It’s been a year since a truck plowed through the Promenade de Anglais in Nice, France, killing 86 people and injuring more than 200. Fresh pavement since has covered the once blood-stained mile, and newly planted palm trees offer Bastille Day revelers another layer of protection.
But the memories remain.
One local resident can’t forget that July 14 night when the festive atmosphere turned macabre. To get home, he had to walk down the Promenade—past crumpled bodies and remnants of a previously carefree evening. The tragedy is what prompted him to attend the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team‘s Sharing Hope in Crisis seminar last weekend in Nice, France.
Through an interpreter, the French-speaking gentleman shared his story with John Galvin, assistant director of the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team.
“He saw things we’re just not wired to see, and he’s very clearly still struggling with it,” Galvin said. “I had the chance to talk with him for about 15 minutes and let him tell his story.
“He was at the training because he says he wants to go out and minister to others.”
Galvin oversaw the day-long Sharing Hope in Crisis session, which was requested by Calvary Chapel Nice, and said nearly all of the 87 people who attended had a personal connection to the tragic incident. One man stood up to share his story. He was there last year when the Rapid Response Team deployed to offer emotional and spiritual care. The chaplains invited him to join them, and the man spoke briefly about participating in the ministry effort.
“He talked about just how amazing it was to be in his city after this event, to see people who came in from all over the world to be with people and pray with people,” Galvin said. “It really impacted him.”
The training touched on larger-scale tragedies like the one in Nice, but also zeroed in on the daily crises that people are more likely to encounter.
“We emphasize this is not just for a catastrophe like (the truck attack),” Galvin said. “This is for every day life and things that impact us—illness, broken marriage, job loss, those things.”
While in Nice, Galvin walked down the Promenade. This time of year is a big draw for tourists, so it wasn’t uncommon to see them riding bicycles through the picturesque resort town or sunbathing near the Mediterranean Sea. But the ongoing construction—new pavement and palm trees for Friday’s Bastille Day event—quickly jolted one back to reality.
“It was a weird juxtaposition,” Galvin said. “Even as you saw people there celebrating on holiday, you had this reminder that, ‘Wait a minute. We’re still cleaning up from the carnage a year ago.’
“That was a very traumatic event for this community,” Galvin added. “The community is still grieving. It will be interesting to see if this one-year anniversary helps them to have some closure on the event.”
Please keep the Nice community in your prayers.
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