Eugene Cho

my decision to enter into politics

Recently, I had the opportunity to travel to Washington DC for two purposes. I attended the National Prayer Breakfast and was honored to hear President Barack Obama share about his faith in Christ. When he came out from the back to his seat, I was shocked that he waved at me. Cynics would suggest that he was waving at the whole group but I’m sure he was waving at me. You see, I waved back and he kept waving at me. Pretty cool.

The keynote speaker was Randall Wallace – the writer and producer of Braveheart. If you have about 35 minutes, I’d encourage you to watch his chat. It was an amazing talk and for some of you that have lost all hope in Hollywood, his “sermon” might compel you to give it a second chance.

After the breakfast, I had the opportunity to join about 30 others at the White House for a meeting hosted by Joshua Dubois, the head of the Office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. In short, the meeting was phenomenal for various reasons:

  • 30 compelling women and men – all seeking to do good in the larger world. If you could possibly see brains and ideas clicking in a meeting, this was that meeting.
  • A great presentation from Dr. Rajiv Shah – head of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). For what it’s worth, his appointment (last year) made history because he is the highest ranking Indian American in any presidential administration. His presentation on international development was brilliant. I’d pay to intern in his office.
  • Wonderful conversations – with those whom I call friends and those whose work I’ve admired from afar.

The main purpose of our conversation was to discuss:

How can we work together?

While I’ve gone back and forth about the role of faith and politics and my ongoing wrestling with my cynicism about government, religion, and anything organized, I’ve come to a place of peace and conviction that…

cynicism and hopelessness isn’t going to help change the world.

Rather, we have to inspire people towards action with hope, courage, and beauty – even in the midst of messy and muddled worldviews.

It’s for this reason that I’m seeking and learning how to better engage the platform of civic responsibilities and politics.

Long story short,

I’ve decided to enter into politics

Not for any political office. Don’t worry, I’m not running for any office, joining any party, but rather, to engage politics.

I’ve chosen to more intentionally engage politics not because I love politics but because politics impact policies which ultimately, impact people…

I don’t see a way around it:

Christians need to be engaged with our civic responsibilities.

In our ever increasing world and society of polarization, perhaps the greatest challenge might be how we work together with those that don’t think like us in all or some matters.

Which lend me to think about how we ought to engage politics as people of faith.  Well, I think we can begin by asking some important questions before and during…

  • How do we speak truth to power? The reality is that we live in the most powerful country in the nation…
  • How does the church work with the local and national government? Since I believe that God did indeed create the “office” of government, what is its role and how does the “Church” collaborate?
  • How do Christians remain “neutral” in the sense that we don’t serve as puppets for a political party or agenda but engage the political system to pursue Kingdom convictions?
  • How do we maintain a sense of unity through the chaos of different views?

What do you think?

How should Christians engage the political process?

Filed under:

28 Responses

  1. Totally agree that Christians should be involved in civic duties. I love election days, especially when local offices are up for grabs. It’s just inspiring to see the community turn out and see democracy at work peacefully. My dad was always a political hound, so I picked up on his zeal. But at the same time, Christians need to know that we do have hope outside of electing someone to office or passing a piece of legislation.

    • Eugene Cho says:

      thanks matt for the comment.

      agreed. there’s something about the election process here in the states that inspire and encourage me – particularly in the midst of all the choas that we see around the world.

      something not to be taken for granted.

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Eugene Cho, Jonathan D. Blundell and Jonathan Thornton, Alltop Christianity. Alltop Christianity said: my decision to enter into politics: Recently, I had the opportunity to travel to Washington DC for two purposes…. http://bit.ly/dGBF1h […]

  3. Al Shaw says:

    Am on a similar journey.

    Been writing essays on the topic thinking about some of the same issues.

  4. Matt Inman says:

    Faith and politics are issues I have also wrestled with joining. I really liked your question toward the bottom about how do we speak truth to power? I think that is it for me. I see a motif Christians pushing Biblically interpreted agendas through means of lobbying and power when I see God creating change (bulk of the time) through a different kind of power. A power that starts on the fringes and works its way spiritually, not through regulations. But then i think, doesnt the whole democracy thing change it all? If we have been given a voice shouldn’t we use it for Godly living?

    I am rambling. All that to say I struggle with it all because while I see it’s value I believe Christians have played bully with some of their power. So go for it! We all need better models of how to engage well.

  5. Maia Anderson says:

    I’m super encouraged by this.

  6. Lee Gibson says:

    Without expecting other people to share our faith.

    If we, as Christians, can’t advocate for our positions based on common sense and shared ethics, trying to convince people that God is on our side and they are wrong is not effective.

    Our positions can and should be informed by our beliefs, but they have no place in civil discourse if the best argument is “Well, God told me it has to be this way.”

    I’m looking at you, Pat Robertson.

  7. Matt D says:

    You’re treading dangerous grounds, Eugene. It’s difficult to speak to power without being seduced by power.

    • Eugene Cho says:

      i hear where you’re coming from.

      but my decision to “engage” politics is nothing new. and to be honest, i’d rather be treading dangerous grounds rather than sitting on my sofa. but that’s just me.

  8. jchenwa says:

    I think, not know, that government is GOD given, but as GOD’s chosen we have to remain set apart and Holy. How that is live out remains part of the journey w/ Him.

  9. Tim Morey says:

    Way to follow God’s call where it takes you Eugene. This is great news!

  10. Janet says:

    As you shared couple weeks ago, the next election cycle is going to be crazy and I hope that Christians will take the route of civility.

  11. Rob says:

    I’m a little disappointed by this. I find it all too common for people to become syncretistic when this happens. Yes, people should vote, and there are people who are called to the political arena, but…

    People begin a cycle of two primary wrongs when they become “politically active.” One of these two wrongs is that they place an equal value on the religion of politics as they do the scripture itself(Syncretism). We have all talked to these people before. They start posting quotes from our “christian” founding fathers. they are judgmental of other believers based on voting habits… I think you get the idea.

    The other thing is that people begin to think their political involvement becomes “enough” in terms of gospel mission. Working to end social ills, minister to the poor and needy, share the gospel with young girls before they are getting pregnant, and any other scenario requires some form of personal sacrifice. Political involvement for the masses requires little more sacrifice than a vote. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard people say, “I can’t look my brother in the eye and say I worked to help my fellow man if (Bill X) doesn’t pass.” or, “I did my part, don’t blame me…”

    The main thing has to be the Gospel at all times. Laws won’t change the hearts of men, only Christ can do that.

    • Andy M says:

      You give valid concerns. There are definately dangers to becoming involved in politics. However, just because there are dangers, doesn’t mean that those things will, or must, happen. The more aware you are of those things, the more you can avoid those tendencies.

      “Laws won’t change the hearts of men” Absolutely true. However, there is great value in creating good laws, or challenging bad old laws. Martin Luther King, Jr. said this:

      “It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can keep him from lynching me, and I think that’s pretty important.”

      In this country we have a system that gives us the ability, even responsibility, to come together as a people to decide what the government does. Everybody should be involved in politics in some way, whether it is voting, or protests, becoming an activist, or even just writing letters to Congressmen voicing concerns.

      But of course, we need to know above all else that kingdoms from this world are not, and will never be the Kingdom of God.

  12. I think the big problem is when we are trying to convince people that they should vote a certain way because one party is more Christian than the other. Obviously our Christian values will send us in a certain direction with regards to issues, but we should discuss the actual issue and not try to suggest that God is on one side or the other.

  13. Walt says:

    Curious story out of Portland Oregon on Representative David Wu. He wore a tiger suit. Some urge him to step down. Just on the face of it and I don’t know a lot, this does not seem so bad. This is just one link about the story: http://www.theatlanticwire.com/features/view/feature/Why-Is-Rep-David-Wu-Apologizing-for-His-Tiger-Costume-3240

  14. […] I’ve got a simple post today with a simple question. No need to argue, debate, or go into any dramatic existential thought process about “Who am I?” or about Faith & Politics. […]

  15. […] Was the Easter Prayer breakfast founded in sincerity or was it a political charade?  If it was purely spiritual, why was it followed by briefings with administration officials in which policy matters were discussed? After the breakfast, I had the opportunity to join about 30 others at the White House for a meeting hosted by Joshua Dubois, the head of the Office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. In short, the meeting was phenomenal for various reasons: Eugene Cho […]

  16. […] seeing him and supporting him as our President. […]

  17. […] I encourage you, with humility and wisdom…engage politics; Be […]

  18. […] I encourage you, with humility and wisdom … engage politics and be […]

  19. […] I got invited to this event is a little unclear but over the past couple years, I’ve been building relationships with the White House via their Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships. It’s also from a […]

  20. […]  How I got invited to this event is a little unclear but over the past couple years, I’ve been building relationships with the White House via their Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships. It’s also from a […]

  21. […] I got invited to this event is a little unclear but over the past couple years, I’ve been building relationships with the White House via their Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships. It’s also from a […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

stuff, connect, info

One Day’s Wages

My Instagram

People often ask, "How does one stand all that rain in Seattle?" Actually, it doesn't rain that much. I like the rain. Keeps everything "evergreen" and clean. Keeps our air fresh. What's challenging is the gray weather. Give me a few more sunny days. 99 more days to be specific. 
Regardless, still love this city. Checking out Canada in case I need to move up North after the presidential election. Just saying, eh.

Downtown Toronto. Fascinating architecture. Amazed by the diversity of this city. We desperately want our children to not just be captivated by the beauty of creation...but more importantly, to the actual Creator of all that is good and beautiful.

Actually, we want and need this truth for our souls, too. What a privilege. This isn't possible without all those who give, pray, and support the work of @onedayswages. This week, I signed and mailed grants to three partner organizations totaling over $170,000. These grants will empower people by supporting maternal health care, refugee relief efforts, access to clean water, provide education, etc.

Sometimes, the brokenness of the world feel so overwhelming but let's keep running the race with endurance. Let's keep pursuing justice, mercy, and humility. Let's be faithful and may we be spurred on to keep working for God's Kingdom...on earth as it is in heaven.

Again, thank you so much for your support for @onedayswages! My wife, Minhee, and I stand on the shoulders of praying mothers. I'd like to take a moment to honor my mother-in-law. It's hard to put words together to embody her life but she is a very special, anointed person. I'm so blessed to have her as a mother in my life.

She was a devoted wife until she lost her husband to cancer, mother to three daughters, and later became a pastor. She became a follower of Christ as an adult and as such, led her her family to Christ. In her late 50s, she obeyed God's calling to go to seminary and be a leader in the church. She graduated #1 in her class and reminded us that it's never too late to follow a new dream or calling.

As she'll soon celebrate her 80th birthday, I'm especially grateful for the ways that she poured into and prayed over Minhee and her other children.  Even though she's officially retired, I'm inspired that the concept of retirement is not in her vocabulary.  She continues to serve the local church, evangelize and bear witness to Christ, and goes to the early morning prayer meeting at 5am everyday to pray for our family, our church, and for others. 
Jangmonim, we love and honor you. 어머니, 사랑합니다.

Someday, I hope that when my kids speak of Minhee and I...above all, they would say with integrity that their parents prayed for them and kept pointing them to Christ. On this Mother's Day, I want to take a few words to honor mother.

There’s a moment from a few years ago that will stick with me until the day I die. It’s regarding Sung Wha, my mother.

Minhee and I were at a point of transition, between working at an ethnic Korean church in the northern suburbs of Seattle called Lynnwood and launching Quest in urban Seattle. As I shared earlier, I was in desperate need of a job. I had a mortgage to pay. A pregnant wife. A kid at home. 
Then, praise God, after months without work, I finally landed a job.

My mom was in between jobs at this point in her life. She was in her late fifties, but she had such bad knees and degenerative hips that it was, and is, difficult for her to walk. My mom is like a human barometer—when a storm is coming and when it rains, her hips throb. Although my parents lived in San Francisco, she was visiting us in Seattle to encourage us in this difficult season.

As I prepared to go to work one early morning, I walked downstairs to put on my jacket and shoes, and forgot that my mother woke up early every morning to pray. In fact, she had been praying for months that I would find a job. “Eugene, where are you going?” she said when she saw me.

I hadn’t told my mother the news that I had just recently been hired for the janitorial gig at Barnes and Noble. I chose not to because I thought she and my father would be devastated. I didn’t want them to think that after laboring, sacrificing, and doing so much for us over all those years that their son had failed them.

But I couldn’t lie to her, so eventually I told my mom that I got a job and was going to work. “Great! What job? What are you doing?” “Um, I’m working at Barnes and Noble as their custodian,” I said finally.

Without asking another question, my mother got up from the dining table where she had been reading her Bible and praying. She slowly walked slowly toward me.

She approached me, then walked past me without saying a word, and I realized she was headed toward the closet. She opened the closet door, put on her jacket, turned around and said to me (in Korean), “Eugene, let’s go together. I will help you.” This is my mother.

my tweets

  • Remember the fallen. Honor our soldiers. Pray for leaders. And remember that we serve the Kingdom of God rather than the Empire of Nations. || 6 hours ago
  • RT @micahchallenge: Our books Live Justly & Overrated are tools used to be moved to change the world! bit.ly/1s3DKI2 https://t.co/… || 1 day ago
  • Another challenging & life giving message by @RevDocBrenda. Such a privilege to teach with a team of women & men that love the whole Gospel. || 1 day ago
  • It's been years since Seattle Sonics "became" the OKC Thunder. Still stings. Seattle deserves a team before OKC gets a title. That is all. || 1 day ago
  • That time when nearly everyone laughed at @KlayThompson when he said he was the best shooting guard in the NBA. || 1 day ago
  • The best part of wanting to change the world...is being humbled, learning you're not the savior of the world & being changed in the process. || 2 days ago

JOIN ME ON FACEBOOK

advertisements

Blog Stats

  • 3,396,240 hits
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,409 other followers