In the aftermath of one of the most tragic ferry accidents in recent history, a story of heroism and selfless sacrifice is beginning to take shape. It’s the story of a young woman, Park Jee Young, just 22 years old.
Two years ago, after the death of her father, Park dropped out of college to help support her family. She took a job with a ferry company, and was just recently promoted to serve on the ill-fated Korean ferry, the Sewol, which sank off the coast of South Korea last week (April 16, 2014).
The ferry was carrying 476 people, most of them high school students from the Danwon High School in Ansan City. The students were on a class trip to a nearby resort Island. After initial search and rescue attempts, more than 300 of the passengers are either dead or missing and presumed dead.
While nearly half of the ferry’s 22 crew members have been arrested in connection with negligence and dereliction of duty, Park gave her life to save as many passengers as possible. CNN reports:
By witness accounts [she] helped passengers escape and distributed life jackets – one after the other to students – as the stricken ferry began to sink. When she ran out of jackets, she ran to the next floor to grab more. When she was asked why she wasn’t wearing a life jacket, Park said that crew members would be last and that she had to help others first…
Even more amazingly, it was her quick thinking and assessment of the gravity of the situation which led so many to safety.
In an interview with CNN’s Ashleigh Banfield, survivors described the scene and her actions. They recounted how the severe listing of the ship nearly immediately turned walls into floors. Passengers were panicked and disoriented. A large, open door now created a gaping hole in the new “floor,” and it was too wide for passengers to safely step or jump over it. One crew member was laying on the floor nearby, grasping a mic and instructing passengers to stay put, and telling them they would be fine if they just stayed where they were.
Park instinctively knew that staying put was not an option. Witnesses say she grabbed some keys from her fellow crewman and forced the door shut, then locked it to be sure it stayed that way. She then led nearly 50 desperate passengers across it, creating, as one grateful survivor described it, a “bridge to safety.” She was standing right by the exit, he said, yet she refused to save herself, insisting that the needs of the passengers came first.
Alongside the flowers at her memorial is a simple message, “We will always remember your sacrifice.”
Spiritually speaking, Jesus is our “bridge to safety.” While the whole world was saying stay put and everything will be fine, He realized the gravity of the situation and took action. He knew that staying put in our separation from God was not an option, so He gave His life to close the gap between us and God. Like Park Jee Young, He put himself last in order to save as many as possible.
Just as Park Jee Young’s family “will always remember [her] sacrifice,” we are called to perpetually remember Jesus’ sacrifice each Lord’s Day as we gather at the Lord’s Table to observe communion.
“And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and gave to them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19).
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Have A Great Day!
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