Christians help with earthquake relief in Turkey

By February 28, 2012

Turkey (MNN) — An earthquake measuring 4.7 on the Richter scale jolted the Turkish Van city on Friday. Additional reports of damages have not been reported yet. An earthquake measuring 7.2 on the Richter scale jolted Van province on Oct.23 killing more than 600 people. Later earthquakes measuring 5.1 and 6.1 took place. Over 4,000 people were injured. About 2,262 buildings were destroyed.

A few weeks ago record low temperatures and heavy snow made life difficult for the more than 140,000 Turkish quake survivors still living in tents or temporary homes. However, relief continues to be a need in the region. Turkey Country Director for IN Network Behnan Kanutgan says the church only numbers about 3,500, but they're helping. "As Christians we want to show our love to people. We want to show mercy. That's one of the theological church services to serve the world. We need to evangelize and show mercy.

Kanutgan says most of the people who remain in Van are poor. He says Christians are having an impact, but it hasn't been easy. "There is a great hatred and deep prejudice against Christians. But, when we're talking to people and bless them and help them they see the difference and that is what we want to do, to be an example to our people in Turkey."

Kanutgan hopes, "By doing this people will realize that Christians exist in Turkey. A Turk means a Muslim — Muslim means Turkey. We are Turkish people. We are Turkish citizens, but we are Christians. And, now the media started to realize this, and this is why we want to help those in need."

This earthquake relief is having an impact. "People [are saying] you Christians are helping us more than the government. They see the church with love as they are reaching out. Money is not the solution. Care and relationships are very important. We focus on these things."

They don't disclose their Christianity at the beginning. It only happens after a relationship is developed.

Kanutgan says Christians world-wide should practice hospitality, especially in the United States and Europe. "Be friendly to them, care for them, and invite them into your homes. It's very, very import. They are ordinary people and they should be loved. After you do that, you can give them the Gospel."

If you'd like to help IN Network share the Gospel in Turkey, click here.

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