Adiyaman and Antalya
We are thankful for your ongoing interest and prayer for those who are impacted by the earthquakes in eastern Turkey. We are now approaching a month of hosting those affected in our buildings and five weeks of sending people back and forth to Adana, Antioch, and Adiyaman.
In the Antalya, we continue to build strong relationships with the guests staying in the church. We have seen them attend all aspects of the churches activities including Wednesday women's ministry events, Wednesday night soccer games, Thursday night prayer meetings, Friday night youth group, Sunday services. Their needs and interests are being met by many from the community here and our hope is they will leave with a strong sense of everything that life in Christ offers a person of faith in this place and time.
We will be sending out another wave of helpers next week. Those who went to Adiyaman are returning in the middle of this week. If you are still looking for ways to donate towards the work you can continue to visit the linked donation sites at our Donate page. Some have shown concern about SSL and our sites lack of protection. Please feel free to look up the websites through Google for "People International" or "Ilk Umut Dernegi" as well and continue to follow our payment protocols as listed in our donate page.
A prayer for this week:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
- Hebrews 12:1-3
Here is a message written by Head Pastor Ramazan. He composed this while being in Adiyaman this week helping with a group of nearly 10,000 displaced, tent-dwelling, victims.
A Letter from Adiyaman,
I would like to start by saying thank you so very much for the huge response of thoughts, prayers, and support we have received over the last month since the devastation of the earthquakes. I wish that I had time to reply personally to each of the emails that we have received. We have truly been touched by your compassion, generosity and desire to come alongside us during this critical time. When I first thought about how we (as a church) could help after the earthquakes, I really felt that it was a task far beyond our capabilities. We certainly had the desire, but we really didn't see that we had the means to do very much to help. But God has reminded me these last few weeks not to focus on what we can do, but instead on what he can do! I have been shocked by how people have come together to help with the earthquake relief efforts. People are sacrificially giving of their time, energy, and finances. And whatever they offer, God is multiplying all of it for an even greater impact. It really reminds me of the story of the two fish and five loaves of bread and how Jesus took that small offering and fed 5,000 people with it. In spite of the deep sadness I have for those who are hurting, I have been very encouraged by those who have responded to their needs. I am hopeful and excited to see all that God will do in spite of this tragedy. Thank you for partnering with us and for caring for those who are suffering so greatly on so many levels. I am grateful for you.
We currently have a full guest house at the church with 23 people staying there! We would host more people if we were permitted to. We have a waiting list of people who would like to stay at the church or in homes with church families. We are providing two meals a day for our guests and the other meal is provided by the Turkish government. Although only two of our current guests are Christians, the others have felt welcomed and appear comfortable staying in the church. One of the guests expressed that a church was not her first choice as a place to stay, but came because it was the only option she could find. But after arriving at the church, staying for a few days, and getting to know some of the Christians, her apprehension dissipated. She said to me, "I was only looking for a roof over my head, but God decided to put me amongst the angels."
In addition to hosting people from the earthquake zone in our church guest rooms, we have been collecting and buying supplies to take to the cities in the east that have been destroyed. We have taken three trips with vans full of clothing, blankets, toiletries, and other basic need items. Others from our church have gone to serve the Samaritan's Purse hospital in Hatay and a soup kitchen set up in the same city. This week we have arrived in Adiyaman to help the efforts there. The local people have given a large tobacco factory depot to the Christians to use for their work. Churches from all over Turkey are sending supplies to the depot. Near the depot is a tent city with 10,000+ people living in it. They come to the depot to get some of their basic needs and supplies. Depot workers are also preparing boxes of clothes, shoes, food, drinks, and toiletries. These are being delivered to neighborhoods and villages in the surrounding areas. Also next to the depot is a place where they are making tents. These tents will also be delivered by the Turkish believers to people in nearby areas who need them. The interesting thing about this area is that people don’t seem to be leaving it, as they were in Hatay. The people are more eager to stay here. So the work in Adiyaman is quite great—to provide for these people. Because they have been so receptive to the Turkish church in this area and have provided a great place for us to work out of, we are really blessed and see that the opportunities here are huge! We have found the people to be very kind and open to us.
I just want to share with you some of our goals for the next few weeks and months. We would like to continue to provide the needs of the people staying in the church guesthouse for the next 3 months, perhaps longer if possible and necessary. This will include meals, clothing, toiletries, etc. We also want to support the soup kitchen and church in Hatay. 17 people from our church have been sent so far to serve there. Our goal is to send as many church members as possible that want to go help. Supplies are also being collected, bought and sent on a weekly basis as needs are made known. We would additionally like to send workers who can support the leaders and help with the work going on in Adiyaman and Diyarbakir, as discussed above.
As you can see, the work and needs are great. We have had to shift our priorities at home and in ministry to accommodate the most urgent needs of the day. It has been exhausting, but also a sweet honor for us to serve in whatever small way we can. Please pray for all of us to have energy and stamina that surpasses what we normally have. Please pray for unity among our leaders and ministry team. Please pray for wisdom to care for people who have lost everything: friends, family, homes, and jobs.