It had been only 12 days since an earthquake split the wall of the little church in Van, Turkey, but as of Nov. 4, the crack was plastered over, painted and only barely visible.
But church members haven’t even come close to forgetting.
Just a few feet from the church’s door, tents are pitched in an open space between piles of concrete rubble, with families sleeping in air cold enough you can see your breath.
“Many have been told their houses are safe to live in, but they are still afraid to sleep in them,” said M, a pastor from another part of the country helping with recovery efforts in Van. Hundreds of people died when the quake shook Van on Oct. 23, with more injured and even more left scared and hurting.
So the Van church labors on, cooking meals outside in cauldron-sized pots for people who have lost family, friends and homes and can’t afford food. People gather daily by the dozens, and believers — Turks, Kurds and Iranian refugees — feed them and share Christ’s love with them.
And that night, as believers finished plastering the walls in the tiny building, a mother and two children came in with empty pots. A few women filled them up with food and they left with smiles.
There’s a lot to be celebrated here.
A kind of impromptu worship service broke out as two men glued the big wooden cross on top of the crack in the wall and propped it up with a stepladder until the glue dries. Two men covered in paint stopped and played the guitar and the saz, and a girl danced and sang while another man swept the construction dust away from the edges of the room.
All of it was praise to a God who hasn’t left the people of Van without provision, or without a Savior.
(If you’re interested in helping provide food and provisions for the people of Van, gobgr.org is a great place to start.)