Call to action to help victims of devastating earthquake
Published on 7 February 2023 3 minutes read
The Moderator of the General Assembly has expressed "deep sadness" after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake and aftershocks left thousands of people dead and injured in Syria and Turkey.
Rt Rev Dr Greenshields said the Church of Scotland held everyone affected by the terrible tragedy in prayer and extended condolences to all those who have lost loved ones.
He said people can donate money via Christian Aid, which is working hard to provide refuge to survivors who have lost their homes.
Rev Joseph Kassab, General Secretary of NESSL, said the earthquake had impacted an area where "millions of people" are already living in extreme poverty due to the devastating impact of the long-running Syrian war and currently enduring freezing temperatures.
It has been reported that more than 5,000 buildings have collapsed and rescue efforts involving around 24,000 people are being hindered due to damaged roads.
Dr Greenshields said: "Once again, natural disaster strikes in a place that has already seen the effects of war, climate change and economic disruption aplenty.
"I am deeply saddened to learn of the huge loss of life and our hearts go out to all those whose lives have been devastated.
"Yet already, we hear of our partner Church, NESSL, reaching out in Christ's love to all who need their help.
"We can only imagine the distress of those who have found themselves homeless or bereaved and we hold them, and all the emergency responders, in our prayers.
"We too can support our sisters and brothers and I encourage you to do so with prayerful generosity."
Mr Kassab updated the Church of Scotland on the situation.
He wrote: "On the dawn of 6 February, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck the province of Kahramanmaras in south Turkey.
"However, the aftershocks of the earthquake strongly reached the cities of northern Syria.
"Although Aleppo is the most hit by the earthquake, it completely or partially toppled many buildings in the stricken cities of Latakia and Hama and surrounding villages have been destroyed and now completely doomed.
"It is important for the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon now to be close to the people who were affected and are still afraid.
"Of all the disasters that befell us, this one, so to speak, for which we were not prepared.
"In a call with our pastor in Aleppo, he informed me that he opened our Aleppo College to receive all people to take refuge in the school building which is a safe space.
"The number reached several hundred."
Pouring out love
Mr Kassab said the Church is also providing shelter to people in Latakia and elsewhere in Syria.
"Eventually, those people will need mattresses, blankets, and diesel oil for electricity and warmth in the cold winter," he wrote.
"On behalf of NESSL, I appeal to you due to the extremely exceptional circumstances that the earthquake has imposed on innocent people, who have no other fault than that they live in a politically unstable area and suffer the consequences of the war.
"But today they are suffering more because of the forces of nature that we cannot control.
"Today, we are called to be for them a Christ who went around doing good and pouring out love."
The Moderator has prepared a prayer for congregations to use.
O God who, in Christ,
knew the challenges of life,
particularly in Western Asia;
Let the people there know your love,
In Turkey, Syria and Lebanon.
Uphold the injured and traumatised,
Bless those rescuing, helping, supporting,
that they may have the energy and resilience
to keep going in adversity,
and help as many as possible to survive
We particularly pray for our partners
in the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon
who have faced many challenges recently,
but continue to pour out love and support to all in need.
From their little they are giving their all.
Help us to know how we may support them.
We give thanks for the memory
of all who have died
and pray for their families and friends
as they grieve their loved ones.
In Jesus name we pray,
Donate to the Christian Aid appeal
Congregations are encouraged to donate to the dedicated Christian Aid earthquake appeal and find out more about how the proceeds raised will be used to support those in need.