We all have the terrible images from the media before our eyes. The centre of the 7.7 magnitude quake was in the province of Kahramanmaras, but a total of 10 provinces in a large radius are probably affected by the terrible damage. The death toll is over 19,000 (9th Feb 2023), but still rising. The Turkish media speak of more than 100,000 people buried under rubble. Many people also died in neighbouring Syria. Caregivers assume that many injured people will not survive.
While earthquakes are common in the eastern Mediterranean region, and a violent quake in the Marmara region (Istanbul) has been expected for some time, this earthquake was the strongest and deadliest in Turkey since the 1999 Istanbul earthquake, which killed 17,500 people, and hit this region, already affected by 11 years of war, particularly hard. An aftershock of the same magnitude wreaked havoc.
The effects of the earthquakes were felt throughout southern Turkey; the epicentre was near the city of Gaziantep. Masses of buildings also collapsed in the Syrian regions of Idlib and Aleppo.
In the Turkish province of Hatay, which is one of the hardest hit areas, is the city of Antakya (Antioch on the Orontes), from which the Church spread in the 1st century, including the sending of Paul and Barnabas. The province remains one of the most religiously diverse provinces in Turkey and today is home to a large number of ancient Christian churches. In southern Turkey and northern Syria, the cradle of the Christian Church, only a small minority of persecuted Christians still live after years of genocide, conflict and persecution. This area is also home to numerous converts who cannot officially register as refugees because of their change of faith, and who therefore receive no help or support through official channels.
We are in constant contact with our people on the ground, where communication is possible, and fortunately we have already heard from some brothers and sisters in the region that they are doing well under the circumstances. But many Christians and also church buildings are affected. Every hour we receive further reports of horror.
Today it was reported:
- The houses of two pastors were destroyed.
- A pastor and his wife were buried under the rubble.
- A 16-year-old daughter of a leading brother was killed when a block fell on her.
We sent funds to two affected pastors for their own needs - they travelled a few hours by car to buy food and distribute it to the needy among those affected.
Our convert churches there have more than 1000 children. For some of them we were able to spread Christmas joy with sturdy shoes, warm winter clothes and a toy. Now these families need our help all over again.
Please pray for the people in these regions of Turkey and Syria, for quick help for the people under the rubble and also for those who are now outside in the cold. Pray also that the people there, and we ourselves, will understand and respond to God's speaking in disasters like this.
If you would like to donate to these affected brothers and sisters who are already suffering hardship, we will be happy to pass this on through CM.
Bank: IIRF-D / CM
Evangelische Bank Kassel
IBAN · DE11520604100005015871
Zweck: Erdbebenhilfe CM