Eugene Cho

Mourning with Seattle Pacific University. Remembering Paul Lee – SPU freshman. Rest in peace.

Another day. Another shooting.

Everyday lives impacted and scarred forever.
An innocent life lost.

The last day or so has been a blur. We live in a world where one can point to numerous recent examples of senseless shootings. Just typing that is infuriating. It happens in neighborhoods, street corners, houses, navy yards, sororities, and schools of all levels. Remember Sandy Hook?  Heck, two men were shot and killed just this past weekend in Central Seattle. But when you watch it or read it on the news (likely on your smartphone or tablet), you can’t possibly fathom it happening in “your school.” Well, yesterday, on a nearly perfect 72 degree Seattle day, that shooting took place at Seattle Pacific University.

And while SPU is not technically my school, it’s the closest thing to a school being your school without one graduating from that school.

SPU is located about a mile from Quest Church where I pastor. Numerous professors and administrators worship at Quest. Numerous. Several dozen undergrad and graduate students (and alumni) also worship there.  My wife, Minhee, recently completed graduate school at SPU. Several of my church staff went to school there. Q Cafe’s manager went to school there. One of our baristas is a freshman there. Couple of One Day’s Wages’ interns go to school there. My kids do summer basketball camps there.

It’s surreal. It’s painful.

While two were wounded but on the road to recovery, one was tragically killed. It is painful no matter what. And even more so when a nameless, faceless victim becomes named and identified. Couple hours ago, this faceless and nameless victim was identified. It was inevitable. It becomes even more painful and surreal when it is someone you’ve met.

His name is Paul Lee – a Korean-American freshman from Portland. He’s been to Quest Church couple times and I remember meeting him once. I don’t remember much about our chat. I just remembered his overly wide infectious smile. I don’t really know much about him but his friends speak the world about him. They speak of his humor, smiles, energy, goofiness, and his faith in Christ.

We pray for his friends and the SPU community.
We pray for his family.
Oh, we pray for his family.
I can’t imagine the grief of his parents…who according to the news, was on a trip to Korea when they heard the tragic news. As I write this, they are on a plane ride from Korea to Seattle.
I can’t imagine.

Oh Lord, comfort them in their grief.

And as we mourn and pray, there will come a time. Another time. Again. To ask the question about guns and violence in our culture and society. Seriously, what would Jesus do with guns?

But for now, we mourn and pray. We pray for those at the hospital. We pray for the community at SPU. We pray for his family. And we mourn some more.

Rest in Peace, Paul. As I’ve heard of your dancing prowess from your friends…may you rest in peace and dance with joy with your Creator.

paul-lee-foundation

* If you’re anywhere in Seattle and need some space to lament, pray, and hope…join us at Quest Church this Sunday at 9am or 11am. – http://seattlequest.org

Grant us, O Lord, comfort,
even as You hear our laments and heartfelt cries of distress.

We pray, O loving God, for the one among us who has died.
We pray for Paul Lee.
Minister to his family and friends,
be with those who mourn his loss,
sustain those who are grief-stricken,
and help us all in our shock.

O God, we pray for the one who 
perpetrated this mindless act of violence.
Deal with his troubled soul,
love him in spite of his hatred,
and bring him not only to justice
but to repentance and spiritual wholeness.

Lord we pray now for our neighborhood,
and for the city of Seattle.
We know that what happens in one place
affects all those who are connected to it.
We bring our city before you now.

God, we pray for the family members near and far,
and for the closest friends of students who have been most affected.
Comfort our families, and help us to know
how to best care for all those with whom we are connected.

Help us, O God, in our sadness, confusion, and anger. 
Help us to deal with this tragedy with
honesty, forthrightness, and courage,
even as You strengthen our faith and resolve.

Lord, in spite of this day let us not lose hope,
let us not give in to despair,
let us not think that evil or death have the last word,
and let us remember that we serve the Risen and Exalted Lord, Jesus Christ.

O Lord our God, accept the fervent prayers of your people;
in the multitude of your mercies,
look with compassion upon us and all who turn to you for help;
for you are gracious, O lover of souls,
and to you we give glory, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, now and forever.

Amen.

* a liturgy read at SPU’s prayer vigil

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14 Responses

  1. […] Cho, a pastor at Quest Church in Seattle, wrote on his blog that he only met Lee once and remembered his “wide […]

  2. Garrett Chan says:

    Thank you for this post, Pastor E. May God be with Paul’s family and the rest of the victims. May Jesus heal our city and the SPU community. Amen.

  3. bigwowo says:

    It finally happened in our own backyard.

    Please please please pray for our politicians to enact some better gun laws. UCSB just went through this last week. Enough is enough. I hope that someday our politicians get tired of burying our young.

  4. Les says:

    Saddened that his family has to experience such grief. Praying for his family and friends.

  5. Kevin Palau says:

    Paul was from Westview HS right here in Beaverton, where my two sons went just a few years ago. May God bless and comfort his family..

    • Paul says:

      Kevin: he’s my girlfriend’s uncle’s second son…his parents attend my church in Aloah, at Korean Bethel Presbyterian Church…please pray for his parents..

  6. Jill says:

    Thank you for your words Pastor Eugene. Thank you for grieving with those who grieve. Rest in peace, Paul. May your family be comforted with a peace that surpasses understanding as they mourn your tragic loss!

  7. Martin G. says:

    As we pray, we also need to raise a prophetic voice against these laws written in the time of the founding Fathers. We don’t need more weapons in our communities.

  8. Gerry says:

    Just reading what the local news said about his Christian testimony brought tears to my eyes, sounded like he was a great young man , may his example lead many to the a God he loved !

  9. cathy says:

    Its not the guns people sadly it’s so obviously sin in a persons life. They need Jesus. The shooter was suicidal and demonic posessed.

  10. Todd Evans says:

    What would Jesus do with current treatment approaches, including the psychoactive drugs? We know what He has said and done about sin. We talk and we talk, but few even want to be honest about what’s really happening, much less take action that will truly help people and make us safer.

  11. Amanda Detchman says:

    Thank you Pastor Eugene 🙂 beautiful prayer and words

  12. […] week here in Seattle in light of the recent shootings at Seattle Pacific University (June 5, 2014). We have been mourning and hoping with SPU and grieving the passing of Paul Lee – the 19-year-old freshman student who I had a chance to […]

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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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