Eugene Cho

a tribute to my imperfect wife and best friend

In Asian culture, it’s usually customary not to speak highly of yourself, and even more so, to speak highly of your spouse.

In this case,  I can’t help it. In fact, I have and make no apologies.  I think it’s more than appropriate to celebrate a special person in my life –  my partner, wife, and best friend.  I am amazed and encouraged by my wife, Minhee – even more so after 15 years of marriage – and mutually seeing all of our collective flaws and blemishes.

And there are a lot of flaws and blemishes. More with her than me…but I digress. This is a tribute and not a roast. 😉

This last week, we celebrated Minhee’s graduation from Seattle Pacific University as she completed her graduate school degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. To say that it has been an arduous journey is an understatement but she is finished!

In our marriage and family, people naturally see me because of my visible role in numerous capacities. If I am the face of our family (and not a pretty one at that), she is certainly the heart.

And oh, how she beats…

Not only do I love her but…I know her – and I respect her deeply:

Love.

She left all that was familiar and comfortable in Korea to trek to the United States to begin our new life together – at the difficult adult age of 26.  She left family, friends,  her native language, culture, her job, etc. She left everything out of love and covenant to begin our lives anew in a new and foreign land.  

Faith.

She loves Christ. She is devoted in her faith. She pours her heart into reading and studying the Scriptures. She prays for so many. She is my pastor. I am moved by her faith.

Courage.

She took a mountainous step of faith in agreeing to leave our former church 10 years ago to plant Quest Church with me. That decision meant agreeing to be without salary and health insurance in the first year –  and she was pregnant with our second child.  Thanks for your courage.

Compassion.

The last couple years have been the most trying time of our lives but she held true to our commitment and conviction to give up our year’s wages and start One Day’s Wages and launch this grassroots movement of people, stories, and actions to alleviate extreme global poverty. That decision was costly on many levels including a stretch of couch-surfing – perhaps the most difficult decision we’ve made as parents. I have been moved by her investment and care for the numerous foster children she counsels through her work as a therapist. Thanks for your compassion.

Wisdom.

I admire her wisdom and her commitment in our partnership in loving, nurturing, and raising our three children – including honoring our joint and prayerful decision for her to be a stay-at-home mother until all of our kids entered the public school system. We made an intentional decision knowing first hand that we’d go into heavy debt but we saw this to be one of the most important investments we could make. Additionally, there was a particular sacrifice for her to put her career and dreams on hold…Thanks for your wisdom.

Patience.

She deals with me. Enough said.

Vision.

At the age of 38, she decided to go back to school and pursue a second Masters degree and study Marriage & Family Therapy. She got into the program years ago but after receiving the joyous news of the pregnancy of our first child, we decided to wait,  wait (after our 2nd child), and wait even more (after the arrival of our 3rd child). In fact, she waited thirteen years.

When she went back to school three years ago, I have to be honest and share that I had my doubts…but she received stellar grades, earned a scholarship, and was a true model to our children. She persevered and remained true to the dreams and vision God placed upon her heart many years ago before I ever met her. Thanks for your vision.

Minhee is not perfect. Truth be told, she’s far from perfect – just as I am far from perfect. But in her weakness, I see, witness, and experience the substance and sufficiency of God’s grace and it is truly beautiful.

Congratulations to Minhee as she marks and celebrates this milestone of her graduation. Can’t wait to see what the next chapter unfolds…

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17 Responses

  1. Sejin Park says:

    You have a beautiful family. I say that with an adoration of what marriage is truly supposed to look like – that it is not a cookie cutter type of relationship but one that perseveres through the thick and rejoices through the thin. Tying this back to Christ – that He is not a cookie cutter type of God.

  2. This is so beautiful. Thank you for honoring your wife this way. 🙂 Congrats, Minhee!!

  3. Elaine says:

    Eugene, you don’t know me . .But I got to know your wife, Minhee through the Mother’s School in Seattle . .:)

    She surely is a wonderful lady. And you’re so blessed to have her as your wife, a partner in ministry and the best friend.

    Bless both of you . .

  4. Wayne Park says:

    you guys are role models for us as we seek to both be equipped as a team, to find true vocation, to wrestle with the pastoral / “samonim” titles and to build legacy beyond ourselves

  5. Dave Ingland says:

    Thanks for sharing this Eugene. I hope to someday get to a similar place where I can lift up flaws and imperfectikn without them being a point of contention between my wife and I. Strength through your journey continually inspires me. As you have said to me, I say back to you, “respect!”

  6. Paul says:

    It is very uplifting to see a man living out his faith and commitment to the one the Lord has given him. Thanks Eugene for sharing her with us. What a lovely couple you are.

  7. Jennifer Kay says:

    Eugene!! Congrats to your beautiful wife. I’m so happy to be able to follow your blog and keep in touch this way.

  8. Kristen says:

    As far as I can see, the teachings to husbands in Eph. 5 can be summed up as follows:

    Lay down your life
    To raise up your wife.

    You have done both. Good for you.

  9. steph says:

    what a beautiful tribute to your wife. it’s so inspiring and encouraging.

  10. This is beautiful, Eugene. Thank you for honoring your wife and exampling a Godly marriage to your children, your church, and your community. Congratulations, Minhee! You are an inspiration and a blessing to many! God bless you both as you continue to seek Him!

  11. Minhee’s journey sounds a bit like my own…I have been waiting 13 years to start my 2nd Master’s at Bethel Seminary and be faithful to God’s call on my life. But I have also had to be faithful in the wait. Thanks for this post, I feel encouraged.

  12. Kayce says:

    Beautiful! Congratulations! Me thinking about going to SPU one day too.

  13. penny hunter says:

    Simply beautiful. Every word of it.

  14. Jonghee Jo says:

    What an impressive story! She was impressive back in 1988 (I knew Minhee from Somang Church in Seoul) and now she is even more amazing.

  15. […] it is customary [and wise] to speak well of your spouse on your anniversary but Minhee truly is an expression and embodiment of God’s grace and beauty to my life. Our marriage – while clearly not perfect – remains focused on the three pillars I often […]

  16. […] hard for me to put into words how proud I am of my wife. Not an arrogant kind of proud but, “Wow, God is working through my wife” kind of […]

  17. […] I’m thankful for my wife, best friend, and deepest advocate – Minhee.  A simple bullet point would not be sufficient to explain her inspiration in my life. So, feel free to read this. […]

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One Day’s Wages

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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) May our hearts break for injustice and exploitation - whether abroad or in our own backyard. Spending a few days for @onedayswages in Thailand. Along with one of our board members, I'm traveling with a group of 10 others to learn, listen and visit a few NGOs including one of our partners, @thefreedomstory. Couple days ago, we spent an evening walking through Soi Cowboy. On a given night, about 10,000 people are in the ring of prostitution in Soi Cowboy, Nana Plaza, and Patpong. Much of this is driven by the consumer demand. Approximately 70% of male tourists go to Thailand for the sex industry.

Human trafficking is complex. Anyone that says otherwise is lying or selling you something. 
To reduce it to simple terms, or simple problems, or simple solutions…cause harmful consequences. While we can all agree that it is sinful, egregious, evil, and wrong…there are many nuances and complexities. It would serve all of us to grow deep in the awareness not just of the larger issue but the nuances and complexities.

When people speak of human trafficking, they tend to be ‘attracted’ to the issue of sexual exploitation. Dare I say it, human trafficking has become trendy as a justice issue.

Clearly, it’s evil and egregious. But to reduce the entire issue of human trafficking into one form is not helpful. Because the mission is to fight the entire injustice of slavery. And if that’s the commitment, we have to not only combat sexual exploitation but engage in issues of poverty, forced labor, commercial exploitation in tourism, land rights and power abuses, organized crime networks, cultural and economic realities, etc.

Oh, it's so complex but we have to be engaged whether in Thailand or in our own backyards. May our hearts break for the things that break the heart of God... More thoughts to come.

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