Eugene Cho

homelessness just isn’t as sexy…

Let’s be honest: the issue of homelessness just isn’t as sexy as some of other ‘justice’ issues like the global water crisis, human trafficking, or shoes. Yes, I just went there.

The reasons for homelessness are numerous and complex but the numbers – indicating real people – are real. Very real.

  • Approximately 2.3 – 3.5 million people are homeless each year in U.S. (Urban Institute)
  • 12 million adults in U.S. currently are or have been homeless at some point in their lives. (National Coalition for the Homeless)
  • The largest and fastest growing group of homeless folks are families with children, comprising 40% of the homeless population, mostly with single mother head of household. Average homeless family has 2.2 children. (HUD)
  • 33% of homeless men are veterans. (HUD)
  • 22% of single adult homeless population suffer from severe and persistent mental illness. (U.S. Conference of Mayors, 2001)

In the Seattle area alone, on any given night there are 7,980 homeless in Seattle/King County.

This is the main reason why Quest Church envisioned and funded a ministry called The Bridge Care Center and I can’t tell you how proud, encouraged, and convicted I am to be a part of this ministry. It’s the aspect of Quest that I’m most proud of this past year. What is the BCC?

The Bridge Care Center, a ministry of Quest Church, is an outreach center for men and women who are experiencing homelessness and displacement, allowing relationships to develop through advocacy and case management. We seek to provide partnerships and support to adults, youth and families who are experiencing homelessness and financial hardship. The Bridge Care Center’s work is about dignity and acknowledging people with value and meaning. [RSS readers: click here to see the video]

I’m so proud of our church because in spite of a challenging financial year, the church community blew past our announced goal of raising $50K and they gave nearly $75,000 to help underwrite the vision of the Bridge! We brought on our first staff (and case manager) and numerous volunteers to initially focus on three main areas:

  • Advocacy and Referral Services
  • Computer & Communication
  • Clothing Bank

How you can help?

This request is especially directed to anyone and everyone that lives in the greater Seattle area. I’d like to sincerely ask you to consider 3 very simple ways to support The Bridge. While a ministry of Quest, this operation is couple miles from our location and designed to serve the larger Seattle area – and especially the Ballard area where there are numerous challenges but very limited resources.

CLOTHING. We need your clothes. Seriously. I want your clothes. I’ll send volunteers to your home to pick them up or you can drop them off at the Bridge or at the Q Cafe. I’ll also take your extra blankets or sleeping bags.

FINANCIAL CONTRIBUTIONS.  Yes. Can you consider investing $25, $50, $100, or another amount. You can send in your donations to: Quest Church (c/o Bridge Care Center), 3223 15th Avenue West, Seattle, WA 98119

If you’re a pastor of a local church, I’d like to especially ask you and your congregation to make a donation to The Bridge. 100% of your donation will go directly to fund the three focuses of Advocacy & Referral Services, Computer & Communication, and Clothing Bank.

VOLUNTEER. Please contact jill@seattlequest.org and we’ll get you up and running. Asides from one paid staff, the entire Bridge Care Center is run by volunteers.

Joking aside, I’m glad that God calls us respectively and collectively to seek good, love mercy, do justice – here, there, and everywhere. But as we go there and everywhere, I’m regularly reminded – by the lines of people that are literally waiting for the Bridge doors to open every week – that we can’t forget to focus on the here.

Folks need shoes here, too.

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13 Responses

  1. Andy Wade says:

    Good Job, Quest! Blessings upon you all as you expand the presence of the Kingdom of God!

  2. KL says:

    Thank you for this post. I think many of us (including myself) struggle inwardly with how to respond when we think about our responsibility as Christians (and really, as fellow human-beings) when we see someone on the street who is clearly in need. Having a place like The Bridge Care Center to refer them to is an effective way to help meet that responsibility.

  3. Thank you so much for posting this, Pastor Eugene. I watched the video and I am so moved by the ministries of Quest. Since moving from Seattle, I have really missed being a part of the church. I loved the tight knit community, the honest humility, and the sincere passion to love God and love people. Keep up the amazing work, and I hope to get involved when I can.

  4. Stephen says:

    I have a bunch of clothes I just picked out of my closet. If I bring them to church tomorrow where can I leave them?

  5. Nancy Howerton says:

    I would love to find a similar ministry in the Orange County, California area. I was moved by the video and was so blessed by all you do. If I could, I would give you tons of clothes!! When I come up to visit my kids, maybe I’ll bring an extra suitcase filled with my closet! We are so blessed and I am always looking for ways to give positive, Christian help to those in need. Keep up the great work and God’s blessings to you all, and your amazing sounding church!!

    • Eugene Cho says:

      Nancy,

      Thanks for the note. As much as we’d love those clothes, I’m sure there are groups, non-profits, clothing banks, agencies, churches, etc. that would absolutely love and can use those clothes.

      Thanks for the encouragement.

  6. Awesome. I am consistently blown away and challenged by all that your tribe does.

  7. That’s awesome. I was just writing about how the church needs to take steps to meet needs in the community. Well done, guys.

  8. Stephen says:

    Fantastic, bro! We struggle, daily, here in Mexico city, as well. It is quite overwhelming. This past week we treated 15 street kids feet, traded their shoes and socks out and gave them a healthy dose of the gospel. Several of them have trench foot (that we treated), open sores, toe nails that are contorted, and black gunk that was, nearly, unwilling to leave their feet. You are right… it sure isn’t sexy, but what a blessing. Thanks for keeping the homeless on the forefront of people’s minds! – Stephen

  9. […] Here’s an update of the Bridge Care Center (about 9 months post launching) and video: […]

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One Day’s Wages

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Collaboration.

col·lab·o·ra·tion
kəˌlabəˈrāSH(ə)n/
noun

the action of working with someone or a group of others  to produce or create something.

May we hold our logos, egos, and tribalism have their place. May we hold them loosely for they too shall pass. May we collaborate for the sake of the greater Kingdom of God ... which endures forever. 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)

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