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‘It is hell here every day’—Churches in Syria, Turkey send urgent messages

February 14, 2023 by Abigail Hart in Asia

And as more and more details come in from our partners on the ground, we want to keep you posted with the latest up-to-date developments. You’ve seen the footage and heard the numbers, but our partners are sharing messages from our Christian sisters and brothers that help us see more of the picture and grasp the reality the churches in these areas are walking through as they come alongside hurting communities to be salt and light. Many churches are doubling as shelters for those who have lost their homes, and churches are being called on to provide supplies and survival essentials.

“Every hour, more and more needy families are knocking at the door of our churches,” a denominational leader in Syria told our local partners only a day after the devastating quakes. “Some 700 new families have come whose houses are completely destroyed.”


Messages from northwest Syria

“People are seeking shelter in our church from the cold and rain, as their houses are uninhabitable. They are very afraid of aftershocks.”—Pastor Ahmed*, northern Syria

“Many people are taking shelter in the church, it is very cold, and their poor houses are completely destroyed.” —Pastor Yousef*, northern Syria

And Pastor Younis* in Syria sent several messages:

“We urgently need medicine, food, blankets, clothes and oil for heating, and it is very cold and raining—snowing. Many houses are collapsed or uninhabitable.”

“The people need urgent help, the government has put up some tents, but it is not enough for everyone. In some of the refugee camps and houses, they have prepared the churches as an emergency shelter. Many are also staying in the churches overnight.”

“For people to be able to return to their homes, at least those houses that were only partially destroyed, repair and renovation work will soon be necessary.”

“It breaks our hearts to see how people are suffering and how much need there is. For many, it will be long before they can live in some degree of safety again.”

Other messages from Syria include:

“There is no help coming—nothing from any countries.”

“I don’t know what to say. We are experiencing hell here, and every day it gets worse. I think tomorrow there will be no more drinking water here in Antakya and the surrounding area. Then it’s only a matter of time before people start breaking into houses. People go into houses and try to find money and gold.” 

“We have been sleepless for five days trying to help somehow. But how are you going to dig a collapsed house free with your hands to save people?” 

“Don’t send money, it won’t do any good. Even if you send a million [dollars], there is nothing to buy. There are no markets, no food, no clothes, nothing. There is nothing left.”

“The only thing I can do is send donations in kind: underpants, baby pampers, blankets … That’s what the people here need, not money. We can’t do anything with money.”

“There is not even fuel left! We can’t drive a car anymore. People run around with 5L bottles and spend three times as much on gasoline so they can get from A to B.”

“It is really Armageddon!”

Messages from southeast Turkey

“We are in the middle of Hatay; we have witnessed the earthquake, and it is the purest disaster.”  

“I have tears coming.” 

“Antakya is totally destroyed.”

“Samandag, where we are—70% of the houses are just not there anymore.”

“All the markets have been looted; 24 hours after the earthquake.”

“We have no food, no water, no clothes … It is pure hell here!”

Help churches in Syria and Turkey be salt and light

Help churches in Syria and Turkey be salt and light

Time is critical—our partners are distributing relief over the next 4-6 weeks to serve more than 10,000 people, including persecuted communities of believers. Act now—be the hands and feet of Jesus for those who’ve lost so much in this disaster. No gift is too small.