SOUTHERN TURKEY (BP) – Send Relief President Bryant Wright is on the ground amid the rubble and devastation caused by a major earthquake in Turkey and northern Syria. In a video released Feb. 11, he urged Southern Baptists to give and to pray.
More than 35,000 people died in the Feb. 6 quake and its aftershocks. The death toll still could rise as bodies remain buried underneath homes and apartment buildings.
Send Relief, a collaboration of the International Mission Board and the North American Mission Board, is Southern Baptists’ worldwide compassion ministry. Send Relief local partners began distributing water, food and other emergency supplies within hours of the disaster. They’ve also been distributing much-needed blankets, as temperatures dip well below freezing at night.
Tens of thousands of survivors are sleeping in the streets, in their cars or in parking lots to avoid being crushed by rubble if another building collapses. Families are spending excruciating nights exposed to the elements.
Currently, there is no electricity, clean water or food supplies in most of the cities in the region. Many left their homes so quickly they didn’t have time to gather their belongings. Even if families do have the money to re-purchase necessities, local grocery stores are either destroyed or not operational.
Send Relief is providing real-time coaching sessions for local partners in disaster response efforts and meeting needs in emergency situations. These personalized sessions teach partners how to look for the most vulnerable, the most underserved and those who can’t make it to the government’s food lines.
The Church in this region is small – approximately 6,000 people in a country of 88 million. Many jumped in their cars at the first news of the fallout, taking the initiative to hand out bread and blankets, create mobile soup kitchens and take up collections across the networks of small house churches.
“The Turkish body of believers, as small as they are, are doing their best to show up because this is their home and their country, and they are proud of their people,” said Scott, Send Relief’s Central Asia associate area director. “One local church experienced severe loss, with their senior pastor and his wife being buried alive under the rubble, but they are still giving glory to God. Their lives have literally been shaken, but their faith has not been shaken. They’re staying adamant that God is in control, despite the circumstances around them.”
Hope of finding survivors has all but faded, though crews did rescue a 4-year-old girl Monday (Feb. 13) – 177 hours after the quake, The Associated Press reported.
“Now that we are several days out, people are realizing they won’t see their families alive again and are starting a mass migration away from the destruction zones,” Scott said. “As this happens, we’ve heard many locals are opening their homes to strangers who have lost all hope. We’re also seeing tent cities start to emerge, and we’re trying to anticipate the coming needs as the emotional and physical exhaustion of winter recovery efforts hit.”
In the video, Wright said Send Relief ministry partners are hoping to “share the love of Christ in very tangible ways as well as to share the Good News as God gives us those opportunities to do so.”
Wright said he and his team were on the way to Antakya, which is the biblical city of Antioch.
“In Acts 11:29, we see that the church at Antioch set the example for the church all through the ages,” Wright said. “They took up on offering for the church in Jerusalem that was going through a tough time.
“Now we can respond to their example as Antioch has been devastated by this earthquake, by praying for them and by giving to help them in this time of recovery.”
Send Relief released a prayer guide last week with specific requests. For that and other resources as well as a donation link, go here.
Published February 14, 2023