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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Thank you, Brooklyn, for the reminder. Umm, @jlin7 is a Christian but he wasn't very Christlike with me on the basketball court. He muscled me into the paint, dunked on me, mentioned my momma, and then said, "Stick with preaching." Just kidding. Kind of.

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The answer to who you serve makes all the difference... It's the day after International Women's Day - and it's still important to celebrate the contribution of women in our lives, society, and world. As we honor women all around the world, I'm also reminded of how women and children are those who are most deeply impacted by injustice - especially poverty.

Sadly, I have witnessed this reality in too many places. ​In 2012, I traveled to a remote area in Eastern Kenya as part of a @onedayswages response to a famine that struck the Horn of Africa region. This famine impacted nearly 13 million people and according to some sources, took the lives of about 250,000 people. During my trip there, I had the chance of meeting many people but the person that still remains in my memory was a Muslim woman named Sahara.

She was so hospitable in inviting us to her small and temporary home. During our conversation, I learned that ​Sahara traveled 300 kilometers (a little under 200 miles) – some by cart and some by foot – as they sought to escape the worst drought that has impacted East Africa (Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia) in the past 60 years.

This is not a misprint.
200.

She traveled about 200 miles on cart and foot. ​And all along, she was ill. If you look closely ​at the photo, you might notice the large lump in her throat - likely a large cancerous tumor.​ She did not travel alone. She traveled with her husband who I was not able to meet because he was staying with one of his five other wives in this polygamist community.  She did not travel alone. She also traveled with her six children – the youngest being about 1 and the oldest being around 8. She had just given birth to her sixth child when they began her journey. Her youngest was severely malnourished when they arrived to this new settlement in a town called Benane. 
Sahara and her children all survived this journey. They survived because she persisted. 
In honor of Sahara...and so many other women who keep...keeping on. I have to remind myself of this every day...because I can forget every day:

Don't be lazy and make assumptions about people. Ask about their story. Then listen. Be humble. Be teachable. Be human. Be a good neighbor. It's a sad reality but our society runs on the currency of fear. Don't feed into this frenzy.

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