Christianity Thrives in Former ISIS Territory

Christianity is rising in Kobani, Syria

The Syrian town of Kobani is once again making news but not for being the center of destruction as it was before. Now, Kobani is the home of a surging Christian population in an area where being a Christian could have meant death just a short time ago. Four years ago, Kobani was the site of horrific siege by ISIS as they captured many villages and towns close to the city. By early 2015, the city had fallen into ISIS control and was the stage of major battles between the Islamic State and a coalition of armies seeking to free the city.

Kobani was a turning point in the war against ISIS, and now it is representing a turning point for religion. With refugees from the area finally able to make their way home, the religious landscape of the region was just as scarred as the physical city. Under ISIS rule, religion was used to justify their war and the horrible conditions the people were made to endure. Survivors were left very doubtful about the role of religion in their lives, leading some to abandon their former notions and even made others seek out a new religious philosophy.

More Christians are appearing in the area and the first evangelical church has been constructed in Kobani. The pastor of the Church of Brethren preaches to about 100 members. He has directly attributed the surge in Christians to the mistreatment of people under ISIS and the resulting conflicts that brought refugees into contact with Christians.

More people are continuing to come to this faith as well, as the message being spread is one of peace and freedom of religious choice rather than religion at the end of a gun. Some of the people who suffered under the religious rule of ISIS have found relief in Christianity.

However, it is worth noting hundreds of thousands of Christians did flee the region, dropping the number of Christians in the area to about 4.6 percent of the total people. Citizens of Kobani are finding faith and new lives rather than being stuck in the middle of a war.

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