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PC(USA) offers assistance for the people of earthquake-ravaged Syria and Turkey

Long-term relationships with partners make it possible to ‘stand in solidarity’ with those in crisis

by Darla Carter | Presbyterian News Service

Devastating earthquakes in Turkey and Syria have killed at least 3,400 people and injured thousands more. (Photo courtesy of Presbyterian Disaster Assistance)

LOUISVILLE — Amid news of a devastating earthquake in Syria and Turkey, the Presbyterian Mission Agency has reached out to offer assistance to partners in the area, where thousands have died, and is asking Presbyterians to pray for those impacted by the quake and its aftershocks.

Through a coordinated response by Presbyterian Disaster Assistance and World Mission, PMA has contacted multiple long-term partners of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) including the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon; the Middle East Council of Churches; the Forum for Development, Culture and Dialogue; and the Fellowship of Middle East Evangelical Churches.

“I have reached out to the four different entities to invite them to request a solidarity grant, which is our process,” said the Rev. Dr. Laurie Kraus, Director of Humanitarian and Global Ecumenical Engagement for PMA’s Compassion, Peace & Justice ministries. “PC(USA) is deeply grateful that we have such long-term and strong relationships in the region, so that we can stand in solidarity as they respond to this crisis.”

The partnerships have been established over the years through ecclesial work and to help people recover from war and other tragedies, such as the explosion in Beirut a few years ago.

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance and World Mission rely on long-term partnerships to quickly provide aid when disaster strikes around the world. (Photo courtesy of Presbyterian Disaster Assistance)

PDA also plans to respond through ACT Alliance members on the ground to address urgent needs and provide humanitarian aid. ACT Alliance is a global faith-based coalition that operates in more than 120 countries. “We’re really grateful to belong to ACT,” which has broad reach into areas such as Turkey, Kraus said.

The 7.8-magnitude earthquake jarred people from their sleep about 4 a.m., sending tremors as far away as Lebanon and Israel, according to CNN. The Associated Press reported Monday afternoon that more than 3,400 people have been killed, with more trapped in tangles of concrete and metal.

The aftershocks have included a 7.5-magnitude earthquake that occurred in Turkey about nine hours after the first quake, according to CNN.

Needs among those affected are believed to include blankets, medication, hygiene supplies, temporary housing, and heating, said Dayna Oliver, Associate for International Program Administration for PDA.

The Rev. Edwin González-Castillo, PDA’s Director, said, “As we continue to receive information from our partners about the needs and best ways for us to respond, we are inviting churches and everyone interested in helping to donate to PDA DR999999. Through your generosity, we are able to attend to the immediate needs (that have) been identified by our partners and (believe there will be) long-term projects that will develop during the recovery stages.”

He offered this prayer on the PDA website Monday that says in part:

“God of mercy, we join in prayer for our siblings in Syria and Turkey, and all other regions affected. In the face of the terrible images that come to us, we ask that your Spirit, O God, once again move in the midst of chaos and destruction.

May your Spirit be with the first responders, neighbors putting their lives at risk to help those around them, and anyone assisting during this time of emergency. May you provide protection, energy and strength through your presence. Be with them as they search for loved ones, guide them during the long hours and allow them to find hope through your Spirit.

Dear God, as the days go by, provide wisdom and discernment to the local government agencies. May they be instruments of your grace as they care for the people affected. That they may receive help and support from countries near and far, and that, as they provide assistance, may there be enough for everyone.

As the stories are shared, and the recovery process begins, may your Spirit be with those who will be called to listen and to be agents of peace and hope.”

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance is one of the Compassion, Peace and Justice ministries of the Presbyterian Mission Agency.

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