Dear Partners in Christ,
We are back, and have had quite a trip!
Delayed an hour in Beirut, we arrived in Adana, Turkey at eleven p.m., reconnecting with Peter, we got to the hotel just before midnight last Thursday. After an early breakfast on the top floor overlooking the old stone bridge, we were off with Humberto to load up his van with foodstuffs and a truck with tents. We headed for Iskenderun first, dropping off some with a tent encampment there. There was a lot of damage there, but we hadn't seen anything yet.
Crossing over the pass to Antakya the damage was in evidence, but coming into the city... How does one describe miles upon miles of collapsed and condemned homes - buildings, where an efficient government has carted off mind boggling tonnage filled with bodies...? Numb, stark, and feeling an inability to compare to other natural disasters, we were simply muttering repeatedly about how crazy it was as we passed mile after mile of devastation... Clusters of tents were everywhere with earthquake survivors making do with whatever they can.
For example, Elmas and Hamdullah had 17 people crammed into their van out of the cold and rain, grabbing what little sleep they could. Now they've transitioned to small containers and blue tarp tents... Even a number folks who've only sustained minimal damage to their homes are very afraid to move back in, since more than 40 magnitude 5+ aftershocks have hit the region. Each day we were there had aftershocks in the 4 range.
Friday was over 16 hours on the bumpy roads delivering care packages and sharing with folks. Saturday morning we headed to the store and grabbed enough food for an army, heading back to Elmas and Hamdullah's tent fort in Antakya. Again we were blown away by the devastation and clouds of dust.
We offered barbequed lamb and chicken for Jesus' soldiers, and it was a good time of fellowship, with folks continually coming to the gate asking for help. The glaring heat of day disappeared into night time chill… We were encouraged by the people of God from various nations called to serve in a bleak landscape.
On our way out of Istanbul, we received news about our Armenian evangelist brother Solomon being murdered in Yerevan. Again bracketed by the evils of the world, we look forward to seeing Yeshua in the resurrection, and we know that He is able to strengthen and keep us through it all.
On a trip surrounded by the gloom of death from start to finish, the light of Yeshua's resurrection pierced our hearts again and again throughout the trip.
The reminder of Mohammed's passing overshadowed our journey to Tyre, not to mention the essence of energy his obvious anointing brought to the area. Regardless, now a cluster of veiled women bringing their kids to hear the gospel in spite of lacking the former flow of provision, listened attentively to Kalim and others sharing Hope. A brilliant candle in the darkness of the south.
Fallout from his death is a huge challenge to those remaining, but they are finding out that our evangelist brother was/is not their provider, but rather Yeshua is. Witnessing this transition is encouraging.
Zahlé in the Bekaa valley was simply a respite and an incredible time of fellowship. A constant influx of new believers worshipping Yeshua at the farm helped prepare our hearts for what we were going to see in Turkey, looking to Him, and not our own strength.
There are almost too many sweet moments to share in one report, these last few weeks overflowing with encounters only He can coordinate.
As you can see, the need is great. Please consider continued support for ReBridge to send to our Brothers and Sisters who are tirelessly serving in the these devastated areas.