How the Church Meets Tragedy

This was supposed to be a week of celebration at Seattle World School. The school’s first graduating class was set to walk on Tuesday night, and it looked like it was going to be a great celebration to end a great year. However, on Sunday evening, we received news the celebration would be put on hold as word spread of the untimely passing of Seattle World School junior, Cuong Uong.

Cuong, who was 17-years-old, was attending a party with friends at Lake Washinton on Sunday evening. Enjoying the warm weather, he was swimming in Lake Washington when tragidy struck. Cuong tragically drowned in the lake despite many efforts of his friends and others who tried to rescue him.

Cuong was originally from Vietnam, and he moved to Seattle with his father. His mother remained at home in Vietnam. He attended Seattle World School on Capitol Hill, and he was a perfect fit for its mission statement: “a world in a school.” Seattle World School (SWS) is unlike any other, as it is a place with students from over 28 different countries and with 32 different languages spoken there, making it the perfect fit for new immigrants and refugees.

Despite this unfortunate event, we serve a God who turns tragedy into triumph and, though we may not always understand the ‘why,’ He uses tragedy to bring hearts and glory to Him. It is not mere coincidence that just a short walk across a parking lot away from SWS sits the Miller Community Center, home to Central Community Church. A church, neighbors with a school for immigrants and refugees. Since Central Community Church (CCC) has been there, they have “adopted” their neighbors at SWS and have raised support for students there, helped with a food and clothing distribution closet and helped the school hold its first prom this spring. When CCC heard of the tragedy that struck the community, their overwhelming response was to surrounded the SWS family.

The Lord has used CCC to raise more than $2,000 in one night to fly Cuong’s mom to Seattle from Vietnam for the memorial services. They are still raising funds to help account for the funeral costs.

Kimber Pritts, a SWS volunteer and CCC attendee, has been apart of both families all year, and she can’t believe the way the Lord has turned this tragedy into a situation that is truly bringing Glory to God.

“I think the most impactful part of this whole situation has been when I walked into the school, and the students wanted desperately to get his mother over here, but they had no way to do it. If the church hadn’t agreed, nobody would have been able to make this a reality, and it will be so important for this family to see the Love of Christ in this way,” Kimber said.

Kimber also pointed out that not only is the Lord providing through CCC, but also through the students at CCC.

“Two students just brought in $1.69, and it was all they had. I have gotten so many donations just from the school. I truly believe everybody here wants to see these students succeed and want to see their lives impacted,” Kimber said.

God, like any loving father, wants to be the ultimate source of our comfort. When we’re faced with tragedy, it is all we can do to turn to Him, and watch Him ultimately receive the glory. There is beauty in seeing the Church come together to love its neighbor.

The Uong family is still in need of funding for the memorial service and other costs, so if you would like to donate, go to the Central Community Church website. Under the tab labeled “Fund,” select “Seattle World School” and in the comments section, select “family support.”

Please join us in prayer over the upcoming days for the Uong family, Seattle World School and Central Community Church that the peace of the Lord that transcends all would overwhelm them and comfort them.

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