The Future Is Here

EP. 11: Christ-Centered Politics w/ Eugene Cho

December 23, 2020 UYWI Season 1 Episode 11
The Future Is Here
EP. 11: Christ-Centered Politics w/ Eugene Cho
Chapters
The Future Is Here
EP. 11: Christ-Centered Politics w/ Eugene Cho
Dec 23, 2020 Season 1 Episode 11
UYWI

We invited our good friend and expert of many things,  Eugene Cho, to talk about the importance of being involved within the sphere of #politicaldiscussion now more than ever, even after the election season has passed us by. Needless to say, he talks about how we must engage with grace—without being a jerk—hence the title of his new book titled “Thou Shalt Not Be A Jerk.” ⁣ It was so good we are closing the season of The Future Is Here Podcast with this incredible conversation.⁣ We hope you enjoy this episode and the 10 other released this season. Blessings fam!




Support the show (https://interland3.donorperfect.net/weblink/WebLink.aspx?name=E12333&id=12)

Show Notes Transcript

We invited our good friend and expert of many things,  Eugene Cho, to talk about the importance of being involved within the sphere of #politicaldiscussion now more than ever, even after the election season has passed us by. Needless to say, he talks about how we must engage with grace—without being a jerk—hence the title of his new book titled “Thou Shalt Not Be A Jerk.” ⁣ It was so good we are closing the season of The Future Is Here Podcast with this incredible conversation.⁣ We hope you enjoy this episode and the 10 other released this season. Blessings fam!




Support the show (https://interland3.donorperfect.net/weblink/WebLink.aspx?name=E12333&id=12)

Speaker 1:

Are you listening? Hey fan , welcome to the features here, podcast . This is for the leaders, the dreamers provocateurs misfits, the frustrated frontline leaders who are charging in the kingdom. You're tired of reactive church. It's time to build a church we dream of now the future is here. So don't get left behind. Are you listening? Let's get into it.

Speaker 2:

You are in for a treat today. We have , um, uh, uh, a friend to UIW. Why someone who's been part of the community for a long time , um, has, has poured into our leaders for a long time. We've got today for you. Our special guests today is Eugene Cho. Reverend. It feels like it should be Dr. Reverend, but it's Reverend Eugene show . Uh , who's recently actually become the president CEO of bread for the world and the bread Institute , um , longtime partner of bus man. And so he's here today to talk to us about how do we engage in , uh , politically as believers, as followers of Christ. And so Eugene welcome brother. Thanks so much for being on the call.

Speaker 3:

Hey, thank you so much, man. I know you said this, but I'm a huge fan of , uh , urban youth workers Institute. It's a joy and a pleasure to be able to join everyone here on zoom, as well as on this thing called Facebook and , uh , Tommy man cheering you on from afar. And , uh, I know this has been a challenging year, but really looking forward to being able to be in the same space, but for now let's chop it up here on virtual land .

Speaker 2:

So we're super excited to have you Eugene, thanks for being on. And so today you actually, although being Europe, you're the president CEO of bread for the world. You're, you're doing that. Um, and, but in the midst of all that, and, and I think probably you're writing this during your transition. I'm not even sure, but , um, you actually wrote a book that came out, I believe in March. Um, and it's called Dow shout not be a jerk, a Christian's guide to engaging politics. And so our conversation today is gonna , is going to be surrounded about that. But I wanted to set it up if I can, Eugene , uh, for our listeners, for our community of leaders. Here's why, if you're struggling, which I know a lot of you aren't , but if you're struggling, Hey, should Christians even be engaged politically? Like, what does that mean? How should that look? Uh , I want to set up a reason why this is so important. Okay. So , um, 1.2 million young people are leaving the church, brothers and sisters. That means that I'm not talking about those who haven't heard the gospel. I'm not talking about those who are like, wait, what are you talking about? I'm talking about people who have been in our churches, heard the gospel, watched our lives, and they're deciding it's not for me 1.2 million every year, young people that are leaving the church. Now couple that with the future of our , of the world really is young it's multi-ethnic and , and it's urban that that's the reality that we're all heading. And so I believe that the , you guys, as leaders, you're the future. And so you put those two things together. This next generation they're woke. They know what's going on. They're looking at the world that they're inheriting and they're going, look, you tell me about this gospel, but I'm watching the political landscape and I'm watching what a professed Christians are backing or what they're talk about or what , what they say is, is Christianity. I'm not buying it friends. If we don't figure this out and we don't figure out how to politically engage, we're losing this next generation. If our gospel doesn't have an answer for , for the world and , and , and what's going on in politics, we've lost it. And so that's why it's so important. So Eugene, thank you so much for jumping in. And so you wrote this book and I loved how you organized it. It's almost like the 10 commandments of how to politically engaged as a Christian. You have 10 chapters, right. Of thou shall not. Right. And, and so the, the, the title of the book is Dow shall not be a jerk. And so for us, man, give us a little bit of a framework of this book and what, why you wrote it.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. Well, first of all, I thought we were talking about the Seattle Seahawks. I thought that was what this whole thing was about. What's going on politics. No, just kidding. Uh, well, I think the main reason why I wrote this book and I should first confess, it was a really hard book to write. Um, I literally quit writing this book four times along the way. My publishers were very angry and disappointed because I kept pushing it back. I kept telling them I can't do this. And as I worked on it, I was so afraid. I was afraid of all the criticism that I was going to be receiving from various sides. And so I stopped writing it. Ultimately, the reason why I wrote it was because I felt really prompted by the Holy spirit to write this book. Now, why do I feel prompted? Uh , I think in many ways there's three groups of people that I am mindful about. As I wrote this book, there was a group of people. This is written for the church. There's a group of people that I wrote this for, that have abandoned politics for lots of reasons. It could be because they're overwhelmed . They're just exhausted. I'm raising my hand. There've been times I feel tempted to just kind of jump ship, feel logical reasons have chosen not to engage only focus on spiritual. Uh, we should focus on , um, can you guys hear me? Okay. Can you guys hear me okay.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, bruh . It cut it just cut out for a minute. So we're talking about how these three different groups of people. So, so one of them just bailing on politics, they've left politics, right? And so what was that next group?

Speaker 3:

Right, but more but more specifically, they build on it because of theological reasons that we should only focus on spiritual things like evangelism and quiet time and church. A second group of people are folks that are obsessed about politics, and they might not acknowledge it, but it's become their idolatry. And they have a tendency of justifying everything they say or do out of their obsession with politics. And I think there's a third group of people that are trying to understand that it matters. And so they're trying to be faithful in that engagement, but it's really difficult and challenging because we live in a culture of so many extremes that this book is an imperfect attempt to try to encourage people. In some ways it's a discipleship book. I know it's a topic about politics, but I'm trying to disciple people, however, in perfectly, because if we're not careful and here's the thing, Tommy, I've had so many pastors pushed back at me about writing this book. And what I encourage them is this, if we don't talk about this with young people, with leaders, with our churches, they're actually being discipled somewhere else. And it's typically pundits it's Fox news. It's CNN is MSNBC, and I'm not trying to vilify journalists or news, but we can't abdicate that responsibility of discipleship to the larger media and so forth, as difficult as it might be. We've got to talk about this with our young people,

Speaker 2:

Man. That is so good, bro. Like part of that too, is it is a matter of discipleship because they're listening to somebody and, and so guys so important for us to understand that we can't shy away from it. Now what I did appreciate, I saw that post, I, you actually did a post where you're like, I stopped writing this book several times. Can you tell us a little bit about what, what has that been like? Um, you know, once you stepped off that ledge and just go, I'm going to do it. How has that , um, how has, how do you feel like God's walked with you or how has that discipleship process been for you in that, and , and being brave and being courageous and going, Oh, I'm gonna, I'm gonna put this out there because I think a lot of our people we've put stuff out there, then we just get RET or we're so afraid of that. We're like, we're just don't want to do it. And we come up with reasons why we shouldn't. Okay . Can you share a little bit about that? I think that'd be great for us to hear.

Speaker 3:

Well, if I'm honest, there are times even after writing the book that I've regretted writing the book and just being bluntly, honest, because probably like many people that are watching this call right now, whether you're doing work in the urban center or in rural areas, it doesn't matter as human beings. We all like to be liked. That's a commonality that we all have. And as leaders, I think we struggle with that. I'm turning 50 years old next week. I thought by the time I turned 50, I would have fixed skin. This wouldn't bother me, but it still bothers me. So I have been receiving yes, both my share of affirmation, but also my share of lots of criticisms as well. And what it comes down to is this for me, is that I rushed through my decisions. Was I prayerful? Was I discerning? Did I seek counsel? Did I seek and read the scriptures in kind of helping me formulate my decision? I think that's the main thing. Now there have been moments in my life. I've done something that I considered rave , but I didn't take the time to process and pray and discern. I basically drank the Kool-Aid of our larger culture, where it feels like we have to like, just be outrageous, say things as loudly as we can, but this book was different. I know that I took time actually, you know, a couple of years prayerfully discerning this book. This book came from a sermon that I gave 10 years ago. So you could say that it's 10 years in the making. And , but in the last couple of years, as you know, the, the political banter and rhetoric has gone just out of this stratosphere. And I think a lot of leaders are discerning, how do we engage this? Which is basically what you were talking about in the introduction. Either we drink the Kool-Aid of our culture or we decide, you know, what out of sight out of mind are not going to talk about it at all,

Speaker 2:

Man. That's so good, bro. Like , um, I think it's helpful. It's helpful for me as a leader, Eugene, to , to hear that because we watch you from the outside and we just go, man, this guy is just killing it. And , and he wrote this book and he he's must have all of it together in his mind. And I'm a little bit like you brother. Like I reached certain milestones in my life and I go, how come I haven't figured it out yet, but I think it's so healing just to hear a seasoned leader, just go now, still deal. I still struggle with it. So for you, and for those of us listening and this book and engaging this conversation, like what's, where do you go to, to root yourself and just go, you know what? This is where I , this is what I go back to and hold onto . And then for us who may be somebody that's starting that journey, where do you start in this journey? Like, what's the, where do you root yourself? Um , or what's the understanding of the theology to where we can root ourselves to, to move forward in this conversation?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, that's a great question. Well, let me get to the routing part first. Let me just talk about politics. That word politics , uh , people are very weary or they're scared of that word politics and in truth, it's not that we're where we should be scared of politics. We should be scared of something called partisan politics. It's when someone subscribes blindly to a particular political identity without thinking, praying without inserting politics. If you look at any simple dictionary, like if you look at the Webster's dictionary, politics is defined as the art or science, when they choose to live together, that's what politics is. Um , and the reason why politics can be both good and also challenging is because it involves people. It's like youth group . What's the best thing about youth group kids. What's the most challenging thing about youth group

Speaker 2:

Kids sometimes.

Speaker 3:

And let's be honest. Sometimes it's the same kids, right? When people ask me as a pastor, what's the best thing about church. It's always people, the most challenging thing. So theologically, when people have a skeptical perspective of politics, I think most Christians, theologically believe that God instituted three institutions, God created home church and government. So actually politics is very important. It's very essential. And one of the reasons why I think America leading the United States is going through some challenging times is because we have challenges in our political engagement in our government right now. So you take away partisanship. It can step back from all the craziness of the elections, all those scary rhetoric that's going on. The fear-mongering . I want people to know that politics really matters because it informs policies and policies always impact people. And the last time I read the Bible, God really cares about people. That's the reason why political engagement matters now to your question about where do we root ourselves? Well, again, I would say the most important thing, and we can talk about this for a long time, is that we have to make sure that we are not subscribing to the kingdom of political parties, of powerful politicians or even political platforms. I'm not suggesting that you can't support someone, that you can't donate to someone I'm not suggesting that you can't do any of these things, but ultimately as followers of Jesus, we believe in the kingdom of God. So our theology is so essential at this time. It matters not just for Friday night youth group. It matters not just for your Sunday service. It matters in everything that we do. That phrase kingdom of God, it's found 68 times in the new Testament, Jesus crucified, risen. He comes back and I love this particular verse in the book of acts where it specifically says that Jesus returns spends time with the disciples and he teaches them about the kingdom of God. Why it's the most important thing our allegiance, because we're kingdom, citizens have to be about the kingdom. And when I'm speaking about the kingdom, I'm not just speaking nebulously about kindness and nice work. The kingdom of God has a King. His name is Jesus. And as imperfectly as possible, acknowledging I have my blind spots. I have my , uh, aspects that I don't have a full grasp of the glory of Jesus. We have to be about Jesus, the kingdom of God and specifically, you know, I don't want to go off on a sermon right now, but specifically when people say, well, what do you mean by Jesus? I'm talking about not the Republican Jesus, not the democratic Jesus, not the black Jesus, not the Asian Jesus. Although the Korean Jesus would be nice. I'm not talking about woke Jesus. I'm not talking about urban Jesus or rural Jesus. I'm saying that Jesus has the power to meet all of these contexts, but nothing is able to fully encapsulate the kingdom of them . So which Jesus am I speaking about? I'm talking about the Jesus that teaches the sermon on the Mount, the beatitudes, the miracles, the whole gospel Jesus saves. But Jesus is also at work redeeming, restoring, reconciling the world to himself. Now we can go on about this, but I think it's really important that we root ourselves, even though people that are engaged in the political rhetoric or banter, they might dismiss us. And that's okay. But that's the main thing that I want to encourage people, especially as they work with young people, because the temptation is that a lot of people want to choose us with carrots to say, come to our side . We want young people on our side. We want urban people on our side. We want people of color on our side. And so it can get political. And I want to encourage people to be wise and discerning that we don't pledge allegiance again to condemn or to political parties, but ultimately to the kingdom of God.

Speaker 2:

Yeah , that is so good, bro. I mean, part of it, what it sounds like you're saying Eugene is almost like a contemplative politic , like, like there's like this, like there's this movement that God's drawing us to himself and , and this is a beautiful space where we can enter into , uh , like stop, pray, engage, God got , what do you want me to do? But we had a , you know, one question I would have is in your own life. And, and, and as you would help others disciple us into, you know , this space , um, how do we help our other brothers and sisters understand one that paradigm and enter into it? So , uh , you know, for a lot of us, we, we run nonprofits . I mean, this is where you're at, right. And, and you have , uh, uh , donors , uh , board members , uh, what constituents, what family members, right? You're, you're going home for Thanksgiving. And it's like , uh , you know, certain buzzwords or you say something or you disagree, like, what are some, as we engage this? What are some ways that we, what are some ways that we can engage in this? Um, in, in a way that's, that's really helpful because it's, it's really hard to do that. Do you have any thoughts for us on that?

Speaker 3:

Well, first thing we should do is unfriend people on Facebook that we don't like. That was a joke. Sorry guys. Sorry. Bad joke. Didn't land very well. No, I mean, it's hard. Right? Right now , uh , in my book, I write about the fact that everyone has the capacity to become a mini journalist. We can say things and we can pass half-truths, we're forwarding emails to people. There's a lot of fear-mongering going on. And this is what I mean by trying to choose a different path, choosing the path of Jesus. So as Jesus followers, or as we're not just admirers of Jesus, we're not just fans of Jesus. We have to follow Jesus in the way that he engages and that isn't licensed to be soft. I think we can be bold. We can be emphatic. I think we could be courageous. I think we can speak up for injustice. We can flip tables, but I also want to remind people that Jesus doesn't flip tables. Every single moment of every single day, there is a, a bigger, fuller, holistic picture. Now I'm not a big fan of acronyms, but just for the sake of this question, and I'm going to answer this with an acronym of the letter P here are six instructions that I give to people about how we can engage. Number one, let's always remember to be pastorial . Let's make sure that love is not something we choose to abandon. Even when we talk about politics, even when we talk to people that might disagree with us , uh , we have to make sure that if we lose this commitment to love in our engagement, we're like a resounding gong. And what resounding gongs would do is that you will get together with other resounding gong, create an echo chamber. And we think we're actually may beautiful music and we're not, but we don't know because we're sure that we don't abandon love. It's so important. The second thing is that we have to be prophetic. It is critical for us to speak truth, but yes, in love the danger, in my opinion, is that we have leaders that are choosing one or the other. We're all about postural postural , but we've abandoned the prophetic call. We've abdicated that responsibility. On the other hand, we have people that are all about being prophetic. We're all about being just, and we've abandoned our pastoral commitment, both matter to leadership. It's so important. Like I , if there's anything that someone remembers from our talk, our zoom conversation today, I would hope it's this in God's heart. God is both pastorial . And he's also prophetic. Both of these matters to a leader. The third thing is that it needs to be personal. We have to embody the very things that we're talking about. So when we're getting into arguments and it's all about virtue signaling, and we're not necessarily embodying the convictions that we say that we're about, there's a dissonance and people look at us and say, that sounds hypocritical. So let's live out in perfectly, but let's live out our values and convictions.

Speaker 1:

If you like, what you're hearing, keep listening, but also make sure to check out our newest leadership resource, the leadership journey by hitting up our website , uh , UI wwi.org .

Speaker 3:

Here's the fourth thing it's practical. Like we need to give people practical ways to connect to what we're talking about. If not, we're like basically ivory theological towers, or we're basically walking keyboards, but we're not giving people practical ways to connect their faith into action. The fifth thing is be persistent, be steadfast, cheap showing up. Now I feel like Tommy , when you spoke a couple of years ago at urban youth workers conference, during the transition you spoke about the ministry of presence, the ministry of persistence showing up that in itself is just really, really powerful. So let me put it this way. When was the last time you heard of someone changed their mind through a Facebook argument or a Twitter argument? Never almost the last time you heard of anyone fight with their family member. It's when we choose to be present and persistent and steadfast, and here's the last piece be prayerful, be prayerful as followers of Jesus. We don't just rely on quotes from our favorite political pundants. We don't rely on the power of chariots or forces . We rely on what we believe to be spiritual power that rests in Jesus. Last thing that I'll just say here, you know, when we examine Jesus's ministry and this convicts me because I don't, this is what I struggle with. This is an example of something that I would say , uh , don't always do what I do, but do what I say. Cause there are times I'll lose it myself. I'll get upset. I'm tempted to leave something. And first of all, I just want to tell people, Hey, it's not our job to save the world. We'll do our part. We'll do our best. And there might be times we need to basically create boundaries for ourselves. But when I look at Jesus's ministry, supernatural miracle, powerful, obviously we can go on and on about all of them , Part about Jesus, especially around this topic that fascinates me, compels me humbles and humbles me is that Jesus is constantly having conversations with people. He was not supposed to be having conversations with he's eating meals with people that he was not supposed to eat meals with the Samaritan woman at the well, the woman who suffering from internal bleeding, the Samaritan leper, who chooses to return. And here's, here's a crazy one. I think in my opinion, the most beloved person in Jewish culture, the most vilified person I think was the tax collector . Someone like Zachias , who works for the other Roman villainous empire and also cheats his own people. I mean, he's basically the extreme of the other political party. And Jesus says, I'm going to co come over to your house, eat with you, dine with me , hanging out with you as a reminder that no matter how we disagree and we're obviously going to find people that we disagree with, but repeat this to yourself again and again, every single human being is created in the image of that , is that difficult of course, but we have to cling on to that theological truth.

Speaker 2:

Oh man. Eugene . So good. So like, just to recap, man, pastoral, prophetic, personal practical, persistent, and prayerful. Uh , I love that man. And, and really what that does for me as you just described it so beautifully. What it says to me is that it protects us from objectifying people, because so often I remember when we've been in the fight for immigration reform for a long time. Um, and I remember thinking about these, these Congress people that were against it. And they, I was like, they hate immigrants and they're, they're just evil people. And then I traveled to DC number of times and I sat with them in their office and it just changed the way I thought about it . They just didn't know what they didn't know. And I was there to, to share that with them . But, and so it, it helped me to, to not objectify them. And when you go through that process , um, even with family members, when we start using, you know, all their idiots or they're they're this, or they're that like if I went through that list and was honest with where I'm at with it, and I appreciate you saying that sometimes you lose it. So thank you brother, because sometimes we lose it, but it stops me from objectifying and still seeing the image of God, then this other person, and that God's up to something. And maybe he wants me to be a part of that. And, and I I'm being asked to join into something as God continues to change the world. I love that man. And so I think it's just so beautiful. So let me ask you this brother, like , um, really, you know, we're saying that the future is here, right? And the pandemic has been a catalyst to change all this. And we're in the midst of this crazy political climate. We're in the midst of pandemic, we're in the midst of uprisings . Like our leaders are on the frontline of all this. And one of the things that kind of bums me out is I don't feel like either political party is giving me a , a hope for a future. You've got one party. That's kind of like, no, our vision is to go back to what it used to be like. And the other party is just telling me, well, at least we're not these guys. And so I'm left with like, okay, well where's the, and these young people are left with where's, where's the hope for you in writing this book and what you hope to see? What would you give us a vision for the type of church that you would hope to see in the future? What would that look like? If all of us started take some of these principles from the book, if we did, you know, took these six PS and we, we started living that out. What, what do you, what do you hope for, for the church in the future?

Speaker 3:

Yeah. Well, I certainly resonate with what you shared with what young people are talking about, where is hope in our political engagement right now. Cause it feels really toxic. And I think it's fair for us and honest and important for us to name that our current administration has been particularly toxic that it's not my intent to vilify or demonize them . As we just talked about a few minutes ago, it's really important for us to see the humanity in each person. So even as I acknowledge that, I think part of what we should do as leaders is also be truth tellers. And as true telling is that we should urge our current president and the administration that they can certainly learn to become that much more civil and respectful, to understand and emphasize the dignity of every single human being. Like we can disagree on policies, but there are certain things that we have to subscribe to in order for a healthy society and for robust discussions and conversations to take place. The other thing that I'll say is while it does matter that we can find elements of hope in all facets of our society. It's a reminder to me that our ultimate hope should rest in Christ and what the church in perfectly is seeking to do around the world. So the problem is there's a theologian by the name of Gearhart is Voss . And I hate to throw this like German debt theologian in the conversation, but she coined the phrase that I think some of us, maybe even many of us are familiar with, but we probably don't know that it comes from him. It's a brilliant theological phrase. And it makes sense. He wrote a phrase called and it goes like this, the kingdom here. And not yet as a reminder, that for us as followers of Jesus, you don't have to wait for resurrection Sunday to proclaim and profess the truth that Jesus is risen. We believe that to miss still empty, but at the same time, we believe that Christ will return one day again, to fully restore all glory back onto himself. So even though we're resurrection people, we're still living according to this one, theologian, it's a broken Friday. Where , so as a result, we're going to experience tension in this world. And that's the reason why life can be so hard because I don't care who you are, where you're from, what age, no one likes tension. We like absolute calm and peace and absolute joy and flourishing. So we actually have to teach our people that when we're speaking about hope, we're not talking about like happy giddy, clappy. We're not talking about things being perfect. We're actually teaching people again. How do we be resurrection people in a broken Friday world ? So what gives me hope for the future of the church? Well, I think it's a few things for me. It's this understanding that our success shouldn't always be about number, building metrics. Those have a place, but what gives me joy is I envision a day where your introduction would never be used again about the number of million plus young people leaving the church, Lord have mercy on us. And that is heartbreaking. So I envision a future where we see people not so much about coming back to the church, but coming back into healthy, robust engage relationship of fellowship and community people that understand that discipleship is not just about a 65 minute service on Sunday and about being entertained through youth group. But really again, being challenged, empowered to live out their faith as everyday disciples as everyday missionaries. I mean , I don't know about you, but I think everybody here on this call, what gives me hope is we want to see us as a society that might not always agree with me, but the idea of loving our neighbor, honoring our neighbor, having respect for our neighbor, that that is a common, common , uh , truth that all of us are working for. The common good, a society that desires to elevate compassion and mercy and justice, especially for the poor and vulnerable. Those are the things that give me a sense of hope for tomorrow. Um, so much can be said, but I think it is really important during this time, especially this year, when many of us, if we're honest, we're struggling for hope. And Hebrews tells us that our hope can be in Christ who promises us his presence

Speaker 2:

And so good hygiene. So I only, I got just a couple more questions for your brother. And then I just thank you so much for spending your time with us. So we talk about the prophetic piece and , and speaking truth to power. Do you have like , um, and I know you've done this, right. I mean, you, you wrote a book, but you know about this subject, but I also know within your life, you know, it , can you give us an example of what that's, what that's looked like for you as you've spoken truth to power, because I want people to understand we're not talking and I talk a lot about this understanding of a radical middle. Like we've got to elevate beyond being some type of like centrist, moderate, like, well , I just don't want to get into it. That's not what you're saying, but what you're saying is, as we're radical with the way of Jesus, we do have to speak that truth. Um , and I think you get those six things I think help us live into that space, but could you just give us an example from your own life? What does it look like to speak that truth to power and, and, and what was the result of that?

Speaker 3:

Sure. Well, I mean, a couple, a couple examples come to mind , uh, early this year as most of , uh, you know , uh, when COVID 19 became a traumatic issue here in this nation and around the world, there was a hyper increase of anti-Asian verbal abuse and physical assault as well with all the craziness in the world. It's been lost in the news, but it's still going on still. And I found myself every single day, anytime my kids were leaving the house, having very, very serious conversations with them. In some ways I felt like it made me even more empathetic to the plight of black and Brown folks who have that conversation often with their children because of the reality of our world. And during this time , uh, president Trump, who I pray for regularly, which I talk about in the book decides to go on Twitter and decides to call it , um, Chinese virus, the Kong flu, and the list goes on. And I just thought that was incredibly not just poor leadership, but dangerous rhetoric that only exasperates the situation. Now, I don't have a personal relationship with the current president, but I felt like I needed to respond as politely, respectfully, but firmly and truthfully as I could. And so I responded to him via Twitter and I did not expect it to , uh , go viral. And the next thing you know, it became written about and recorded in newspapers all around the world. And it was very difficult because there was a lot of hateful rhetoric from some sides saying that it was, and the list goes on. One of my favorite phrases and I'm being sarcastic is go back home. You know, as if this isn't my home, I love this country. I'm a us citizen. I have the right to speak both pastorally and prophetically, and I'll never abandon that, but that will be an example. In the last few months I've been meeting with lots of Congressmen's, congresswoman's lots of senators, and I've been speaking to them specifically about the hunger crisis in our nation right now. I mean, it is unfathomable one out of three American families of children right now are having difficulty putting food on their tables , those food lines at food banks. Those are not aberrations. It's not fake news. It's happening right now. 40% of black and Brown families right now in this country. Supposedly the greatest nation in the world are having difficulties putting food on the table right now, approximately 270 million people in this world right now are having or experiencing extreme hunger. So we're urging our lawmakers. I'm asking our staff, let's set up these calls, let's set up meetings. We have to let them know that these things are going on and I'm not against airline bailouts. I'm not against small business loans. I'm actually supportive of those things. But my urgent call to them is before anything else, our priority should always be the most vulnerable in our society, our biggest priority. And I can't think of anything more fundamentally , uh , essential than food. So those would be some examples, again, difficult and challenging. But I think what you shared earlier, Tamia was really important because sometimes there are people, people, leaders, lawmakers want to do the right thing, but are afraid for lots to reasons it could be fundraising. It could be speaking to their face. And so we have to have more, this matters to us. It matters to our church. It matters to our youth group. Let's do something

Speaker 2:

man. I mean, absolutely dude , I , I think, and that's such a, that's such a good place where it pushes us towards action to actually live out what we say we believe. And, and the more we do that, there's a beautiful strategy of God where the more we do that, this next generation sees that and goes, Oh, that's real. And they want to join in. And then that's where the discipleship happens. I love that. Well, Eugene man, I , so we have a couple questions from just some of our people on zoom and some people send in some questions. Okay. So the first one is, is a little bit of a doozy, but I , I believe in you . All right . So here's what someone asks . They said they saw your post , um, praying for POTUS and the FLOTUS a couple of weeks ago after they tested positive for COVID. Okay. They also saw the rebuttals and I saw this twos from some people I know , um, about not praying for a dictator or a quote unquote Pharaoh whose heart was hardened. Um , and they wanted to know what's your response to that? And I was like, Oh, that's it. That's a good question, man. So any thoughts on that?

Speaker 3:

One of the lessons that I've learned during this COVID virtual time is that anytime there is a really difficult question, just freeze and pretend it's bad internet connection. It usually works, but maybe it doesn't work right now. Now it's a great question. And this is what I would say when I, when I say pray for someone and I write about this in the book, I'm not just praying , I'm not just saying that we should be praying for unicorns and parties and nice things. When I say, and I encourage people to pray for our leaders, yes, I pray for protection, but I also pray that God would use that moment to deepen his sense of empathy. I pray that God will use that moment to stir his heart, to repentance. I think all of those things matter. And during this time, during this time, when it is so tempting and we see this from both political parties and earlier, and if you've read this book, I don't feel like I take it easy on our current president and I name things and I call it for what they are having said that we are in this political banter and rhetoric right now, where people from both sides are absolutely dehumanizing and vilifying, demonizing the other people, the other person, whether it's vice-president Biden or whether it's our current president. So I think it's important for us to name specific things that we disagree with, that we're urging whoever the lawmaker or the president or whoever the politician may be and give reason why it's important. But in terms of praying for someone, for me, I refuse to let political motivation inform whether I should pray or not, right for someone here's another example, I'm stunned by Jesus's mercy and compassion because he cheeks coming and pursuing after the pharoses , does he have choice words for the farracies absolutely calls them brood of Vipers. He gives and has strong review for them. But when you read the gospel of John, he keeps engaging the Pharisees . I can think of only one reason. He loves them, even though he speaks prophetic words against them, but he keeps coming after them. When people talk about Pharaoh, well, we know God's love for Pharaoh because God waits and waits and waits and waits and waits. So yes, I'm not suggesting that we take it easy on leaders who don't enact compassion and mercy and justice. But I also pray that in the midst of all of these things, I'm going to call people to certain things, but I'm not going to demonize or vilify them. And if I truly do believe that God is able to redeem people, then I have to believe that God is able to redeem people. It may not happen in our lifetime, but I still have to believe in that theological truth,

Speaker 2:

Man. Dang dude. That was so good, bro. I, I mean to your example, it's like, you know, when they try to trap Jesus and he finds that third way, Hey, Hey, who should we give this money to? You know what I mean? And he finds this third way to go that nobody expected. Right. It's kind of like, how did you even come up with that? I feel like that was like part of that answer that she gave where it's like, we've got to transcend, we've got to show that there's a different way of living and being, and that that's so compelling , uh , to , especially for us on this call to this next generation where they go, dang, dude, I want that. Um, and I, I love that answer. You G I was, that was just so profound, bro. So, okay. I , I got another one for you from one of our, from one of our , uh, leaders. How has Christian, should we respond if we don't agree with the result , um , this November, like what does that look like for time? One more time? How, how , how has Christian , should we respond if we don't agree with the result of the November election? Okay .

Speaker 3:

Tommy, you threw me off because I'm looking at the chat one and I was expecting you to read the pizza toppings one. And maybe we should tackle that one too. Let's do that one is, yeah,

Speaker 2:

Let's go on that one. So can you, can you read it? Yeah . Read it.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. Yeah. I mean, it's pretty intense. I was about to freeze again. Uh, the question goes like this, the question goes, Eugene, what is your response to the mindset of quote ? We can disagree on toppings , uh, but not on matters that are political, like the idea of black lives matter or economic inequality. Well, first of all, thou shall never put anchovies as a pizza topic . Amen. All right. That's number one. Okay . So I would absolutely agree with this statement. I think there are things that we can disagree with. And I think we can also say that I will not agree with someone who say that the humanity and the dignity of black lives not mattering. I can't jive with that. I can't be down with that same thing with economic inequality. Now for me, the question then is how then, shall we interact with one another? Am I going to absolutely remove you from my life? Well, it's possible that someone who's on this call may choose to say for the sake of my, my personal boundaries, my personal safety that I need to keep distance . Absolutely. I think you can do that and I would encourage them . But I also believe that what we're missing here is that we're missing the opportunity to somehow step back a little bit right now, I think people are, we're basically throwing bombs at each other and we're unwilling to have any discourse or conversation I would love, absolutely love the opportunity to speak with someone that do not believe that black lives matter. I would love for the opportunity to engage in a personal conversation with that person. Why? Because I suspect that probably 98% of that person's circle of friendships and relationships probably affirm that particular state . That's what I mean by Jesus. Having conversations with people, he wasn't supposed to have conversations with that. This might irk people, but I'll just say it right now. People are so afraid to say anything in support of president Trump. If president Trump invited me to the white house tomorrow to have a conversation about what we can do about 40% of black and Brown families with children not having enough food, I'm there right in the morning. I might not want my photos taken for political purposes, but I want to engage in hopes of trying to illuminates someone from a different perspective. Let me just give you some crazy statistics after Michael Brown's murder, August, 2014, probably all of us here are familiar with Michael Brown situation in Ferguson. There was a sociological survey conducted about the number of relationships that lack Americans, white Americans, Asian Americans, Latino Americans have within their circle of friendships. And it's really telling so in a hundred friends scenario, and I don't know, it's not perfect, but in a hundred friends scenario, the average white person has 91 white friends, one black friend, one Latino friend, one Asian friend, one mixed race, friends, other races , and three friends of unknown rates. The average black person on the other hand has 83 black friends, eight white friends, which makes sense because there's more white people in our nation. Two Latino friends, zero Asian friends. What's up with that three mixed race friends, one other rate's friends and four friends of unknown race for Latino Americans and Asians. We don't fare any better. So here's, here's what I'm trying to say. We're trying to have conversations that are incredibly emotional, incredibly difficult. And we actually don't know anyone of other races. That's the issue among other things. This is the reason why, if I can put a plug on what urban youth workers Institute is doing, it's so important because we're teaching people cultural competence as it relates to our gospel convictions as well.

Speaker 2:

Man, that's so good. I mean, that's really why I believe these guys are the future and the youth that we're all engaging. That's the future. Uh, I mean, and I saw a thing that says in 2020, right? So in 2045, the majority in our country, white folks become the minority, but that happens for those 18 and under in 2020. So they're already going to be living in this new reality. Um , and that's really the kingdom of God. When you look at all, even the Abrahamic covenant, right? It's like, it's all nations. That's, who's going to be in the kingdom of God. And so it, and that's what, like just burdens me Eugene for that. We're not, that's not the gospel, that's not the kingdom that we're presenting to these young people. And, and , uh , it breaks my heart, man. I love all that. Alright , man. So last, last question for you brother. And we'll let you go , uh, you know, so how how's Christians , should we respond? If we don't agree with the results in November? What, what kind of posture should we take or how should we prepare ,

Speaker 3:

Um, before whatever the is going to be? Any thoughts on that? Sure. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah . I just want to say one thing and then let me answer this question. I think it's really important for us as we engage a larger society. Obviously there's going to be people that will disagree with us on a variety of issues. I think my call to thou shall not be a juror is not licensed or permission for us to be soft on being truth tellers on calling things out for what they are. So when we see rampant racism or sexism or Islamophobia or whatever it might be, I pray that those who are on this call, that we would again, embrace our call and commitment to be truth tellers, to call out injustice for what they are. And here's the thing. Then we have to put in the work we've got to put in the work of rind out the work to correct that injustice in our larger society. As for the question specifically about how, what our posture should be. You know, there's really, I think two things come to mind right now. Three things come to mind for me. Number one, I think this is a time for us as Christians to be in prayer and prayer is not some passive response to what's going on. I think we should be very deeply committed because prayer not only is a good prayer for me has certain power that's beyond our human understanding. And so we've got to pray for power because I think our society, our nation, our government democracy, political stuff, that division in our nation, it is unlike anything I've experienced in my 30 years as a leader or pastor. And so I think prayer is really important. Number two, I would say is this, if you and I reduce our civic engagement to one vote every two or four years, I'm just going to call it. We're actually part of the problem. If that's what we call civic engagement. And I do think it's kind of not this I'm being really candid and blunt here, but when you look at the number of the statistics of how few people vote here in the United States, in comparison to other nations, it's really embarrassing. And then you have the reality of the suppression or the oppression of boats, because that is a reality and it makes it even doubly worse. But the fact that we have to try it , strong arm , people to cast that one vote, I think there needs to be a really, I think, a discipleship , um, reorientation for Christians that for us as kingdom citizens, we should still be good citizens here on this earth and voting and engagement is one of those things. And here's the last thing, the third one, and this might, I hope this is received well because I know that people could easily respond by saying that sounds like a privileged answer. And it is privileged . I acknowledged that I have privilege in my life for a variety of reasons, but I also think this theological truth it's so important, especially during this time. And it's this, I believe that no matter what happens, even with 2020 this year, crazy year, this year, I believe that God is still in control. I believe that God is sovereign. And when I speak about God's sovereignty, I'm not suggesting that everything that has happened is God's will rather, I'm suggesting that in spite of everything that's happened, God is still present. God is still engaged and God's still remains on this room. It is somewhat, I mean, it's crazy thing that the day after the elections, and maybe for a few weeks after the election, we won't know the results of at least the presidential election. But what we do know is that half the nation will probably be up in arms and half the nation will be rejoicing. And I think in the midst of all of this, we have to remind ourselves, let's keep grinding. Let's be faithful. Let's keep running the race regardless. And let's make sure that we place our ultimate hope in Jesus Christ, Lord and savior of all .

Speaker 2:

I love that, man. Eugene, thank you so much, brother , uh, for just your wisdom. Thank you for being brave and courageous. And I think there's a call here, friends that we all need to be courageous as we, as we press into Christ and what he's doing and today in our context. And so thank you brother, just for, for that. Thank you for pressing through and writing this book. Um , guys, if you haven't got it yet , um , go out and get it. Um, thou shalt not be a jerk. Um, check it out. It's on Amazon. Um, I know we were giving away a couple of copies. I don't know if he could still get that, but check it out. Um, just keep on following us on our socials and you'll see more about that, but brother, is there anything as we just end our time together, man, and you , you wrapped it really well right there, but I just want to make sure, is there anything that you just want our leaders specifically and you're , you're part of the UIW family, but is there anything that you just want to just, just speak to us specifically as we kind of end time?

Speaker 3:

Yeah. Well bro , I'm going to stay share two things. One is a , is a plug here. I would love for people to check out bread.org/eugene . And it's just a simple way how people can be praying for me or people can be partnering with me in some way. That would mean a lot. Uh , the second thing that I would say as a word of encouragement is it is okay to be afraid. It sounds like a horrible thing to close our statement with, but there's a phrase that I have used for a long time that I regret using. And as the word fearless, the reality is as human beings, we're all going to be afraid on some level or another. Let's just make sure and let's exhort and encourage one another. That fear never becomes a lifelong permanent, full time companion in our lives. Let it come and let it pass. That's what faith is. Faith is when we look at fear and trembling and shaking or in spite of trembling and shaking, we say, Jesus is Lord, and I'll still keep showing up. So I want to just encourage every single youth leader that's on this call either live right now or joining later, watching it got you matter. We need you. We need you for the marathon. We need you for the long haul. We love you. We appreciate you. We see you let's do this together.

Speaker 1:

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