Life & Death? A Choice in a Crowd!
Author: Timothy Tin
Translator: Mandy Kwan
According to yahoo news, on October 29 in Itaewon, South Korea, one hundred thousand revelers who gathered to celebrate Halloween were caught in a crowd crush, leading to hundreds of fatalities and injuries. President Took Suk-Yeol declared a weeklong mourning as well as a thorough investigation into the tragic incident.
Another recent incident happened in the beginning of October in Java, Indonesia, when a soccer game’s conclusion led the spectators to rush to the few available exits, which led to a stampede resulting in a death toll of 135 people including dozens of children. Looking back in previous incidents of deadly stampedes, the most tragic one was during the annual Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca where thousands were crushed and died. The death toll of stampedes are staggering: in 1990, 1,426 died; in 2004, 244 died; and in 2015, 2,411 died. Why do these tragedies keep occurring?
When the density of crowds exceeds the typical personal space required between individuals, it means the chance of people fainting from lack of oxygen increases. When someone falls to the ground, it quickly leads to a crowd crush that leads to an unspeakable tragedy. Ironically many of those who are crushed do not know what was the initial cause of the stampede, and suddenly see death knocking on the door.
In the Bible, 1 Thessalonians 5:3 says: “While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.” And in Proverbs 14:12, it says: “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.”
In the tragedy in Itaewon, many grief stricken parents did not expect to never see their children again when they went out for a night of fun! At the scene of the stampede, one lone police officer shouted for the crowd to disperse and move away because there were some who were trampled to death. Some questioned his command, some even went in the direction the officer explicitly stated to move away from. Those who followed the officer’s warning were spared from the crowd crush, while others who doubted the officer were killed. As the officer reminisced about that night’s horrific scene, he trembled at the vision of the dead staring at him, and wondered if he had made a wiser decision, he could have saved more lives. Netizens who noted the lone police officer’s bravery said that it is admirable for him to be the lone voice of reason in the midst of ignorant revelers.
Dear friends, aren’t we like those party goers, ignorantly blissful but venturing on a path to death eventually? Isaiah 53:6 says: “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
Just like the police officer, Jesus also warns his listeners:
“Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap.” (Luke 21:34)
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14)
“Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to.” (Luke 13:24)
“Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.” (Isaiah 55:6-7)
Please take heed of Jesus’ call and repent!
Author: Pastor of Christian Alliance Bible Church in Los Angeles, CA