Eugene Cho

A moral budget: What would Jesus cut?

Update: I’m joining in solidarity with others in expressing deep disappointment and anger over the recent news and decision by the House Agricultural Committee’s decision to cut the SNAP program (formerly food stamps) by more than $35 million over the next 10 years.

While it should not make it past the Senate, I’ve emailed my elected officials to express this disappointment and to take actions. Regardless,  you have to wonder where our priorities are.

I am all for reducing our national deficit. It must be a priority but to do it at the expense of those who need food via this program is morally wrong.

Wrong.

Here’s a brief synopsis from Bread for the World’s blog:

Bread for the World is infuriated by the House Agriculture Committee’s decision today to slash the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) by more than $35 billion.

“Cuts to SNAP, particularly at a time of continued high unemployment and unprecedented need for food assistance, are a moral outrage,” said Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World. “SNAP is working exactly as intended. It has grown to meet increased need and is expected to decrease to pre-recession levels as the economy recovers.”

You can read the full article here or one via Reuters and I encourage you to join Bread for the World’s efforts to advocate for the poor.

WWJC? What would Jesus cut?

I have reasons to both like and dislike Tupac but his words when he was alive still hit the core:

“They have money for war but can’t feed the poor.” – Tupac

Original Blog Entry:

Several weeks ago (right before I left for my sabbatical), I joined with six other pastors from around the country – in partnership with Sojourners – to draft an open letter to Congress and President Barack Obama regarding the budget and the proposals to cut certain programs that aid the poor in our country. Our hope was to invite at least 1,000 pastors to join us in signing this document.

As of today, we’re had nearly 5,000 pastors & Christians leaders from all 50 states join us in signing this open letter and we hope to keep adding voices and signatures. As a pastor and Christian leader will you add your voice to let our political leaders know that you stand with the poor?

Read the letter below and if you resonate with our message, please sign your name.

I’m not interested in politics for the sake of politics.

But I care about politics because politics impacts policies which ultimately, impact people.

And by people, I mean that everyone matters. We’re all important but in a system where the poor are often without powerful lobbies, platforms, and megaphones, I believe that the Christian community has both the obligation and privilege to assist them and their needs to be heard. Let’s not be mistaken. God does take sides but they have nothing to do with the sides of liberals or conservatives, Republicans or Democrats, but rather, God takes the sides of the poor and marginalized.

So, I encourage you, with humility and wisdom…engage politics; Be civil.

Here’s the letter:

We are local pastors. Our lives are committed to our churches and communities. Every day we work to preach and live the Gospel of Christ. We challenge our congregations and parishes to live lives of personal responsibility and encourage them to live good and righteous lives. This also means calling our communities and nation to live up to corporate responsibilities.

In every one of our congregations we have programs that help those in need with jobs, clothing, food, or counseling. We gladly take up the challenge of encouraging our congregation members to give more, but in these past few years, it has been difficult for us to watch the need around us rise while the resources we have diminish. We work, pray, and do whatever we can to remain faithful to the responsibility of every Christian to help the poor. Still, we can’t meet the crushing needs by ourselves. We do our best to feed the hungry, but charitable nutrition programs only make up 6% of total feeding programs in the country while the government makes up 94%.

In every one of our congregations we have members who receive much-needed support from government programs. We have seen this support allow young people to be the first members of their families to get college degrees, ensure mothers can feed their children a healthy diet, enable those with disabilities to live fulfilling lives, give much-needed medical care to those who can’t afford it, support seniors, provide housing for families, and help people in finding a job.

SNAP, WIC, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, Head Start, Pell Grants, and Community Development Block Grants aren’t just abstract concepts to us; they serve the same people we serve. There are changes that can be made or efficiencies that can be found, but every day we see what government can do. There is more need today than Churches can meet by themselves. This is why we join in the “Circle of Protection.”

As Christians, we believe the moral measure of the debate is how the most poor and vulnerable people fare. We look at every budget proposal from the bottom up–how it treats those Jesus called “the least of these” (Matthew 25:45). They do not have powerful lobbies, but they have the most compelling claim on our consciences and common resources. The Christian community has an obligation to help them be heard, to join with others to insist that programs that serve the most vulnerable in our nation and around the world are protected. We know from our experience of serving hungry and homeless people that these programs meet basic human needs and protect the lives and dignity of the most vulnerable. We believe that God is calling us to pray, fast, give alms, and to speak out for justice.

As Christian leaders, we are committed to fiscal responsibility and shared sacrifice. We want to support you in reducing the deficit. Small business and job growth are essential part of the path to prosperity for all Americans. We are also committed to resist budget cuts that threaten the well-being and, in some cases, the lives of the neediest among us. Therefore, we join with others to form a Circle of Protection around programs that meet the essential needs of hungry and poor people at home and abroad. We urge you to prioritize them, and we pledge our support and prayers for you in doing so.

Blessings,Rev. Nadia Bolz-Weber, House For All Sinners and Saints
Rev. Eugene Cho, Quest Church
Rev. Carlos Duran, Hombres de Palabra
Dr. Cynthia L. Hale, Ray of Hope Christian Church
Rev. Adam Hamilton, Church of the Resurrection
Dr. Joel Hunter, Northland – A Church Distributed
Rev. Rich Nathan, Vineyard Church Columbus

Filed under: , , , , , , , , ,

14 Responses

  1. Sejin Park says:

    This is interesting. It is the work that I’m doing at my summer internship right now. I’m working with the National Council of Churches in D.C where my job is to “empower and mobilize the faith community to lend its moral and public voice to the ongoing debate around poverty”.

    I forwarded the letter to my supervisor who is a reverend.

    I hope things are well with you in your vacation since the wallet incident occured.

  2. Sue says:

    Thank you and others for your leadership on this. We need to raise our voices.

  3. This is no easy position for someone who identifies as a Libertarian.

    On one hand, I’d like those who rely on the care of the government to be taken care of financially. On the other hand, I believe the policies of D.C., over the many decades, has harmed those they’ve been meaning to esteem. That, in the long run, everyone will suffer for the burden of debt the government has taken upon itself.

    And sure, I’d like to see Social Security, Medicare and all of the programs relied upon by so many to dissolve in favor of market solutions; but not like this. Not all at once so those who’ve paid dutifully into the system (not by choice, mind you) are left out to dry.

    The question is never should we take care of the poor and the widows, but what is the best way. But I fear the debt has and will make everyone poorer, causing more poverty and tipping the scales even further past the 94% the people rely on their government for help.

    • Eugene Cho says:

      Garrett:

      Great comment. Thanks for the ‘push-back.’ Love this especially:

      “The question is never should we take care of the poor and the widows, but what is the best way.”

      And yes, while I support the heart of the letter, I am aware of the nuances of the harm that dependence can have on personal, local, national, and even global levels. While I agree with you on the “how,” I am very skeptical that your thoughts are shared by our political leaders…

  4. KC says:

    As someone deeply impacted by cuts that have already happened in WA state, and would be by the proposed federal cuts, I thank you very much.

  5. […] I came across this great blog post from Pastor Eugene Cho of Quest Church in Seattle. In a general sense, Jedd and I really like what […]

  6. jasonwiedel says:

    Thank you. I long for the day when Christians will not be influenced by political ideology, but will take the side of of life, goodness, and people.

  7. parkhill says:

    We are supposed to take care of widows and orphans. thank you

  8. Arthur Pannell says:

    Our govt is broke and the population these social programs serve pay less than $0 income taxes due to the earned income tax credit. All govt programs need to prioritize resource expenditures and make do with less. We cannot continue to borrow unlimited $ from the Chinese, raise taxes or cut other govt expenditures that benefit a broader class of the public to support government administered charity without more rigorous evidence these programs as structured operate efficiently and achieve their objectives.

    • Arthur, I’m not going to argue with you about the government’s fiscal responsibility, or lack there of. I’m not even going to remark about how effective these programs may, or may not be because, truthfully, I wish they never existed.

      That is all completely secondary to what your responsibility is, as a Christian. You can’t get our government to stop borrowing money from China. You can however, go to work helping those who really do need it.

      You can start by going here: http://onedayswages.org/

  9. […] Don’t get cynical. We have to remain engaged because politicization aside, politics really do matter. […]

  10. […] past couple years because while I have my occasional bouts of cynicism over politics, I know that politics are important because it informs policies which ultimately, impact people – and I fear, people that are often […]

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

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. Seattle. 7:00pm. Desperately holding on to summer. #goldengardenpark #nofilter Happy Birthday, Minhee! I'm so grateful for you. You radiate faith, hope, and love.  No...you don't complete me. That would be silly and simply humanly impossible but you keep pointing me and our family to Christ who informs and transforms our lives, marriage, family, and ministry. Thanks for being so faithful. I love you so much. (* And what a gift to be in Korea together.)

my tweets

JOIN ME ON FACEBOOK

advertisements

Blog Stats

  • 3,417,988 hits