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6th February 2024

One year after the Türkiye-Syria earthquakes, among the most deadly disasters of recent times, SAT-7 TÜRK and SAT-7 ARABIC continue to uncover stories of hope and support viewers suffering from the impact.

On February 6, 2023, at 4 a.m., the first of two powerful earthquakes struck southern Türkiye and northwest Syria. Over 50,000 lives were lost,1 and millions of people were more broadly affected. In the aftermath, there was overwhelming need: whole communities lacked shelter, food, clean water, sanitation, and spaces to sleep, while many survivors experienced intense grief and trauma.

Immediate Response

SAT-7 TÜRK rushed to the scene, seeking to document the situation and mobilize prayer across the nation. The team found widespread devastation, including at historic Christian sites. But they also found Christians pulling together, serving their neighbors, and acting with great compassion. “The places of worship were destroyed,” said Melih Ekener, SAT-7 TÜRK Executive Director, “but the church community was more alive and stronger than ever.”

SAT-7 TÜRK broadcast inspirational stories of hope, including churches opening their doors to newly-homeless people, Christians serving hot meals from pop-up kitchens, and volunteer groups traveling long distances to bring warm clothes, food packages, and medicine to those caught up in the catastrophe.

SAT-7 ARABIC dedicated special live programs to the earthquake response. You Are Not Alone spoke with people who had been involved in the recovery effort, including Ali Saifeldeen, a member of a volunteer firefighter team from Lebanon, who saved a woman and a child from the rubble in Aleppo, Syria. Emotional and spiritual support was also offered to viewers in the aftermath of the disaster. A Syrian viewer named Henriette* contacted the SAT-7 ARABIC program Share Your Heart to say she was having serious panic attacks following the earthquake. Our team prayed with Henriette, and afterwards she said, “Thank you so much. You truly helped me just by saying this prayer.”

Long-Term Support

The earthquake’s repercussions are still being felt. Hatay, a coastal region in southern Türkiye where biblical Antioch (now Antakya) is located, is a completely different place from one year ago. Its population is said to have shrunk from 1.7 million to just 250,000 since the quake,2 while hundreds of thousands of people in the region still live in makeshift homes, often re-purposed containers. As people try to rebuild their lives, they are desperate for hope.

SAT-7 remains committed to supporting viewers as they navigate these ongoing difficulties. Our Viewer Support Teams are always on hand to speak with viewers via our social media pages, live phone calls, and instant messaging. We receive prayer requests like this one from Petek, a Turkish woman: “Please pray for my daughter’s house, which was damaged by the earthquake and for my granddaughter, who was affected by it.”

On the one-year anniversary of the earthquake, our channels will broadcast special programs to reflect on what took place that day and how people are aiming to move forward. In all our programming, SAT-7 wants to remind viewers that their pain still matters and that they have not been forgotten.

SAT-7 TÜRK program Worldview will put out a special episode this week, documenting their Christmas-time visits to churches in Türkiye. Kirkor Dinçkayıkçı is a member of an Armenian church in Hatay and was one of several church leaders interviewed for the upcoming episode. He declared:

“There is hope at the core of Christianity. We know that we must always be at peace and love without giving up hope. This is how it is and how it should be, [even in] Antakya and İskenderun, which were two of the regions affected by the earthquake.”

It is possible for Christians in Türkiye and Syria to find hope and joy once again. The secret, as one young viewer from Syria explained, lies in faith. “To [those] facing difficult times, my prayer is to always hold on to your faith in Jesus. He will give you the strength to go on, and I encourage you to never stop praying, because it has been my only refuge.”

 

*Viewer names have been changed for security.

 


Sources

1 Still in ruins: the 2023 Turkish earthquake – then and now | Turkey-Syria earthquake 2023 | The Guardian
2 Ibid.

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