The Canadian pastor who was recently jailed when a police helicopter found where his outdoor congregation was gathering noted how his imprisonment allowed him to minister to his fellow inmates.
Pastor Tim Stephens of Calgary, Alberta, also addressed the implications of the ongoing church arsons in Canada, during an exclusive interview (video below) with conservative Canadian outlet Rebel News.
Stephens made international headlines in June after a police helicopter found his outdoor church service and Calgary Police took him to a maximum security prison while his young children sobbed.
Stephens said when his fellow inmates at the Calgary Remand Centre realized why he had been arrested, they considered it unjust.
“When they understood why I was there, they didn’t think it was right for me to be there,” said Stephens. “They would call me ‘pastor,’ they would open up about their own problems and want counsel, want advice. Even inmates who were hardened atheists came to appreciate where I was coming from and we developed a good friendship among those other inmates there in jail.”
Stephens’ experience in prison mirrored that of Pastor James Coates from Edmonton, who was also jailed for holding church services. As The Daily Wire highlighted, Coates recounted in March how prisoners sought him out for spiritual help when they learned who he was.
“Once I got into [general population], I would have guys often come to my door and want to speak with me and would share difficulties in their life with me, and I would share the gospel with them,” Coates said. “We’d be talking through a door to each other, but I would share the gospel with them. That happened often, where guys would just come to me.”
Remembering the time when he was released, Coates said, “Just to kind of show the affection that we had for each other, in the moment I was leaving, I turned around … and I lifted up my hand to wave, and the doors of the pod began to shake as the men in their cells just banged on their doors as a sign of support, love, [and] affection.”
Pivoting to the dozens of churches that have been torched in recent weeks from Nova Scotia to Vancouver, Stephens said there is “no question” that prevailing cultural attitudes are turning against Christians, especially because of their unwillingness to embrace the Left’s views of marriage, sexuality, and gender.
“Just look at how the Christian view of marriage and sexuality is seen,” he said. “It’s seen as backwards, as disgusting, as intolerable to say that marriage is between one man and one woman, and that things like homosexuality and transgenderism are against God’s creational norms. That’s seen as very offensive.”
Given the alleged correlation between the church burnings and lingering resentment about Canada’s Indian residential school program for indigenous children, Stephens acknowledged the tragedy of what took place at some of those schools.
Often administered by churches, Canada’s Indian residential school program was a government-funded program in the late 19th and 20th centuries that forced indigenous children into boarding schools to assimilate them to Canadian culture. Canadian churches and politicians have since apologized for the program, during which many children died from disease and suffered abuse.
Stephens claimed, however, that the program was ultimately a result of the Canadian government overstepping its legitimate authority, which he said they continue to do in other ways.
“It’s a tragedy what’s happened,” he said of the schools. “But the blame cannot be placed solely on the Christian church. What has happened then is actually what’s happening now, when the government is taking responsibility in areas that are not theirs to exercise responsibility.”
Placing primary blame for the government’s residential school program on churches, Stephens said, is similar to when Nero started the Great Fire of Rome and blamed it on Christians in the first century.