Eugene Cho

guest post: may we all be egyptians

As you know, I’m hosting an occasional guest blogger for my readers. Today’s guest post is by Helen Lee, the author of a new book called The Missional Mom. I admit I have yet to finish the book but from what I’ve read thus far, I’ve been very encouraged – even as a Dad!

Let me also share how indebted I am to Helen. I’ve only met her once before (very briefly) but when she read from my Twitter account that I lost my jacket in Washington DC and was coming into freezing Chicago (her home), she found out where I was speaking at and sent her husband to greet me with an extra jacket!

Not only is she a missional mom but also a compassionate missional mom! Thanks Helen.

On another note, I’m incredibly grateful to Helen and her agent who are donating 10% of all proceeds directly to One Day’s Wages. Take a peek at her website.

Here’s her guest post:

Watching the recent events in Egypt unfold has been an incredible experience, to say the least. But of all the coverage, the article entitled “We Are All Egyptians”, by New York Times journalist Nicholas Kristof, affected me the most. Within minutes of reading it, I was surprised to find tears in my eyes. Here are some of the quotes that stuck with me:

  • “Tahrir Square on Thursday: pure determination, astounding grit, and at times, heartbreaking suffering.”
  • “[President Hosni] Mubarak appears to have unleashed a brutal crackdown…I encountered a line of [his] goons carrying wooden clubs with nails embedded in them.”
  • “Countless Egyptians here tell me that they are willing to sacrifice their lives for democracy.”

Hundreds of thousands of protesting Egyptians were willing to give up their lives for the cause of freedom. Ordinary citizens became revolutionaries and demonstrated that some things are worth fighting for, even if you have to pay the ultimate price.

At first, I was emotional as I thought about the plight of the people of Egypt, trying to comprehend what it must be like to live in a society in which pursuing democracy means you have to be willing to be bashed in the head with a nail-studded club. But the more I thought about the protesters, the more I found myself envying them.

I envied their passion, their courage, their commitment to a mission greater than themselves. Their willingness to give up everything, even their very lives, for something they believe in. This sounds exactly like the fire I want to see in my own life. Christians talk about laying down our lives, and some amongst us actually do.

But to be honest, this kind of sacrificial living is far from the reality for me. Maybe you feel the same way. My life does not have enough “revolution” and risk in it, in any substantial way. I may be safe here in my suburban Christian life, but I’m realizing that living safely might mean that I am in danger of missing out on the best of what God is intending for me.

The Egyptian people might not yet fully have their liberty, but in embracing a sacrificial posture in their lives, they have found a freedom that I lack. They have taught me anew that being willing to lay down our lives is the way to find it. May we all be Egyptians, indeed.

———————————————————————————————-

Helen Lee has been writing for Christian audiences for more than 15 years. In addition to authoring The Missional Mom, she served as co-editor and contributor of Growing Healthy Asian-American Churches (IVP, 2006) and has written numerous articles for publications such as Christianity Today, Leadership Journal, and Today’s Christian Woman, twice earning Higher Goals awards in reporting from the Evangelical Press Association.

[photo credit: The Boston Globe]

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22 Responses

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Eugene Cho, Gene Anderson. Gene Anderson said: RT @EugeneCho: guest post: may we all be egyptians http://wp.me/pT6R-2bK […]

  2. Robin says:

    I found the Egyptian protesters very inspiring. I wonder too how much I’m willing to give up for what I believe in. In the end right now it comes down to finding my way to abiding in Him and moving forward in my life as he directs.

    • Helen says:

      Thanks for your comment, Robin. I feel completely soft and without courage compared to what I saw and read about the protesters. And the ironic thing is that those of us who follow Christ have the ultimate example of what it means to lay down our lives…it’s just easy to forget what it means to live sacrificially in our culture. Appreciate your input!

      • Eugene Cho says:

        Helen,

        Thanks again for being my guest blogger this month.

        In thinking (and agreeing w/ your post), it conjured up some other thoughts about the difficult of living courageously in the mundane things of the world.

  3. This is why we love movies that have wonderful story lines, we want to be caught up in something bigger than ourselves. We want our lives to have meaning. We want something that is so precious we are actually willing to risk our lives for it. That is exactly what we have with the missio dei.

    Thanks Helen for your article and inspiring us to live beyond ourselves!

    • Helen says:

      Thanks, Michael. I appreciate what you are doing through http://www.missionalinsuburbia.com to help suburbanites understand and embrace the missio dei even in the suburbs! The older I get, the more I realize that I want my life to matter for something that has lasting meaning. Watching what was happening in Egypt was a great reminder of that–like watching an amazing movie unfold, indeed! Thx for your comment!

  4. Great thoughts, Helen. And the truth is clear: where freedom is most threatened, people seem to rise to the ideals heroically. I appreciate our freedom, but I wonder if we have become complacent as a result. I know I can be more often than I would like.

    Thanks for the reminder.

  5. Wayne Park says:

    The entire Middle East seems “unhinged.”
    We live in remarkable times, indeed.

    The only thing I wonder is to what extent this new-found democracy will be a democracy we are familiar with. Extremists and radicals could take the reins and we are left with an uglier mess than before… ?

    44″Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came’; and when it comes, it finds it unoccupied, swept, and put in order.

    Then it goes and takes along with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first. That is the way it will also be with this evil generation.”
    Matt 12:44 – 5

    I’m no dispensational literalist but hoping those words aren’t relevant to the current state of things.

    • Helen says:

      Wayne–yes, I know what you mean. I’m not a political scientist by any means, but for all his fault, Mubarak did make positive contributions to peace in the region and it will be interesting to see what happens next. That having been said, I was still inspired by what happened at the grassroots level and how ordinary citizens made such a difference–wonder how we can encourage more of that kind of activity and behavior amongst the people in our congregations. Thanks for contributing your thoughts!

    • Eugene Cho says:

      dude. you got to texas and suddenly…
      😉

  6. Trina says:

    Helen,
    Thanks for the article. I believe that we all want to be a part of something bigger than ourselves.
    The Egyptian people didn’t allow the “cost” to deter them from their mission. What a picture of courage, dedication, and passion.
    Your post leads me to ask the questions, “What about me? What do I stand for and what is the cost? Am I truly willing to engage?”
    Thanks for the article, Helen. I will be thinking about sacrificial living in a new way.
    BTW…I love the story Eugene shared about the jacket. Very cool!
    Trina

    • Helen says:

      Trina, I appreciate what you wrote–you must have so many of these issues on your mind with your recent trip to the Justice Conference! The more I come in contact with people and stories of sacrificial living, the more my own life feels staid and superficial. I want to start praying with more resolve for opportunities and risks to live boldly for God. We are reading the biography of George Muller here in our homeschool, and I’ve been amazed at how fully he trusted God for everything, literally for his daily bread. I have a long way to go to exhibit this kind of faith and trust. How can we encourage one another to live in a more committed and passionate way for Christ? That’s something I’ll definitely be pondering in the days to come.

      As for the jacket story, Eugene is too kind. It was really a matter of being in the right place at the right time. I happened to know already where he’d be meeting others that night, and coindentally (or God-incidentally) it was not too far from where I live! Then hubby came home much earlier than expected and was able to be the delivery man. God was the one watching over Eugene and we played a small role in helping out. =)

      Thanks for your comment! Much appreciated!

      • Robin says:

        I have been reading the autobiography of George Muller. It really stretches my immagination of what we can expect from God and what he expects from us. We trust and he cares. I have had the experience of God coming through on prayers that seemed unanswerable but I haven’t always responded well because I wasn’t able to not worry so I had this HUGE burden of concern in some of these situations and while a solution came through miraculously I reacted by a letdown sensation and needed recovery time….it just goes to show how far I have to go.
        Shaun Groves has been posting about George Muller and I was reimpressed with the need to ASK God for what I need and I did recieve it.
        A precariously housed friend of mine has told me several times (and others as well) that they can not see the difference between Christians and others. And she is referring to people that I look at as giving up quite a bit to serve God and their neighbors. She looks and sees that we have nice houses, cars, jobs, vacations etc and doesn’t see what WE call sacrifice. Will God? I am praying about this.

  7. Jennifer says:

    I too have been thinking about what it means to live in a democratic society and what it means to sacrifice personal comfort for the greater good. I know that the choices I face every day are not as dramatic and not as obvious. But they’re still important in the grand scheme of things. Our book club is supposed to read Shusaku Endo’s “Silence” next month, and I’m already wondering…if I were faced the prospect of being tortured and imprisoned, would I commit apostasy or stand firm in my faith? My guess is that I will never have to make that choice, given the freedom that we have in the U.S.

    • Helen says:

      Oh, that is a powerful book, Jenn. Sometimes I wonder that too–how would I ever be able to as brave as the many martyrs who’ve given their life up for Christ? At the same time, then I think about the fact that God probably wants to see more faithfulness from me in the smaller things before he will ever entrust me with anything so dramatic. On one hand, that’s a relief; on another hand, it’s an indication of how small my faith is. I clearly remember the last time I told God that I wanted to do something risky for him. The next day I received a call from InterVarsity, asking if I would give a testimony to the entire staff conference (1,000 people or so) which for me, as a 21-year-old, felt incomparably huge. I haven’t prayed that prayer again in a long long time. Thinking I need to start doing so again. =) Thanks so much for commenting!

  8. Victor C says:

    You write, “I envied their passion, their courage, their commitment to a mission greater than themselves.”
    ^– I wonder how many in the Islamic Revolution of Iran and jihadists of Al Queda also believe in a “mission greater than themselves.”

    Uprisings occur when one chooses to drown the personal in the corporate. For that to take place, an assumption is made: that corporate mission is greater than my personal goals.

    Yet, what happens if the corporate mission is one with which the West disagrees, such as Communism, Shia Islam, or terrorism?

    My point is that it should not so much about the actual movement than its results.

    Kyrgyzstan’s Tulip revolution of 2005 brought about new elections, but the resulting elected official ended up just as corrupt as his predecessors. (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tulip_Revolution)

    If we measured by immediate results, Jesus’s revolution was an absolute failure, quashed by the Sanhedrin at Jesus’s death, with His supporters scattered, meeting in hideouts.

    However, we all know how Jesus’s revolution was less about the immediate and more about the eternal.

    Let’s not judge the Lotus Revolution by its immediate results but by the change effected by it.

    Ultimately, I sympathize with that desire to live for something greater than yourself. It’s for that very reason why I am called to missions. Yet, I hope not to be judged by immediate results but instead by the eternal impact my life makes for the Kingdom.

  9. Helen says:

    Victor, great points. I definitely want to clarify that I’m not necessarily supporting any and all revolutions in which people sacrifice at great cost to themselves–as you’ve noted, many of those causes exist in the world that we would not necessarily want to support. But the mentality and the willingness demonstrated by ordinary Egyptian citizens–that was what I found striking. In some ways, that type of passion is exactly what characterized the early church: the willingness to literally lay their lives on the line for what they believed in. A lifestyle that exhibited self-sacrifice and a commitment to the greater body. That’s the kind of perspective I saw in the Egyptian people. That is the kind of commitment I do not often see in followers of Christ today, broadly speaking, and I include myself in that assessment. I just wonder what would happen if more of those of us who call ourselves Christians displayed the kind of commitment that we saw in the Egyptian people…how the church would look, what kind of effect we could have in the world around us. Yes, spiritual results are not up to us and not always able to be measured. But there are so many practical ramifications that can also occur if the church as a whole acts as the hands and feet of Jesus to even a greater extent than it does now. More of the poor fed, more of the downtrodden lifted up, more justice rolling down–imagine, for example, what One Day’s Wages could do if more people gave sacrificially from their own personal storehouses to increase the influence of this ministry? I highlight Egypt not to just encourage any sort of revolution anywhere, but to specifically inspire those of us in the church to consider what it means in our own life to live sacrificially and boldly for Christ. That’s a cause–and a Person!–worth fighting for. =) Thanks so much for your insights, Vic!

  10. Strangely, my last two attempts at commenting don’t appear to be here. Here’s another try!

    Thanks for the great reminder, Helen. While we are not to go out of our way to look for suffering, I am humbled how those who seem to model grace and humanity and hope the best are those who face the hardest realities. I worry that many of our freedoms and much of our wealth can make us complacent.

    Again, a timely reminder.

  11. […] recently wrote a guest post for Eugene Cho’s blog, in which I discussed my admiration for the sacrifices of the Egyptian people in their quest for […]

  12. Frankie says:

    DragonLady: I don’t know if this is so, Italy has had to call an emergency on immigrants coming into the country, fear is Tunisian prisoners are coming in and at least a 100 Egyptians too came by boat. That CBS reporter, well we know what happened.

    Better to say, We are all Hmong women, they never get abortions, American, Chinese, Korean women all have high rates of such.

  13. The Original Grand Torino says:

    How’s that Hope and Change working out now in Egypt? Virginity checks for women by the army after Mubarak left??

    The war in Libya by protest too at first. This has not worked out well at all. Mubarak was not that bad relatively as an Egyptian told me who really was an Egyptian.

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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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