Following the terrible earthquakes that shook southern Turkey and northern Syria on Monday, at least 5,000 deaths have been officially confirmed.
According to media sources, the 7.8-magnitude earthquake, one of the largest to hit the area in more than 100 years, is causing many to worry about the possibility of a new humanitarian crisis.
The World Council of Churches disclosed in a statement on Monday that churches are reaching out to check on people affected and praying for the safety of those missing as search and rescue activities go on in spite of bad weather.
Rev. Prof. Dr. Jerry Pillay, general secretary of the World Council of Churches, said, "Let us bring our intercessions together in the midst of death and trauma caused by this terrible event, praying that the God of Life will comfort the ones who lost their loved ones and give strength to those involved in the actions of solidarity with the victims."
"We transmit our prayers to the victims and their families, as well as to the churches and local communities in Syria and Turkey who are enlisting the aid of their networks to assist their sisters and brothers," Pillay continued.
"We all believed death was coming," said Ibrahim Najjar, a partner of the international Christian organization Open Doors in Aleppo, when describing the magnitude of the earthquake.
In addition to asking for prayers for church leaders and members, Mr. Najjar stated that their church partners were among the first to respond to the earthquake.
"Please join us in prayer for those affected by this tragedy. We invite all Christians to do so. We are offering prayers for those who are mourning and grieving the loss of loved ones, the injured, and the ongoing rescue operations.
We're asking Christians to pray for the church to rely on God's power and for His people to extend a loving hand to those who need it most.
The earthquake warning level was increased to Level 4 by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoan, signaling that the nation is accepting of outside assistance. Seven days of national mourning were also declared.
Our nation entered a seven-day period of mourning as a result of the earthquakes that occurred on February 6. In all of our national and international representations, our flag will be flown at half-mast till Sunday, February 12's sundown, Erdogan announced on Twitter.
Including Russia and other European countries, he mentioned that his government was organizing help pledges from around 45 countries.
African leaders, including the president of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, sent their sympathies and demonstrated their support for the two nations.
“I am deeply saddened by the deaths, injuries and loss of property in Turkey and Syria in the aftermath of a devastating earthquake. My thoughts and prayers, and those of all Ugandans, are with the families who have lost their loved ones. May their souls rest in eternal peace,” President Yoweri Museveni said.
Here are some specific ways we can be praying for those affected by the massive earthquake, and especially for local believers as they share the love and truth of Christ in the critical days ahead.