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Amid ‘overwhelming’ need: Baptists mobilize as death toll rises in Turkey, Syria

As the desperate search for survivors continues, Baptist disaster relief volunteers continue to mobilize and work with ministry partners on the ground in response to a massive earthquake that has claimed more than 11,000 lives in Turkey and Syria. One source on the ground shared with The Alabama Baptist that the death toll could rise to as many as 20,000.

A 7.8-magnitude earthquake — followed by aftershocks and a second quake measuring 7.5 — injured thousands of people across southern Turkey and north central Syria on Feb. 6.

‘Unimaginable grief and loss’

Southern Baptists are responding to needs in the region through Send Relief, noted Paul Chitwood, president of the International Mission Board. Send Relief workers, he said, are delivering needed supplies, which include blankets and water to victims. Some who lost their homes have been forced to the streets, according to reports, with some seeking shelter in their cars to survive the dropping temperatures.

“With the death toll from the earthquake and aftershocks continuing to increase exponentially, so are the number of survivors dealing with unimaginable grief and loss,” Chitwood said.

“The needs are overwhelming,” he noted, “but Southern Baptists’ response was immediate and will continue for as long as we have resources to meet the needs.”

Beyond what words can describe

Bryant Wright, president of Send Relief, urged prayer for those affected by the earthquake and for all who are responding to their needs.

“The devastation cannot be put into words, and we are praying for the first responders, as well as the churches and others who will be bringing relief during this tragic and difficult time,” Wright said.

Meanwhile, Hungarian Baptist Aid mobilized a team to assist with relief efforts.

The Baptist World Alliance reported online, “Baptist church leaders in Turkey are gathering in Izmir to mobilize response efforts,  and leaders in Lebanon are working with Syrian Baptists to respond to needs in the communities impacted.

“The Baptist church in Aleppo has sustained significant damage, and Baptist World Aid is working in collaboration with European Baptist Federation to ascertain details regarding current needs.”

How you can pray

The IMB shared the following prayer requests:

— Please pray that God will use search and rescue efforts to find all the trapped survivors.

— Pray for protection of life and God’s mercy in any subsequent aftershocks.

— Pray for the Lord’s comfort and nearness to local believers.

— Ask that the Lord will use this catastrophe for the spread of His gospel and the eternal salvation of many.

EDITOR’S NOTE — This story was written by Ken Camp and originally published by the Baptist Standard, with reporting by The Baptist Paper.