Mobile Church Added to Russian Military
Russia has added a new unit to its military: a parachuting, mobile church – complete with priest, deacon, and an iconostasis. The purpose of this flying cathedral is to satisfy the “spiritual demands of military personnel and to improve morale and discipline in military units.” The inflatable-tent-turned-cathedral can be dropped where needed to provide worship, prayer, and sacraments to soldiers engaged in war or those stationed away from an accessible parish. The following demonstration video is a must-see:
As silly as this may sound to some, I personally think it is a great concept. Now, this is not an approval of the Russian government as a whole, nor am I condoning all practices of the Russian Orthodox Church. I’m not even saying that civil governments should be involved in such programs. But I think it shows two things. First, it shows a great contrast between Christianity in Russia and Christianity in the United States. While the U.S. military burns Bibles and labels Christianity an extremist group, Russia is making Christian worship a part of its foreign policy. While the U.S. supports Christian-killing rebels in Syria, Russia seeks to protect Syrian Christians by not supporting the overthrow of Bashar al-Assad. And while the U.S. gets closer to nationalizing gay marriage each day, Russia outlaws homosexual propaganda.
Nearly eighty percent of Russia’s population professes to be Orthodox, including President Putin himself. A national holiday celebrates Christianity as Russia’s main faith and one of Putin’s campaign promises was to defend persecuted Christians worldwide. Has he held true to that promise? Well, not that I know of. But that’s not the point. I’m sure Russia has many problems and much immorality within its borders. I’m sure many of the professing Christians are not active in their faith. But it shows that a Christian revival has occurred in a culture that was once ruled by atheistic-communism. The U.S. is going in the opposite direction.
Secondly, I think the tactic of the flying cathedral is a great way to envision how churches and missionaries may be able to spread the gospel in the future. Whenever a civil war or great injustice occurs in a foreign land, the war-drums start pounding and the spokesmen for military intervention demand that the U.S. get involved. We’re told that it’s the government’s responsibility to bring peace to the situation. Unfortunately, more violence – especially from a third party – almost never achieves that goal. True peace comes by submitting to King Jesus, not by military strength. I long for the day when missionary agencies can provide their own transportation and security into dangerous areas to comfort the oppressed, equip the saints, and save the lost. Sure, the practicality of a parachuting church may not be ideal, but perhaps it is a foretaste of what is to come.