Turkey (MNN) — In the days since the 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck Turkey, aid has been arriving, but
reports are surfacing that the distribution has been irregular.
More than 30 small towns have been either completely
destroyed or are largely uninhabitable throughout the Van area, where the worst damage was sustained.
There are already clear signs that the region's residents
will need more than just short-term help to recover. Many humanitarian aid
groups have assessment teams gathering information to help plan a long-term
response. Others have found a niche of
providing a forum for people who need to process what has happened.
SAT-7, a Christian satellite television ministry to the
Middle East and North Africa, has a sister channel in the region, SAT-7 TURK.
Rex Rogers with
SAT-7 USA contacted their team at SAT-7 TURK to
find out how they have been responding. "One of our leaders there made the
observation that that population of 18 to 20 million in Istanbul today is going
to be very sensitive to any kind of earthquake anywhere
in their country because it's so fresh in their minds."
In 1999, a 7.6 magnitude earthquake struck northwestern Turkey on August 17. Although it only lasted for 37 seconds, between 17,000 and 35,000 people
died, and roughly a half million were left homeless.
In the weeks and months following that disaster, a unity unique
to suffering emerged. That's what SAT-7
TURK is asking prayer for. "Pray
that God would use that sensitivity to open hearts to who the Lord is and
to what He is doing."
Interestingly, the Van region, hardest hit from this week's
disaster, has heard a similar call for unity. There are scattered reports urging the nation
to seize the moment to embrace reconciliation between ethnic Turks and Kurds. The quake zone covers much of a culturally Kurdish
territory. Rogers asks us to "pray about those kinds of ethnic tensions and cultural issues, that we
can get past those in terms of providing help, and that Christians in the area can
be a testimony and a witness and reach out to those who are hurting."
SAT-7 TURK creates and broadcasts Christian programming
designed to help the wider non-Christian audience understand the beliefs
and teaching of their neighbors who follow Christ. Since they went on the air in 2006, they've
been airing a variety of programs designed to help teach, train, and encourage
the often isolated Christian community within Turkey.
Now, however, overt Gospel work could jeopardize ministry that
has been carefully built. Rogers says, "We
really want to pray that God will open doors for any and all Christian
ministries that are working on the ground or through the air, because it's such
a strategic and important country culturally, politically, and socially in every
way in the Middle East and on into Europe."