earthquake appeal

I am writing this in eight days after the terrible earthquakes in Turkey and Syria.  It is now clear that 40,000 people have died and that number is continuing to rise.  Thousands are homeless and a huge amount of help has been needed to keep food and health care services available.  The situation is particularly difficult in Syria where the war means that less help is available and some areas have no functioning government.

It is hard to know how to respond to such a disaster.  Certainly we can pray, remembering before God those who have died, those who have lost loved ones, homes and livelihoods.  We can hold before God the enormity of the suffering and the need for God’s deliverance.  We can also give money to support the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) of 15 major charities working together to respond to international disasters.

It is sobering to look at the DEC website and be reminded how many major disasters there  been recently.  DEC have open appeals for the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria, the floods in Pakistan, the war in Ukraine and the crisis in Afghanistan.  Older appeals in respect of Covid and Cyclone Idai are now closed.

Why does a loving God allow disasters?  I think disasters force us to grow in our understanding of love.  Love is not about avoiding suffering.  Jesus walked very knowingly into the suffering of his passion and death.  Love is about continuing to look for the good of others, even in the face of great suffering and death.  It is interesting what Jesus says in Luke 13: 4-5:

…those eighteen who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them—do you think that they were worse offenders than all the other people living in Jerusalem?   No, I tell you, but unless you repent you will all perish just as they did.”

Jesus rejects the suggestion that people have been killed in the disaster because they have done bad things.  But he still sees the disaster as a call to repentance, reminding people to know their dependence on God, to turn back to God and to follow God’s teaching.

Bad behaviour can lead to disasters.  Examples include drink driving accidents and the invasion of Ukraine.  But we can be struck by disasters which are no fault of our own.  Obviously we want to avoid this, for example, by praying, “deliver us from evil” as we do in the Lord’s Prayer.  It seems to me that a good tactic for avoiding disaster ourselves is to be in the maximum possible solidarity with those who do suffer disaster.  We can do this through prayer and whatever practical actions might be possible, including giving.


With prayers and best wishes, Fr Patrick



Prayer in time of disaster  (verses from Psalm 44)


You have made us like sheep to be slaughtered,

and have scattered us among the nations.

… you have crushed us in the haunt of jackals,

and covered us with the shadow of death.

… for your sake are we killed all the day long,

and are counted as sheep for the slaughter.

Rise up! Why sleep, O Lord?

Awake, and do not reject us for ever.

Why do you hide your face

and forget our grief and oppression?

Our soul is bowed down to the dust;

our belly cleaves to the earth.

Rise up, O Lord, to help us

and redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love.



March 2023 – Earthquake Disaster