Syria (MNN) — One week ago, twin earthquakes flattened entire villages in Türkiye (formerly known as Turkey) and northern Syria. See our coverage here.

Quakes affected more than 10 million Syrians in five provinces, the United Nations Resident Coordinator for Syria El-Mostafa Benlamlih told reporters. Initial estimates indicated that 100,000 people lost their homes in Aleppo alone.

Search efforts continue, but winter weather leaves survival odds slim to none. Death tolls climb daily in both countries as workers uncover more bodies.

In Syria, “unfortunately, rescue efforts are hampered by bad weather and unsuitable equipment,” says Ben*, the Program for Theological Education by Extension (PTEE)’s Communications Director.

“None of our partners were killed in the earthquake. But it’s a massive catastrophe [that] affected the whole country very deeply.”

Small glimmers of hope emerge from the destruction. Rescuers found a newborn in the rubble and rushed her to one of the only standing hospitals nearby. Her mother died giving birth, but Baby Aya survived.

Other survivors find refuge in churches near the disaster zone. Training from PTEE helped Syrian believers prepare for a moment like this. The program provides “theological study and practical ministry skills, which are so needed in this country right now,” Ben says.

“People have lost their homes, and churches are giving people shelter, opening their doors for people to have places to stay.”

Through PTEE, Arabic-speaking Christians in the Middle East and North Africa gain theological education without stepping foot in a seminary. More about that here. Syria holds the most PTEE students.

Pray for Gospel opportunities as Syrian Christians display the love and care of Christ. “I remember how Jesus responded when the Tower of Siloam fell on people, and His disciples asked Him about that. He said, ‘You know, this should be a wake-up call,’” Ben says.

“Pray people would run to the Lord; that it (the disaster) might draw people to Him.”


*Name withheld for security purposes


Header image courtesy of Horizons International.