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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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.

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