The Baptist Standard reported March 1 on TBM’s efforts to bring clean water to victims of recent earthquakes in Turkey and Syria.

“Two high-capacity Texas-made water filters are providing clean water for earthquake survivors in Turkey, and more will be used both in Turkey and Syria in coming days, thanks to a Texas Baptist Men-led team,” the Baptist Standardstory reported.

The TBM team installed the first filter Feb. 24 at a community center that is providing shower facilities, meals and medical care for about 800 people.

It installed the second filter Feb. 27 in a feeding unit at a high school in Central Turkey, where about 2,500 people are receiving meals daily, Mitch Chapman, TBM’s water ministry specialist told the Standard.

Chapman is leading a disaster relief team of four volunteers from Missouri. He told the Standard that necessary component parts for eight additional filtration systems were secured from Istanbul on March 1.

“The filters from Istanbul were delayed in getting here, but we made good use of the time,” Chapman said.

The team distributed four small gravity-operated water filtration systems using 5-gallon buckets to tent cities for individual use, the Standard story said. Each one is capable of purifying 500 gallons of water a day.

“The water that is available from the city system here is cloudy, but the quality is not terrible,” Chapman said.

Making their way south toward Syria

Once the component parts arrived from Istanbul, the team assembled four filters tol be installed in tent cities they encounter as they travel southward. Near the Syrian border, ministry partners from Syria will meet them in southern Turkey.

The disaster relief team will demonstrate how to assemble one unit and then leave it and the parts for the other three for the ministry partners to use with earthquake survivors in Syria.

Currently, the Red Crescent and others are setting up tent cities to house individuals and families displaced by the earthquake, and the Turkish military is delivering food to them regularly, Chapman told the Standard.

“The government hopes to close all the tent cities in three to four months and move all the people into container houses,” Chapman said.

Looking ahead, he anticipates the greatest needs will be clean water, shower and toilet facilities, and basic sanitation. TBM and its ministry partners potentially could provide bucket filtration systems and assist with clean-up in the areas where people are sheltered, he noted.

Aftershocks continue throughout the region at a rate of three or four a day. One that registered 5.7 magnitude hit an area shortly after the TBM-led team left, Chapman noted.

He requested prayer for:

  • Safe travel for the disaster relief team as they make their way from Central Turkey toward the southern border.
  • Rapid construction of alternative housing for earthquake survivors currently living in tents.
  • Both the physical and spiritual needs of people in the affected area.

While Christians serving in Turkey cannot distribute any printed Gospel materials, they are free to answer questions about why they are serving, Chapman said.

He recalled going to a hardware store to pick up supplies and the owner inviting him to sit down for tea. Because he was on a tight schedule, Chapman initially declined the invitation, but a ministry partner encouraged him to take the time to share a pot of tea.

“He said, ‘When they are asking you to drink tea, they really are asking you to tell your story,’” Chapman said. “Pray that the people’s hearts would be softened so they can see the truth.”

TBM Note: The Baptist Standard story was written by Ken Camp, managing editor, after a telephone interview with Chapman. Baptist Standard Publishing is an independent, nonprofit media organization specializing in news, features, opinion and resources for Baptists in Texas through our partnership with churches, institutions and individuals associated with the Baptist General Convention of Texas.