In Seoul, a memorial of flowers, Post-it notes, and photos continues to grow in honor of the victims of the deadly Oct. 29 crowd surge which took the lives of more than 150 people who were gathered in the Itaewon neighborhood for Halloween festivities.
In the aftermath of such a tragedy, shock and grief has reverberated throughout South Korea—and the world.
Two Billy Graham Rapid Response Team (BG-RRT) chaplains have returned to the memorial over the past few days to offer emotional and spiritual care. In the presence of such raw, deep grief, the chaplains extend a ministry of presence to those around them.
A woman who stood by the memorial this week added a small teddy bear to the memorabilia. She told the chaplains, “We are all connected whether we were there or not, and even if we don’t know anyone who died.”
One chaplain approached a group of three friends who were crying together. They survived the crowd crush in Itaewon but lost a friend that night. The chaplain prayed for and put an arm around one of the women who was visibly distraught. Many people gathered around the group had lost someone close to them because of the deadly accident.
The following day, a young Canadian woman kneeled before the memorial, weeping loudly. One of her childhood friends died in the crowd surge. She said, “I don’t know what to do. What am I supposed to do?” A chaplain gave her tissues and embraced her as she wept.
After speaking with the chaplain for a few minutes, she bowed down near the memorial a second time. A Christian university student, whom the chaplains had met earlier that day, knelt next to her and played “Amazing Grace” on his flute. The two chaplains sang along to the old hymn, with a few others joining in, honoring God in the midst of intense grief and sorrow. When the woman stood to leave, she hugged the chaplains and said, “Thank you for helping me.”
The chaplains will continue to minister in Itaewon, praying for those who mourn to find peace in God. Please continue to pray for the thousands of people impacted by this crisis, as well as chaplains who are offering emotional and spiritual care amid deep pain and loss.