Leyla in Syria says Church Shines Light In Darkness of Earthquakes

By: Ben McEachen

In freezing temperatures, Leyla* sleeps in a church in Aleppo, Syria, alongside others forced from their homes due to earthquake damage.

“I came here two days ago and it was literally destruction all over,” Leyla said in an interview, sharing about arriving in Aleppo within one day of the earthquakes in Syria and Türkiye.

“You can see ‘crumbles’ and rubble all over the place. It was already unsafe for residents of Aleppo to be staying in some of the buildings here because of the decade-long war they have been living [through].

“When the earthquake happened, the buildings just crumbled in minutes. It was horrible.”

“When the earthquake happened, the buildings just crumbled in minutes. It was horrible.”

Across Türkiye and Syria, at least 30,000 people have been reported dead.

A Collapsed building in Aleppo, Syria
A collapsed building in Aleppo, Syria.

Along with other nations, Australia has sent search and rescue experts, as well as practical and financial aid.

With Türkiye’s government under fire from its citizens about its emergency response, Leyla had not witnessed similar protest in Syria. But she described the dire components which contributed to the devastation across Syria.

Along with civil war, “economic crisis” and the impact of COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions have eroded infrastructure and increased hardship.

“You can hear Syrians say, ‘Why, God, why? Crisis after crisis after crisis,’” Leyla said.

Leyla partners with Open Doors, an international organisation that supports and advocates for persecuted Christians around the world.

Syria is Number 12 on Open Doors’ annual World Watch List, detailing the most dangerous countries to be Christian.

The church Leyla is helping at and staying in has become a shelter, amid bitter cold, ongoing tremors and buildings which could collapse. Including the church itself.

Leyla said in an interview that church members took immediate action this week to assist others.

“The church has played a crucial role in [community assistance] since the first few hours of the crisis.”

“The church has played a crucial role in [community assistance] since the first few hours of the crisis,” Leyla said.

“Rita [is] an active church member and she told me that just a few hours after the earthquake hit, she immediately went to the church hall, opened it and started receiving people.

“She even sent out a car to fetch people from the streets,” Leyla said, having seen many people sleeping in cars since the major tremors.

People finding shelter in church in Latakia after earthquake
People finding shelter in church in Latakia, Syria, after the earthquake.

Unable to fathom how long it will take to rebuild Syria, Leyla already can see the earthquakes as a surprising opportunity to project the radiant hope of Jesus.

“This crisis has hit everyone. It did not discriminate,” Leyla said.

“It is the perfect time, actually, for the church to shine its light. We are the salt and the light of this earth, and our deeds speak for our faith.”

*Name changed to protect identity, due to the risks Christians face in Syria.

Feature image: Supplied / People finding shelter in churches in Latakia after the earthquake

Article supplied with thanks to Hope Media.

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