@fire in Kahramanmaras

— Midweek Meditations:
thoughts, inspiration and encouragement
from ACF community members —

It’s been a month now since the worst earthquake in centuries shook Southern Turkey and Northern Syria, killing women, children, and men, most of them in their sleep. Only hours later, rescue teams were already on their way. Among the first to arrive on the scene was the privately organised @fire organisation. They fielded 17 humans and two dogs. Over the course of the next week and until no survivors could reasonably be expected to be found any longer, they searched the ruins and the rubble of what had been the city of Kahramanmaras. They found, and brought out alive, five.

This does not sound like much. Certainly not when held against the other figure of at least 50.000 confirmed dead. But of course it made quite a difference for those two mothers and their little children, and for the teenage girl dug from the ruins of her house through a one-hundred feet tunnel in a 30 hour-long operation, taking turns with British and Israeli teams. It made a difference for their relatives, their mothers and fathers and siblings – provided they themselves lived. It made a difference for their friends and neighbors, to see their familiar faces again. It made a difference for the rescue teams themselves, who followed their dogs‘ leads into the hills of rubble more often than not without success, or being too late after all.

I would like to claim that it makes a difference for all of us, because as much as i have a problem with the idea that there is somehow God’s will behind all this senseless suffering and devastation, i believe there is a chance here to see God‘ love at work in the efforts of those international rescue teams. God’s love is visible the airport police officers when one of the team, a former student of mine already late for the plane, came running into the airport with his bag and his yellow jacket and his helmet, and the officers spirited him past customs and controls and whatever and stopped the plane and put him on board without so much as a ticket. God’s love is visible in these men and women paying for their own trips, their equipment, and their training, and then risking their lives to save people they have never seen before and will likely never see again, and whom they would not necessarily even like if they met them anywhere else. God’s love is visible in Germans and Brits, and Israelis, and French, and Armenians working side by side with the Turks to save the lives of those few who by coincidence and luck and sheer happenstance as well as by their own resilience were still alive under what had been their homes. None of this made any sense, except for the glimpses of God’s love in the rescue effort.

The American writer Kurt Vonnegut used to insist that we need to learn to cherish people as people, and to help them not as a charity but because they deserve it as fellow beings. I think he was right.

The @fire team returned after one week, exhausted and tired. They were happy to see their loved ones at the airport, and they were glad to be back. They refuse to be called heroes. They did what they did because they could do it. If I even tried to tell them about how I believe they brought a bit of God’s love into this disaster, they would probably think I am funny. But they did.

Here you can find more about the charity @fire and make donations towards their incredible work.

The ACF Midweek Meditations
are written by a diverse group of our church members with the intention to seek God’s fingerprints in our lives. They range from somber to humorous and are inspired by all facets of live and faith. Written by ordinary people from all walks of life, they reflect a wide range of Christian backgrounds and spiritualities.

Each week’s text portrays the individual viewpoint of its author. They might not always resonate with everyone, and are not meant to be understood as representing the Anglican Church Freiburg as a whole. Yet, as a church that is aiming to ‘Build a Community of Grace’ we seek to practice learning from and listening to one another.

We pray that these humble ponderings add a small spark of blessing to your week.

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