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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41 years ago today, our family immigrated to the United States from Seoul, South Korea. I was six years old; the youngest of three sons. My father, when he was also six, fled from what is now known as North Korea. Just recently, he shared with me that he and some of his family had been in a refugee camp when war and violence broke out on the Korean peninsula. It's emotional thinking about what my brothers and I went through coming to a completely foreign country. It wasn't easy. And then, I think about what my parents had to go through:

They fled their homes near Pyongyang which also meant leaving some of their extended families.

They experienced unfathomable hunger and poverty.

They experienced the pain of war.

They immigrated again to the United States as adults with minimal resources and a handful of English words.

All in hopes that their children would have the opportunities that were never afforded to them.

I'm thinking of my brothers today. I'm thinking of my parents and honoring them for their sacrifice and tenacity. And finally, I'm thinking of refugees and immigrants all around the world that are yearning for family, peace, hope, and opportunities. Don't reduce Martin Luther King Jr. to a yearly quote on social media. Live out the dream. Seek first the Kingdom of God. Confront evil. Be a truth-teller. Seek justice. Love mercy. Pursue reconciliation. Build bridges. Love your neighbors. Forgive your enemies. Pray unceasingly. Live a committed life of peace, love, and justice.

The God who deposited this dream into MLK is still speaking to us today.

Be brave. "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." ~ Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Here's the full context of his famous quote: "The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that." An important word for the Church... Oh, how God loves the nations. The Scriptures make this so clear. No one - let alone, the leader of a country - should ever disparage other nations with such a disgusting comment.

To the beautiful people of Haiti, El Salvador, and of the many countries of Africa: We are so sorry. Please accept our apologies on behalf of President Trump.

I've had the privilege of being in Haiti twice and numerous countries in Africa including Kenya where I took this picture during an afternoon drive near Kijabe. In many of these visits, I witnessed such creativity, courage, leadership, hospitality and kindness. To follow Jesus without obedience, repentance, self-denial, and dying to self is an oxymoron. In other words, are we more in love with the idea of following Jesus than actually following Jesus?

Grateful for an incredible Sunday at @seattlequest of beginning our 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting.

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