t must have seemed like the end of the world to the more than 20 million people, many in high-rise buildings, who were sound asleep on Monday, February 6, when massive earthquakes measuring 7.8 and 7.5 on the Richter scale rocked Türkiye and Syria.

It was Zoltan who first noticed the rescue dog intensely sniffing what was probably the remains of an apartment building. The canine’s ears perked up, and his entire body quivered excitedly. He barked and looked up to see whether he had gotten anyone’s attention.

“Over here!” Zoltan yelled.

Immediately, he was surrounded by a dedicated team whose main goal was to unearth people from a deadly grave of collapsed buildings that had crumpled to the ground the day before.

Within seconds, Zoltan was on his hands and knees scooping debris. He couldn’t see a person in the pile, but the dog clearly indicated that there was life somewhere in that heap. Zoltan knew to trust the dog.

Ordinarily, Zoltan wouldn’t be serving in this capacity. His job as the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) director of Hungary involved the organization of relief efforts for those impacted by the earthquake.

However, his unique qualifications of being a paramedic and internationally accredited search and rescue technician were urgently needed now to find people buried in the wreckage. So, he volunteered to be a part of the Hungarian Government’s Search and Rescue Team (SAR).

“I’m here!” Zoltan yelled, hoping to lend encouragement. “Can you hear me? Hold on!”

Zoltan Sitkei, ADRA director for Hungary, digging for survivors
ADRA workers and volunteers delivering supplies to survivors

Was he too late? Zoltan wasted no time but methodically and deliberately began removing the debris. He noted that it was noon. Hour after weary hour passed as the team moved a mountain of material. At two o’clock in the morning, 14 hours later, they pulled a woman out of the wreckage, still alive! Zoltan bowed his head in a prayer of thanks.

He needed sleep, just a few hours. When daybreak arrived, Zoltan and his team returned and labored 36 more hours. They were able to pull six people, including two children, alive out of the rubble. Unfortunately, one of the children died shortly after.

Realizing their time was limited, thousands of civilians and SAR teams from various countries worked side-by-side, many using only their bare hands to remove shards of glass, metal, and cement. ADRA International workers supported them by providing food, water, wipes, and emergency equipment such as hammers and drill heads. ADRA Romania sent 100 heat generators. Others provided mattresses for the few schools and public buildings that could be transformed into temporary shelters.

Shock after shock continued to move the earth and make the task more difficult. More buildings tumbled down like castles of sand. Many of the women and children, the wounded, and the elderly milled about, too afraid to enter a structure for fear that it would collapse over their heads. Some slept in cars. ADRA brought tents to provide shelter from the bouts of snow and rain.

“For over 10 years, ADRA offices have been implementing a variety of humanitarian relief projects, including shelter, health, and education initiatives for refugee families and children in the region,” says Kelly Dowling, emergency response manager for ADRA International. “In the aftermath of this massive disaster, ADRA remains committed to helping vulnerable communities and families in rebuilding their lives. Please keep Syria and Türkiye in your thoughts and prayers.”

With at least 50,000 killed and an estimated 5 million people homeless, Türkiye and Syria face bleak days of challenge and sorrow. Prayerfully, their views of Adventists will change because church members moved in unison with purpose and love to save people from certain death. After all, that is a vivid picture of what Jesus did for us, and that is a vivid picture of what ADRA does for 118 countries around the world.


The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) is the international humanitarian arm of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, serving in 118 countries. Its work empowers communities and changes lives around the globe by providing sustainable community development and disaster relief. ADRA’s purpose is to serve humanity so all may live as God intended. To learn more, visit ADRA.org.

Thank you for supporting ADRA through your weekly mission offerings and, in North America, by giving to World Budget. To give, visit <strong>adventistmission.org/donate</strong>.


Travel around the world with ADRA at m360.tv/adra.

Crystal Earnhard is a writer for Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) International.