Turkey (MNN) — As of Tuesday, the death toll from the 7.2
magnitude quake in eastern Turkey was over 400 and rising.
Rescue workers were scouring the rubble for survivors
trapped in the more than 2000 collapsed buildings in and around the
city of Van, near the Iranian border.
Roughly 1,300 injured were being treated in nearby
hospitals, but there are tens of thousands homeless In freezing
Pat Melancon with Baptist Global Response says they immediately sent a Rapid Response Team to the region to
Since Sunday's quake, seismologists say there have been over
200 aftershocks, the strongest of which registered a 5.7 magnitud. Melancon says, "In the past, when
earthquakes happened and the aftershocks started, people have refused to
sleep in their homes, even if their homes were structurally sound. So what our
teams have done is to go in with tarps, plastic sheeting, and blankets."
Aid groups are also responding, although there are scattered
reports surfacing that the distribution has been uneven. That's partly why they need more information,
notes Melancon. "People need to get a clear picture of what's actually
happened on the ground, a clear picture of what other NGOs and the government are doing, so that we work
together as a team. That'll give us more clarity as to exactly what part of the
disaster we can address in the long-term."
BGR sent a second team in. "We also have an assessment team, and this assessment team is going
to look at issues like shelter, health, and
medical assistance that may be requested, and they're going to look possibly
even at some recovery and reconstruction-type of projects."
Turkey has been notoriously difficult for Christians and
other non-Muslims. However, Melancon
says despite a cool reception to Gospel work, "I have not had one time
where we've tried to assist people of a different religious faith where they
have refused our assistance."
Melancon goes on to explain that "if you look at the
ministry that Jesus had, most of the people who came to Him did not come to
him to hear the Truth. They came to Him
because they had some sort of physical need. Of course, He used that as an
opportunity to share with them His message."
Disaster is often an enigma when it comes to outreach, but
one that can be explained through hope. "When people are suffering, we
come alongside them; and if God gives us the opportunity to help them
physically, and also spiritually, we will do so."
It's still early in the crisis, and while BGR has plans to
respond, there are always challenges. Melancon asks for prayer for the survivors' grief and for the responders'
strength. Also "pray that this would be a very great opportunity for
Christians to step in, to minister to the needs that are there, and leave in
the memory of those survivors not just the fact that they've been impacted
because of their demolished homes or the death of loved ones, but that they've
been impacted by the Gospel."