Church of the Brethren in Kobane, North and East Syria, perseveres despite ongoing Turkish threats

KOBANE, Syria — The Church of the Brethren in Kobane, North and East Syria, continues to perseveres in its faith despite ongoing Turkish attacks and threats.

The church was established in September 2018 by Kurdish converts to Christianity following the city’s liberation from the Islamic State (ISIS). A Protestant church with its roots in a German-branch of Protestantism dating back to the 18th century, it is the first new church established in the city in decades.

The priest of the church explained that the construction was supported by the Democratic Autonomous Administration (DAA) of North and East Syria after the converts fled the Turkish invasion of Cafrin (Afrin).

In a 2019 interview with NBC News shortly after the church’s establishment in Kobane, one member explained that, “Most of the brothers here converted or come to church as a result of what ISIS did to them and to their families.”

“No one is forced to convert. Our weapon is the prayer, the spreading of spirit of love, brotherhood and tolerance,” he added

Another member of the church, a farmer from Dayro Zcuro (Deir ez-Zor) who lived under the terror of ISIS with his wife and three daughters, said that, “ISIS members were terrorizing people and then going to the mosque to pray to Allah … After their prayers, they would leave the mosque and terrorize people again.”

Life under ISIS rule was barbaric, he said:

“I saw men and young teenagers being whipped on the streets because they were caught smoking. I saw dead bodies of young men being thrown from high buildings for being gay. This was their Islam.”

He has not turned his back on Islam, explained the man, and his relatives remain conservative Muslims. But the brutality he witnessed changed him.