Dr. Glen Brubaker is giving up the comforts and joys of Christmas with his family and spending the holiday helping earthquake victims in Turkey.
The 58-year-old doctor, who is the medical adviser to Interchurch Medical Assistance in New Windsor, left his home in Lancaster, Pa., on Wednesday for Ankara, capital of the predominantly Muslim country. He will oversee a $50,000 shipment of medicine and hospital supplies donated by Lutheran World Relief and sorely needed in areas devastated by the earthquakes in August and November.
The first and most damaging earthquake struck Aug. 17 and killed 17,000 people. Another less severe tremor killed 749 on Nov. 12 'Extend Christian love'
The disasters have left thousands of people homeless, forcing them to live in makeshift shelters that provide little protection from the harsh winter.
"My wife and children agreed that we can't ignore the pain of the Turkish people while we sit in our warm home celebrating Christmas," Brubaker said in a news release issued by IMA, a nonprofit organization that procures and distributes donated medicine to people throughout the world.
Those who celebrate the birth of Christ should "extend Christian love in all circumstances, even when it inconveniences us," said Brubaker, the father of three daughters.
Vickie Johnson, IMA communications manager, said Brubaker's sacrifice "shows us all the real meaning of Christmas. He could not avoid the pain of the Turkish people."
The Turkish Red Crescent, an organization similar to the Red Cross, has provided IMA with lists of the most-needed items. Its members also promised to escort the doctor to the nearest Christmas Eve religious observance.
Brubaker expects to return to the United States on Wednesday. Paul Derstine, president of IMA. said he expects to see the doctor at work the next day.
"Glen has devoted his whole life to medical mission work, much of it in Tanzania," Derstine said. "He is such a committed person, consumed by service to others."