Türkiye (AN) — At 4:17 a.m. on Monday, February 6, 2023, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake occurred in southeast Türkiye with dozens of aftershocks, one of the strongest quakes to shake the region in a century. Cities suffered great damage with thousands killed and many more thousands injured, all amid extremely cold temperatures. The quake also impacted Syria, Cyprus, Lebanon, and Iraq. The combined total of deaths is over 20,000 and rising.
Since the quake, churches in Türkiye have begun pulling together to care for one another, especially for minorities. Ananias House leaders have been a part of this effort, serving local churches in-person with prayer, comfort, and resources bought and driven in from far-away cities.
“After hearing about what has happened in the area, we immediately connected to pastor couples in Antakya [one of the wives is part of AH’s Women’s Leadership Training]. We got a list from them, their urgent needs: coats because it’s very cold, and boots, bread – bread is a big issue, they don’t have food – and tents, blankets, umbrellas,” says Kaya*, an AH leader serving in the region.
Many buildings in the impacted area have collapsed, including homes, hospitals, schools, and churches. People are trapped under them, and local responders do not have sufficient resources to dig them out. In addition to this, destroyed or damaged grocery stores and bakeries means survivors are hungry. They are sitting or standing in the cold, surrounded by the deceased amid the rubble of their former communities.
When Kaya and her husband bought the list of necessities, they immediately left their home to make the 7-hour drive to Antakya, where their pastor couple friends live. But travel was slow due to the snow. When they attempted to reach Antakya, buildings had collapsed on the road, with the roads themselves deeply cracked and some bridges destroyed.
Unable to go to Antakya directly, they stopped by another impacted city. Kaya noticed this was “a normal earthquake-impacted city,” or damage you would expect to see if you lived through the Izmit Earthquake of 1999 in the Kocaeli Province of Türkiye.
But once they reached Antakya, it was a different story.
“Antakya is terrible. Beyond earthquake impact. It’s like a huge, massive disaster area. Most of the city is upside down, I can say that. Streets are blocked with collapsed-down buildings. People are so desperate, and rescue teams didn’t get there. We were seeing rescue teams, army teams, some of them, after like 30 hours, they were waiting for a plan…for [their superiors] to give orders.”
Watching the rescue teams await their orders was especially challenging, Kaya says, because of the cries around them.
“You hear voices. They are screaming, asking for help. But the heavy machines, those technical machines, trucks, rescue equipment, and professional people are waiting. So that was so, so difficult,” Kaya says.
In addition to being an earthquake-prone country, resting on the Anatolian Fault, Türkiye is a majority-Muslim nation. Christians are less than 2% of the population. It is “spiritually, a very dark country,” Kaya says. But she and other Christians in Türkiye are praying to hold on to hope. Living by the truth of the Gospel, and having already witnessed God’s light in the darkness, they know this hope is not in vain.
When together in person in Antakya, Kaya, her husband, and the two pastor couples local to Antakya began to pray.
“We don’t know what is coming, but by faith, we are feeling like God is turning the page in this geography. We don’t know what that means yet, but we [believe we] are going to see something totally different.”
They have already begun to see evidence of God’s power moving among them.
“In one village, one of our brothers [does] ministry there — their house wasn’t impacted by the earthquake. It didn’t collapse down. And other Muslim neighbors came to their house and they said to our brothers and sisters, ‘Because you are Christian, you are safe. So, can we be together in your place to be safe? Because you are Christian, that is why you are protected.’ That was so amazing to hear. So, we can pray for that. That our God may turn this tragedy. That in this darkness, our light will shine.”
- To supply the much-needed emergency relief, we are providing the local church with blankets, tents, bread, water, raincoats, mats, electric heaters, canned convenience foods, sweets, cold sandwiches, juice, searchlights, diapers, hygiene items, coats, and boots
- To pray for our brothers and sisters
- For resources, aid, and supplies to reach all those in need, especially the victims still trapped under the rubble
- For the Body of Christ to rise up and be a light amid this great darkness, offering new hope to the hopeless
- For wisdom as the government and aid organizations move forward in their response planning
- For the strength, endurance, and protection of the brothers and sisters in Christ who are stepping into this suffering to help bear each other’s burdens
- For the physical and spiritual comfort of all those affected, and for Christ’s words to be a great balm to their souls: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4)
JOIN OUR RELIEF EFFORT
We invite you to please donate toward our relief effort for the earthquake-impacted areas either online: https://give-usa.keela.co/turkey-earthquake-relief. Or via check: Mail your donation to Ananias House at P.O. Box 941292 Houston, TX 77094, and designate it for “EARTHQUAKE.”
*Name changed for security reasons.