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'Like the Apocalypse': Amid Pain and Devastation in Turkey, Operation Blessing Still Offers Hope

Operation Blessing is providing disaster relief in Turkey
Operation Blessing is providing disaster relief in Turkey

ANTAKYA, Turkey – Stories of hope are still surfacing from the rubble nearly a month after two devastating earthquakes and multiple aftershocks shook Turkey.

But as the days press on, the need for disaster relief keeps growing, and could last for years. CBN's Operation Blessing has seen that widespread need, extending its time on the ground. 

Here in Antakya, most families have left, seeking refuge now in other cities. For those who stayed behind, they're relying on the generosity of people across the globe. 

The reality is these people have no homes, no jobs because their businesses collapsed. The effect is that they've essentially lost everything and have no means to provide for their family.  

"There were four of us in the room. My husband and I, and our children. My husband died and so did my son. My daughter survived," Turkan told us.

After being trapped under rubble for more than 130 hours, she is alive to tell her story of survival and face the reality of loss. 

"I need a helper and a home. I have nothing. With no son alive to work, I have nothing. I need help," she said. "We need electricity, water, a bathroom, kitchen."

Necla Atahan recalls running out of her home, not being able to stand, and holding her family for what she thought was the last time. "If I explain the story I will cry – It was like the apocalypse," she says.

Before receiving temporary housing, Necla and her family survived in a pigeon coop with roughly 10 others, lighting fires to keep warm.  It now serves as their washroom since their home is too dangerous to enter. 

"Thanks be to God that we are alive," she said.

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Operation Blessing arrived shortly here after the first earthquake hit last month. The plan is to stay for at least six months, feeding, loving and helping the people of Turkey any way they can. 

Operation Blessing's international disaster relief team coordinator Benjamin Brittain is here in the quake zone. 

"We have our major stock in food boxes that contain kind of your basic commodities of rice, oil, beans, flower, sugar," he said. "Also starting to purchase bulk items – hygiene kits with hygiene items." 

CLICK HERE to Help Operation Blessing Provide Relief Effort in Turkey

He explained the goal is to meet practical needs and then minister to spiritual ones when possible. "Our goal is to never push people upon what we believe, but rather show what Jesus' love looks like and wait for an opportunity to talk beyond that.

Brittain knows disaster relief is often short-lived because stories often disappear quickly from the news cycle. That's why the ministry is here for the long haul.  

"The need is astronomical – I've never seen anything like it. And to think that even us being here for 6 months, we'll likely be one of the few at that point," he said. 

"We're really having an impact – not just the physical impact but the spiritual impact. And not just those who don't know Jesus, but to be able to come alongside churches and encourage and pray for them – that's really the global church and that's really what it all is about," he said.

CLICK HERE to Help Operation Blessing Provide Relief Effort in Turkey

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