It was almost the end of August. The rift between Carewell South Africa and the Turkish partners became more evident with the Turkish partners threatening to withdraw their support if the feasibility study and its recommendations was not implemented. It was a stalemate situation and we were starting to feel very insecure about our future in Turkey if this partnership is terminated.
Magda was deeply touched by her experience with the Turkish search and rescue team. Not only emotionally, but spiritually too. In our minds, we expected a spiritual awakening like a revival in Turkey. What happened in the earthquake was that more than 17000 thousand people died and to the best of our knowledge they did not know Christ as Lord of their lives. In her struggle, she questioned God and he spoke to her through two Psalms, clearly stating His sovereignty and his omnipresence. It was not an easy answer. The best we could do was to focus our attention on the survivors of the earthquake.
The church leaders of the Turkish and International churches decided to mobilize teams and to prepare a field kitchen in one of the small villages around the sea of Marmara. South African friends living and working as missionaries in Trabzon in the Black Sea area came to Ankara to join the outreach team. A week later, we left for the earthquake region, to go and help to establish a field kitchen for one of the tent cities. We left the children with friends in Ankara and we shared a tent with our friends from Trabzon. It was hilarious, because when lying down it looked like a tin of sardines. There were no space and when one wanted to turn he had to alert the others so that we can all turn together!
The permissions for the field kitchen was not in place yet. We discovered that a South African relief team of doctors, nurses and a pharmacist arrived and was working in the same area. Magda was in her element. Her friend from Trabzon was well versed in Turkish and she translated for Magda. She was doing the unthinkable in Turkey – nursing and showing love and compassion to Turkish people in a very tangible way. Most of the people were frightened and heart-broken. They just longed to be touched and hugged and washing their feet and taking care of any injuries or wounds was addressing a real need.
Whilst Magda was nursing I was helping with administrative and logistical tasks around the area. We also did some manual labor in pitching tents and setting up storage space for all the dry rations to be used in the field kitchen.
The Turkish believers working with us, were wearing T-shirts proclaiming Christ as Lord. This was a very bold gesture because their was hardly any overt evangelism done by any Turkish believers for the past 100 years. It was mostly the foreign missionaries doing the evangelism and church planting. To be a Turk was to be a Muslim and to publicly say that they were Christian was a big step in taking ownership for their beliefs in a very real way.
After a week of serving in the earthquake affected region it was time to return to our children in Ankara. It was an unforgettable experience and we were grateful to be in Turkey at such a time. We did not know what the future hold, but we were praying for more opportunities to serve in this kind of way.