Two of our pastors’ families for whom I asked your prayers yesterday have evidently perished. The building they lived in totally collapsed. One, a great leader, whom we thought would take over the ministry there, perished with his wife. His daughter fled to Europe several years back after continued persecution, including multiple episodes of rape, beatings, and being shot. She will not see her mom or dad here again. Her brother, a young man, was away that night, so his life was spared.
The day before the quake, we discussed his needs. He has been so severely and so often persecuted that he cannot stand to preach for more than fifteen minutes at a time. He told us that he wanted to go on to Heaven and didn’t know how much more suffering he could endure. Twelve hours later, he and his wife were walking on golden streets.
The other was a family whom I had never met. They came to Christ and have grown in their faith after my visit there. He was pastoring several house churches as well. Unfortunately, he, his wife, and their two children were crushed during the quake.
I am slowly writing a compilation of persecution stories containing chapters on these men and their families.
As aftershocks of 4.0 continue, more buildings fall due to their weakened conditions resulting from shelling in their eleven-year civil war.
In addition to the refugees we were already caring for, we have an additional 285 people who have lost their dwellings.
God is so good.
We asked you to give to our Christian refugees a week ago ($16,000), and you immediately gave $35,000 more than we asked for. I wondered why our Lord led you to do so. Now I know. He provided through you for a need that He knew we would soon have. Those extra funds are already on their way. How much worse would the story be if we were only starting to raise funds now?
We will let you know more as we receive more data. But please understand that it is time for us to begin earnestly raising funds for their relief. They have only the clothes they were wearing, primarily night clothes. They are cold, the temperatures during the day hover just above freezing – and it is raining – and the water freezes at night. They have no diesel to heat with, no propane, fuel, or electricity. Our people are suffering.
The question I expect most frequently at this time is, do we have preachers and church members in the area of the earthquake? My answer is Yes, many.
While we are working on getting reports and updates, let me tell you what I know at this moment. By seven this morning, we had ascertained that many of our families are now homeless. This includes families that we relocated and for whom you have so generously given funding for food, clothing, heating oil, etc. (If you see news reports, you will see there is deep snow on the ground. It is cold there.)
Building buildings are still collapsing in our base city, about one hundred miles from the epicenter. The government has forbidden entry into the streets that are among the worst damaged. Unfortunately, two of our primary leaders live in one of the pancaked buildings. We have not yet heard from them or their families. And worse, we cannot get in to search for them.
Please pray fervently for these two leaders, their families, and all our other families in the area. Pray for their safety and their ability to witness to those who are now in such great danger.
You know that as we learn more, we will inform you and ask for your help to care for our Family there and those who do not yet know our Saviour, whom they call, The Lord of the Cross. If you want to get a head start with a donation, you can give online here, or mail in a check and designate it to "Syrian Earthquake Damage".