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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stuff, connect, info

One Day’s Wages

My Instagram

Back safely from Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan. Thanks for your prayers. 
I have numerous stories to share but for now, the following came up in every conversation with Iraqi/Syrian refugees:

1 Have tea with us. Or coffee. Or juice. Or something with lots of sugar in it. Or better yet, all of the above.
2 We want peace. We want security. 
3 We hate ISIS. 
4 We just want to go home.
5 Please don't forget us.

Please don't forget them... Father, please bless and protect these Iraqi and Syrian "refugee" children that have already endured so much. Protect their hearts and mind from unfathomable trauma. Plant seeds of hope and vision in their lives. And as we pray for them, teach us how to advocate for them. Amen. "We don't call them refugees. We call them relatives. We don't call them camps but centers. Dignity is so important." -  local Iraqi priest whose church has welcomed many "relatives" to their church's property

It's always a privilege to be invited into peoples' home for tea - even if it's a temporary tent. This is an extended Yezidi family that fled the Mosul, Iraq area because of ISIS. It's indeed true that Christians were targeted by ISIS and thatbstory muat be shared but other minority groups like the Yezidis were also targeted. Some of their heartbreaking stories included the kidnapping of their sister. They shared that their father passed away shortly of a "broken heart." The conversation was emotional but afterwards, we asked each other for permission to take photos. Once the selfies came out, the real smiles came out.

So friends: Pray for Iraq. Pray for the persecuted Church. Pray for Christians, minority groups like the Yezidis who fear they will e completely wiped out in the Middle East,, and Muslims alike who are all suffering under ISIS. Friends: I'm traveling in the Middle East this week - Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan. (Make sure you follow my pics/stories on IG stories). Specifically, I'm here representing @onedayswages to meet, learn, and listen to pastors, local leaders, NGOs, and of course directly from refugees from within these countries - including many from Syria.

For security purposes, I haven't been able to share at all but I'm now able to start sharing some photos and stories. For now, I'll be sharing numerous photos through my IG stories and will be sharing some longer written pieces in couple months when ODW launches another wave of partnerships to come alongside refugees in these areas. Four of us are traveling together also for the purpose of creating a short documentary that we hope to release early next year.

While I'm on my church sabbatical, it's truly a privilege to be able to come to these countries and to meet local pastors and indigenous leaders that tirelessly pursue peace and justice, and to hear directly from refugees. I've read so many various articles and pieces over the years and I thought I was prepared but it has been jarring, heartbreaking,  and gut wrenching. In the midst of such chaos, there's hope but there's also a lot of questions, too.

I hope you follow along as I share photos, stories, and help release this mini-documentary. Please tag friends that might be interested.

Please pray for safety, for empathy, for humility and integrity, for divine meetings. Pray that we listen well; To be present and not just be a consumer of these vulnerable stories. That's my biggest prayer.

Special thanks to @worldvisionusa and @worldrelief for hosting us on this journey. 9/11
Never forget.
And never stop working for peace.

Today, I had some gut wrenching and heart breaking conversations about war, violence, and peacemaking. Mostly, I listened. Never in my wildest imagination did I envision having these conversations on 9/11 of all days. I wish I could share more now but I hope to later after I process them for a few days.

But indeed: Never forget.
And never stop working for peace.
May it be so. Amen. Mount Rainier is simply epic. There's nothing like flying in and out of Seattle.

#mountrainier
#seattle
#northwestisbest

my tweets

  • Every convo with Iraqi/Syrian refugees included: 1 Have tea with us 2 We want peace 3 We hate ISIS 4 We want to go home 5 Don't forget us || 2 days ago
  • Back safely from Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan to assess @OneDaysWages' partnerships & to film mini-documentary on refugee crisis. So many emotions. || 2 days ago
  • Pray for Mexico. For those mourning loved ones. For those fighting for life - even under rubbles. For rescue workers. Lord, in your mercy. || 2 days ago
  • Don't underestimate what God can do through you. God has a very long history of using foolish and broken people for His purposes and glory. || 4 days ago
  • Father, bless these Iraqi and Syrian refugee children that have already endured so much. As we pray, teach us how t… twitter.com/i/web/status/9… || 6 days ago
  • Pray for Iraq. Pray for persecuted Church, minority groups (Yezidis) and Muslims alike who are suffering under ISIS: instagram.com/p/BZF2j6Ngrna/ || 6 days ago