Pastor James Coates of Grace Life Church missed preaching another Sunday church service because authorities have had him locked away behind bars.
And no, he didn’t lie, cheat, or steal. He didn’t hurt anyone or damage property. He isn’t entangled in addiction or a sex scandal.
So what’s the massive crime that has this pastor locked up?
He made the decision to obey Jesus first and foremost above all else, even if it meant going against the Canadian government’s demands.
Back when COVID-19 first started, nobody knew how serious it was and everyone was eager to submit to local authorities for the sake of safety.
So when Canada first advised churches to close their doors, Pastor Coates agreed and moved his worship services to online.
But then people realized the government was using the guise of “safety” to restrict religious freedoms and they began to fight back.
When restrictions were lifted, Pastor Coates began holding church services again – but chose not to comply with the government’s mandate to “limit capacity.”
Week after week, government authorities disrupted his church services, warning the pastor that he needed to limit his congregation and enforce COVID-19 mandates.
But Pastor Coates was determined to serve the Lord and kept on preaching. Eventually he was told to close his doors for not “complying” with previous “health orders.”
However, Pastor Coates refused to close his doors, and that’s when he was threatened with jail time.
But instead of letting the fear of prison deter him from preaching the Gospel, he faithfully preached one final Sunday and then turned himself over to authorities.
Pastor Coates and his legal team were clear – the goal was not to “defy” the government, but to honor and serve Christ above all else.
The Christian Post reported:
“Coates’ attorney James Kitchen, who works with the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, said: “His first obedience is to his Lord, is to his God. And normally, obeying Jesus and obeying the government go right in hand. The government’s forcing him into a position where he has to choose between disobeying God and obeying government, or obeying God and disobeying government.”
All around the world, government authorities are using COVID-19 as a way to restrict the freedom of Christians to gather and worship.
Large businesses and shopping malls have remained open, yet churches have been forced to close or seriously limit their capacity.
As a result, liberals like Governor Cuomo in New York and Governor Newsom of California have found themselves in the middle of major legal battles for harassing local churches in their state.
But during a pandemic, now more than ever, people need to hear the hope of Jesus Christ and be reminded of His eternal promises.
The fact the government would go so far as to arrest a peaceful pastor who simply wanted to make sure his congregation was spiritually fed with the Word of God shows the slippery slope our world is heading down.
Please continue to pray for Pastor Coates and his entire congregation, pray that they will remain strong and faithful to the Lord even during these trying circumstances.
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