The revelations of Islamic State brutality in recent months has brought the suffering to light. Christians have all but been driven out of northern Iraq and parts of Syria, where they had been 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.
Pay a religious tax, convert, or die were the choices, forcing most to flee.
“The outpouring of prayer, concern and practical help for suffering Christians in Iraq and Syria has been amazing,” said Lyle Shelton, who was once a local Toowoomba Councillor but is now the Managing Director of the ACL.
“But there is an opportunity to do more on a national scale.”
This opportunity is an initiative from the ACL called Solidarity Sunday.
“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,” said Lyle. “I hope local churches 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 for Churches who register in the hope that they can organise local media to take a photo and film the congregation wearing the T-Shirts, so the wider community becomes more aware.
Other resources including a video and action pack will be made available.
“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,” Lyle said.
“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.
“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,” said Lyle.
“There is something powerful about unity and we hope this day might capture the imagination of the nation.”
To register your church, visit www.acl.org.au