Youth Pastor Donates Half of His Salary to Fight Human Trafficking

We're constantly blown away by the generosity of every day people. And we love these stories because they affirm to us one of our core philosophies of philanthropy:

We don't have to be rock stars, celebrities, or billionaires...Everyone can be generous. Everyone can make an impact.

Here's another amazing and encouraging story:

We recently received a letter and then a check from a young youth pastor named Joon Park from Florida, USA who decided to save and donate half of his entire 2012 salary to fight human trafficking with ODW.

In addition, he's started a campaign asking friends and strangers alike to help him double his $10,000 donation to $20,000. If you're inspired, chip in anything you can to help him reach his goal. 

We were so encouraged by his decision and asked him a few questions to learn about his story and why he chose to do this:

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I'm a former atheist/agnostic, a fifth degree black belt, and currently a 30-year-old youth pastor at a tiny little church in Florida. I have a blog and a Tumblr that speaks to struggling Christians and answers their questions.

2. You are donating half of your salary. This is crazy and some might say even stupid. Why did you choose to do this?

Earlier in the year, I listened to a sermon in the car by Pastor Eugene Cho (founder of ODW) from the Catalyst 2011 Lab, and I was pretty much struck dead. The main thing that kept rocking my gut was: You can't ask other people to do what you're not first doing yourself. I had been playing it pretty safe for a while -- the typical blogging pastor hoping to stir up his little youth group to bigger and better things, and while there was growth, I just knew I was missing it. Every week I thought, "Well next week we'll be fired up. God is cooking up something." But Ephesians 2:10 had been pressing me -- you know, those good works God prepared in advance for us to do. I just didn't know how to fulfill the "do."

I don't make a lot of money, but I'm filthy stinking rich compared to the world. I'm sure you've heard other preachers go bananas on that before. On that night in the car, Pastor Eugene laid this on pretty thick, but that particular night was different: something just tore open raw inside. By the time I got to my destination, my face was a slobbery mess. I was kind of crying and laughing and shaking my fist at God all at the same time. My level of "radical" was being challenged to become the biblical norm. I knew I'd be called crazy, but I decided: it would be crazy not to go for it either...

3. What's been the hardest part and the best part of this experience of simplicity and generosity.

The hardest part was being tempted to not put away the money. When you save up for something, that portion from your paycheck has to be saved first: the mentality of "I can just save more next month" will kill you. Eventually when I was over $5000, I started thinking of what this money could do for me.

"So many iPads, you know."

In one month, two of my tires went flat, my rearview mirror fell off, my sideview mirror exploded (no joke), and I got four of those red light camera tickets (I probably deserved them). Somehow, I was able to slowly pay for these things without touching the savings. I got speaking opportunities that paid way more than I wanted, and I'm seriously just a nobody youth pastor in a tiny little church. Friends randomly gave me gift cards that helped me with groceries. A lady backed into my car and gave me a few hundred bucks. These things added up.

This was the best part: seeing how God provided, because there was no way I could've made it without these daily gifts of grace...

Thanks Joon for sharing your story.

If you're inspired by Joon, check out his campaign and help him in his goal to double his $10,000 donation. Any gift - small or large - will help.