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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Grateful for my sisters in Christ and their presence in the local and global church. Grateful for all their gifts as they seek to be obedient to God. Not just some of the gifts but all the gifts including leadership, teaching, preaching, administration, praying, prophesying, worship, counseling, hospitality, mentoring, discipling, organizing, mobilizing, training, and empowering...and even event planning.

Grateful that I get to serve with ordinary and imperfect women - lay leaders, staff, pastors, and elders - who believe in an extraordinary God ... and by His grace, God uses them (and men) to do good, beautiful, and amazing things for His glory and honor.

Together for the Gospel. For we can't be the whole Church for the whole Gospel without both women and men. Thanks be to God. Father, give us a hunger for your Word. Give us a deep love and joy for the Holy Scriptures. In a culture of so much noise, may we find/create/prioritize both time ad space to hear from You and the Holy Spirit. Remind and convict us that we do not just live by bread alone, or by cable news alone, or by social media feeds alone, or by self-proclaimed experts and prophets alone...but we live and flourish by every word of God. 
Yes, Lord, give us a deep love and joy for your Word. May it marinate and root deep in our lives so that we may be grow more and more into the character and image of Christ.

Lord, may this prayer begin with me. * reflecting back a few months ago in studying God's Word by the Sea of Galilee with friends in the Holy Lands. My Padawan. My son. My youngest. Encouraging him to not just hit the hoop courts but also the books. Minhee and I met these college boys when we first arrived in Seattle in 1997. They were part of our bible study that we led in our apartment for college students. They were also among the group of 7 people that helped start @seattlequest.

Much has changed in the world...but not their friendship and love. Thank you Jin and George. We love and honor you. These are crazy times in our country and larger world but nevertheless, we're going to keep pursuing the things that God has placed upon our hearts. We're pressing forward...doing our part to reflect mercy, compassion, and justice - locally and globally.

Wednesdays are my @onedayswages office day and I especially love the culmination of hard work for our interns, volunteers, 2 full-time staff, and board as we collaborate with our NGO partners. This week, we signed these checks as we granted out over $75,000 to provide better health care for mothers and their families in Mali and Nepal.

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