Eugene Cho

If we want to seek the peace of the city…we have to engage the conflicts and injustices of our city.

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Unless you’ve been living in absolute isolation, there’s been much in the news – here, there, and everywhere – including the violence and protests in Ferguson. But in the midst of much shouting, screaming, finger pointing, tweeting, and ‘Don’t Shoot’ hand raising…we also need to engage in practical solutions. It would be tragic if it simply resulted in lots of noise…and it doesn’t compel us (as individuals and church communities) to examine our own lives, our blind spots, and our commitment to live into our calling as ministers of reconciliation.

So, I thought I’d share one practical way we can – not just love the idea of reconciliation but actually be agents of reconciliation. Reconciliation has many nuances and aspects but I’m convinced of this:

Reconciliation isn’t pretty or sentimental. It’s messy but it begins with first acknowledging that something is broken. We’re broken y’all.

In other words, if we want to seek the peace and shalom of the city…we have to engage the conflicts and injustices of our cities.

So, back to the one practical idea: I’m really grateful for our elders at Quest Church. This week, we made a decision to donate $5000 to the Educational Quality and Equality program at St. Louis Urban League. As the youth are preparing for the school year but held back by delayed starts due to the violence and protests, we felt that this would be a wonderful way to support the urban youth, children and families of Ferguson.

In addition, we’ve been preparing for some time to build an ongoing relationship with an urban school in our own city – Seattle. It’s important to note that while it’s tempting to focus on Ferguson, we can’t ignore or neglect issues in our own respective cities.

I share this – not in any boastful spirit. Please. Let me stop you now from sending any angry emails. I’ve received too many this past week for my 5 Ways We Should Engage Ferguson post. If you feel you must email me to rebuke me, you can contact me at whatwouldjesusemail@gmail.com.

But I share this as an idea for you, your family, or your church community. While people may have varying ideas about justice may look like in light of Ferguson, I think we can all agree that EDUCATION matters if any and every context. This matters in Ferguson. This matters in the Seattle. This matters in countries of Asia, Africa, and Latin America. This matters in urban, suburban, and rural contexts. Education matters. I’m reminded of these piercing words from Nelson Mandela:

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

And the fact that certain schools in certain neighborhoods (often in same ‘school districts’) have different and limited resources is an example of injustice, disparity, and the uphill path for many students of poverty – black, white, yellow, red, and brown.

Translation: Our schools are sadly a perfect, tragic example of the reality of the ‘have’s’ and ‘have nots’.

One of my congregants is an elementary school principal. At her school, 93% of her students qualify for free and reduced lunch rate and she shared the miracle and blessing of several churches collaborating together to bless students and faculty like with no agenda but to simply ask, “How can we support you?”

This is the Gospel in action. 
Faith + Works = Kingdom

Can you imagine what it would look like if every local church built a long term relationship with one local school in need?

And don’t underestimate what one person can do. I was blown away by this teacher in North Carolina who raised nearly $80,000 to feed Ferguson kids who can’t get meals at shuttered schools. 

I’m not suggesting that this idea is the answer to Ferguson, to racial tension, and the complete answer to the journey of reconciliation. But as I shared above, in the midst of much shouting, screaming, finger pointing, tweeting, and ‘Don’t Shoot’ hand lifting…we also need to engage in practical solutions. We can’t just leave a trail of debris of shouting, screaming, finger pointing, tweeting, and ‘Don’t shoot’ hand raising.  

Would love to hear any ideas you have or ways that you, your family, or your church has sought to build a more just, compassionate, and beautiful neighborhood and city.

God bless you.


photo credit: USA Today

 

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19 Responses

  1. I hope you never stop speaking even though you receive angry emails. Because what you say is so important.

  2. Today and Tomorrow if you find a teacher’s Donor Choose project the Gates Foundation will match your gift. There are lots of teachers that teach at low income and/or minority schools that are trying to do something extra and don’t have resources to do it. So they are seeking small donations to get it accomplished. A friend of mine’s wife has a project up to buy five ipods that she will load with audio to go along with books in her kindergarden classroom. The kids can then read along with the audio from the audiobooks.

    Her class room last year had the average student make 1.5 years of growth to close the educational Gap

  3. Great article. May the Lord continue to bless you as you seek to lead others to be doers and not hearers only of His Word.

  4. Reblogged this on 2corinthians112 and commented:
    This is worth reading. We need to take action in our communities in order to show the love of Christ in real and tangible ways.

  5. Stacy says:

    Thank you for this post. “Collaborating… with no agenda”. I love that churches’ actions speak louder than words. I love that churches are reaching into their community, and allowing schools to take the lead on how to best serve its students. What a beautiful picture of trust, respect, and service.

    I know of a church that partnered with a local school. The pastor reached out to the school’s principal and counselor, and asked how the church can best help.

    The partnership started with a few snacks, then church uniform drive events. Next were a school-year-end celebration hosted by the church, Thanksgiving food drives, school community dinners, and a tithe fund given to the school for whatever it needs. Now in addition, there’s a full collaboration to provide free after school tutoring at the church in partnership with the Union Gospel Mission.

    May I provide a slightly challenging thought? An Asian church took the initiative, with the partnering school having a 85% free or reduced school lunch rate and 40% Asian, 30% Black, 15% Hispanic population. When I see people serving each other- no matter the race, background, income or status- it’s a bit of what I’d imagine heaven may be like. I don’t necessarily think it’s about segregated churches per say- segregated churches happen because people want to understand/be understood in context of their background, language and culture- but it’s about churches that have God’s vision, perspective, leadership, wisdom and understanding to look beyond itself and learn how to love their community in spite of itself and the community.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Pastor Eugene, and allowing us to share our thoughts and ideas as well.

  6. Anna Lyn says:

    Yes!!! Education is key. Many of us already invest in education. Thank you for encouraging us to invest not just in our own local schools, but also to share where resources are much needed.

  7. Lou Anne says:

    You can’t educate dead children /young men we must address the injustices of our justice system in order to have someone to educate . And let’s not assume that all these victims were lacking in education

  8. Joshua S. says:

    Why education? It can help people escape poverty, and poverty is experienced at higher rates by minorities. http://www.census.gov/prod/2013pubs/acsbr11-17.pdf

    Some other important issues related to improving education:

    1. Advocating for adequate state funding for schools (which helps ensure equal funding for schools in poor areas vs. rich areas.) For those in Washington State, make sure your legislators take this seriously: https://k12.wa.us/Communications/OtherCommunications/SummaryMcLearyDecision2013.pdf

    2. Working to Lower administrative costs in your school district. Awareness is important here: http://data.spokesman.com/salaries/schools/2014/

    3. Fighting to move school board elections to even years. Off-year elections mean lower turnout, and lower turnout makes it easier for special interests to sway elections.

    4. Encouraging schools to update their teaching practices to reflect neuroscience research by John Medina: http://www.brainrules.net

  9. Tommy W. says:

    Unemployment is rampant in this city. Jobs and job skills are badly needed. Jobs bring self respect. Injustices need fixing in many cities. Police have tough calls to make. Many officers fear for their own safety as do their families. I do not want to live in a police state. I think mutual respect is a must! There are good officers and not so good officers just like us common citizens. Officers are not judges and jurors. No matter what race, we each have a right to live without intimidation. I pray the grand jury will make a just decision based on the evidence presented. Mob violence and looting is not the answer. We need to treat each other the way we want to be treated. I want fair justice for all. This is not a race issue but an issue of excessive force by the police which appears too much. May God grant peace and love for all & we all need to pray on this issue.

  10. Michael M. says:

    Oh man! I couldn’t agree more. Too many people want to pull away from the secular world when we need to dig deep and come together and be Jesus to them. Jut be there friend and help them. It’s duty of the church to take care of poor and sick and hurting not government. Imagine if church invested more.

  11. mb says:

    We must face the injustices around us but we must also stop this reckless behavior that provokes injustice. It’s called common sense behavior… people like to provoke, push and play the justice system. . Then when injustice is done there is complaining and outrage. If people practice practical common sense I bet we would cut the injustice dramatically. . Although not completely. If we are going to hold the justice system accountable for the injustice. . We the people should be held accountable for our actions that provoke injustice also..

  12. […] Finally, two posts about the continuing conversation about justice. I think justice is a good catch-all, broader than just Ferguson or racism or any other single cause. White People, White Power, White Platform is another great commentary from Caris Adel, and finally Eugene Cho challenges us with If We Want to Seek the Peace of the City, We Have to Engage the Conflicts and Injustices of Our City. […]

  13. […] Lastly, two posts concerning the persevering with dialog about justice. I feel justice is an effective catch-all, broader than simply Ferguson or racism or some other single trigger. White People, White Power, White Platform is one other nice commentary from Caris Adel, and eventually Eugene Cho challenges us with If We Want to Seek the Peace of the City, We Have to Engage the Conflicts and Injustices of Our City. […]

  14. Jan K says:

    I am disappointed….trying to bolster education as a means to racial justice is taking the easy way out. That is not going to cut it. Why not donate to an organization that fights racial discrimination?

    http://www.racefiles.com/2014/06/25/no-simple-answers-to-achieving-racial-justice-but-one/

  15. theoldadam says:

    I remember when cases were tried in the courtroom.

  16. dkzody says:

    Fresno’s police department and school district have teamed up to put chaplains in the schools, starting with the poorest/lowest schools. There are currently 21 of these chaplains, of which I am one, working with first grade students on how to be resilient and to ‘bounce back.’ We do this through children’s literature. Each week I spend time at lunch and recess with the students and then go into the classrooms to tell stories and engage the first graders.

  17. […] Eugene Cho speaking of reconciliation says: […]

  18. […] “Reconciliation isn’t pretty or sentimental. It’s messy but it begins with first acknowledging that something is broken.” – Eugene Cho […]

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One Day’s Wages

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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. I don't care if it sounds mushy but sunsets are one of my love languages. Seoul, Korea was amazing but WOW...what a breathtaking welcome back sunset by Seattle. Not ready to let go of summer.

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