Compassion Fund: Global Disaster Response
Project # 40043

“Trauma Upon Trauma:” MTW Poised to Help Earthquake Victims in Turkey and Syria

By Chelsea Rollman, Feb 11, 2023

“Trauma upon trauma.”

This was the phrase two of our field workers used to describe the days after the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that destroyed thousands of buildings in southeastern Turkey and northern Syria.

Reports from MTW’s contacts in the surrounding cities included accounts of family and friends who had either died or remained in imminent danger.

A Turkish pastor and his wife died while their son survived. Another pastor lost his daughter and his house was completely demolished.

Many people were trapped under the rubble for three or more days. Others have been living in their cars, afraid more buildings will collapse because of the aftershocks.

The World Health Organization’s incident response manager said that as of February 9 there are thousands of people surviving “out in the open, in worsening and horrific conditions with disrupted access to water, fuel, electricity, and communications amid sub-zero temperatures.

Churches in the Surrounding Regions Send Relief

Our field workers are working with local brothers and sisters in the surrounding cities to send immediate relief to the people most affected on either side of the Turkey/Syria border.

One couple with our organization are working with a church in northern Turkey to get items such as heaters, blankets, food, and water to Christian families whom church members know in the Gaziantep province near the earthquake’s epicenter. The church also sent money to their Christian contacts to purchase and distribute supplies.

Church families in Turkey are also eager to go help their family members and friends stuck near the epicenter. However, there are government restrictions on road travel in and out of affected cities to make sure the rescue teams and convoys can get through.

“At this phase, people really want to go and do something. But at this phase only people who are trained should be going,” said  one field worker.

Relief workers and churches in Turkey are also working hard to evacuate victims to safety in cities unharmed by the earthquake.

Similarly, a church-planting team in a neighboring country gave cash assistance to three churches to buy and distribute life-saving aid to survivors in the northern regions of the country.

Our contacts in both countries said their goal is to meet the immediate needs of those living in the initial aftermath. They are channeling aid through a network of churches and believers into the hands of people they know and trust who are on the ground and equipped to purchase and distribute supplies properly.

“The need is more than we can describe. Really overwhelming,” said one field worker.

Another MTW field worker put it this way: “We are offering loaves and fishes. We are offering it to Christ that He may multiply it.

Hope in the Face of Anxiety and Despair

Everyone also anticipates an overwhelming need for medical, psychological, and emotional counseling all over Turkey.

Currently, people in Istanbul fear that another earthquake will strike any day, and the anxiety can be debilitating, especially since many lived through the 7.6 magnitude earthquake in 1999. Everyone in Turkey needs hope and care. Field workers imagine the earthquake victims’ emotional and mental recovery will be just as difficult (if not harder) as rebuilding their homes and livelihood.

The emotional state of the people in Syria is similar to that of Turkey. Syrians have been in crisis and disaster for 12 years, struggling through an ongoing and catastrophic civil war. This has led to crippling despair among the Syrian population. “There is an immense lack of hope on most levels of existence for the people in Syria,” said a field worker who has been working in the region for close to a decade.

One of our field workers in North Africa shared this tweet: “People living in the Middle East are not some special species that becomes more immune to tragedy the more they experience it. They are humans who are suffering at levels that are almost inconceivable.

How the Global Church Can Help

According to field workers in the region, Turkish and Syrian pastors are having trouble knowing what to pray. They just keep asking the Lord for mercy in the middle of unimaginable tragedy.

They need us to ask for the Lord’s mercy with them. They need to know we weep and grieve with and for them. They need us to pray fervently as they recover from this tragedy.

Will you pray for our brothers and sisters in Turkey and Syria? Specifically pray for:

  • Continued relief and rebuilding efforts in both countries.
  • Mercy for those who lost their homes and lost loved ones during the earthquake.
  • A just government and peace after the war in Syria.
  • Salvation for people in Turkey and Syria, that they will find hope in Jesus.


Among those impacted by the widespread devastation we’ve seen on the news are church families who desperately need our help. Please give now to the MTW Compassion Fund to help ease the unimaginable suffering, and help carry the gospel to those who desperately need to hear it.

*Names changed for security reasons.

Compassion Fund: Global Disaster Response
Project # 40043
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