Years after the Islamic State laid siege to the Syrian town of Kobani, some of its Muslim residents are leaving behind Islam and turning to Christianity.
In 2015, Kobani was the epicenter in the battle against ISIS. It was also here that US-led forces beat back ISIS terrorists and liberated the city before finally ending the group’s hold over Iraq and Syria last month.
Many of the new converts to Christ say the violence ISIS brought to their region left them disillusioned with Islam.
While many Muslims became agnostic or atheist, others turned to Jesus and opened up Kobani’s first church in decades called “Church of the Brethren.” It is the only evangelical church in Kobani.
“After the war with Islamic State people were looking for the right path, and distancing themselves from Islam,” church founder Omar Firas told Reuters. “People were scared and felt lost.”
Firas said approximately 80 to 100 people in Kobani now worship at the evangelical church.
“We meet on Tuesdays and hold a service on Fridays. It is open to anyone who wants to join,” he said.
CBN News met with Firas in February. He founded the church while a new representative form of government in northeast Syria called the “Self Administration of Syria” (SANES) was emerging.
The SANES controls a third of Syria between the Tigris and Euphrates River and guarantees freedom of religion to all of the 4 million people within its borders.
Firas told CBN News his church would never have been allowed under ISIS.
“We can express our rituals with complete freedom,” he said.
Church of the Brethren’s existence is a sign of true religious freedom under SANES.
“Because this project is democratic and for the first time it has recognized we as a Syriac Christians and recognized our language, culture and even our religion,” SANES Executive Council VP Elizabeth Kourie told CBN News.
The leaders say their hope is to spread this new democracy throughout Syria rather than form another country.