". . . and having done all . . . stand firm." Eph. 6:13


Christians Bring Aid after Devastating Turkey Earthquake

February 9, 2023

Cleanup from a devastating earthquake which struck southern Turkey on Monday “is going to be an all-hands-on-deck effort internationally,” said Tony Perkins, FRC president and host of “Washington Watch.” “So, Christian ministries are responding,” he said, joining thousands of governmental and non-governmental rescuers bringing supplies and aid to the region.

A 7.8-magnitude quake struck on Monday near the city of Gaziantep, followed hours later by an unusually strong 7.5-magnitude aftershock centered 60 miles north of the original quake. Multi-story buildings were completely demolished, and many essential services are down. Complicating rescue efforts are freezing temperatures, snowstorms, and blocked roads in a mountainous region.

Felt as far away as Georgia and Israel, the dual quakes have spread devastation over hundreds of square miles, affecting a large part of Turkey, including some Kurdish regions, and areas of northern Syria controlled by nongovernmental forces. “This is a region with limited resources already devastated by war,” Perkins noted.

Turkish President Recep Erdogan called the earthquake “the disaster of the century” and declared a three-month state of emergency in ten affected provinces.

By Thursday morning, the official death toll had reached nearly 20,000, up from 11,000 on Wednesday, and is expected to rise further. Already, the quake has nearly made the list of the 10 deadliest earthquakes since 1950.

To meet the staggering need, Samaritan’s Purse is deploying a “fully loaded” 747 jet, with “about 90 tons of equipment,” scheduled to leave Thursday night, their chief operating officer Edward Graham told Perkins on “Washington Watch.” Among other supplies, Samaritan’s Purse is transporting a 52-bed field hospital, also supplied with a pharmacy, two operating rooms, and orthopedic equipment — “because we know we’re going to have crushed bones,” Graham explained. The hospital will “begin operating and treating patients within the week.”

The Christian organization has sent around 75 personnel to the front lines as well. “We had about 11 originally, and that number continues to grow as they assess and work with the local government,” said Graham.

“There’s a great medical need,” said Graham. “You have a lot of displaced people. … The medical need was already high, but now you destroyed a lot of the infrastructure. There ha[ve] been tens of thousands of injured.”

In addition to regular residents displaced by the earthquake, southern Turkey already housed refugees fleeing the Syrian civil war, particularly Christians. Many Christians “have fled … northeast Syria into Turkey, and they are not getting much help,” Perkins said.

Graham said that Turkish authorities have “been phenomenal to work with,” particularly praising the Turkish embassy’s chief of mission. “They’ve bent over to make this possible,” providing Samaritan’s Purse with “whatever we needed, when [it was] asked for. … We haven’t really met any resistance or struggles getting approvals.”

While that may show surprising warmth from NATO’s least friendly member nation, Graham said “it shows you how great the need is. … They’re asking the world for help in this hurting time.” Erdogan has distanced himself from the rest of the NATO alliance, embracing an independent, Islamist nationalism that opposes Christian and secular Westerners alike. But when “the disaster of the century” struck, he is evidently willing to accept aid from anywhere.

“There’s plenty of opportunities to get involved,” said Graham. Anyone can get involved by volunteering or supporting financially. Samaritan’s Purse trains a Disaster Assistance Response Team for international assignments, sending “doctors, nurses, electricians, water specialists, and engineers” to where they are most needed.

However, “prayer is what’s needed most right now,” Graham concluded. “Pray for our team that’s going forward, … for the nation of Turkey, … for those that are suffering, those that have lost loved ones, [and] that we can be a blessing and serve [them] in the name of Jesus Christ.”

Joshua Arnold is a senior writer at The Washington Stand.