Eugene Cho

Youcef Nadarkhani: What would you do if your pastor was going to be executed?

April 7, 2012 Update: “As Christians around the world prepare to celebrate Easter, Iranian pastor Yousef Nadarkhani remains in jail alive, yes — but having already passed his 900th day behind bars for being a Christian and still facing a possible execution. Nadarkhani, whose first name also can be spelled “Youcef,” was able to visit with a son on the son’s birthday Monday (April 2), according to the American Center for Law and Justice, which is closely monitoring the case. His 900th day in jail occurred in late March.’ [read full news]

* On this Easter weekend, join me in praying for Pastor Nadarkhani and so many others around the world who are facing persecution – even death – for their faith in Jesus Christ. “In more than 40 nations around the world today Christians are being persecuted for their faith. In some of these nations it is illegal to own a Bible, to share your faith Christ, change your faith or teach your children about Jesus.” [via Persecution Worldwide]

Feb. 2, 2012 Update: The latest news is very difficult. According to numerous sources including CNN and FOX News, Iranian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani has been given the ruling to be executed:

A trial court in Iran has issued its final verdict, ordering a Christian pastor to be put to death for leaving Islam and converting to Christianity, according to sources close to the pastor and his legal team.

Supporters fear Youcef Nadarkhani, a 34-year-old father of two who was arrested over two years ago on charges of apostasy, may now be executed at any time without prior warning, as death sentences in Iran may be carried out immediately or dragged out for years.

The entire world – regardless of faith or non-faith backgrounds should be in solidarity to declare that “a person cannot be put to death because of one’s faith.” This is an egregious human rights tragedy and clear affront to religious freedom. Please take a few minutes to educate yourself, read this post, contact your elected officials, and help spread the word.

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What would you do if your pastor was going to be executed simply for his or her faith?

For that matter, what would you do?

Such is the situation for more people around the world than we want to believe. We know that persecution of Christians began…well…when it began with the life, crucifixion, and resurrection of Christ.  Some Christian missions organizations cite that an estimated 100 million Christians face some form of persecution including death and concentrations camps – particularly in North Korea, Iran, and Saudi Arabia. I’ve written before of the concentration camps for mostly Christians in North Korea.

And this leads us to the story of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani. Read the rest of this entry »

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the death of osama bin laden

Like all of you, I was stunned some days ago as I started soaking in the breaking news of Osama bin Laden’s capture and death via US military operations.

In the midst of a heavy traveling week, I didn’t have the time to blog about it but this past Sunday, I did a TV interview with King 5 News – a local Seattle news station about my thoughts about Osama bin Laden but specifically, how I reconcile the death of Osama bin Laden as a Christian and a pastor.

Honestly, I’m always reluctant to do interviews because when it’s all said and done, a good interview can be reduced to couple sentences. I learned this couple years ago when I chatted with the New York Times about my views about Mixed Martial Arts and Jesus. We had a phenomenal hour interview…which was reduced to one sentence for the article. Bummer.

So, I thought it would be good to share – in more depth- what I was try to communicate during my recent interview – just in case we get some angry emails and phone calls. So, here are some thoughts: Read the rest of this entry »

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please don’t do this disgusting thing

After reading the ruling of the courts recently that Westboro Baptist Church’s protests during funerals and others places are constitutional, I’m seriously contemplating starting a website called

Christians Against Christian Jerks

I wonder if http://christiansagainstchristiansjerks.com is available.

I’m not timid in saying that I really dislike them people. Sorry.

You’ve heard me already write and rant about the paradox of Christian jerks:

…“Christian jerks” are a tragic paradox – especially when they think they are doing the Kingdom a great favor.

Let’s contend for the Gospel but let’s not be jerks in the process. Nowhere do I read in the Scriptures, “Contend for the gospel as a jerk.”

But watching this video (below) this morning, Read the rest of this entry »

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why i am not quitting christianity

Unless you are the Geico Caveman, you have probably heard of the dramatic news of Anne Rice’s simple statement of “quitting Christianity.” But just in case you haven’t or are in need of your daily dose of Anne Rice, I thought I’d chime in and share some thoughts. And if some of you are wondering, “Can’t we focus on some more important things like fighting global poverty?” I agree: visit here.

First of all, I am a fan of Anne Rice. In fact, I don’t know of many people that dislike her. She’s a phenomenal writer and additionally, she’s gotta have some Asian genes in her. She’s 68 and ages like no other. But in case you don’t know much about her:

Anne Rice (born Howard Allen O’Brien on October 4, 1941) is a best-selling American author of gothic, erotic, and religious-themed books from New Orleans, Louisiana. She was married to poet and painter Stan Rice for 41 years until his death from cancer in 2002. Her books have sold nearly 100 million copies, making her one of the most widely read authors in modern history. [via wikipedia]

She is also known as a Christian for some time but last week, she wrote & shared the following via her Facebook page:

“For those who care, and I understand if you don’t: Today I quit being a Christian. I’m out. I remain committed to Christ as always but not to being ‘Christian’ or to being part of Christianity. It’s simply impossible for me to ‘belong’ to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group. For ten years, I’ve tried. I’ve failed. I’m an outsider. My conscience will allow nothing else.”

“In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control.

“In the name of… Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian. Amen.”

Here are some of my vomitaceous thoughts: Read the rest of this entry »

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“america is not a christian, jewish, or muslim nation…”

courtesy of White House

What did you think of President Obama’s speech at the Turkish Press Conference?  And this quote from his speech:

…”American is not a Christian, Jewish, or Muslim nation…”

Here’s the above sentence in the larger context:

I think that where — where there’s the most promise of building stronger U.S.-Turkish relations is in the recognition that Turkey and the United States can build a model partnership in which a predominantly Christian nation and a predominantly Muslim nation, a Western nation and a nation that straddles two continents — that we can create a modern international community that is respectful, that is secure, that is prosperous; that there are not tensions, inevitable tensions, between cultures, which I think is extraordinarily important.

That’s something that’s very important to me. And I’ve said before that one of the great strengths of the United States is Read the rest of this entry »

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my 10 most essential books for christians (+ 20 more)

Nearly every week, someone asks me about my recommendations about what books Christians should be reading.  In essence, “what are the must reads?”  And so couple weeks ago, I asked YOU for your recommendations and there were some fascinating contributions.  In a comical way, it also spurred on a spontaneous and hilarious post about Christian books that should NOT be published.

There are so many excellent books that it’s really difficult to condense it into a list of 10.  My recommendations are created with an attempt towards the  larger picture of Christian discipleship – meaning that I want to balance my list with theology, discipleship, spirituality, bibilical studies, etc.

Let me also say that nothing is more important than reading, studying, and loving the Scriptures. The Bible is important – especially in a cultural context where so many are prone to sound bytes, podcasts, RSS feeds, and video stimulation.  Read your Bible.  Having said that, I would recommend these versions:  TNIV, NIV, and ESV.  In addition to these versions, I would also highly recommend reading The Message by Eugene Peterson to accompany the reading of your Bible.  Also, a solid Bible dictionary and a set of Bible commentaries [even a single or 2 volume set] are very important for any and every Christian.

Okay, here’s my List of the 10 Essential Books I’d Recommend every Christian to Read [in no particular order]: Read the rest of this entry »

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atheist bus ads arrive in seattle

To support and amplify the already pervasive non-religious reputation of Seatte, the atheist bus ads are set to arrive in Seattle.  To refresh your memory, remember my posts from recent months about these bus ads from the UK:  There’s Probably No God and then of course the Christian response:  The Atheist vs Christian Bus Ads

I suspect that in the near future, some Christian group or folks here in Seattle will fund a set of new ads in response to these ads.

And then at that point, I’d like to launch my own campaign and website called: Read the rest of this entry »

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the coming evangelical collapse?

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Some of you may have already seen this article entitled The Coming Evangelical Collapse [@Christian Science Monitor].  There are certainly some good things for ruminations, discussions, and considerations but like many things written for the purposes of drawing attention, it makes some grandiose statements.

I’d love to hear from you regarding your thoughts and commentary about the article [below].  Do you agree? Disagree?  What stood out to you?

And if you believe the Western church is in trouble, here’s the million dollar question:  Why and what can be done?

Is Christianity in trouble?  It really depends on how you look at the situation.  I have shared for some time that we live and have lived in a Post-Christendom Western world for a long time.  But because we dominate the resources of the world including information, we think we still remain the cradle of all things vibrant Christianity.   Having spent some time in other countries and pastoring two years in Korea in the ’90s, the Western world is NOT the center of the world.  I’m not trying to diminish the work of the Church in the West as it’s clear that it’s still influential but the Gospel is flourishing in many places outside the Western world especially in places around Latin America, Asia, and Africa.  Furthermore, while Christianity – in its various forms – are struggling in the Western world, we should also point out that it’s not the case in every situation. For example, ethnic churches, on the most part, are still flourishing in the West…

So, are we in the midst of a collapse or a spiritual recession in the West?  Well, these are certainly challenging times but just like the current economic recession, I see this as an opportunity for the “evangelical church” to re-discover their identity and grow deeper in our mission.  What I’m saying is that decline and talks of death aren’t necessarily bad things since sometimes, those very things will wake us up.  And perhaps through ‘death,’ we see the possibility of life anew.  

In fact, perhaps this collapse ought or needs to take place in order for us to discover ourselves once more from all that which have lured us away from our identity:  both as individuals and as a larger community.

And what’s the solution?  Not enough time and energy to share all my thoughts now but this I will share:  For me, Western Christianity have become victims Read the rest of this entry »

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stuff, connect, info

one day’s wages | video

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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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