Eugene Cho

A story of courage and generosity: Youth Pastor donates half of his salary to fight human trafficking.

* UPDATE: Amazing. Not only because Joon donated half of his youth pastor salary ($10,000) but in his attempt to get that matched through family, friends, and strangers…a total anonymous stranger (after reading his story) made a donation of $8,085 to help him reach $20,000 for the Human Trafficking Fund.

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You have to read this email I recently received. Crazy, radical, and an amazing story of courage and generosity.

First, let me set the table:

We all love our stuff. All of us. We all consume. We all get sucked into the lifestyle of  upward mobility. This is most apparent during the festivities that surround Black Friday, Cyberspace Monday, and Christmas shopping.

This isn’t a guilt trip but to simply state that which is obvious. What I do want to state is the importance of us also growing a culture of generosity in our lives. Generosity isn’t just for others…but also for us:

Generosity isn’t just merely for the sake of blessing OTHERS. Even more so, it’s to rescue US from the abyss of our greed.

Generosity is what keeps the things I own from owning me.

Let me share a crazy story of generosity and a reminder – once more – that you don’t have to be a rock star, a billionaire, or a celebrity to make an impact.

Recently, I received an email from a youth pastor named Joon Park  from Florida. I’ve never met him, don’t know him, and never heard of him. In his blog, he describes himself as:

I am a former atheist/agnostic, fifth degree black belt, recovered porn addict, and currently a youth pastor at New Light Church in Tampa, FL. Like every other dude with a laptop, I blog regularly. I can eat five lbs. of steak in one sitting. I have a German shepherd named Rosco.

Joon – after hearing a talk I gave at the 2011 Catalyst Conference – shared that he was convicted by the Holy Spirit and now… was acting upon that conviction. This young youth pastor has decided to donate half of his yearly salary to charity.

Read his email:

Hello Pastor Eugene!

My name is Joon Park. I’m currently a youth pastor of New Light Church in Tampa, FL.

After a friend of mine sent me your Catalyst Lab from 2011, I was convicted to donate half my salary this year to a charity. That would amount to $10,000, which I understand is not large by certain standards, yet hopefully enough to save a handful of lives. I listened to your sermon in the car, then at Sweet Tomatoes (where I felt sick over the affluence of a culture that needs buffets), and by the time I got home, with tear-drenched eyes I knew what I had to do.

I wanted to personally thank you for your message. I checked out your websites and I believe in what the Holy Spirit is doing in your life. Though I haven’t decided where I will donate the money yet, I am seriously considering your One Day’s Wages program.

I am a “nobody” pastor with a 30+ youth group and a blog like every other pastor…Please pray that I may stay encouraged and faithful to my pledge. I’m pretty scared. You are right. We cannot ask of others what we don’t do ourselves.

God bless you, brother. Thank you again!

Wow.  How crazy, radical, and counter-cultural is this?

Think about it:

Young. Youth Pastor. Donating half of his salary = $10,000.

What can you do for $10,000?

He could have purchased 20 iPads, or 10 Macbook Airs, or a new car, or lots of sushi, or anything he wanted but instead, he’s chosen to donate all of it to ODW’s Human Trafficking Fund. In addition, he’s also inviting friends, family, and strangers to help him match his $10K donation in hopes of raising and donating a total of $20,000.

How cool is that?

Three things you can do:

  1. Join Joon and his campaign if you’re inspired by his story of generosity. Donate $5, $10, or whatever and help him match his $10,000 donation.
  2. Consider what you can do. Seriously. Whatever it is. Any idea for a cause or perhaps, create your own birthday for a cause campaign in the upcoming year.
  3. Choose to forgo one thing you want to buy and donate that money to your favorite charity.

Don’t Just Count Your Blessings…

Rather than guilt or shame, I really do hope that you’re encouraged and convicted. I’m not suggesting that have to donate half of your salary or your yearly salary. Not at all. Instead,  I hope that you’ll take a moment to recognize how blessed you are and to do more than just recognize:

Don’t just count your blessings.

Honor the Lord with your blessings.
Be grateful for your blessings.
Share your blessings.
Be generous with your blessings.
Grow your blessings.

Now…Repeat.
Build a culture of blessings.

Take a moment after you read this to count your blessings and to consider how you can live a life of blessing.

Thank you, Joon, for acting upon your convictions and for inspiring so many of us.

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12 Responses

  1. JS Park says:

    Reblogged this on The Way Everlasting and commented:
    Thanks for posting this, Pastor Eugene!

  2. […] read Eugene’s suggestions about three things you can do, click here. Read Joon’s full letter at the One Day’s Wages website by clicking […]

  3. poeticjason says:

    awesome

  4. […] year I donated half my salary ($10,000) to fight human […]

  5. […] months ago, someone anonymously donated $8,085 and we hit $20,000.  I was absolutely floored and humbled.  Floored at the generosity, and […]

  6. […] reasons I’m so excited for this book is because Eugene Cho put in my testimony, about the time I gave away half my salary to fight human trafficking.  I’m just crazy honored and humbled to be part of his […]

  7. […] here because I’m absolutely excited that my own story is in the book. A couple years ago, I donated half my salary to Eugene Cho’s charity One Day’s Wages to fight human trafficking. It was a check for […]

  8. […] few years ago, I did one of the hardest things I ever had to do. I don’t say that to brag. I say that because I’m obnoxiously selfish; I was going against my […]

  9. […] few years ago, I did one of the hardest things I ever had to do. I don’t say that to brag. I say that because I’m obnoxiously selfish; I was going against my […]

  10. […] few years ago, I did one of the hardest things I ever had to do. I don’t say that to brag. I say that because I’m obnoxiously selfish; I was going against my […]

  11. […] A story of courage and generosity: Youth Pastor donates … […]

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One Day’s Wages

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It appears I brought a little Seattle to the NYC. Drizzle fest. 24 hour gathering with a small group of leaders from around the country. Learning. Listening. Asking hard questions. Head exploding. Heart trying to have hope. 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.

my tweets

  • It appears I brought a little Seattle to the NYC. Drizzle fest. 24 hour gathering with a small… instagram.com/p/BK_409Ohzr1/ || 28 minutes ago
  • Life has its share of pain but don't get down and cynical. Stay engaged. Self-care. Keep learning and growing. Remain hopeful. Be steadfast. || 5 hours ago
  • The Gospel, not social justice, is our identity as believers but the Gospel compels us to love God/love people incl. work 4 the common good. || 2 days ago
  • Folks often ask me, "What is social justice?" "Social justice" are fancier words for "Give a Damn". || 2 days ago
  • RT @EugeneCho: Just met Edna, a sister-in-Christ. She's 90 years old. She met Jesus when she was 85. You're never too young or too old to f… || 2 days ago
  • Thank you @fullerfyi @KPowellFYI for this important resource about listening, engaging, and discipling young people: churchesgrowingyoung.com || 2 days ago

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