The Second Baptist Church of Houston is one of America’s most significant and influential churches, with over 70,000 members. She has been led by one of the great pastors and leaders of our generation, Dr. Ed Young, since 1978. Second Baptist is, by any measure, one of the great churches of this century. That’s why it has caught the attention of many – by flying the Russian flag at her main campus.
When New York writer Jia Tolentino posted a picture on Twitter – of the Russian flag beside an Israeli flag – at Second’s Woodway campus, confusion ensued.
Church spokesman Daniel Card explained. “We’ve been flying the flags for years,” he told the Houston Chronicle.
Card explained to the newspaper that the church flies flags representing nations where the church has sent missionaries since her inception in 1927.
Human rights activists voiced alarm last year when the Russian government enacted a law that banned evangelism outside of churches, missionary activities in non-religious settings, and even required Christians to obtain authorization to share their faith with others.
It is beyond dispute that Christians have faced the brunt of the enforcement of Russia’s crackdown on evangelism and missionary activity.
It is understandable that conservative Christians would be startled by the church’s decision to fly the Russian flag. But such criticism is short-sighted. Second Baptist Church understands what we all need to embrace as believers. Russia, like every other country on earth, is our mission field. By flying the Russian flag, the church is not endorsing anything about the country’s politics or human rights positions. What the church is endorsing is a commitment to take the Gospel to the country that has made Christianity illegal within its boundaries.
Thank you, Second Baptist Church, for reminding us of our higher calling. Keep flying the Russian flag – along with flags from dozens of other countries that need Christ. And when we see that flag, may we pause, not to criticize the church, but to pray for the 144 million people in Russia the church seeks to reach for Christ.