Earthquake aid slowing for Turkish Christians in Antakya

By July 11, 2023

Turkiye (MNN) — In Turkiye, Christian-populated areas that were hit by the major February earthquake are starting to feel overlooked.

When the 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck southern Turkiye and killed over 45,000 people, government response was swift with rescue efforts and emergency aid. Now, it’s been over five months since the disaster.

Lately, Bruce Allen with FMI says, “In a place like Antakya where there was a good nucleus of Christian believers, the government response has somehow idled. It started, but it’s gotten pretty sluggish as of late according to our partners and even other internal humanitarian organizations like the Red Crescent, which is similar to the Red Cross here in the US. In this area, the relief work has either been delayed or the resources are less than what has been given in other areas.

“One of our partners laments, ‘Turkey has started to forget the earthquake zone.'”

Earthquake relief, water and food distribution in Turkiye. (Photo courtesy of FMI)

The earthquake aftermath coincided with the critical weeks leading up to the nation’s presidential election, and there was a lot of political pressure riding on the government’s response. Some speculate that since the presidential election results were announced at the end of May, different political agendas have taken priority over continued aid to quake zones — and, it seems, especially those populated by Christians.

Several buildings in Antakya remain standing, though badly damaged by the earthquake. These must be cleared in order for rebuilding to commence in the area, so they await demolition. Before demolition can occur, people need to salvage any personal belongings which can be safely removed.

Meanwhile, summertime temperatures in Antakya are topping 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.7 degrees Celsius), and inside quake survivors’ tents, it is even hotter.

With earthquake aid slowing from public sources, emergency aid from local Christians and churches in Turkiye is needed now more than ever.

FMI-supported church planter, Pastor Enver, and his congregants drive 650 miles every 7-10 days to bring believers in Antakya food and water and to build better shelters.

“They’re replacing the tent shelters now with the larger hard-framed structures, either steel or wood framed. These units include an air conditioning unit, a two-burner stovetop, and will be more durable,” says Allen.

“The Christians had set up about 7,500 tents previously. Now, more than 800 of those have been replaced by steel or wood frame structures.”

(Photo courtesy of FMI)

The most encouraging aspect of Turkish believers’ ministry is the opportunity to represent Jesus Christ to other Muslims.

Pastor Enver reports, “We can definitely say that we are seeing God work here. Regularly, the number of people who accept Christ for their salvation and start attending the [new] local church here increases. And we continue to have plenty of opportunities to share the gospel. We thank God for this!”

You can make a significant difference by supporting FMI’s Turkish Earthquake Relief Fund here!

One hundred percent of contributions to this fund go directly into this critical, life-giving ministry in Turkiye.

Then, pray for Christians in Turkiye, that they would not be discouraged by slowing government aid, but rather would see God’s hand through the generous movement of brothers and sisters in Christ.



Header photo of container homes for quake survivors in Turkiye. (Photo courtesy of FMI)