2 reasons: 1) the afore mentioned “formula” effect you mentioned, and 2) like others I’ve been on that other end when people are talking about God’s blessings and I’ve wondered, “Why not me? What am I doing wrong?”

    With that said, I’ll share the latest…3 weeks ago I took a softball to the face and suffered 7 facial fractures. 5 of the fractures “healed on their own” according to the doctor, leaving only a deviated septum and an upper nasal fracture requiring surgery…that was blessing number 1. Blessing number 2 came 3 days before surgery, when out of the blue came a letter from a kid I taught in youth group 13 years ago when I was just starting out in ministry. He and his wife have a very successful business, and he had seen on Facebook about my ordeal. He felt “led” to send me a check, so that my ministry wouldn’t suffer due a worry over money…the amount of the check? The exact amount of our health insurance deductible, which will be eaten up with this injury and surgery. Not less than, not more than…the exact amount. I am still floored…

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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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