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Compassion Funds for Earthquake Relief Lead to Gospel Growth in Turkey

By Chelsea Rollman, May 14, 2024

"I want peace! I want peace! I want to be free from all this fear and anxiety,” a young Turkish man exclaimed to Adem Yilmaz* who serves as a pastor at a church in southern Turkey.

According to Adem, everybody in southern Turkey shares the young man’s desire for peace. Ever since February 6, 2023, when two massive earthquakes measuring 7.8 and 7.5 magnitude killed nearly 60,000 people and decimated millions of buildings, the people have been functioning on the edge of panic. Stories like one young woman recently jumping out of a building and breaking both her legs during an aftershock encapsulate the people’s emotional and mental state.

Adem and his wife, Samira,* have stepped into this atmosphere of fear and anxiety with the peace of Christ. Thanks to the generous donations to MTW’s Compassion Fund, the couple was able to develop a relief ministry that is already yielding spiritual fruit in the aftermath of this tragedy.

In the days following the earthquakes, MTW workers in the region who knew Samira reached out to her. Samira and Adem had just survived the trauma themselves and suffered great loss. By the grace of God, they and their 4-year-old son survived, but many of their family members were killed. The MTW community, working alongside our national partners in the region, provided immediate support, offering words of encouragement, praying with the couple, and sending resources to help the family find their footing in the middle of the devastation. The Church Offers Aid and Compassion to the Community The rapid care and comfort they received from MTW strengthened Samira and Adem to start an outreach ministry. MTW began channeling additional aid and funds to them to distribute to families and individuals in the most affected areas.

Compassion Funds Turkey

For the past year, Adem and Samira have spent their time visiting and caring for people living in seven container cities, which are shipping containers converted into low-cost apartments. Using the MTW Compassion Fund, they have been able to provide housing, medical aid, financial assistance, and basic supplies and services for many in need. During every pastoral visit, they take time to listen and empathize with the people.

“From the very beginning, we were very open with people and told them that we were coming on behalf of the church,” said Adem. “If they were open to receiving us, we would always do three things. We would pray in the name of Jesus. When we gave people things we always said, ‘It is not from us. It is from the Lord. Jesus has provided these things for you.’ And we would always share something from God’s Word that was appropriate to their situation.”

And they have seen the Holy Spirit at work through this ministry. According to Samira, the relief work has changed misconceptions about Christians and Christianity. They have had many gospel conversations with unbelievers that were difficult to come by before the tragedy.

Hostility Toward Church Melts Into Faith

"The Church was there before the earthquake, but a lot of outside people were not that open to it; they were even kind of hostile,” said Adem. “Before the earthquake there was a comfort level. But after the earthquake more people realized their desperate situation and are really in difficult circumstances and are really longing for help and comfort.”

Compassion Funds Turkey 2

In word and deed, Adem and Samira have shown how Jesus answers longings for help and comfort from all who have experienced such devastation. As a result, more people are attending the weekly church service and Bible studies than ever before. Many of the new attendees are unbelievers. One man has already come to faith in Christ. Five women from different families have put their trust in Christ and desire to grow. Every week they meet more inquirers and searchers like the young man who pleaded to Adem for relief from his fear and anxiety. As Adem did with the young Turkish man, they both answer these desperate cries by offering the lasting peace and security found in Christ.

Though Adem and Samira are the ones on the ground doing ministry, they view themselves as conduits of love and support sent from the global Church. The couple said that the response from the larger body of Christ—particularly from those at MTW—has been a powerful witness to our Savior both to them as individuals and also to the people they are ministering to in Turkey.

“We are so thankful for MTW and how they have come around us. We are the hands and feet that are doing the work but it is through all of us being connected that we are able to do it,” said Samira.

Turkey is just one example of the ways MTW’s Compassion Fund makes a difference in the lives of people around the world who have experienced a disaster. In the past year, gifts to the Compassion Fund enabled MTW missionaries and national partners to quickly provide relief for those affected by fires in Chile, an earthquake in Japan, food shortages in Haiti, an earthquake in Acapulco, civil war and unrest in the Democratic Republic of Congo, poverty in South Asia, and refugee needs in East and West Africa.

Our missionaries, national partners, and the recipients of their aid are grateful for all those who gave generously to MTW’s Compassion Fund. Thanks to Compassion Fund donations, MTW missionaries are able to respond with the love of Christ and establish a foothold for gospel ministry.

Visit www.mtw.org/compassion to donate to the Compassion Fund. 

*Names changed for security purposes. 

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