Eugene Cho

reflections on south africa

Couple weeks have passed since my return from South Africa and I’m still processing the gift of the vision and research trip.  While our plans on starting our Poverty Organization has hit snags and increasingly difficult in light of the financial recession, I’ve returned with an increasing commitment to the vision.  Before things get even busier, I wanted to share some reflections and pictures with you.

Let me begin by thanking Peter A. who hosted myself and several others from around the country on this trip. He also connected me to the anonymous benefactor that allowed me to travel to South Africa for the purposes of learning, connecting, and researching.  I also want to thank the staff of Zimele – the non-profit organization we spent most of our time with. Zimele in Zulu means, “to stand on one’s own two feet.”

I spend most of my time in an area called Kwazulu Natal.  Here’s some info about the area:

According to the Wikipedia, Kwazulu Natal “has the largest population (about 8.6 million) of any state in South Africa, with resources, such as water, coal, minerals and agriculture, along with timber, beef, dairy products, maize, poultry and fruit. Durban is the largest port in Africa. The province also has the most comprehensive tourist infrastructure in the country.

However, despite the presence of these resources, Kwazulu Natal like much of South Africa faces the growing problem of HIV/AIDS and poverty which disproportionally impacts the blacks in the rural communities due to the lingering effects of the now former Apartheid system. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: travel, , ,

resting, growing, freezing, and jazzing in chicago

Jet lag sucks.  I can’t seem to get over it.  I sleep at a normal time but have been getting up around 2 or 3am – every day.  I look at Jason, one of my church staff, sleeping in the other bed in our hotel room like a peaceful lamb and want to punch his head.  But, I remind myself that Jesus wouldn’t do that so I let him sleep since he probably doesn’t get much at Seattle with their 4 month old baby.  But I digress.

RESTING:  I’m here in Chicago trying to get my body up to speed.  I don’t care how holy or spiritual you are:  If you don’t get sleep, everyone turns into a jerk.  Actually took a great nap yesterday and woke up like this:

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And interestingly or annoyingly, many folks at this conference have been telling my how ragged and “gray” I look. I tell them to ‘shut it!’  But it is true, I am getting some serious white and gray hair everywhere.

GROWING: Anyway, I’m also here learning.  Have enjoyed hearing from some of the featured speakers like Phyllis Tickle and will be hearing from Gary Haugen of International Justice Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: ministry, travel, ,

night and day: extreme poverty and wealth

This is my last night here in South Africa. Tomorrow, I begin my long trip back home that will take me from Africa to Europe and finally to Home, Sweet, Home.

My “research and relationship building” portion of the trip is now officially over and we’re chillin’ for two days in Capetown, South Africa – a city often regarded as one of the most beautiful cities in the world. These folks aren’t lying. It’s truly a beautiful city.  Breathtaking…

But as you might expect, I’m having a hard time juxtaposing the extreme poverty I saw and heard in an area of South Africa called Kwazulu Natal with the opulence of an area of Capetown we visited where Hollywood stars like Leonardo Dicaprio have their vacation homes. [Pictures below…]

Obviously, it’s not just the stars.  It’s really me as well.  I know I don’t need to sell everything I have but Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: travel, ,

a breathtaking safari

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As most of you know, I’m here in South Africa – at the grace of an anonymous benefactor in New York who also cares about global poverty and justice – enabling me to do some research and relationship building for the poverty organization/initiative we are hoping to launch this year.  I’ve seen some very intense and heartbreaking things – which I’ll share later once I return to the States.  Today, we took a half day to rest and relax at experience a safari.

I have one word to say:  Wow.

Such spacious land, beauty, and majesty.  The whole time, I kept thinking about the glory of God in His creation.  

And…I really wished international travel was cheaper and accessible to everyone.

Here are several pics below for your enjoyment.   Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: travel, , ,

a day in frankfurt, germany

En route to South Africa, I had a 10 hour layover in Frankfurt, Germany.  After it took a few hours to rendezvous with a few folks I’m trekking with in South Africa for research and relationship building, I took several hours to attempt to soak in Frankfurt, Germany and here are some photos below for your enjoyment.

One of these days, I’d love to just backpack thr0ugh Europe.  Seriously, why can’t travel more inexpensive and accessible to everyone.  

Who’s traveled to Europe?  Where?  Reflections? Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: , travel,

the book(s) you want to read this year?

I’m packing for a short trip and every time I pack for a trip, I bring  a book.  The intent is there but I rarely finish books from cover to cover.  I have the habit of reading couple books at the same time basically because my brain is wired or conditioned that way.  

So, here are some questions:  

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What’s the one book on your TO READ list this year?

My answers:

Filed under: travel,

most beautiful city in the world: san francisco?

As we embark on a new year, I’d love to ask a simple question to my readers in hopes that many of you would join in on the blog community.  In addition to “regulars” sharing their answers, I am especially inviting the lurkers and quiet blog readers to chime in and de-lurk. This is your chance to join in.  So, here’s two simple questions:

Question:  What’s the most beautiful city/place you’ve visited thus far in your life and why?  And share one place in the world you’d like to visit at some point in the future?

My answers:  Future visit – I’m excited that I get to visit one of the places I’ve always wanted to travel in the next couple weeks.  I’ll be flying to South Africa to do some research, praying, and relationship building for our poverty organization. 

As for one of the most beautiful places I’ve been to, Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: travel, ,

humbled by seattle’s snowpocalypse and tubing with our kimchee bowl

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Seriously, when I made my “Farewell Video” last week mocking Seattlites’ winter ineptitude and “the world is ending” local news, I really had no idea what we had in store. I’ve braved two memorable winter storms: one in Princeton, New Jersey where it snowed so much we couldn’t open our front door and the other being a Chicago wind/snowstorm that was so cold that it made me cry…literally.

This wasn’t the worst I’ve experienced but let me just say that I’ve been humbled by Seattle’s Snowpocalypse. I’m not making any more sarcastic videos for a while. And I think I can speak for the entire city and while I’m at it, for the entire Western Washington that this has been humbling.

Some humbling stuff: Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: family, travel, , , ,

seattle snowpocalypse – end of the world

I love Seattle.  Many things to love:  coffee, music, quasi-diversity if you look hard enough, the topography, ocean, the rain, teriyaki restaurants to rival Starbucks stores, etc.  But it doesn’t snow very often and so when it does, people go crazy.  Schools were delayed two hours earlier this week because of possible icy conditions.  Yesterday, school was shut down because of a pending snowstorm – which never came.  But alas, we get our “snowstorm” today that folks are jokingly calling the Seattle Snowpocalypse.

Seriously, it’s not that big of a deal but when you’re not use to it, local news stations cover it for hours as if it’s the end of the world.  But just case it is the end of Seattle as we know it, here’s my farewell address to everyone.  God bless you.  I hope to see you at the other side.:) Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: seattle, travel, ,

know and love your city

Minhee and I moved to Seattle in 1997.  We are entering our 12th year in Seattle but it was only about 8 years ago when I really began to grow in love with the city of Seattle.  I was kayaking in Lake Union when I just gushed over the beauty over the city.  And I just started praying for the city and the hope – someday – of being able to plant a church in the city.  God honored that prayer and on occasion, I’ll trek over to Kerry Park [few mins from Quest] and lift occasional prayers for the city and people of this city.

It isn’t a perfect city by any means:  I wish there was more diversity; city remains ethnically divided;  the road systems are wacky; a subway system would be nice; our sports teams are dreadfully cursed, we need more sun, etc.  But there are also some amazing things about this city:  the topography is absolutely breathtaking; the local music scene is alive and well; everything is green and wet; the city is a creative force and is the hub of numerous companies, etc.

How about you?  Where do you live and what do you like or dislike about your city or town?

One of the regular chats I give when I’ve had the privilege of speaking at conferences or churches has been the importance of knowing, loving, and engaging your city.  Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: church, churchplanting, family, leadership, ministry, quest church, seattle, travel

stuff, connect, info

one day’s wages | video

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People often ask, "How does one stand all that rain in Seattle?" Actually, it doesn't rain that much. I like the rain. Keeps everything "evergreen" and clean. Keeps our air fresh. What's challenging is the gray weather. Give me a few more sunny days. 99 more days to be specific. 
Regardless, still love this city. Checking out Canada in case I need to move up North after the presidential election. Just saying, eh.

Downtown Toronto. Fascinating architecture. Amazed by the diversity of this city. We desperately want our children to not just be captivated by the beauty of creation...but more importantly, to the actual Creator of all that is good and beautiful.

Actually, we want and need this truth for our souls, too. What a privilege. This isn't possible without all those who give, pray, and support the work of @onedayswages. This week, I signed and mailed grants to three partner organizations totaling over $170,000. These grants will empower people by supporting maternal health care, refugee relief efforts, access to clean water, provide education, etc.

Sometimes, the brokenness of the world feel so overwhelming but let's keep running the race with endurance. Let's keep pursuing justice, mercy, and humility. Let's be faithful and may we be spurred on to keep working for God's Kingdom...on earth as it is in heaven.

Again, thank you so much for your support for @onedayswages! My wife, Minhee, and I stand on the shoulders of praying mothers. I'd like to take a moment to honor my mother-in-law. It's hard to put words together to embody her life but she is a very special, anointed person. I'm so blessed to have her as a mother in my life.

She was a devoted wife until she lost her husband to cancer, mother to three daughters, and later became a pastor. She became a follower of Christ as an adult and as such, led her her family to Christ. In her late 50s, she obeyed God's calling to go to seminary and be a leader in the church. She graduated #1 in her class and reminded us that it's never too late to follow a new dream or calling.

As she'll soon celebrate her 80th birthday, I'm especially grateful for the ways that she poured into and prayed over Minhee and her other children.  Even though she's officially retired, I'm inspired that the concept of retirement is not in her vocabulary.  She continues to serve the local church, evangelize and bear witness to Christ, and goes to the early morning prayer meeting at 5am everyday to pray for our family, our church, and for others. 
Jangmonim, we love and honor you. 어머니, 사랑합니다.

Someday, I hope that when my kids speak of Minhee and I...above all, they would say with integrity that their parents prayed for them and kept pointing them to Christ. On this Mother's Day, I want to take a few words to honor mother.

There’s a moment from a few years ago that will stick with me until the day I die. It’s regarding Sung Wha, my mother.

Minhee and I were at a point of transition, between working at an ethnic Korean church in the northern suburbs of Seattle called Lynnwood and launching Quest in urban Seattle. As I shared earlier, I was in desperate need of a job. I had a mortgage to pay. A pregnant wife. A kid at home. 
Then, praise God, after months without work, I finally landed a job.

My mom was in between jobs at this point in her life. She was in her late fifties, but she had such bad knees and degenerative hips that it was, and is, difficult for her to walk. My mom is like a human barometer—when a storm is coming and when it rains, her hips throb. Although my parents lived in San Francisco, she was visiting us in Seattle to encourage us in this difficult season.

As I prepared to go to work one early morning, I walked downstairs to put on my jacket and shoes, and forgot that my mother woke up early every morning to pray. In fact, she had been praying for months that I would find a job. “Eugene, where are you going?” she said when she saw me.

I hadn’t told my mother the news that I had just recently been hired for the janitorial gig at Barnes and Noble. I chose not to because I thought she and my father would be devastated. I didn’t want them to think that after laboring, sacrificing, and doing so much for us over all those years that their son had failed them.

But I couldn’t lie to her, so eventually I told my mom that I got a job and was going to work. “Great! What job? What are you doing?” “Um, I’m working at Barnes and Noble as their custodian,” I said finally.

Without asking another question, my mother got up from the dining table where she had been reading her Bible and praying. She slowly walked slowly toward me.

She approached me, then walked past me without saying a word, and I realized she was headed toward the closet. She opened the closet door, put on her jacket, turned around and said to me (in Korean), “Eugene, let’s go together. I will help you.” This is my mother.

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