By Elizabeth Prata
Edmonton pastor James Coates was released from jail yesterday. In case you have not heard of this situation, Coates pastors a church in Edmonton Canada. Canada has been making restrictive COVID-19 requirements, and for churches, it meant that severe attendance caps had been enacted, masks required, and much more. Coates decided to continue preaching in his church with no mask requirement and no attendance caps, in violation of said health regulations. He chose not to restrict his gathering, by default, locking out some saints while allowing others in.
He was jailed for his action.
The imprisonment of the pastor was a shock and a surprise to many, since Canada has a charter that protects religious liberty. Others were surprised the restrictions were so severe, because churches have not been spreaders in the province. Others, because we are familiar with the jailing of pastors in the 10/40 window of hostile nations but haven’t seen such activity in First World countries.
In any case, James Coates was carted off to jail on February 16, leaving behind his wife, Erin, and his young children.
His wife Erin shared recently in an interview, “I do want to make it clear, he’s not in jail because he didn’t obey the restrictions. He’s in jail because he obeyed the Lord Jesus Christ and His headship over the church and did not restrict the gathering to anybody.”
Suddenly left alone, Erin Coates was suddenly very much not alone, as the eyes of the world turned to her, her husband, and her church. A tsunami of attention, detraction, support, and publicity came her way. She spoke outside the jail at prayer rallies, sharing the gospel through a microphone-
She accepted requests for interviews on numerous podcasts and television broadcast outlets, including the hugely popular and widely broadcast Tucker Carlson.
She was quoted in newspapers and other print media, was the subject of comments and discussion.
During the time Erin was left husbandless in the home, she protected and nurtured her children, prayed for her husband and those persecuting him, attended church, carried on with her ministries, led rallies, and underwent interviews. All the while she was submitted to Christ and pointing to Him, using scripture, sharing verses, and proclaiming his excellencies. This is not the normal woman’s role, but for a time such as this, Erin was called to do it.
Being in the word of God makes us strong. Pursuing holiness and striving against sin makes us strong. Clinging to the Jesus revealed in scripture makes us strong.
Do you think the women we read about who claim special and direct revelation would be as strong as Erin Coates if adverse circumstances flooded their lives? Would comport themselves as well? Point to Christ as relentlessly? Be an Esther?
Where does a woman get such strength in the moments of adversity? From the Jesus of the Bible, from the indwelling Holy Spirit, from God above.
The ‘God told me’ women who run around like the madcaps and idiots Spurgeon describes, receive revelation that oddly refers to their own circumstances: who to marry, her career, her dreams, her heart, or playdates at the zoo with God as Beth Moore alleges one of her revelations entailed, not God himself, His plan, or His will. Joanna Gaines claims Jesus told her “clearly” a huge career was promised and affirmed several times. Author of Jesus Calling, Sarah Young’s direct revelations from the Holy One of Israel sound like weak-kneed boyfriend whispers. Jennie Allen founded a global organization based on a “voice from the sky” with a motto of “IF God is real, then what?“
These women are paper tigers. A paper tiger is “one that is outwardly powerful but inwardly weak or ineffectual.” Women who rely on a whispered word rather than THE word are not prepared for persecution. The Word strengthens and transforms, it readies us for times to come. Jesus promised in John 16:33 we will have trouble, “These things I have spoken to you so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” From whence do we obtain that courage? Not from whispers in the night saying IF God is real, then what? Not from garden walking revelations that promise large platforms and fame. Not from conversations at the zoo.
Women who rely on direct whispers or visions or impressions are in fact softening themselves. They aren’t becoming battle hardened as the Bible says we must (Ephesians 6:13-17; 2 Thessalonians 2:15; 1 Corinthians 16:13).
Erin Coates is a strong warrior for the faith, stepping up when it became necessary, honoring the name of Jesus well, and proclaiming the one true God. Women who rely on direct revelation, whispers, impressions, visions, and the like, are not only paper tigers, they’re wet paper tigers, who’ll turn to a soggy pile of mush when the world comes calling with its trouble. This is because they’re standing on sand.
Ladies, stand on the Rock. Increasing pressure against Christians means your husband, if he is a leader, teacher, pastor, or simply a bold layman, may one day find himself in the same circumstance as James Coates. Are you ready?