On March 14, 2021, Pastor Jacob Spenst of Gracelife Church in Edmonton, Alberta, read a letter from Pastor James Coates, their incarcerated pastor who remains locked up in a maximum-security detention center for being unwilling to allow the government to dictate how the worship of the One True Living God is to be conducted.
To the Church in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ which is at Gracelife:
Grace to you and peace in the beloved. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has created us worthy to be greatly used in this time of tribulation.
Out of the superabundance of his grace, he has set us apart for this purpose. We have not only been gifted grace to deliver in Christ, but also to suffer for the sake of his headship over the church, a headship which is inseparable from the gospel.
He has been preparing us for this in order to display his glory to the whole earth. We must count ourselves privileged to be used for this end. As with the apostle Paul, my imprisonment has resulted in many of the brethren having greater courage to stand for righteousness. While it is true that many still remain seated, I believe that in due time they will come to see things differently. Please continue to pray to this end.
I know that my imprisonment has increased your love and unity together. This a clear mark of the spirit’s work among you. He is filling you with the fullness of Christ and you’re bearing fruit to the glory of the Father.
Nevertheless, I expect you to excel still more- that your love would continue to increase to his delight and praise. Clothe yourselves with compassion and humility toward each other. Forgive one another if there be any offense. Do so knowing the forgiveness you have received in Christ.
Thank you for the way you have cared for my family in my absence. I truly cannot thank you enough for that. Thank you for the many letters of encouragement you have sent, they are critical to my joy and perseverance. Some have moved me to tears. Pray for my release but also that I would be given the opportunity and boldness to proclaim the blessed gospel, making it clear to the hearers.
Pastor Jacob, Paul, and the elders in development: shepherd the flock of God among you.
Bible studies shepherds: shepherd your studies as unto the Lord. In addition, assist the elders by being diligent to engage newcomers.
Pastor Jacob: preach the word with great patience and instruction, reprove, rebuke, exhort with all authority. Let no one disregard you.
I James, write this in my own hand.
I love you and miss you dearly.
And now may the God of all grace minister to every need, that you would be continually sanctified unto the fullness of the stature of Christ. To him be the glory, forever and ever.
Transcript provided by Protestia. There was also a parenthesis to not forget the live streamers. ‘Pastor Jake’ has been changed to ‘Pastor Jacob’ for clarity.