Eugene Cho

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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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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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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inviting artists and musicians to help change the world


I’m a wanna be musician. I live in Seattle so I have to pretend that I’m in a band. I have a guitar sitting in the corner of my room and I also have drumsticks on my desk…and I don’t even play drums.

Because there’s something unique about artists and musicians. Yes, there’s vanity and narcissism but then again, who amongst us aren’t vain and narcissistic?

Hear this: No one gets a free pass so we’ll be sharing ways that everyone can join the movement of One Day’s Wages! But one of our strategies we’re sharing today is to partner with artists and musicians from all around the world that are interested in using their voices and platform to partner with ODW and our movement towards ending extreme global poverty.

We’ve just started this initiative and we’re pleased to announce our first partners including Seattle’s very own Rocky Votolato. If you’re an artist/musician, click on the image below to learn more about what the partnerships can look like. And PLEASE forward this to bands, friends, artists, your favs…for their consideration.

But here’s my question and your help is important: Read the rest of this entry »

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how this blog community is changing the world…

Please read this as I want to take the time to properly thank all of you for your support, encouragement and prayers. If anyone has ever had doubts about the possibility of world changing impact of blogging…this is proof.

I started blogging about three years ago and eventually grew a rhythm to blogging: Why and How. I initially started blogging, amongst other reasons, to process some of my thoughts, struggles, and dreams. Most of these are just my vomitaceous thoughts but as a recovering extreme introvert, blogging was therapeutic but along the way, the blog not only drew an “audience” (ranked 28th amongst Christian blogs fwiw) but started forming a “community” of sorts.

My blog community is diverse – ranging from folks from my church, friends, curious inquirers from the larger blogosphere, other pastors and leaders, Christians, skeptics, and cynics, fellow Seattlites, and perverts with a fetish for “orientals” that search for “Korean Beauty” on search engines.

And while many of you know that the past 12-18 months were one of the most difficult times of my life, it was also a meaningful time as we heard, experienced, and felt – people encouraging us with letters, emails, prayers, scriptures, and acts of kindness.

In addition, I used this blog to dream, incubate and launch the vision of ODW. It began with this three / part / series on extreme global poverty and shared our pledge of donating our year’s salary. As we geared up for the launch of One Day’s Wages (that took a little longer than we anticipated), I invited (via this blog) people – in faith and trust – to give and help raise funds for the administrative costs of ODW and I was so humbled by the numerous that gave – especially the quiet blog lurkers and stalkers!

Do you know how much you gave and raised? Read the rest of this entry »

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odw featured in the seattle times!

picture by Jim Bates of the Seattle Times

Thanks for your support. Only together – literally – can we ensure the end of extreme poverty. I know there are so many worthwhile causes.

Let’s celebrate, support, and cheer on these efforts and the people behind them.

We’re not here to compete w/ others. We want to celebrate the work and efforts of so many different causes and the people and communities behind them. And so with that, I hope you can help support, cheer on, and even celebrate the work of One Day’s Wages.

Here’s the article: Local Charity Based on Donating a Day’s Salary (or click on image above).

The compelling aspect of ODW is that 100% of your donations (minus transaction costs) go to projects on the ground YOU CHOOSE to fight extreme global poverty. While we may not be able to fix the world, our investments can help change the life of a child, a mother, a father, a family, and even a village.

Here’s three other 5 PRACTICAL things you can do to give us “a bump’: Read the rest of this entry »

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we finally did it and excited for the future

We’ve received our share of criticism about our public pledge to donate our 2009 salary to fight extreme poverty. Everything ranging from “Stop boasting” to “You’re lying” and

How about Matthew 6:3 and “…when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.”

For the record, I have no good response to people rebuking me with that scripture.  I know some of you are sick of me mentioning it but this will be the last time I mention it (although I know that this is what most of the media and bloggers will focus on as we get started).

I need to share it because there were many (mostly anonymous Facebookers) that doubted our pledge. While we weren’t able to honor the pledge by the October 20, 2009 launch date as we had hoped, I went to the bank yesterday and walked out with a cashier’s check for $68,000.

When we made our pledge, we had a plan to make it work but the year proved to be much more difficult than we had anticipated.  But after this past year+ of saving, scrimping, subletting, saving, borrowing, and other creative things, we were finally able to make the donation.

And while it was a difficult year, we learned much; grew more in love and respect for my wife; experienced many teaching moments with our children, and are excited for all that is in store…

There are two main reasons why we did this: Read the rest of this entry »

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couch surfing is not what i envisioned

Eights years ago, I endured through one of the most difficult seasons of my life.  I left my (then) current pastorate in hopes of planting a church called Quest but everything I had envisioned didn’t immediately come to pass. Instead of planting a church, I was working as a custodian scrubbing toilets, vaccuuming and struggling to provide for my (then) one child and pregnant wife. I still remember bitterly sobbing in my room one night and saying  a few choice words to God:

I am so angry at you. I feel like I lost control of my life.
(the PG version)

I learned through that experience that (again) I don’t have ultimate control over my life and prayed I would never go through anything like that again…

Well, I guess life has its seasons of unexpected turns. Nearly two weeks ago, I had to make one of the most difficult decisions of my life. It was a painful decision but consulted with my wife, and then informed our kids that because of some financial situations (and investment with One Day’s Wages), Dad & Mom had chosen to sublet our furnished home for couple months to some strangers and within 72 hours, we’d have to pack up some stuff and stay with some friends.

And for the past couple weeks, we’ve been “couch surfing” Read the rest of this entry »

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introducing: One Day’s Wages

One Day's Wages: a movement to end extreme global poverty

After years of dreaming and conspiring, we’re very excited to share the name and vision of our poverty organization:  One Day’s Wages.

What is our vision?

One Day’s Wages is a grassroots organization and movement by which we hope to inspire millions of people to give their “One Day’s Wages” to fight and end extreme global poverty. 100% of your donations will go directly to fund grants, projects, & organizations that are doing amazing work amongst the poorest of the poor. Our purpose is to promote greater awareness about global extreme poverty, invite simple financial giving, and to provide sustainable relief and empowerment through strategic collaborations. Our vision is to change global issues of injustice affecting millions of people, regardless of race, culture, sex, age, or religion.

Here’s our two minute video intro & vision:

What is our commitment?

We are committing our one year’s salary ($68,000) to launch this movement and invite you to join us by donating one day’s wages. Other donations to help with the initial operations fund are needed and appreciated. Imagine what we can accomplish together! [Here’s why we’ve gone public with our pledge.]

What can you do to join the movement? Read the rest of this entry »

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stuff, connect, info

one day’s wages | video

My Instagram

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.

my tweets

  • The best part of wanting to change the world...is being humbled, learning you're not the savior of the world & being changed in the process. || 10 hours ago
  • Cheer up Toronto & Canada. Great season. Also, you have free health care, toonies and your political candidates are not as crazy as America. || 22 hours ago
  • Make friendships more than transactions. There's a huge difference between "I appreciate you" and "I appreciate what you can do for me." || 1 day ago
  • There's much to ponder in this article. Much to repent. Much to grieve. "Seattle's vanishing black community." - seattletimes.com/pacific-nw-mag… || 2 days ago
  • People often ask, "How do stand all that rain in Seattle?" Actually, it doesn't rain that much.… instagram.com/p/BF2giXwyWTY/ || 3 days ago
  • Don't obsess about your platform.Just do your thing with passion, humility, integrity. We do what we do for God's glory, not human applause. || 3 days ago

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