News Syria | 10 February 2023
‘I saw destruction everywhere’: The earthquake’s impact in Syria


Show: true / Country: Syria / Syria
How Christians are coping—and why churches are opening their doors for everyone

The scenes are shocking. People who have lost their homes and sense of safety, huddled around tables at a church while they receive food and blankets.

That was the scene this morning at an Open Doors partner church in Aleppo, Syria. After this week’s earthquakes in Turkey—which have killed 11,000 people (and counting)—cities and communities across southern Turkey and northwestern Syria have been reduced to rubble. “I saw destruction everywhere,” says Leyla*, an Open Doors local staff member who arrived in Aleppo this week. “I saw people gathered in the streets, next to their new ‘home’—their car, where they are now sleeping.”

While such sights are horrifying, in Syria they are all too familiar. Christians in northern Syria have suffered crisis after crisis for more than a decade. Many believers are still trying to rebuild after the brutal reign of the Islamic State group and the recent conflict with Turkish forces. The earthquake is just the latest tragedy to impact them.

“Aleppo was already devastated by the decade-long war... lots of buildings crumbled in minutes.”

Leyla, Open Doors partner
“Aleppo was already devastated by the decade-long [Syrian civil] war,” Leyla says. “It was already unsafe for residents to be staying in some buildings, so when the earthquake hit, lots of buildings crumbled in minutes.”

Some believers wonder why something like this is happening yet again. They’ve been through so much over the last 15 years.

And yet, God’s hand is still visible to His people in Syria. Leyla told a story of a woman who lives on the fifth floor of a building with her son. Their building collapsed, but both the woman and her son miraculously survived. The son, who didn’t believe in God, yelled “thanks be to God” and decided to begin following Jesus.

Leyla visited three churches in Aleppo and saw the earthquake damage firsthand—what hadn’t been destroyed by years of war was suffering due to the impact of the earthquake. Even the churches have visible cracks in some cases. And the cold winter creates an additional challenge. “In Aleppo, the temperature drops below [freezing] at night,” Leyla says.

Open Doors has long supported partner churches across Syria—many have become Centers of Hope, community centers that help people throughout towns and cities. These Centers provide long-term spiritual support, but also can help when emergencies happen. When the earthquakes happened, these partners were able to immediately spring into action and help address the urgent needs of Syrians.

“[Though] our partner church leaders are affected themselves, they are providing food distribution and shelter for the homeless,” Leyla says. This video shows just a glimpse of the help one of our partner churches was able to provide:

“[Though] our partner church leaders are affected themselves, they are providing food distribution and shelter for the homeless”

Leyla, Open Doors partner
Seven Centers of Hope in northwest Syria, all supported by Open Doors, are currently caring for 5,400 people. But that number could certainly increase as more buildings crumble and the rescue efforts continue. Food, hygiene kits and warm shelter are desperately needed by so many people who no longer have a safe place to call home. The need is so great and is only going to increase. “The people are still scared, as minor earthquakes are still happening—I felt one myself, this afternoon,” Leyla says.

Your brothers and sisters in Syria and Turkey desperately need your prayers and your support.

Stand with Syrian Christians after the earthquake. Help with a gift today:

  • Every $40 can provide a family with a food package.
  • Every $55 can help a family receive warm winter clothes.
  • Every $100 can help three families receive medical aid
Give now
The church in Syria has been through more than a decade of challenges, and the earthquakes present a new and horrible reality. But God’s people are not about to give up on serving their community and being a light for Jesus in the midst of the darkness. “The Centers of Hope are opening their doors for everyone,” Leyla says.

Leyla also asks us to pray with the church in Syria as they endure and care for people. She gives three specific requests:
  • Ask God to give wisdom to leaders and people who oversee the work at Centers of Hope. They need to discern how best to serve their communities and wisely share what God has given them.
  • Pray for peace in the spirits of the people who wonder why something so horrible is happening again. Ask God to give them comfort and show them His presence in a new, fresh way.
  • Pray that God would grant a peace of mind to people who are already so traumatized. Ask Him to heal the hearts and minds of His people and that they would be equipped to do every good work for Him.

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