Impact
06 February 2024

Syria/Turkey earthquake anniversary: you’re helping our family stand strong

On the anniversary of the Syria/Turkey earthquakes, your support continues to be changing lives in the region – here is some of the impact you’re having, and how you can keep praying.


On 6 February 2023, earthquakes in Turkey and Syria killed tens of thousands of people and caused widespread devastation. Huge numbers of people were injured or lost their homes. For vulnerable Christians in the region, this came on top of years and years of persecution and conflict. 

Marina and Kamal from Latakia, Syria, are being helped in the ongoing aftermath of the earthquake

Open Doors supporters responded with extraordinary generosity and kindness, faithfully praying for our impacted brothers and sisters and enabling local Open Doors partners to serve the affected community. Thank you so much. On the anniversary, Christians in the region share their experiences, their gratitude and their hopes for the future.

Maria and Samih’s story in Aleppo

Maria and Samih are a couple in Aleppo, Syria, who were among the many who were displaced from their homes. When the first earthquake struck, they were at home in their flat – Maria was still recovering from a C-section after the recent delivery of their son, Ralph. It made fleeing down the stairs even harder. “It was an awful night,” Maria remembers. “In 13 years of war, we never had anything resembling the horror we felt, condensed into that minute and a half.” They found themselves out in the perishing cold, terrified and not knowing what would happen next.

“In 13 years of war, we never had anything resembling the horror we felt, condensed into that minute and a half.”

MARIA

Maria’s description of the ‘awful night’ is shared by almost everyone in Aleppo. They lived through more than a decade of shelling, mortars, explosions, sanctions, threats from Islamic extremists and financial difficulties – but many felt that this night of terror was even worse.

“In the first moments after the earthquake, I felt that Jesus was with me, that He gave me strength,” shares Maria. “But after the second earthquake that day, I started doubting. Why didn’t God stop this?”

“In all things, God works for the good of those who love Him”

Looking back on that night now, Maria is no longer in any doubt about God’s presence. She can even see how God has used this terrible event to bring good in their lives. Her favourite Bible verse is Romans 8:28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” She’s seen exactly that happen to her little family.

“Before the earthquake, we were troubled with worry,” says Maria, who had just started her unpaid maternity leave when the earthquakes struck. “We’d ask, ‘How are we going to pay hospital expenses, how can we afford diapers, how we can make ends meet?’ For the six months after the earthquake, we didn’t have to pay for any more diapers for Ralph.”

Your prayers and gifts are having an enormous impact

Thanks to your gifts and prayers, the couple’s local church was able to help them – and many families who were struggling. Even before the earthquake, many Christian families like Maria’s were struggling under the poverty line, working two or three jobs just to survive. They are among thousands of families who received cash vouchers, thanks to the generous gifts of Open Doors supporters. Your support also means these vulnerable families are regularly receiving food parcels and help with rent. 

“We’re very thankful, very grateful, to all people who shared our suffering and helped us continue and stand.”

KAMAL

Open Doors local partners in Syria are also using your donations to help restore the houses of people impacted by the earthquake. More than 7,000 people in Aleppo alone left their homes that night and went to stay in churches and monasteries. As the year unfolded, our partner helped these families return to their homes after restoring them and making them safe again. In Aleppo, 1,540 houses were repaired over the last year, and many grateful families have returned. In Latakia, Syria, another 464 houses have already been restored.

Kamal and Marina are among those in Latakia who are getting support from Open Doors local partners. “I can’t describe how terrifying [the earthquake] was – the only thing I could do back then was just praying to God,” Kamal says. “We received help and we could renovate and repair the damage that was caused by the earthquake. We’re very thankful, very grateful, to all people who shared our suffering and helped us continue and stand. Thank you, thank you, we’re very grateful.”

Please keep praying

The communities in Syria and Turkey still need your prayers. Many people are traumatised by what they’ve experienced, and scared that it could happen again. “Physically we are okay, but psychologically we have scars, we’re troubled,” shares Rihab in Syria.

Syria continues to have many problems, and Christians continue to live under risk. Many Syrian Christians have already fled the country, and many more want to leave. The future of the Syrian church is at risk, but Open Doors partners remain committed to strengthening God’s people to serve as salt and light in the nation. Please pray that God may help Syrian believers see His hand at work, that they will feel the love pouring from their brothers and sisters around the world.

There are also still large numbers of people who remain displaced by the earthquake and many homes still to be restored. Please keep praying for all who are grieving, all who are fearful and all who need support – as well as for Open Doors partners in the region. Thank you.


PLEASE PRAY
  • For all who are traumatised, grieving or suffering to know God’s loving care and His peace that passes all understanding
  • That Open Doors partners will be filled with resilience and compassion as they serve affected communities
  • That God’s perfect love will drive out fear for all who live in the region.
WORLD WATCH LIST TOP 50
 

You can pray for all the countries in the top 50 with your free copy of the World Watch List Top 50 – it includes inspiring stories, prayer requests and how we can connect with the persecuted church.

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