Eugene Cho

seeking justice: does it really matter?

Yesterday morning, I arrived at Q Cafe as I do on nearly every work morning to begin a new day. I ordered my usual Americano, sat in the corner of the cafe, and began to read through a few of my regular blogs before my schedule really kicked in.

I read numerous articles and blogs on my RSS feed and then, came across this article entitled, South Africa: Declare ‘Corrective Rape’ a Hate Crime, and…was so heartbroken and angry. No matter what one’s beliefs and theology may be, these acts are heinous and barbaric.

After a while, I just felt overwhelmed and crushed.

My sense of hope overwhelmed and crushed.

It’s not just because of this article but truth be told, sometimes, the world – including my own personal depravity – seems…dare I say it…unredeemable.

So…utterly depraved and apparently unredeemable…that I wonder to myself and now, out loud:

Does it really matter?

In the face of such evil and human cruelty, does getting signatures matters? In the face of nearly 900 million people not having access to clean water, does providing water to 9000 kids matter?

I know what I’m supposed to say:

“Yes, it matters…”

But yesterday, I just felt…hopeless. Like hopeless…in the sense…that I just wanted to go fishing and not come back. And to be honest, I had a difficult time even praying and believing and sensing how God has, is, and will restore all things back unto Himself.

Yes, I believe…but there are days, when I wonder about the “why’s” and “how’s” and “where are you, God.” And to be more bluntly, “What the @$%*?”

I tried to pray. I read some Scripture. And I read several pages from a Martin Luther King, Jr. book that I’m currently reading again and read this quote (again):

“When our days become dreary with low hovering clouds of despair, and when our nights become darker than a thousand midnights, let us remember that there is a creative force in this universe, working to pull down the gigantic mountains of evil, a power that is able to make a way out of no way and transform dark yesterdays into bright tomorrows. Let us realize the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.”

The painful truth is that the world is indeed utterly depraved. We are unredeemable on our own. We cannot save ourselves. We need a Savior and the good news is truly that while we were still living in rebellion, depravity, and sin, Jesus came to be our Savior.

Yes, Jesus came to be our Savior.

I believe in this good news. I live for this good news.  But goodness, there are days, I just wonder and have my questions. I believe that God in still sovereign over the affairs of the universe and that of humanity. And I believe that that even when I don’t see or certainly feel it, I believe that God is at work to reconcile, redeem, and restore all things as God intended. I believe that “the arc of the moral universe bends towards justice…”

God, I believe….but help me in my unbelief.

You ever feel this way?

Take a few minutes to watch this. It’s very graphic and intense:

And here’s the article from change.org. Click it and sign the petition. You can also check out this article.

“Corrective Rape” is a term used to describe when a male rapes a lesbian with the aim of ‘turning’ her heterosexual!

This heinous crime is prolific in South Africa, especially in the “townships”.

Most of the victims are tortured, grievously assaulted and sometimes murdered! They are also prone to getting HIV/AIDS from the assault, and many of them commit suicide as a result of the “corrective rape”!

The South African government and justice system are failing the victims of Corrective Rape by letting the perpetrators out on ridiculously low bail, and taking literally years to bring the court-cases to a conclusion. In the meantime the victims have to live with seeing and being taunted and threatened by their rapists every day, as do those who help the victims!

In the last 10 years:
*31 lesbian women have been murdered because of their sexuality
*More than 10 lesbians a week are raped or gang raped in Cape Town alone
*150 women are raped every day in South Africa
*For every 25 men accused of rape in South Africa, 24 walk free

Despite all this, hate crimes on the basis of sexual orientation are not recognised by South African law!

We call on the South African government to declare “Corrective Rape” a Hate-Crime that is punishable by the harshest sentences!

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20 Responses

  1. catesongbird says:

    Eugene,
    Yesterday I was expressing to a friend similar sentiments about… the depravity in the world and more specifically in my own heart, which reveals itself in unnoticeable and more apparent ways on a daily basis. I ask God the questions as well. I know he can handle our questions, but at times, I’m not sure if I can handle them. At the same time, I see how I am utterly desperate and hopeless as a human being without a savior. I live in that tension and hang onto with a thread of faith.
    –cate
    http://catesong.wordpress.com
    http://www.catesong.com

  2. Tony C says:

    After watching the video, it reminded me of the documentary series by Vanguard. It’s surprising the church in Africa is a huge driving force for crimes and hate towards homosexuals. If you haven’t you should take a look at this video. http://current.com/shows/vanguard/92468669_missionaries-of-hate.htm

  3. kim says:

    When I feel helpless, I often read this prayer from Henri Nouwen:

    Dear Lord, in the midst of much inner turmoil and restlessness, there is a consoling thought: maybe you are working in me in a way I cannot yet feel, experience or understand. My mind is not able to concentrate on you, my heart is not able to remain centered, and it seems as if you are absent and have left me alone. But in faith I cling to you. I believe that your Spirit reaches deeper and further than my mind or heart, and that profound movements are not the first to be noticed.

    Therefore, Lord, I promise I will not run away, not give up, not stop praying, even when it all seems useless, pointless, and a waste of time and effort. I want to let you know that I love you even though I do not feel loved by you, and that I hope in you even though I often experience despair. Let this be a little dying I can do with you and for you as a way of experiencing some solidarity with the millions in this world who suffer far more than I do. Amen.

  4. randall says:

    I have two responses to this difficult, brave, and necessary post.

    First (and I do not write this lightly or flippantly), in this Advent season I think we need reminders like this of the brokenness of the world. It highlights all the more our need to look and prepare for and model the return of Emmanuel. In a way, I wonder if Christianity today is like the ministry of John the Baptist – that we should be calling people to imagine and live the life of the new kingdom of God in preparation for Christ’s return.

    Second, I can’t help but wonder if much of the church’s refusal to support gay marriage (or at the very least, equal civil union rights) plays into these sorts of dehumanizing views. I’m not saying the church is entirely to blame but it does play a role in determining norms via its views on sin. I don’t know what the religious climate is like there in South Africa but I wonder how it’s responding to (or God forbid, supporting) these crimes.

    “O come, o come Emmanuel / and ransom captive Israel.”

  5. Tonya says:

    ‎”I know – it’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here – but we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo – the ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were. ‘Cause sometimes you didn’t want to know the end because how could the end be happy?

    How can the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end it’s only a passing thing this shadow – even darkness must pass. A new day will come and when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer.

    Those were the stories that stayed with you, that meant something even if you were to small to understand why. But I think Mr. Frodo, I do understand – I know now. Folks in those stories had lots of chances in turning back only they didn’t. They kept going because they were holding onto to something.”

    “What are we holding onto, Sam?”

    “That there’s some good left in this world, Mr. Frodo – and it’s worth fighting for.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Maybe it is childish to resort to literary references, but I often do. I think Christ would agree as he was a great story teller as well. Not to lesson the horror of what has happened in this article, because I have never experienced anything of this magnitude, but I have been on the receiving end of some pretty horrific life circumstance. I know that as a Christian the most difficult part of dealing with human depravity is the doubt that He exists or that He ever loved you that accompanies the trauma. If you are lucky you are left with endurance, grace and hope that one day you may find His love again.

    I daily walk the precipice of doubt. But it is also my gift, or burden that I am empathetic. I can choose, as so many do, to not see, to turn my eyes from the horrors that exist outside the comfort of my sheltered little world, or I can look and be moved. I can allow it to affect me.

    Justice is our only choice. We must choose justice or we have stopped caring. We will have chosen to turn over to evil the people who have not yet been touched by the horrors. If we seek justice, in just one case, we will have won that battle. We can not win the war on justice all at once. But if for one person we have fought for their justice, maybe we have opened for them a path in the darkness where they can find their way back to Him and His love.

  6. tonya says:

    “I know – it’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here – but we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo – the ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were. ‘Cause sometimes you didn’t want to know the end because how could the end be happy?

    How can the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end it’s only a passing thing this shadow – even darkness must pass. A new day will come and when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer.

    Those were the stories that stayed with you, that meant something even if you were to small to understand why. But I think Mr. Frodo, I do understand – I know now. Folks in those stories had lots of chances in turning back only they didn’t. They kept going because they were holding onto to something.”

    “What are we holding onto, Sam?”

    “That there’s some good left in this world, Mr. Frodo – and it’s worth fighting for.

  7. tonya says:

    Maybe it is childish to resort to literary references, but I often do. I think Christ would agree as he was a great story teller as well. Not to lesson the horror of what has happened in this article, because I have never experienced anything of this magnitude, but I have been on the receiving end of some pretty horrific life circumstance. I know that as a Christian the most difficult part of dealing with human depravity is the doubt that He exists or that He ever loved you that accompanies the trauma. If you are lucky you are left with endurance, grace and hope that one day you may find His love again.

    I daily walk the precipice of doubt. But it is also my gift, or burden that I am empathetic. I can choose, as so many do, to not see, to turn my eyes from the horrors that exist outside the comfort of my sheltered little world, or I can look and be moved. I can allow it to affect me.

    Justice is our only choice. We must choose justice or we have stopped caring. We will have chosen to turn over to evil the people who have not yet been touched by the horrors. If we seek justice, in just one case, we will have won that battle. We can not win the war on justice all at once. But if for one person we have fought for their justice, maybe we have opened for them a path in the darkness where they can find their way back to Him and His love.

  8. Jason says:

    Wow, that is beyond revolting.

  9. Cindy says:

    Thanks Tonya, I really am encouraged by your words.

    Eugene, I have to say you and your work have been a significant influence in bringing me out of the dark place you have described. Keep fighting the good fight. With that said, some time off fishing may be in order.

    • Eugene Cho says:

      hey cindy,

      thanks for your words.
      i’m not saying this to embellish anything. reading your email + pics of the kids running around w/ those water bottles really spoke to my heart. thank you for everything. we’ve never met but you’ve supported us – both odw and our family – in so many ways.

  10. Ann F-R says:

    Eugene, I was reading a post written by a S. African a couple of days ago, and he mentioned a quote from MLK Jr., which resonates with what you’ve written. (It’s at the end of the African Enterprise devotional, below.)

    Here’s the whole post – I sure felt the kick of encouragement when I read this. We may be mere drops of individuals, but each one life we touch is dear to God. We’re praying for you, that the Lord may continue to encourage you by the power of the Holy Spirit to keep on!

    Committed to the Glories of Love
    by Michael Cassidy (Founder, African Enterprise)

    Lesley Richardson, wife of one of my AE colleagues, is a good example of a person who has understood love’s ways in the world and seeks to do her bit. She said to me, “I have had to come to terms with the fact that I just cannot take on my heart the whole situation in our Pietermaritzburg townships. But I can care for a few black children in a special way and to that I am going to confine myself and do my positive best right at that point.”

    So she set about pioneering non-racial preschools in the Imbali township, near our city of Pietermaritzburg. There she came face to face with the stark reality of the discrepancies between black and white in education. Few of the available preschool programs were suitable for use in cross-cultural and disadvantaged settings. So Lesley adapted what she had and researched preschool materials from every available source.

    Then she set up a teacher training program, training women who had formerly been child-minders and nursery helpers, providing whole new careers and empowering these women, who now achieved new acceptance and self-esteem in their communities.

    Ultimately Lesley helped set up over 100 schools with 120 trained teachers to provide quality preschool training for hundreds of disadvantaged children. The need has been enormous, but the consequences of a quality start in life for these youngsters who will help build a new South Africa is inestimable.

    The point is that, whatever others may do which is negative or destructive, positive and concerned individuals must do their bit where and when they can. Said Martin Luther King: “When evil men plot, good men must plan. When evil men burn and bomb, good men must build and bind. When evil men shout ugly words of hatred, good men must commit themselves to the glories of love. Where evil men would seek to perpetrate an unjust status quo, good men must seek to bring into being a real order of justice.”

    This devotional is excerpted from The Politics of Love by Michael Cassidy (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1990).

  11. So many thoughtful responses that encourage me…Nouwen is especially uplifting for me.
    I know in my heart of hearts that Satan is real and he is painfully aware that his time in the earth is short. John 10:10 says that Satan has come to steal kill and destroy, and I’d say he’s quite effective at it. Eugene, you are one steady light that is fighting the darkness and making headway in a world that looks ever so bleak at times. Well, good. When disaster and evil seem to deliver an extra portion in this life, then we know that Satan is good and mad and has reason to fight. You are a reason he fights. We are a reason he fights. Let him fight. We know who wins in the end. Thank you for not giving up. It inspires us to press on.

  12. Emily says:

    Yes… I’ve been feeling this lately. I think for the first time I’m really feeling the brokenness of the world and expressing outrage rather than glossing over it by saying “God is sovereign!” to myself. I just found-out that a friend of a friend woke-up the other day to find her little girl dead in her bed… I’m heartbroken and I’m really angry. This Christmas, I’m much less interested in the baby Jesus as I’ve known Him before and more interested in how He is setting things right again in the world. Hopelessness is definitely hanging around the edges of my heart.

    • Eugene Cho says:

      it’s good to be angry.
      but i still want to witness and see the redemptive power and grace of God.

      love this:

      This Christmas, I’m much less interested in the baby Jesus as I’ve known Him before and more interested in how He is setting things right again in the world.

  13. Mike Lehr says:

    Eugene, I was reflecting earlier today on providing an environment that allows questioning, doubt and skepticism in our churches and I came upon this post. Thanks for your honesty and reminding us it’s alright to cry out to God in those moments of doubt and confusion.

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One Day’s Wages

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As I soaked in this breathtaking sunrise this morning above the clouds, I felt compelled to pray for so my places in America and around the world that are experiencing such pain, heartache, injustice, and violence. At times, it feels so overwhelming but in prayer, I was reminded of these words from John 16:33. As we keep striving, working, hoping, preaching, loving, truthtelling, reconciling, repenting, forgiving, dismantling, peacemaking, Kingdom building...may we fix our eyes on Christ: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” - John 16:33 Grateful for a very full weekend of ministry and preaching in Toronto, Canada (GTA). Such a privilege to partner with @worldvisioncan @wvcollective to advocate for the most vulnerable around the world. God is so gracious. A true honor to meet and encourage local pastors, lecture at Tyndale University & Seminary (photo), and preach at Richmond Hills Community Church, Compass Point Bible Church, and New City Church. Thank you, Lord, that you use broken and imperfect people like me to speak of Your love. 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.

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