Driving through Iskenderun, Turkey, it’s hard to put what you see into words. Concrete floors flattened and stacked on each other—the smell of dust. Twisted rebar bent out from cement foundations—buildings leaning in absurd angles. Piles of debris. A city toppled.
Tens of thousands of lives lost.
When we exited the car and started walking, one of our partners said, “There are still people under these buildings.” We paused in silence. It’s unthinkable and harrowing.
Looking closely at the rubble mounds, small items tell a story. A yellow pad of paper with notes written in blue ink. A faded red sweatshirt hanging on a wire. A tea set smashed and strewn, a small plastic toy—the remnants of life before the devastating earthquakes.
“The earthquake happened in the middle of the night,” Mr. John, relief director at St. George Church, shares. “When morning came, we saw the aftermath of the disaster. Most of the buildings had collapsed. Unfortunately, many of our loved ones are under the rubble.”
Mr. John and his wife survived the earthquake, but everyone lost someone, he says. The collective trauma is hard to grasp. Everyone we speak with has lost someone and is grieving while simultaneously trying to survive.
But there is a ray of hope. Partner churches like St. George are banding with other congregations to be a light—to deliver aid and let the people know they are not forgotten.
In the past two weeks, St. George Church has fed around 5,000 people per day—thanks to donations from supporters worldwide like Global Christian Relief. In addition, they’re distributing blankets, rations, water, tents, hygiene kits and much more.
These relief efforts are critical. “Our most important objective right now is to meet the needs of the affected people. We try to meet their needs in every possible way,” Mr. John adds.
People like Mehmet, a father of four young children who lost his home. We meet up with him in one of the tent camps. “Life in this camp is very difficult. Everything is extremely difficult now, and we are facing many challenges,” Mehmet says.
“Using the toilet or taking a shower is very difficult. It has been almost 10 days since anyone has taken a proper shower. We lost everything. The whole building collapsed, with our possessions in it.”
“Thank you so much for your support,” he adds, still able to find a smile.
Kadriye, a mother of three, lived on the fourth floor of her apartment building. She was at home and thankful to be alive after the earthquake happened.
“The building was swaying when the earthquake hit. Then we saw everything collapsing, but my children were in shock and couldn’t move,” she says.
They tried to get through the front door, but debris had already fallen and blocked them from opening it. “When we looked around us, everything had collapsed. We were scared,” she says. Eventually, they escaped through the door, but their trauma remained. “We are still afraid at the moment.”
As tragic as the earthquakes have been, there have been glimmers of hope. It’s been amazing to see how Christ’s love has been shining through His people. Ali Farajullayev is a worship pastor from Yalova. He came to the impacted areas to construct temporary shelters.
“We came here to build shelters for the people,” he says. “Yesterday, we built sheds for three families. They all had children who were sleeping on the street. After that, we aim to build even more sheds.”
But as time continues on, less and less support has been arriving for the impacted country; it’s a gap that’s already being felt by recovery efforts on the ground. Ali says, “Because the support we are getting is decreasing over time. People here still need help, spiritually and financially.”
However, the aid that has arrived has been life-changing. Ninve, one of our Turkish partners on the ground, has been to many cities distributing relief and support. She’s seen the overwhelming needs firsthand and encourages us to continue to pray and give.
“A small move can change a whole life.” —Ninve
The people are so surprised to see the relief truck, Ninve says. “We are trying to help those on the margins. Many people believe they have been forgotten.”
“A small move can change a whole life,” she adds. “Not just for one person, but for a whole village. We don’t want to feel abandoned. We need to know that all Christians are with us. We are struggling to have food. We really do need [your] prayers.”
Please continue to remember the people in Turkey and Syria who’ve lost so much and still have urgent survival needs. They need our prayers and our generous support today.
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.