Since February, Erin Coates’ world has been shaken as her husband was taken from her by Canadian authorities and locked up simply for preaching the Gospel.
Even though she pleaded for his release, a ruthless judge refused to let him go – until now.
Once you hear the details of all that Pastor James Coates from GraceLife Church endured, you’re bound to be horrified.
To start, it’s unconscionable to think a pastor could be arrested simply for refusing to limit the number of people who enter his church due to arbitrary restrictions.
Yet during the pandemic, the government has used COVID-19 as a chance to attack churches all around the world – attempting to close their doors for good.
Pastor Coates was asked by the government to limit his church capacity on Sundays, but he refused.
And he wasn’t seeking to be defiant – He simply wanted to obey God and preach His Word.
As Coates’ lawyer 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,” reported The Christian Post.
Pastor Coates practices what he preaches and was willing to be imprisoned for his faith, refusing to stop preaching the Gospel.
Of course, his story sent shockwaves around the world with many calling for his immediate release.
Timothy Schouten organized a rally to pray for the Pastor and his family and shared his deep concerns at the dangerous precedent that has now been set.
Prince George Citizen reported:
“Not many churches have taken the approach as GraceLife Church to the current restrictions. We are concerned about what his imprisonment means for the freedom of the church, and of all Canadians. We believe that the current restrictions on worship are a clear and significant breach of our Charter rights. The fact a Canadian pastor is in jail for preaching in what used to be a normal worship service concerns us greatly.”
Erin Coates shares when her husband was first locked up, he was only allowed two 15-minute blocks outside of his cell for the first two weeks because he was being “quarantined.”
He was often in physical pain – not to mention the emotional load of knowing his wife was left to raise their kids while he remained in prison.
Erin recalled the conditions.
“Now, he gets about three hours out, in one-hour chunks,” Erin said. “He is able to be with the inmates on his unit during this time. I still can’t visit him because of COVID restrictions.”
But by God’s grace, Pastor Coates has now been released!
The Crown has agreed to drop all criminal charges, however, a public health violation still looms over his head, and his trial is expected in early May.
Despite the challenging times and uncertainty, Erin’s faith in the Lord pulled her through.
When asked how others could help – Erin’s message was simple: “Open your churches”.
Instead of cowering in fear or discouraging other pastors from preaching the Gospel, Erin wants them to remain strong in the Lord and keep welcoming people through their church doors to worship our Lord and Savior.
Let’s continue to pray for Erin and James Coates and their family – that God will keep them strong during this trial and use this situation to glorify His name.
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