Jan. 19, 2020
In solidarity with the grieving nation of South Korea, Biola University President Barry H. Corey and students somberly walked the half-mile path from their bus to a tent at Paengmok-hang Harbor near Jindo Island in South Korea, the base camp for search, rescue and relief efforts for the tragic Sewol ferry accident.
A year ago, Rev. Billy Kim, a well-known Korean pastor and chairman of Far East Broadcasting Company, invited Biola University Chorale to travel the nation on a singing concert tour throughout South Korea.
On Sunday, April 28, 2014, after four days of performances across the country, the chorale, made up of 35 students, along with Corey and chorale director Shawna Stewart, were invited to visit Christians at the relief site where families waited for search and rescue news.
“We are only a short distance from what is perhaps the world’s epicenter of grief,” Corey told the students as the distance shortened between their bus and the base camp for relief efforts.
After a rainy, three-hour bus ride to the harbor, jewelry and cell phones were left on seats out of respect, umbrellas hovered over their bowed heads, and the group silently made their way through the puddled relief site to the Salvation Army tent.
Grieving with the families for an hour in silence, the students had an unprecedented opportunity to console and minister to the families. Paul Chang, a Biola student, translated a prayer given by Corey for those in attendance, the chorale sang Psalm 23 and student a capella group The King’s Men performed “I’ll Fly Away” in Korean. The group closed by singing “Amazing Grace” and the “Doxology.”
“The Holy Spirit was so present in this tent while the rain was falling down,” said Stewart on the trip’s blog. “After the “Doxology” many people came up to us and thanked us for ‘giving them hope.’”
Within one day, news spread and videos of the chorale popped up in many South Korean online news sites. “Biola University, Amazing Grace” was the most popular search topic on Korea Today’s website.
“The hymn ‘Amazing Grace’ reverberates through the Paengmok-hang Harbor,” said Korea Today reporter Seo Misorang in an April 29 newscast. “… When the students sang ‘Amazing Grace’ at the end of the service, victims’ families, government personnel and volunteer workers alike were deeply moved and tearfully joined in singing the well-known hymn.”
The chorale is grateful for the experience and opportunity to minister to South Koreans.
“It’s amazing how broken, fickle college students can be used to uplift and encourage a nation. That’s pretty ridiculous,” said senior Jordan Weaver, a member of The King’s Men. “God moves in mysterious ways.”
On Saturday, May 3, the chorale will sing with the renowned Incheon City Chorale in Seoul, under the direction of distinguished conductor Hak-won Yoon. Their last two last performances will be Sunday, May 4.
“We have tried to be faithful in being present and going where we are invited to go, and the result has been an overwhelming response. Biola cares deeply, loves deeply, and is praying deeply for the people of South Korea,” said Corey.
“Students are getting to see the global church at work. They’ve had a chance to form a strong community with each other and to make a huge impact on the people here in Korea. I think it goes both ways — it’s been a two-way street."
View news articles Biola was mentioned in under "in the news" on Biola Now News.
Watch a video created by FEBC featuring Biola University Chorale's trip to Jindo Island.
Written by Jenna Bartlo, media relations specialist. Bottom photo courtest of student Tomber Su. For more information, contact Jenna at 562.777.4061 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
media [dot] relations [at] biola [dot] edu