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Reaction to earthquake news from a Billings church with missionaries in Turkey



Billings, Montana — Even though the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria occurred halfway across the world, Billings is still affected.

When the earthquakes struck, Faith Chapel had several missionaries in Turkey. Though many of the people they have forged bonds with throughout their stay in the Middle East are not secure, they are all safe.

Nate Poetzl, the senior pastor at Faith Chapel, said on Thursday that the destruction is tragic. By Thursday night, at least 21,000 individuals had been confirmed deceased.

“It’s just devastating,” Poetzl said. “The loss of life and then the trauma.”

Poetzl carried out ministerial work in Turkey last fall. He claimed that despite the country’s beauty, it will require a lot of assistance to reconstruct.

“This past fall, I had the opportunity to go to Turkey. I’ve been there once before. It is a fascinating place. A place where you can stand in one spot and experience centuries of culture. Dynamic people. It’s a place that has experienced significant political turmoil in the past. But the Turks are a loving, passionate group of people,” Poetzl said. “When something devastating like this happens, what do we do? Well, let’s move towards those people in need, let’s bring our support, let’s bring friendship, relationship, and even finances that are desperately needed.”

Poetzl added that a variety of circumstances make healing difficult.”There would be a couple of really challenging elements to this. There’s the initial loss of life, and then, in the midst of winter, we’ve talked to several of our friends with nonprofits on the ground. Cold, lack of food, no shelter. These are the next challenges that the people in Turkey are facing,” Poetzl said. “There are no easy solutions. It’s going to take an enormous amount of effort from the international community to be able to solve this. After that, there’s an ongoing, years-long process of rebuilding and reestablishing everything that was lost to the earthquake.”

According to Poetzl’s contacts abroad, the list of demands is rising as the days go by. “We’ve been able to speak to a couple of people that we have relationships with through nonprofit organizations. The people that we’re most closely connected with were in a different part of Turkey. However, we do have multiple friendships. We do have two people who lost their lives, part of the nonprofit organization we’re a part of. Devastating,” Poetzl said. “They continue to talk about the current need and this ongoing need that will be there for months and months to come.”

And Poetzl thinks it’s critical to retain the Billings crew there given the volume of support required.

“It’s vitally important for our team to be there. There are people of all different faith traditions that are experiencing the exact same crisis. From hunger to cold to lack of shelter,” Poetzl said. “The people we’re working with, the level of the courage, they’re moving towards the devastation rather than away. That’s something that we just so applaud. I think they set up a model for all of us.”

According to Poetzl’s contacts abroad, the list of demands is rising as the days go by.”There are different nonprofit organizations that you can give towards. The ones that we specifically work with focus on disaster relief. So they’re incredibly efficient,” Poetzl said. “Our help needs to go beyond just the financial. I think anything, regardless of your own spiritual beliefs, pray. I think this is a chance for us to express love to a group of people that are in desperate need right now.”

“I think there are incredible opportunities,” Poetzl said. “Here we are living in Yellowstone County, we are thousands of miles away from this horrific situation. But that doesn’t mean we can’t help.”


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