Canadian Pastor, James Coates, Reveals Experience in Jail

Canadian pastor, James Coates, was arrested in mid-February for holding physical services which violated the laws on the capacity limit for in-person services. However, after spending five weeks in prison, Coates regained his freedom to the excitement of many persons.

Coates is a pastor at GraceLife Church in Edmonton, Alberta. He recounted his moments in prison during an interview with Rebel News’ Sheila Gunn Reid. He started with sharing the affection his co-prisoners had for him when he regained his freedom. As he turned, lifted his hand to wave at them, the doors of the pod began to shake as the men in their cells hit their doors in solidarity and a sign of love. 

Coates recalled that he was with the jail chaplain when this event occurred. The cleric admitted that those moments were unforgettable and they were precious to him. The jail chaplain emailed Coates since then and informed him that those moments would never be forgotten. This is a reflection of how they thought of the cleric and how he was treated.

The pastor was asked if he ever had the chance to profess the gospel to other prisoners. He said that regularly, some inmates came to him to discuss their life’s challenges. In turn, he talked to them about the good news. This happened often as most of their discussions end up with him preaching the gospel.


He recalled when one of the inmates in the next cell asked him to spearhead a Bible study. When Coates started the session, four other men joined them when they started reading from the New Testament. Generally, Coates had many avenues to share the gospel.

Following the decision of the government to drop its criminal charges against the preacher, he was released last Monday. However, for breaching health orders, he is still facing financial charges. The church, GraceLife, also faces charges for disobeying COVID-19 rules which mandates the church to operate at 15% capacity of the church auditorium. 

Consequently, about $45,000 has been raised from the GoFundMe campaign that was set up for Coates. According to John Klassen, the individual that organized the fundraiser, Coates is a rare and refreshing voice of courage in these unprecedented times. 

He added that the preacher stood on the ‘’Word of God faithfully, courageously, and uncompromisingly as a man of God when, all around him, men falter and fail. Pastor James is facing what not too long ago would have been unheard of.”

Coates also made use of the opportunity to preach to the inmates in confirmation of the letter he sent to GraceLife in mid-March. In the letter, he wrote, “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.”

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