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Advice For Christians Wishing to Help Victims of Earthquake in Turkey and Syria

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When crisis hits around the world, as it has in Turkey and Syria, Christians are often first in line to help. That’s a very good thing.

However, there’s a reason the Bible tells us to love God with our mind as well as our heart. At times like these, we should engage both. Below are a few principles and tips to keep in mind as you give to Turkey and Syrian earthquake relief efforts. We also have our assessment of some ministries raising funds for earthquake relief.

The Old Rules Apply. Just because there’s a crisis, that doesn’t mean a ministry that has been poorly run suddenly becomes well-run. In fact, often a crisis causes a weak organization to break. That’s why even in the midst of crisis and urgent appeals, take an extra moment to do your homework. MinistryWatch gives ministries a Donor Confidence Score, a Financial Efficiency Rating, and a Transparency Grade. (You can search on a ministry and check their scores here.) Don’t give money to poorly-rated ministries, or to ministries that don’t share enough information to produce a rating.

Beware of “Matching Gifts” or “Challenge Gifts.” These sorts of giving schemes can be legitimate, but in times of crisis, they are often used to heighten the sense of urgency. Educate yourself about Challenge Gifts and Matching Gifts by clicking here.

Boots on the Ground. When crisis erupts in a far corner of the world, it is too late to establish a presence there. Ministries that are the most effective are those who have already been operating there. They have “boots on the ground”: personnel, partners, processes, and infrastructure. Give to these ministries.

Ask Where the Money is Going. Ministries with a real plan should be able to tell you where the money is going. If the fundraising appeal doesn’t specifically say so, ask. If the ministry doesn’t respond with clear and specific answers, it’s possible it is just using the crisis opportunistically, hoping for a financial windfall.

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Individual Ministries

When crisis occurs, MinistryWatch often gets emails from readers with questions like, “What about [name of ministry]?” Here are a few we know about, along with a quick analysis. We will be revising this list as the situation in Turkey and Syria develops. We are listing the ministries in alphabetical order. If the ministry is a part of the MinistryWatch 1000 database, we have inserted a link to its profile.

International Disaster Emergency Service has been involved in disaster response for 50 years since its founding in 1973. It is partnering with groups in Turkey and Syria to provide assistance. MinistryWatch gives International Disaster Emergency Service a donor confidence score of 92 and an “A” transparency grade. It gets an efficiency rating of one star.

MAP International provides medicine and lifesaving health supplies to those in need, including following a natural disaster. According to its spokesperson, it has been working in the region for five years and has Interagency Emergency Health Kits which contain 90 days’ worth of medicines for 10,000 individuals ready to deploy. It will also continue to help through the recovery and rebuilding phase. MAP International was a 2021 MinistryWatch Shining Light Award winner. According to the MinistryWatch database, donors can give to this ministry with confidence. It has an “A” transparency score and the highest efficiency rating.

Nazarene Compassionate Ministries (NCM) is responding to the earthquake in Syria through the Nazarene churches that exist there. Its immediate focus is to provide food, blankets, and heating. It also focuses on long-term rehabilitation after the initial emergency response. NCM has been a MinistryWatch Shining Light Award winner for the last two years. It has a high donor confidence score of 96, an “A” transparency grade, and the highest overall efficiency rating.

Partners Relief and Development has a history of doing relief work in Syria. It has teams in Aleppo, Jableh, and the Idlib region in Northern Syria as well as in Turkey near the Syrian border actively responding to the crisis. Rapid response teams were mobilized within 12 hours of the earthquake to help with rescue. In the MinistryWatch database, Partners has a donor confidence score of 96 out of 100, an “A” transparency grade, and 4-star efficiency rating. It has budgeted $620,000 for immediate and medium-term response needs, according to its spokesperson.

Water Mission has been involved in disaster response for 20 years. Its Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) is set to arrive in Turkey on Thursday. It specializes in engineering solutions to provide clean, safe water for drinking and hygiene. Water Mission has been working in Ukraine, and responded after Hurricane Fiona hit Puerto Rico and to the flooding in Afghanistan. MinistryWatch gives Water Mission a donor confidence score of 100 and an “A” transparency grade.

World Relief is responding to the crisis in Turkey and Syria through its long-standing partners and churches in the region. During disaster responses, World Relief provides emergency nutrition packs, clean water, and shelter. The MinistryWatch database profile for World Relief indicates a donor confidence score of 86. It also receives an “A” transparency grade and a high overall efficiency rating.

World Vision already has teams on the ground in Turkey as part of its disaster response. Its focus is on shelter, heat, clean water, and healthcare needs. World Vision has responded to 69 disasters and emergencies in its history with its “first in, last out” approach. Its MinistryWatch database profile includes a donor confidence score of 78, an “A” transparency grade, and a 4-star efficiency rating.

Main photo: Photo by Mahmoud Sulaiman / Daraa, Syria posted Jan. 2022 /  Creative Commons

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Warren Cole Smith

Warren previously served as Vice President of WORLD News Group, publisher of WORLD Magazine, and Vice President of The Colson Center for Christian Worldview. He has more than 30 years of experience as a writer, editor, marketing professional, and entrepreneur. Before launching a career in Christian journalism 25 years ago, Smith spent more than seven years as the Marketing Director at PricewaterhouseCoopers.