The outpouring of prayer, concern and practical help for suffering Christians in Iraq and Syria has been amazing.



But there is an opportunity to do more on a national scale.



A broad cross-section of churches is supporting Solidarity Sunday to be held on November 2 (Our Adventist friends will join on Saturday November 1).



I hope your local church can join in by turning over a small portion of the service to prayer and awareness.



T-Shirts with the Arabic N will be provided along with a short video. We hope you can organise your local media to take a photo and film your congregation wearing the T-Shirts so the wider community becomes more aware.



Click here to register for your church to participate on the day and to receive an Awareness Action Pack, to be provided well ahead of the day.



The Awareness Action Pack is an important resource to help you and your church maximise the reach of Solidarity Sunday through your local newspaper and social media.



Solidarity Sunday will add to many awareness-raising initiatives that have already taken place in recent months. I know many churches have been diligent in prayer and in providing aid.



November 2 is also the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, which many Australian churches mark.



There is something powerful about unity and we hope Solidarity Sunday might capture the imagination of the nation.



Many of my friends on Facebook and Twitter have already changed their profile images to the now iconic Arabic N.



Sadly it has been the revelations of Islamic State brutality in recent months that has brought the suffering to light.



Christians have all but been driven out of northern Iraq and large parts of Syria. They had been there for 2000 years.



Hundreds of thousands are refugees and many have been killed for their faith.



As IS swept into northern Iraq, Christian property was identified with the Arabic N spray-painted on walls earmarking it for confiscation.



This evokes chilling echoes of the Star of David being used to mark Jews in the holocaust.



Pay a religious tax, convert or die were the choices, forcing most to flee.



The reality is that persecution of Christians and other religious minorities (including Muslim minorities) has been on the rise for some time, mainly in Islamic countries where extremism has been allowed to flourish.



Groups like Open Doors, Barnabas Fund, Voice of the Martyrs, Christian Faith and Freedom and many others have been alerting us for some time.

Orthodox, Catholic and Chaldean churches in Australia with roots in the Middle East have also been sounding the alarm.



As the Syrian civil war escalated last year, ACL was involved in representing the concern of persecuted Christians at high levels within the Australian Parliament on both sides of the political fence. Other Christian groups have also been active there.



While much has been done to raise awareness, a group of church leaders and para-church groups are supporting Solidarity Sunday as a national initiative to shine a greater light on persecution of Christians and other religious minorities, including Muslims.



Solidarity Sunday is endorsed and supported by the Anglican Diocese of Sydney, Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of Australia, New Zealand & the Philippines, Australian Christian Churches, Baptist Union of Australia, Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney, C3 Churches, Coptic Orthodox Diocese of Sydney & Affiliated Regions, Coptic Orthodox Diocese of Melbourne and Affiliated Regions, International Network of Churches, Life Ministry Centre, Presbyterian Church of Australia, Salvation Army (Eastern Territory), Seventh Day Adventist Church, Syrian Orthodox Church, Open Doors Australia, Barnabas Fund, Christian Faith and Freedom, Voice of the Martyrs, and Australian Christian Lobby.



Please consider asking your local church to be a part of this.