On February 6, a colossal earthquake devastated the Syria-Turkey border. Among the millions affected are thousands of persecuted Christians. They now face destroyed homes, the loss of loved ones, and desperate medical needs on top of persecution for their faith in Jesus.  

Already facing death threats, violence, and horrific abuse at the hands of their own family members, many of them were already on the run, with nowhere to go, when the ground began to shake…. 

Our teams across the Middle East leaped into action, some driving over 600 miles through the night to meet with those in desperate need of rescue. We interviewed our team member, Qasem, about the situation. Here’s a transcript of our conversation with him on the Syria-Turkey border. 

What is The Situation Like? 

Qasem: On Monday morning at 4:00 AM, an earthquake happened in more than 10 states in Turkey. Seeing such horrific events breaks anyone’s heart. And I spoke to my wife, and I decided to go there, and I came…the government in this area saw we really wanted to help people, so they gave us some papers for permission to go to other cities affected by the earthquake. 

I connected with some other people who were there, and they said that the affected needed some warm clothes and blankets, hats, food, and some items for the women and children. And Help The Persecuted supported in this way and sent us to that area. And we went to those cities. 

We had two cars and we filled both cars with supplies. We took them all to the devastated places, and we could find some people in the street—out of the city—and we could help them. In those areas, there’s no electricity, no water, no gas…nothing…and the weather is cold. Before, people had everything in their houses. But now, they have nothing. And they really were happy because of us. 

One of them asked me, “Where are you from?”  

And I said, “I’m Iranian.”  

And he said, “Why are you here? And from where are you coming?” 

I told him how far I had traveled, and he couldn’t believe it.  

He hugged me and said, “It’s amazing, you’re Iranian.”  

And I said, “I’m Christian.” 

And he said, “You are Christian, and Iranian, but you are here?” 

And I said, “Yes.” He was shocked. He was really happy. And I told him, “I couldn’t just stay in my house and just pray for you. I wanted to do something to show God’s love and my love to you, and our heart to you.”  

All the people, when they found we are coming from another city and we are not Turkish and we are refugees here, and they were really happy. I went to them with my friends, and we helped them, hugged them, and prayed with them. And we distributed what we had and what they needed, and we wanted to show our love for them.  

But we cried a lot. It was terrible. It was horrible. And all the time we thought, “If it happened to us, to me and my family, each moment we would be waiting for other people to come and save us, to help us.” 

What’s Next? 

Qasem: As I said, we learned a lot in these days. Praise the Lord. There are a lot of people there, and many Turkish people started to help, sending what they can. And they bought many things to send to the other Turkish people. More than 13 million people were affected by the earthquake, and it’s terrible. 

Even what you see on the TV is different than when you are there. I was really broken when I saw the cities, the buildings, and the people. Some cities are completely deserted; no one is there. But some people, because their family was under the rubble, were waiting to see them alive again or to receive their bodies. It was really sad. I was with them when the machines tried to find a way to go inside and find the people, and their families stayed near the buildings…still hoping to find their relatives, because it had already been 6 days. 

I saw two of them with my own eyes come out alive but injured, and they were sent to the hospital. I went to a hospital. It was full of injured people, but we found they still need warm clothes because it’s winter and it’s really cold. They need tents. And refugees, the foreigners, need even more help because the government helps its own people first, more than the refugees like Syrian and Afghans. They’re in a lot of distress. 

In other cities, we found them outside, and they didn’t have any tents. We bought tents and gave them to them, and they were really happy about that. My plan is to go to more cities because many people affected by the earthquake are now displaced. We tried to find these people, to find refugees, and to see how we could help them. Today we found three Syrian families, one Iranian family, and one Afghan family. And we asked them, “What do you need?” And we bought something and gave it to them. Now they have something for today. 

Support Our Work on the Syrian-Turkey Border 

Many relief organizations are not able to get into Syria to help those in utterly devastated cities like Aleppo—but our team members are on the ground there, serving persecuted Christians and bringing the love of Jesus to everyone they meet as they distribute urgently-needed supplies and pray with recipients. 

We are grateful for the field team God has built at Help The Persecuted, serving earthquake victims and our brothers and sisters on both sides of the border. 

Help Persecuted Christians in the Aftermath of the Earthquake Today