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Church of God plays a leading role in helping victims of the Daegu subway disaster, offering 80% of the whole servings

  • Disaster Relief
  • Nation | South Korea
  • Date | March 02, 2003
ⓒ 2003 WATV
130 volunteers make 3,000 servings a day

ⓒ 2003 WATV
Church of God has been operating volunteer's camp all day for 2 weeks since February 21. This reporter visited the accident site and the camp.

Now, the number of the present volunteers from various groups reaches to 900 a day on the average. Among them, 130 volunteers are from Church of God. For 2 weeks, 2,000 man-days have participated in the volunteer activities. At first, they thought 40 volunteers a day would be enough. However, as the number of the meals increased rapidly, they revised their plan.

When this reporter visited the camp, the volunteers were busy preparing lunch. In a big stainless pail, hot shredded beef soup was boiling, and rice was being cooked; savory odors filled the camp. Like this, they prepare 3,000 servings a day. On the first day, they served 600 plates but the number increased rapidly. Lee Soon-pil, one of volunteers, smiled, saying, "From dawn to night, we move busily like bees." "Every day we make 3,000 servings. It is 80% of the whole servings. We are happy to share our neighbors' sorrows, rather than tired," said Kim Du-seok, Pastor of Church of God in Daegu area.

Looking for taste and wholeheartedness

On the accident site, various kinds of voluntary services are held: free medical treatment and psychological counseling, spot cleaning and so on. Among them, meal serving occupied the most portion. On the spot, about 40 groups offer snacks like bread, drinking water and cup ramyon (instant noodle), but visitors drop into the camp where Church of God provides hot soup and rice.

Mr. Park, one of the bereaved families, finishing his meal at the Church of God camp, praised the volunteers, "I've been taking meal here every day for 2 weeks; I feel family's affection from them. The taste of food is excellent, but what comforts me is their wholehearted kindness." The volunteers themselves go shopping and cooking with great care.

Warm words of consolation: "You are to eat to live."

ⓒ 2003 WATV
The camp is about 24 sq. yds. and 30 persons can sit and have meals. While this reporter gathered news, looking around the camp, it was crowded with people who were eating or standing in a line awaiting their turn. The volunteers explained to this reporter that at first the bereaved closed their minds and avoided making contact with the outside and didn't eat due to deep grief. To them the volunteers of Church of God constantly gave words of consolation, "You are to eat to live," and offered meals. Now they are getting stable enough to come to this camp and have meals of their own accords. Indeed, this reporter saw some setting their minds at ease, having a cup of tea after meal. Seeing them, this reporter thought of human kindness and found that the volunteers' hope to share their sorrows was being realized.

Love for neighbors spreads
- People from each field, who visit the accident site, encourage the volunteers, having meals at the camp of Church of God

You are the guards of Daegu city"

Into the volunteer's camp of Church of God drop the people from each field-officials, reporters and members of the National Assemblybesides the bereaved families.

On March 2, a man from TBC was exchanging greeting with the volunteers at the camp. He said, "I've been moved by the volunteers who willingly do these unpleasant jobs." He'd filmed the appearance of the volunteers for 2 days and broadcasted it through his broadcasting program in March 3. And on the last February 22, Kang Shin-sung, a famous Korean movie star and Member of the National Assembly, visited the Church of God camp and expressed his thanks, "Church of God seems to be a guard of Daegu city."

This day, a rare scene was seen. Leaders from each religion, after paying tribute to the dead at a joint memorial altar, visited the Church of God camp and had meals. A Catholic priest, after meal, deplored the religious world's indifference toward the neighbor's tragedy, saying, "Thanks to you, we've saved our face. Actually, though many religious leaders visit the site, they only offer donations and take pictures for show; devotional activities such as Church of God does are hardly found in any other religious bodies."

ⓒ 2003 WATV
And among the regular visitors to the camp, there are reporters who collect news, staying on the spot. A few days ago, a director in Busan KBS, who was moved by the volunteers, visited one of Churches of God in Daegu and heard about the history and doctrines of Church of God; he expected to see the Church of God volunteers in the Universiade Games coming in August.

Daegu citizens support the volunteers, inquiring how to join in volunteer's activity

On the spot, various episodes are to happen. One of the bereaved families held a volunteer's hands with tearful eyes and said, "Why are you troubled, while the concerned people do not do their own work?" And one of the bereaved quietly delivered fifty thousand won to the volunteers, saying, "I hope this may be used for good things."

Kim Jong-taek, one of volunteers, who took one day off, said, "I'm very happy to see the bereaved and the volunteers being one."

Thus, the love of sharing neighbors' sorrows is spreading over Daegu city; when the volunteers go to market to purchase materials for meal, merchants take off fifty percent; and some citizens and some of bereaved families inquire how to join Church of God in the voluntary activities.

Church of God has been collecting donations, and sooner or later they will be delivered to the bereaved families. All the members of Church of God hope their wholehearted consolation also will be delivered to the families.

[Confession] "I am put under a great obligation of loving my neighbor!"
Hwang Gwi-ja, a passenger of the subway train No. 1080, escaped death by a miracle

Dark smoke and gas leaking in from the cracks of subway train windows, utter darkness and people's outcries... Whenever I remember the scene of the tragic accident at the Jungangno subway station in Daegu city, I deeply give thanks to God who saved me and my son through the covenant of the Passover.
On February 18, the day was beginning uneventfully. As usual, I headed for the subway station to take my six-year-old son, Yeon-jun, to the nursery school.

I made my son wear a muffler and bought him a drink from a vending machine. When I went down the stairs, a train was just passing the station. In a few minutes, another train arrived and we got into the trainit was the very No. 1080 train.

Passengers were so quiet until the train entered the Jungangno station. When our train arrived at the station, smoke was seen through the opposite windows. Banwoldang station I would get off was the very next station.

ⓒ 2003 WATV
Passengers thought there might be a fire somewhere, but they had no regard for it. As the door was opened and thick, noxious smoke came in, no one would go out of the train.

"Close the door, driver. We're suffocated to death!" The door was immediately closed at the passengers' agitation. They thought all would be O.K. only if they passed this station. But they were getting out of breath because of the smoke coming in through chinks of the door.

The situation was getting worse and urgent. Just then, the Passover occurred to me. I was relieved at the thought that God would protect me because I kept the Passover of the new covenant. Several scriptural phrases came into my mind.

Isa. 43:1~3 But now, this is what the LORD sayshe who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;

Ps. 91:7~11 A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. If you make the Most High your dwellingeven the LORD, who is my refugethen no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways;

Covering my mouth and my son's with mufflers, I sought God. Yeon-jun was more calm and stately than me. "Mom, I do not fear. Father and Mother are with us, aren't They? Don't be afraid, mom." "Yes, you're right." Yeon-jun and I prayed to God for help, crouching on the floor.

Passengers beside us shouted for help, calling here and there with their cell phones. "Here is a fire in the train. Come quickly." "Mom, fire in the subway. I'm gonna die." "Mother, please look after my kids." "Help me."

An announcement told us to wait and the driver tried to start repeatedly. But the train did not move, finally the power went off. Though I had to get off at the next station, I decided to get out of here this time. The moment I picked up my bag and my son's, the door was opened like a miracle with an announcement, "all passengers, get off the train." I was pushed out of the train with my son.

It was not the station I usually get off, so I was unfamiliar with the way. I groped the wall for the stairs in utter darkness with other passengers. They also lost the way and were running about in confusion. A toxic gas was inhaled at each breath. I went up the stairs, seizing my son's hand, crying, "Father, Mother, help me, please!"

After a while, I found myself going up the stairs, embracing my son tightly. From the above, a streak of light from a rescuer's flash was seen like a light of life. 'I'm alive. Thank You, Father and Mother!'

When I came out of the station, I saw the mufflers turned black and my son's face in very poor condition. I wiped his face without being aware of my sooty face, then inhaled fresh air.

ⓒ 2003 WATV
Certainly many people got off the train with us; however, no one took the way we came out of. It was not until some time later to hear that other people rushed to the exit of the underground shopping center. They would never think that the fire wall of the entrance to a shopping center was already blocked. It is said that many bodies were found around the exit.

I took a taxi to go to a nearby hospital for fear Yeon-jun might be injured. At the hospital, doctors gathered from our sooty face that we were victims of the subway accident, so that they gave first aid to us directly. Though I inhaled poisonous gas so much, except some remainder of smoke in bronchus, I didn't injure my respiratory tract and lungs at all. What was more fortunate was that my son was completely well.

While I stayed in the hospital for a simple treatment, my son kept jeering at me. "Mom, you are a coward. Didn't you forget that Father and Mother protect us always? I never feared." It seemed that he didn't hurt at all for his faith was better than mine.

I never thought that such a big fire occurred, when I arrived at the hospital. I heard from TV and medical staffs that at least 200 were killed or missing. I gave thanks to God all the more. The victims, surging into the hospital, were really pitiable. The injured next to me were burnt in the respiratory tract and lungs by hot smoke. They could hardly speak and groaned in pain.

Home and foreign reporters gathered around me to interview, whose vocal cords were not injured. The news about Yeon-jun playing in good health was reported under the title of 'Miracle of a mother's love,' instead of my words, "God saved us." But my husband and all relatives and acquaintances wondered, saying, "It is the will of heaven," "Yeon-jun's mom believed God sincerely, and He did save her!"

After five days' hospitalization, I visited the accident site. When I went down the entrance stairs of the Jungangno station, I shuddered at the repulsive smell.

God delivered me and my son from the pit of death. Those who were with me in the same time, in the same station, in the same carriage all melt in the heat. I deeply give thanks to God who has sealed us, saying, "You are Mine," with the new covenantthe eternal covenant; He chose us to be His own and saves us even in the water or in the fire or in any disasters.
'Passover' occurred to me more clearly in the extreme situation. Now, I will proclaim the Passover of the new covenant boldly all the more, thinking the souls who died, crying out in the fire. I will preach the new covenant more diligently, so that nobody may die around me without knowing God's promise. I will do my best to accomplish the will of God who saved me and my son from the great disaster.
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