On the eve of a major winter snowstorm out here, everyone in our mountain area was jolted out of bed around 320am this Monday by prolonged shaking from the earthquake centered in southern Turkey. Despite the distance from here to Turkey, the tremors reached us strong enough to wake almost the entire country and send people fleeing into the streets in the cold winter night – ourselves included!
Thankfully, our host country avoided major catastrophe. Some buildings swayed and cracked their foundations, but only a handful of very old ones sustained any kind of collapse damage, and we are unaware of any deaths or injuries here. Mostly, the impact is fear. Centers are being set up in some cities for people to sleep in who are afraid to go back to their old, broken down buildings for fear the next tremor may level them.
However, further north from us, the devastation in Turkey and northern Syria is enormous. It is heartbreaking to see images of the dead being pulled from the rubble. As the cold of the winter storm in this region bites, we are reminded of the unfortunate souls still trapped under concrete buildings with no warmth and little hope. Pray for them, and pray for anyone you may know of responding to help.
We determined early on that, unfortunately, our organization is not currently able to mount an effective or helpful response to the quake hit region in Turkey. The primary relief need called for is trained and equipped urban search and rescue teams. That is a skill set we do not have and, short of that, we would likely be getting in the way out there. The political, governmental and aid situation in Turkey and Syria is markedly different than Nepal was in 2015 when we responded there after their big quake. We have concluded that we currently lack the staffing, resources, on-ground contacts and logistics ability to split off our current focus to help in the quake-hit regions of Turkey and Syria. While that may change if new information or contacts arise, currently we have assessed there is little we can do to help. We hope the Lord will send others able to help there and minister the Gospel in the midst of that catastrophe.
We are also aware of the need to stand by in our own country for a possible follow-on quake that could wreak serious damage and loss of life here. Every couple hundred years this region experiences a massive quake and accompanying tsunami. The last big one in the 1700s destroyed the entire capital and killed 40,000 people. People here are aware of that, and afraid the “big one” is coming soon. If so, we hope to be here to help our people and adopted country in that event. While that may not happen – we hope! – it is still on everyone’s minds out here.
Responding To Needs Amidst The Winter Storm
In the meantime, we are trying to handle the impact of a major winter storm that just swept through here, burying many parts of the mountains in snow and dropping the temps below freezing. Daily we are getting calls from a few people who have run out of heating oil and whose homes are freezing. Thankfully the roads have not been iced over in the day time, and helpers on our team can get to them.
We sought to prepare for this anticipated storm by doing a large distribution of heating oil this past Saturday to about 160 families in the mountains. Since the start of 2023 alone we’ve already distributed well over 6,000 liters of heating oil. That’s a little under 1,600 gallons, or about 5.5 tons worth, of heating fuel! We thank the Lord we had the provision for this come in near the start of last month. The families here huddled in their cold concrete buildings send a big thank you to those of you who helped provide funds for keeping them warm in the storms!
We’ve also tried our best to continue to get heaters to families who either did not have one, who were borrowing one, or had old broken down ones spitting smoke into their homes and otherwise not working well. We’ve already been able to personally deliver over two dozen new heaters to people since the start of winter. These are solid metal “pot belly stove” type heaters that maybe you’ve seen used out in rural cabins in America. Some of the heaters use wood (requested by families living in more mountainous areas who can scavenge wood from the hills), while most others use diesel heating fuel.
The average cost of a heater is around $70-$100 each. That may not seem like a lot. But for the average Syrian refugee right now earning roughly $4-$6 a day for working 10-12 hour shifts at various manual labor jobs, these heaters can be the equivalent of almost a months wages! We find that many would be otherwise unable to afford a working heater without this assistance being provided. We are thankful the Lord provided for this. as we’ve found that homes with no heater or poorly working ones typically have more sickness in them among the children, as they are plagued by the cold day and night.
How You Can Pray For Winter Needs
While we are hopeful this storm is the worst of what winter will bring, the cold will likely remain throughout the month. Pray for us to be able to continue to help families already connected to our ministry who are put in need by this harsh weather. Pray too the Lord may help us to find new, truly needy, truly poor families affected by this weather that have no one to help them. This is a time to make new contacts and help with new needs for sake of the Gospel witness here. Pray the provisions would not run dry as needs mount as well!
More Updates Coming For Winter 2023
This post is the first in our next cycle of updates for recent TGI relief activities. In the coming weeks, we hope to post further updates regarding new medical assistance needs that were recently met, the children’s EAP/schooling program, progress on the farm and bakery projects, and other ongoing efforts in this region! Thank you again for praying and supporting these relief aid and outreach efforts amongst the needy Syrian refugees and impoverished locals. We trust the Lord continues to be at work out here.
Thank you again for your prayers and support. This is a work bigger than any of us, but not bigger then God or His church! If you wish to be involved in any way, you can support TGI via our site, sign up for our relief updates e-mail newsletter to better know how to pray, or contact us if you are interested in knowing more about how to be personally involved.