A Christian church in Turkey is rebuilding after earthquakes devastated their region in early February, leveling buildings and leaving tens of thousands deceased. According to CBN News, the church that is now being rebuilt was in a place with incredible biblical significance, Antioch. According to the New Testament Book of Acts, Antioch “played a prominent role in the life of the apostle Paul,” and it was where Jesus’s followers were first called Christians. Turkish pastor Elmas Akin and her husband are optimistic that their church in Antioch, though it has now moved since being lost to the earthquakes, will be restored as a significant place of worship for Christians.
CBN News found that the streets of Antioch were covered in rubble and impossible to pass through. The Akins’ church lay deep beyond the rubble and unreachable. Elmas shared that she was known to those she preached to as Aunt Elmas or Mother Elmas, noting the close bond they had developed over the years of her ministry. Elmas explained with tears in her eyes that they lost everything, and most significantly their congregants who either perished in the earthquake or have spread around the country providing medical and other assistance.
Senem Ekener of Turk Sat 7 documented the destruction of the church, noting its impact on all those around. Ekener reported, “How God is actually showing Himself in people, being Christ to one another as the Body of Christ in unity, amazing unity and just functioning as His Hands, as His Feet reaching out to people…So I’ve been seeing that, I’ve been trying to console. Words are not sufficient, of course, and it’s time to just cry with them over their loss and also just be Christ to people that they’re never alone and we are in this together because you can’t really detach yourself from what your brothers and sisters and country going through (in) this devastating earthquake.”
Elmas and her husband are preparing for a “new beginning” for the church. Before the earthquakes hit, they had already begun building a new structure, which remained standing after the earthquakes struck. The church is already open for ministry, and the Akins hope that people will find their church and seek their services. Elmas thanks God that people around the country are helping to build the new church, and asks for prayers that more help finds its way along with Christians who need to find a new church.
For the people of Turkey who have lost everything, the Akins are not giving up on bringing them God’s Word and love. In the midst of destruction, rubble, heartache, and pain, the newly erected church will serve all not just as a place of worship, but as a symbol of hope, love, and faith.