Eugene Cho

Invest in women and girls around the world as an affirmation of dignity that has already been given to them by God.

This is one of the reasons why my wife, kids, and I started One Day’s Wages. It’s because we believe in local heroes like Diana Keesiga who was  born in Western Uganda and at a very young age decided she wanted to be an engineer. She defies the dangerous stereotypes that we have about Africans being absolutely lost and helpless without Western saviors or only looking for handouts. Diana has a love and understanding of her Ugandan people and culture that we will never fully grasp – which is why its best for us to come alongside people like Diana but we should never take their place.

In doing the work of justice, one of the most fundamental questions we must ask is this:

“Who are we trying to elevate? The people we serve or ourselves?

I dare you to watch this short video (above) about Diana and the water partnership between One Day’s Wages and The Adventure Project – that is currently being featured on Upworthy. There are many but here are four reasons why I love this partnership:

1 in 3 water wells are broken in Africa

While there are few things in development as spectacular as seeing water gush out of the ground after a well is drilled, what happens in year 2, 5, and 10 is far more important and difficult. Read the rest of this entry »

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A story of courage and generosity: Youth Pastor donates half of his salary to fight human trafficking.

* UPDATE: Amazing. Not only because Joon donated half of his youth pastor salary ($10,000) but in his attempt to get that matched through family, friends, and strangers…a total anonymous stranger (after reading his story) made a donation of $8,085 to help him reach $20,000 for the Human Trafficking Fund.

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You have to read this email I recently received. Crazy, radical, and an amazing story of courage and generosity.

First, let me set the table:

We all love our stuff. All of us. We all consume. We all get sucked into the lifestyle of  upward mobility. This is most apparent during the festivities that surround Black Friday, Cyberspace Monday, and Christmas shopping.

This isn’t a guilt trip but to simply state that which is obvious. What I do want to state is the importance of us also growing a culture of generosity in our lives. Generosity isn’t just for others…but also for us:

Generosity isn’t just merely for the sake of blessing OTHERS. Even more so, it’s to rescue US from the abyss of our greed.

Generosity is what keeps the things I own from owning me.

Let me share a crazy story of generosity and a reminder – once more – that you don’t have to be a rock star, a billionaire, or a celebrity to make an impact.

Recently, I received an email from a youth pastor named Joon Park  from Florida. I’ve never met him, don’t know him, and never heard of him. In his blog, he describes himself as:

I am a former atheist/agnostic, fifth degree black belt, recovered porn addict, and currently a youth pastor at New Light Church in Tampa, FL. Like every other dude with a laptop, I blog regularly. I can eat five lbs. of steak in one sitting. I have a German shepherd named Rosco. Read the rest of this entry »

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We can’t do everything but we have to do something. Why I’m in the Horn of Africa.

Dear Friends, Supporters, Readers, and Encouragers:

I hope you’re doing well.

I’m writing to you from Kenya. Yes, you read that correctly. Kenya as in Kenya, Africa.

I just recently arrived and depending on circumstances, may also visit Somalia and South Sudan. Over the next week or so, I’m privileged to be a guest of World Concern (one of our main partners). We’re also joined by a representative from  ONE. Together, we’ll have the opportunity to personally assess the progress and the arduous work ahead. Just this week, I read reports that the current situation in Somalia – while it improved last year – may be entering into another dire situation.

The Context

In 2011, the Horn of Africa experienced the worst drought in its region in 60 years. This drought in combination with rising food prices, extreme insecurity, and violence led to famine conditions that affected over 13 million people in the Horn of Africa. The Horn of Africa is the “horn” shaped portion of northeastern Africa that includes the countries of Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Djibouti.

In fact, the UN declared famine in six regions in Somalia. Tragically, hundreds of thousands of people were forced to flee their homes in search of food, water, and safety. Many of them walked for weeks, trying to reach refugee camps in Kenya. And sadly, many died along the way, including more than 30,000 children.

When tragedy strikes – whether it be in Aurora, Colorado or through a famine or drought in the Horn of Africa (and another current one in the Sahel region of Africa)…we are reminded of our finitude.  Read the rest of this entry »

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thanks for believing in us…

These have have been tough but such meaningful years.

Minhee and I have been married nearly 15 years, have three incredible children, recently celebrated the 10 year anniversary of our church, pursued a dream to start a non-profit cafe and music venue, and recently celebrated Minhee’s graduation from grad school.

Today is also a very special day as we’re marking the 2nd anniversary of One Day’s Wages at our Annual Gala. It took us nearly 3 years to start ODW as that’s how long it took to save up the equivalent of our year’s wages. Numerous times, I kicked myself for going “public” with the vision here on my blog.

But here we are…

Since it’s launch, we’ve built a great following on Twitter and over 640,000 people on our Facebook Page. We’ve established some great partnerships with artists, musicians, small businesses, organizations, and with individuals. More specifically, we’ve had 7438 donors who have partnered with us to raise Read the rest of this entry »

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a birthday request

Hey friends:

This week (October 20), I’ll be turning…41-years-old. As I reflect on the 41 years of my life thus far, I am mindful of how blessed I am. So very blessed.

As I ‘celebrate’ my birthday this week, I know that all of you have been staying up for restless nights wondering what gift to get me. Sleepless nights.😉

But let me make it easy.

In lieu of any gifts, drinks, cars, flowers, coffee beans, socks, ties, iPhone 4s, or whatever, I’d like to humbly invite you to consider giving to my ODW birthday campaign cause. Your donation – whatever amount – will help ODW continue to grow its movement.

Because one of my life philosophies is to never ask people to do something I’m not willing to do, my wife and I are donating $4,100 towards this campaign. There’s a lot of toys and stuff Read the rest of this entry »

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dear world: please wake up!

Numerous sources have stated that over 12 13 million people are being impacted by the worst drought & famine in the region of the Horn of Africa in 60 years. Most tragically the number of people on the very brink of death has soared to 750,000 (read ODW’s latest update & Nick Kristof’s update in the NY Times).

While it’s clear that the situation is complex (isn’t it always?) with political overtones and the Muslim militia called Shababs unwilling to let aid enter into regions of Somalia where people are dying, we are left with an epic humanitarian crisis impacting 13 million people.

12 13 million people.

How do you wrap your head around such a number?

13,000,000

You begin with one.

The World Food Programme, for example, has shared that they can provide a nutritious meal for one person for .17…

as in seventeen cents.

These statistics are overwhelming but while we may not be able to remedy, fix, or respond to the entire situation, we must respond. I’m often reminded of Mother Teresa’s wisdom and quote:

“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then just feed one.”

Over the years, I’ve grown very uncomfortable (and at times, angry) at what I consider to be borderline exploitation of images (and people) used by non-profit organizations to Read the rest of this entry »

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it’s not just a unicorn. it’s a movement.

Any unicorn lovers amongst my blog readers?

Several weeks ago, we launched our holiday campaign called One Less Gift. It’s a simple invitation – that in lieu of some of the random (or mindful) gifts we give to our friends and family- to instead, make a donation in their name and send them one of our comical e-cards and make a donation in their name.

One of the e-cards pokes fun at the unicorn.

I had no idea how popular the unicorns were in our larger pop culture. Advocates, unicorn lovers, groupies, and believers of the unicorn came out of nowhere to defend the magic of the unicorn.

Want evidence? Read the rest of this entry »

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are you coming?

We’ll soon be celebrating the one year anniversary of One Day’s Wages.

If you’re anywhere remotely around Seattle, please join me at the Inaugural One Day’s Wages Gala on Friday, November 5 at the 415Westlake venue (7-10pm).

We have an amazing evening of festitivities: Read the rest of this entry »

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new york times: do-it-yourself foreign aid

Got some really cool news to share with you. Literally…cool and inspiring news.

I had the most surreal phone call while I was fishing in Nebraska during my vacation. A guy named Nicholas Kristof called. For those that don’t know, Kristof is one of my favorite writers and he’s also a two time Pulitzer winning columnist for the New York Times. He and his wife, Sheryl WuDunn, are also the authors of a phenomenal book called Half the Sky. Somehow he had heard about our story and of One Day’s Wages and wanted to chat – without any promises – of a possible inclusion in a special feature he was writing for the New York Times Sunday Magazine.

That article, The D.I.Y. Foreign Aid Revolution, was published in today’s New York Times Sunday Magazine.

Every time someone mentions or writes about our story, I feel the importance of trying to share how ODW was so much of a community thing. We are not an island to ourselves. So many have inspired, encouraged, and prayed for us.

And so, I again want to extend to my blog readers, friends, and larger community – sincere thanks for your prayers, support and encouragement.

Thank you.

Your prayers, belief, and generosity in helping “seed” the vision has allowed ODW to move forward. Amazingly, we were able to raise $71,797 (mostly through this blog) to help launch ODW. And as I’ve shared before, Minhee and I are Read the rest of this entry »

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can you help me celebrate my birthday?

Dear friends and blog readers,

If you’ve enjoyed reading this blog, I’d like to ask you to consider contributing to my birthday campaign. As I turn 40 years old this Wednesday, I’m trying to raise $40,000 to empower those living in extreme poverty.

Even donating $10 would be very helpful.

One of my philosophies is to never ask people to do something that I’m not willing to do. For that reason, I’ll be donating my one month wages for my birthday ($5,666.67).  There’s a lot of toys and stuff I’d like to have and I can buy all of them with that money but I don’t really need them.

Generosity is what keeps the things I own from owning me.

You can give via my birthday campaign page. Thanks for considering this.

With deep gratitude,

eugene

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stuff, connect, info

one day’s wages | video

My Instagram

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. I love all the free amazing views in our Evergreen State. #RattlesnakeLedge

my tweets

  • Someone tell Steph Curry that he's the MVP because he's playing a lot like me in my rec league. || 2 hours ago
  • .@SeattleQuest recently hosted Kenneth Bae (Prisoner 103). He was detained in DPRK for 735days. WATCH his testimony: vimeo.com/167680426 || 1 day ago
  • RT @seattlequest: Suffering is a short cut to God's heart. Even if your circumstances don't change, God is always w/ you. - KennethBae http… || 2 days ago
  • Oh Lord, You love North Korea, Syria, Iraq, Congo, Nigeria, Turkey and ______. You love the nations. Give us Your heart for the world. Amen. || 3 days ago
  • Please remember and pray for Pastor Lim Hyeon Soo who was sentenced for life in North Korea. goo.gl/VvuyQs https://t.co/XonidqDlhb || 3 days ago
  • If the grass looks greener on the other side...stop staring, stop comparing, stop complaining & start watering the grass you're standing on. || 4 days ago

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