Read time: 3 minutes 20 seconds
The Bible says Christians will endure an increase in persecution during the End Times.
Jesus' own words say that the world will hate Christians, because the world hates the truth and Jesus is the truth.
Pastor Tim Stephens of Fairview Baptist Church in Alberta, Canada, experienced firsthand what it was like to be an enemy of the state.
Why? Because he refused to close his church and held prayer meetings during the COVID lockdowns.
Thankfully for Stephens, no matter how much a government, ruler or authority in the world goes against God's Word or design, God will always have the final say.
After spending a total of 21 days in a jail cell and receiving six tickets from the province he resides in for the "breach of public health orders," Stephens received the vindication he had been praying for.
The Provincial court of Alberta dropped the remaining tickets that were still held against him, fully acquitting him of any alleged crime.
"This is vindication, not only for me, but vindication that the government grossly abused their power," Stephens tweeted. "In all of this, I rejoice since the gospel of Jesus Christ went forth in power, and Christ built his church. All glory to God!"
Stephen's story is the nightmare many Christians fear but few have realized. He was arrested several times over the course of the lockdowns in Canada.
After the authorities locked down his church building, he and his congregants would hold meetings in secret to pray and worship the Lord. While this story sounds like something out of communist China or North Korea, the reality is that it happened time and again in countries like Canada and Australia.
In their search for these secret meetings, the police of Alberta sent out a task force to find and arrest Stephens.
"A police helicopter was deployed to search for and detect this gathering, and to collect evidence against Pastor Stephens of non-compliance with public health restrictions," read a press release issued by Stephens' defense team from the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms.
Stephens called out the hypocrisy and anti-Christian discrimination at the time, pointing out that the premier of Alberta, Jason Kenney, and his cabinet were caught at a dinner in Edmonton breaking the same COVID lockdown rules Stephens was being hunted down for.
"It's incredible, it's incredible," he said. "They can have their gathering in the Sky Palace, and yet a pastor who gathers for church outside is being arrested. Because the rules certainly don't apply to everyone equally, and they're not enforced to everyone equally. Like, why is it pastors that keep getting arrested from this?"
But God is just, and Stephens is enjoying a happy turnaround in the events after his imprisonment.
Jason Kenney, the premier behind the anti-Christian discrimination throughout Alberta, was forced to resign amidst the backlash. As Stephens put it, "putting pastors in jail turned out to be a terrible move."
With a new premier in place over Alberta, Danielle Smith, corrections are underway where rights were infringed and freedoms were stripped away.
"It was a political decision to throw out the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to put those fines in place in the first place, and I think it can be a political decision to make amends and apologize for it and eliminate them," Smith said.
"Our provincial government has certainly changed course," Stephens stated. "Our federal government and other provincial governments still seem to have the appetite for mandates. Power can be hard to give up so it takes people of courage and conviction to do what is right in the face of coercion. That's what we saw in Alberta. It became clear the restrictions were more based on political science than medical science. It is my hope that the church in Canada would be strengthened, and do the right thing before God."
Bring Charisma magazine home with a subscription today!
James Lasher is a Copy Editor for Charisma Media.
To contact us or to submit an article, click here.
Get Charisma's best content delivered right to your inbox! Never miss a big news story again. Click here to subscribe to the Charisma News newsletter.