Grounded Podcast

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Persevering Under Pressure

In a world growing more resistant to the Christian faith, how will you respond when you face pressure to compromise? We believe God is using these challenges to reach the world with the good news of Jesus Christ. Erin Coates is with us to share the realities she is walking through as her husband, Pastor James Coates, faces jail time in Canada. Sammy Tippit joins this episode with encouragement for enduring hard times and standing strong in our faith.

Connect with Sammy:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sammytippitministries

Website: https://sammytippit.org/

Episode Notes:

The World Watch List

“Meet the World’s Fastest-Growing Evangelical Movement” article

“God Is at Work in Iran” podcasts

Sammy Tippit Ministries

“Thriving in a Hostile Culture” transcript

“Letter from a Christian Citizen of Chengdu to the Honorable Mayor”

If you would like to support Grounded and the ministry of Revive Our Hearts, you can donate here.

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Dannah Gresh: Picture your pastor, your favorite Bible teacher sitting in a jail cell, separated from friends and family. Now, imagine it's your husband. Is your heart there? Can you feel the weight of what that might be like?

Erin Davis: Now imagine using your Facebook to share the good news of the Gospel. And then imagine logging in one day only to realize your account has been disabled without your knowledge or your permission. For just a moment, feel the frustration and the discouragement of that. 

Dannah: Friends, welcome back to Grounded it's a podcast and videocast produced by Revive Our Hearts. Our mission is to give you hope and perspective. 

Now, we're usually live every Monday morning, but last week, we had a special opportunity to record this episode. 

Erin Davis: We did, and we are joined this morning by Erin Coates. You might have heard that name around your social media feed this week. Erin is the wife of Canadian pastor James Coates, who has been in prison for a month. He’s charged with violating Alberta's Public Health Act for opening his church without restrictions.

Dannah: You know, Erin, that brings to mind the other ways Christians are just feeling pressure. Is our freedom of speech really being banned on social media? It's a question I've been asking myself. Sammy Tippit is also with us this morning. He's a beloved Grounded guest, and he has a story to tell.

Erin Davis: Yes, I love it. When Sammy is here, both of these guests are going to provide a big dose of perspective, which is what Grounded is here to do, on some of the realities of being a follower of Jesus in 2021. That is something that all of us need to be thinking through. We need to wrestle with it in different ways.

Dannah: Of course, we recognize there's a lot of strong opinion surrounding the topic of how churches and Christian organizations are responding to the pandemic, specifically to the restrictions. And we understand, it's complicated. But here's what I think we can all agree on. There is a growing trend that people with biblical values are facing resistance. Resistance from companies on social media, and sometimes even from their government. Erin, have you been experiencing this at all in your little pocket of the world?

Erin Davis: You know, I haven't. I live in a very rural town in the Midwest. I grew up in this very rural town in the Midwest, and nothing has changed in the about forty years that I've lived here. And so, in my immediate life, I'm not feeling it. But I am watching with some anticipation and eagerness to equip the young women in my world to be able to stand for Jesus, where they're facing resistance.

Dannah: I have to confess, until last week, I didn't really believe the friends that were saying, “I got my post taken off of Facebook.” Or believe my friends that were using code words for things like: gospel, Jesus. I didn't get it. I was like, “Are you being a little hypersensitive?: 

But last week something happened that changed my mind about what's going on. And it was this: My ministry, True Girl, we often buy wholesale things in bulk so that we can provide tools to moms and daughters to grow closer to Christ and one another. Sometimes they're overtly Christian things. Sometimes they're just tools that are helpful. 

Well, last week, we tried to make a really big purchase. The vendor was so excited about this large sale. They said, “Since you don't have a brick-and-mortar store, we need to check out your website just make sure it's legit for us to make a wholesale sale to you.” Well, they wrote back to us and said, “We’re sorry. We can't be associated with a website that espouses those values.”

Erin Davis: Wow. 

Dannah: Whoa.

Erin Davis: Talk about coming home. Yeah, that's some pressure. 

Dannah: Yeah. Suddenly, I was beginning to understand a little bit about what's going on.

Erin Davis: That's interesting. Well, how can we, as followers of Jesus, persevere when we face . . . . Scripture tells us that all of us will face some sort of pressure. But when we face pressure to compromise for trying to live out our Christian faith, according to our conscience?

Dannah: As always, we're gonna hit you with a firehose of hope. God is using these very challenging circumstances that our brothers and sisters are facing all over the world. He's using them to change hearts and to spread the gospel. I gotta say, I don't think you're gonna want to miss a nanosecond of this episode.

Erin Davis: I have been so eager about this episode, praying about this episode. I know we say this every week, but this really is an important episode of Grounded to share. It's essential that we are aware of what our Christian brothers and sisters in Christ are really facing. 

And why is it essential that we know? So that we can unite in prayer for those brothers and sisters; that they would have wisdom; that they would have grace; that they will be able to persevere as they face pressures to compromise for their faith.

We’ve got to know what's going on so that we can pray for the gospel of Jesus to prevail in the midst of a culture that may be resistant to hear it. And listen, we know the gospel is going to prevail, but we need to unite in prayer for that to happen. 

Dannah: Yep. I've read the last chapter of the book.

Erin Davis: Me too. And man, is it good? That's my favorite chapter.

Dannah: Well, let's get started today with our good news. Portia and Alejandra are here to take us to the Middle East.

Alejandra Slemin: Yes, we are. Well, let me tell you sometimes before we can fully grasp good news, we might need to take a look at the bad news.

Portia Collins: That's right. According to Open Doors USA, Iran is in the top fifty of countries where it is most difficult to follow Jesus.

Alejandra: And according to their watch lists, it ranks in number eight, behind nations like North Korea and Afghanistan.

Portia: The Iranian government opposes conversion of Muslims to Christianity. This is seen often as an attempt by Western countries to undermine the Islamic rule of Iran. This matters, because there are more than eighty-three million people who live in Iran. And eighty-three million people, guess what? They need to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Alejandra: That's true. Portia, they need good news because Jesus is winning hearts. A recent survey show that just 40% of the Iranians actually identify themselves as Muslims. That means that 1.5% of Iranians are followers of Jesus.

Portia: Just think about that— 1.5% feels like such a small number. But guess what? It's a huge gain. Because think about this. Twenty years ago, the number of Christian converts from a Muslim background was between 5,000 and 10,000 Iranians.

Alejandra: That's amazing. Are we ready for good news, Portia? Can you say good news?

Portia: Good news—I'm always ready for good news, girl.

Alejandra: I need some today. Because today, that number has grown between 800,000 and one million people. Iran is currently a hotspot for the world's fastest growing evangelical movement

Portia: Woah! Amen, amen. Think about those one million followers of Jesus, our brothers and sisters in Christ, who are inspired to follow Christ and count the risk of following Him as a true and lasting gain. 

This gives us a good question. Can some of what is happening in the world today, in our world as Christians who are being marginalized, can this be good for the strengthening of our faith and spreading the gospel?

Alejandra: I just feel like grabbing a white flag and just waving it and saying this is really good news. Because Iran is just one spot on the map that shows us that the good news of the gospel cannot be stopped. And that is really good news!

Portia: Yes, absolutely. Well, if you want to learn more about what God is doing in the Persian world and how Revive Our Hearts is currently ministering to Persian women, follow the links that we are about to drop in the chat. You know, God's charge is truly global. 

We want to shift our focus from what is happening in Iran to what is happening in Canada. Erin?

Erin Davis: Yes, we want to welcome Erin Coates to Grounded this morning. Several months ago, Erin probably could not have imagined getting interview requests. She is a pastor's wife. She is a homeschool mom. But her life changed dramatically on Valentine's Day, Sunday, February 14, when the police and the Alberta Health Services visited (maybe that's a kind way of saying) her church, Grace Life Church, where her husband pastors. I want to hear her story and want you to hear her story. So welcome to Grounded Erin.

Erin Coates: Thank you so much for having me, ladies.

Erin Davis: Well, Erin, I love your name. I’m an Erin myself. I want to hear from you what happened on February 14, and on the days that immediately followed.

Erin Coates: Well, leading up to February 14, since about the beginning of December, we had a constant RCMP presence, which is our our police and our health services that we're constantly visiting our gathering, taking pictures, taking notes, and just really reporting on what we were doing as a church.

Erin Davis: Like on Sunday mornings, there was police force in your church body taking pictures and taking notes. That's what you're describing?

Erin Coates: Yes. 

Erin Davis: Wow.

Erin Coates: Our health services has essentially been given autonomy in Alberta, and each individual province to be able to make laws that fundamentally change the lives of Canadians, which is very dangerous, because they're not elected officials. They're not politicians. They don't know how to run a country. 

And so, they've been given authority to tell people they cannot work. They tell people they cannot have relationships that are outside of their own homes. They're telling people that you can only meet at a certain percentage of your church. In British Columbia, they've totally shut down the churches. 

So each province is a little bit different. But the restrictions are very heavy upon the church. We constantly had that presence in our church leading up to February 7, which was the first time my husband was arrested. He was just looking at the situation and really evaluating what's my responsibility before God for the sheep that have been entrusted to the leadership at Grace Life Church? And so, all the decisions that were made for our church were made by a plurality of elders. But because my husband is the regular teaching pastor, he's the one who's really taken the hit. 

That was the first time they had arrested him. It was a catch and release. They arrested him, released him, but imposed an undertaking on him. If you break an undertaking, it is a criminal offense. He actually did not sign that undertaking. But in Alberta, the undertaking is still valid whether you sign it or not.

Erin Davis: An undertaking means like parameters that you have to adhere to in order to be released. Is that correct? 

Erin Coates: Yes. So he would have to abide by all of the restrictions, which really just restricted him from pastoring and allowing Grace Life Church to thrive as a church. And so, he didn't sign it. The following Sunday he preached a sermon on informing the government their God-given position. He went from Genesis and our unalienable rights that God has given us as people made in His image. 

On the fifteenth, they called him and said, “We need you to come down to the RCMP.” There was some indication that they weren't going to detain him, that he would be able to drive his own car, and that would be okay. We have one car. He's asking, “Should my wife be driving me?” 

And they said, “No.” 

That's when they opted to arrest him and detain him. 

So he was in the RCMP overnight. Then he faced trial on Wednesday, where they treated him like a criminal. They wouldn't allow our church to know where he was when his trial was happening. One of our elders found him being escorted out of the courts building. He was shackled—which they only reserve for the worst of criminals. That really affected him.

I was able to talk to him right after that, and just say, “You know what, the Lord has faced so much worse for us. This is what He's leading us to do right now. But we have to do it.” 

So they detained him, sent him to our prison, our local prison, which has a maximum medium security now. They put a condition on him that said, “You can be released if you just abide to these conditions.” 

And he just said, “Out of my obedience for Christ, my conscience is bound to what I believe God has called me to through understanding of God's Word and His care for Grace Life Church. I can't sign that.” So that's why he stayed in there these last four weeks.

Alejandra: Wow. Well, Erin, we have so much in common. I can totally empathize. I mean, I am in British Columbia, you are in Alberta. We are in the same country and facing very similar restrictions and difficulties. 

My husband is a church planter; your husband is a pastor. It's so great to hear you talk about him and everything that he has gone through this whole time. I think we've been following that too. But I want to know, how are you feeling in those weeks in those days, prior maybe to him being arrested? And as he has stayed in prison for this time.

Erin Coates: Right? Well, on January 29, health services took us to court where they indicated that if we kept meeting as a church, they were going to impose greater consequences for that.

I remember my husband sitting at a table. We were eating, and he says, “The lawyer says I might face jail time.” I sat there, and then he went upstairs to go finish his sermon. I went into the bathroom and I cried. I handed my marriage over to the Lord and said, “If you're asking me for my marriage, my hand is open.” This is the hardest thing I think I'll probably have to do—hand my husband over. 

I've been taught my whole Christian life that we hold everything with an open hand. The Lord gives and He takes away as He pleases, and He's going to do that for my good and His glory. So my heart was set just to really trust in Christ. No one loves me more than He does. He's not going to ask me to walk through something that's not going to make me more like Him. And I want to know him more. So that was a moment where I wrestled with the Lord, to give my marriage to Him.

Alejandra: I'm just teary eyed because I think every woman has faced some kind of difficult situation like that. Just the fact that, like you're saying, on that day we take a stand for the gospel for Christ. I had to get myself together and put my emotions together and say, “I am a follower of Jesus.” I want Him to be on or even through this difficult time, even before you went to it.

Erin Coates: Yeah.

Erin Davis: Well Erin, I've been watching closely, and the world's been watching closely. I imagine the light of the spotlight feels pretty hot on your life, because it's not something that you probably expected. But as I've been listening to you, you've been a woman of grace. Every interview I've seen, every post I've seen keeps pointing the story back to Jesus, like you just did. 

I've heard you say that this trial has presented an opportunity to share the gospel, how do you see God using these events as challenging as they are to draw people to Him? In other words, what are the gospel opportunities for you and James, for your church, for your nation, for Christians? What are the gospel opportunities here?

Erin Coates: Well, I'd say I pull that right out of Philippians, where it says that Paul's imprisonment actually made the Philippians more bold to be able to share their faith. And so, the people at Grace Life have conversations that maybe they shied away from in the past, they've been confronted with and are having to share Christ, which is so wonderful. It's giving them a boldness, because I think they recognize that this is so much bigger than just James being imprisoned. This is an opportunity to be bold for the gospel.

There are people's lives at stake. I've received messages from women all over Canada, just saying, “I was sleeping, and this has really woken me up.” There was a sweet young girl that wrote me and said, “This has caused a revival in her and in her friends who are, I think, late teens, early twenties. They're searching the Scriptures, and they want to know what does God's Word say.

We've gotten testimonies of people coming to Christ. So as I'm looking at the situation with my husband in jail, I'm glad this is an opportunity for me to share the gospel. There's nothing more important. So, for me, that was the primary goal. Obviously, I want to get our story out in every interview I've done. I want to bring light on James to try to free him from prison. Our mainstream media will not touch me. They have a narrative that they have formed. I was even refused from one of their studios to do an interview because they didn't feel comfortable with me using their studio. 

Alejandra: But you cannot put a light under a table. That is what you're shining Erin, you're shining the light of Christ. You're bringing Christ where you are. And that is a beacon of hope. We know that it doesn't come from yourself or from your own flesh, but it comes from God's Word. I just want to know, what are the truths that you are standing on, that you are leading your children now to stand on? And how has the Lord been sustaining you with those promises from His Word?

Erin Coates: Well, the first couple days were probably the most dark. I really felt the enemy just pouncing on us in every direction. I want to say that there's nothing grand that I've done in my life. I think that the Lord has just been so kind through the various avenues of the means of grace through the preaching of the Word, gathering His providence in my life, to be able to come to a place where He's taught me a little bit about who He is. 

I'm having to draw from that, from Scripture memory, from my knowledge of His character, everything He's taught me since I've been a believer. There's nothing brand new that I've done. He's taught me for years who He is through His Word, and I've just tried to be faithful to that. 

I'm so shocked that He would save a woman like me, and so I just want to know Him more. And that's really been what has grounded me. I've had to be really watchful over my thoughts. I've had to meditate on His character and His goodness and His sovereignty and all of the wonderful things that are true about Him. And then showing my children that even with the potential release of James is focusing not on the circumstances as we're praying, but focusing on what is Christ's will for us in this. So just really reminding them about who the Lord is.

Erin Davis: Erin, you’re living something that we've all lived if we've walked with the Lord any time. When you can't see the plan of God, you can trust the character of God. I hear you just falling back into it. Scripture tells us that He tucks us in His pin feathers, that's those wings, those feathers way up here. And you're just able to tuck yourself in there because you know His character, which is so inspiring to me.

Well, Grounded is typically recorded live. But this episode we're recording on Thursday, March 18. There are some big shifts in James's case happening probably right now as we speak. Erin, what are you hoping tomorrow brings?

Erin Coates: Well, I'm hoping tomorrow happens first of all. We have appealed for a time before the courts, which could happen today or tomorrow. We're really hoping that it doesn't get pushed to next week. But we need a time before the judge. There's probably about a 99% chance the judge will sign off on the deal that has been made between our lawyers and the crown prosecutors. 

That's what we're really hoping for, that this happens before the weekend. James has spent every Sunday just longing to be with Grace Life. It gets increasingly more difficult for him to be out of the fellowship, out of the gathering. His heart is just to be with God's people again, and to be loved by them and to love them. So we're hoping that happens by tomorrow.

Erin Davis: Oh, we're going to be praying for that. But as of the time of this recording, James is sitting in jail, as are our other Christian brothers and sisters around the world.

I want to read Hebrews 13:3 for my own heart and for the sake of those who are watching and listening. That verse says, “Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.”

We do want to remember James this morning, as if we're sitting in that cell with him. And Erin, we want to remember you because you're in a kind of prison separated from your other half in your marriage. You guys are one, so that separation, I imagine, is so painful. So could you just give us a couple of ways we could pray specifically? Yes, for James's release, but beyond that, what are a couple ways the Grounded community can pray?

Erin Coates: The largest thing is just that the gospel would go forth and the name of Jesus Christ is proclaimed. The spotlight is on our church right now. And our earnest desire is that she would be faithful in this time and that she would be a great representation of of Christ and be faithful to share the gospel. And also just that the Lord would protect us. 

I know some of these interviews. I've actually pulled back on media interviews for elders to take over. I got as much of the word out as I could. So even just putting myself out there on news outlets, it puts us in a position of danger. So pray that the Lord would protect, especially our family, our church, our elders. They are working overtime. The ministry doesn't stop the care of the sheep entrusted to them, doesn't stop, it has to keep going. 

They're doing all of this work on top of caring for Grace Life Church, so please just pray for them, that they would be faithful and persevere. It's a heavy weight for our church to be carrying. But the Lord is faithful. He's called us to this, and we want to be faithful in return to Him. 

Dannah: Well, Erin, you are absolutely precious and lovable. I want to hug you. And before I pray for you, I want to bless you. I'm looking at that, behind you on the wall. It looks to be a map of the world. I'm imagining that those photographs there are probably missionaries. You pray for that right. Is that a good guess? 

Erin Coates: Yes

Dannah: Well, you go ahead and look around at that map. Because I gotta tell you, what's happening all across the world today, is that Grounded girls, Grounded Girlfriends I call them, are putting the Coates family right over the state, right over the province that you live in right over the country of Canada. We're praying for you in mass numbers. We love you. 

Erin Coates: Thank you.

Dannah: Let's pray, sisters. Father, we need wisdom. I confess to you in this moment, I'm not even sure how to pray. But I know that when I don't know how to pray, Your Spirit is groaning with words of truth and power that cannot be matched. So I rely on that in this moment. I thank you, Lord, for the precious testimony, the winsomeness, as Alejandra said, of Erin Coates. 

I pray, Father, for her protection. I pray for the protection of her children of her husband. I pray Father for the testimony of Jesus to be bold and loud and strong and beautiful in their lives. And I pray that nothing, nothing would break that. I pray Father against the enemy's ability to distort this story in any way. I pray for the wisdom of the elders that are making decisions. I pray that they would be governed and controlled by your Spirit. We ask Father that You would be glorified in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen. 

Thank you Erin so much for being with us. We'll be keeping an eye on the news to hear your good news. Hopefully today or tomorrow.

Erin Coates: Thank you so much for having me.

Dannah: Well, friends, have you heard reports that Facebook bans Bible passages or Christian content? Are some of your Christian friends encouraging you to join Parler, the social medium that touts itself as the free speech social network? Well, our next guest leads a ministry that helps Christians grow in their faith and sets the stage for revival. Sammy Tippit Ministries has hundreds of thousands of followers on Facebook. And this past December, that vehicle of sharing the gospel sent him a wakeup call. Every Christian needs to hear this story. Welcome Sammy Tippit.

Sammy Tippit: Thank you so much. It's good to be with you and be able to share.

Dannah: Sammy, you are a Grounded favorite. It's good to have you back. I probably should have said welcome back before we hear what happened about your Facebook page. What we're facing as believers right now, in fact, the story that Erin just shared is probably not strange to you at all. 

In the 1970s you had a thriving ministry on the streets of Chicago, which at the time were drug, alcohol, and gang infested, as I understand it. Your ministry was so fruitful that it caused some problems for area nightclubs. 

Sammy: Yeah, that's right. 

Dannah: You ended up, I think as I understand the story, arrested and put on trial for sharing the gospel. How did you choose to respond then?

Sammy: Well, I was thinking as I listened to Erin, that was fifty years agos. I built a cross. My wife bailed me out of jail, and I built a cross. I went and set it up across from Mayor Daley's office, the mayor of Chicago. Outside there I prayed and fasted for twenty-nine days until my trial came. The day of my trial, my wife who was pregnant went to the hospital to give birth to our first child. I went to trial that day. So it was quite an experience.

One of the things that has happened, and it even leads to what where we're at today, is that it thrust me into a ministry among people who are persecuted. Most of my ministry in life has been among people who have been arrested, people who are thrown in prison. So it gave me some understanding of what they go through. We've had that for the past fifty years. I've ministered to places like Communist countries in Eastern Europe and in Iran and in Muslim countries and war zones in Africa. 

So God used that experience, I think, to prepare me to do what I've done all of my Christian life, basically. I'm thankful for what happened. By the way, we saw a spirit of revival take place in the Chicago area during that time as a result of what happened to me..

Dannah: It makes me think that the boldness that Erin Coates was speaking about just a moment ago that that boldness has carried you through these last fifty years in such a powerful way. It gives me chills to think where will James and Erin be fifty years from now. 

Fast forward with us, Sammy, to December 2020, just a few months ago. What happened on your Facebook page?

Sammy: Well, basically, I was doing some training. I probably have to go back to May of last year, 

Dannah: Okay. 

Sammy: We had a large outreach on Facebook. We reach fourteen-plus million people with a gospel presentation. So what we did leading up to that the end of May of last year, we had twenty-eight days of training Christians how to share their faith to invite their friends on Facebook to watch and do that. 

So we had done that, and it just exploded. It was great. This was across eleven different language pages that we have.

Dannah: Wow.

Sammy: And so, what we decided to do since that was so successful was to repeat it for Christmas. At the end of November, we began training again on how to share Christ during the Christmas season with your friends and family members, because people are interested at time of the season. People are talking about Jesus.

Dannah: Right. 

Sammy: So we said, “Let's do the same training.” We started the training, and about three or four days into the training, everything was basically stopped. They didn't cut off our Facebook pages. But they stopped us from being able to notify anyone of what we were doing. We wrote to Facebook. They would not respond. To this day we've gotten no response from them as to why. 

We're pretty sure we know why. Some of our pages . . . For instance, we have one of the pages in the Persian language. The web page is in the Arabic language. So those pages, the stats, the analytics for them is 95% of the people are under the age of twenty-five.

Dannah: Wow. Praise the Lord. 

Sammy: It's mostly young people who are hungry. But we also get a lot of death threats from that. Those are coming from the old guys my age now. They're all angry because these young people, and a lot of them are non-believers and a lot of them are new believers. They're interested in the gospel. And so, these older guys have done everything they can to shut down our pages, and they've not been able to. I believe probably what happened was there were so many complaints that went to Facebook, they just shut us down. And then as you know, that was it. 

Dannah: It seems it seems like a bit of a setback. But as I understand it, you decided to turn it into an opportunity. Tell us about that.

Sammy: I've been arrested three times—two times overseas in Communist countries—for preaching the gospel. What I've learned is that these are always opportunities. There are two things you've got to do. One is you don't give up. You don't quit. You stand firm. And the second thing is you love those who persecute you. 

So I'm not angry at Facebook. I'm not angry at anybody. But I'm going to take this and use it. We've created this material. And what the Lord just has spoken to my heart is, hey, there's another way to do it. 

So we are developing an app. We are developing TV. We're going to go to other outlets, and we're going to multiple outlets to do what we're doing. We're also using our WhatsApp groups. We've started over 1,000 WhatsApp groups around the world. So we're taking all these other ways and are going after a little bit of a different strategy. We're going in and training people. We're going to develop our own things that enough can stop what we're doing. And if Facebook doesn't want us, that's fine. 

Dannah: I love the heart you have towards Facebook, that's beautiful. We need more of that. In fact, I'm just sitting here thinking we could tiptoe around this, but let's not. Let's pray for Mark Zuckerberg. 

Sammy: Yeah.

Dannah: Let's just do it. Let's pray. Facebook is just the lost acting like the lost. They're acting just as they're supposed to act until they have Jesus. I realize I'm saying this on Facebook right now. Oh, this is happening more and more. Some people are saying we should come off Facebook. I see that you haven't chosen to do that. You're still on Facebook, full steam? Do you have any different guidelines about how you use it?

Sammy: First of all, let me just say that we've never done anything political. We have not gotten into any of that. Our stuff is purely discipleship and evangelism. 

Everyone has a different perspective. I think Christians really need to be careful about being negative towards other groups. 

Dannah: Yes.

Sammy: One of the reasons as an evangelist, as a Christian, my heart is to see people come to Christ. And the very people we want to come to Christ are the people who oppose us. 

Dannah: Yes. 

Sammy: And so, we don't need to become belligerent towards them. We need to love them. That's biblical; that’s scriptural, and so we need to love them. This is what I would say. First of all, I'm thankful to Facebook. They, I mean, I presented the gospel to fourteen-and-a-half million people. So, thank you for allowing me to do that. 

Now, you're not the only guy in town. There are other places, people in places that I can go, but I'm going to love you, I'm going to say thank you. I'm going to pray for you. Like not only Mark Zuckerberg, there are a lot of others involved in this. 

Dannah: Yes, exactly.

Sammy: I'm gonna pray for them. I'm gonna keep a positive spirit. I'm going to keep doing what God's given me to do, and, and nothing's gonna stop that. I'm going to bring the gospel to the world. If Facebook won't allow it, I'll find someone else. I'll create something myself. 

Dannah: Don’t quit.

Sammy: But I'm not gonna stop, because Jesus said to go into the world. But by the same token, I think it's very important. I've learned this from Christians who've been persecuted. Most of my ministry has been among them. That's why we have such a large following in a lot of these places. 

But I've learned something from them. I mean, they are some of the sweetest, kindest, most humble people. They are not arrogant. They're just standing for the truth. Just like Erin.

The Spirit saw with her, that kind of spirit and heart. That's what we need, and that will produce revival. Let me just share one thing, I interviewed Bob Wu Foo on our Heart-Cry for Revival Conference about persecution in China. I asked him about the revival going on in China and the persecution. He said this, “It's not the persecution, but it's our response to the persecution.” That's what's produced revival. He said, “In China, because of the way we've responded, God is blessed, and God's poured out His Spirit.” So that's what I really feel we need. Not just a stand for the truth, but to stand with the Spirit of Christ with the spirit that Erin said, “Lord, make me more like Jesus in the midst.”

Dannah: I love it. Well, we want to pray for you. I wonder if you could just leave us with a Scripture that bubbles to your mind as we think about this topic of standing strong in the difficult times where the testimony of the gospel isn't very welcome in many cultures. What Scripture should we hide in our hearts?

Sammy: “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” Psalm 46:10. So just be still and know that He is God. He's on His throne. He has not left His throne. 

Dannah: I love that. Well, Portia is going to pray over you, Sammy. We just love what you're doing—keeping bold for the gospel.

Sammy: Thank you. Thank you so much.

Portia: Thank you so much for joining us. Let us pray. Father, Lord, I thank You for the ministry of Sammy. I thank You for the work that he's doing for Your kingdom. Lord, I pray that You will give us all as believers, the boldness and the confidence to go forth throughout the lands and to share the gospel to share the truth of Your Word. And know that You are God, to be still and to know that You are God. We love You. We thank You when we praise You. It is in Jesus Christ's name that I pray, amen.

Alejandra: Amen.

Portia: Well, this episode reminds me of something that my friend Karen Ellis has been sharing. If you know Karen, she has such a heart for our sisters and brothers who are being persecuted in foreign countries. She shared a letter from a Christian woman living in China. 

This lady wrote a letter to the mayor of her province after Christian devotionals were removed from her home without a warrant. She writes,

Over the past two years, my church has experienced many incidents of government officials, especially police officers, infringing on our religious freedoms. Now, I too have experienced this infringement on Christians’ religious, personal and property rights.

But she also wrote this, get this guys. 

I know that God is in control. I am prepared to accept more persecution in the future. I thank the Lord for protecting me throughout this whole process. I've truly felt His presence. I believe that He will move those burdens that I cannot bear. Please continue to pray for me, brothers and sisters. Please feel free to share this letter with letter with others. Praise the Lord.

Erin Davis: Praise the Lord. Indeed, you know what is connecting the dots for me, whether it's Erin or Sammy or this woman in China, who we don't even know her name . . . none of them are asking for the pressure to stop. They're all saying God has kept His promises to them. He has empowered them to stand firm on His Word. They are seeing revival as a result, just like Scripture promises. 

So whether it's our brothers and sisters who are facing oppressive governments in the Middle East, like we mentioned in Iran, or maybe it's pastors trying to keep their doors open without restrictions during COVID in Canada. It could be American evangelist. Sammy, an American evangelist receiving pushback from social media companies. Or maybe it's this sweet sister in China who had Christian devotionals removed from her home without her permission, without a warrant. One thing’s clear, our brothers and sisters need our prayers, don't they? Portia, I'm inspired to pray in new ways.

Portia: Yes. Absolutely. That is right. And you know, we want to recommend a session from true Woman ’12 featuring Janet Parshall. This is called Thriving in a Hostile Culture. Here's one gold nugget from it. 

“The true follower of Christ will not ask, if I embrace this truth, ‘What will it cost me?’ Rather, he will say, ‘This is truth. God help me to walk in it. Let come what may.’”

Erin Davis: That is our prayer. There is our marching orders. This is truth. God help us to walk in it come what may. We're going to drop the link to both of those tools, both that letter from our Christian sister in China and her response to persecution, and that message from True Woman ’12. Because you know, here on Grounded, we're always here to give you the good stuff.

Dannah: We sure are you know, Erin. As we close today, the one word that just kept popping up that I think might be important for us to land on is: “opportunity.” When we face oppression, when we face disagreement, when we face prison, when we face our Facebook page being shut down, will we rise up with resistance in a way that defends our rights? Or will we say how can I use this as an opportunity to glorify the Lord? 

And that not only means sometimes standing in truth for the gospel and what is true, but it also means doing it with the right heart. I sure loved the heart that Sammy has towards Facebook, and I want to emulate that every time I feel like somebody doesn't like me because I love Jesus.

Erin Davis: Yeah, opportunity. That's right. Absolutely. 

Portia: Well, we want to call our viewers to pray, pray, pray, pray, pray for the persecuted church. Just be mindful of what all is happening around us. We know it because it says it in the Bible. I think the posture that we should take is one of prayer. Just like Dannah said, I love what Sammy has modeled for us, and I pray that for my own life. 

Well, next week, we're going to have our special Easter edition, so we invite you to come back with us on Grounded as we celebrate our risen Savior.

Dannah: Let's be sure to wake up with hope next Monday together on Grounded

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About the Hosts

Erin Davis

Erin Davis

Erin Davis is an author, blogger, and speaker who loves to see women of all ages run to the deep well of God’s Word. She is the author of many books and Bible studies including: 7 Feasts, Connected, Beautiful Encounters, and the My Name Is Erin series. She serves on the ministry team of Revive Our Hearts. When she’s not writing, you can find Erin chasing chickens and children on her small farm in the Midwest.

Portia Collins

Portia Collins

Portia Collins is a Christian Bible teacher and writer/blogger who enjoys studying and teaching Scripture.  Portia is the founder of "She Shall Be Called" (SSBC), a women’s ministry centered on helping women understand and embrace true biblical womanhood through solid study of God's Word. To learn more about SSBC, visit www.sheshallbecalled.com.  Portia and her husband, Mikhail, have a daughter and currently live in the Mississippi Delta. 

Dannah Gresh

Dannah Gresh

When Dannah Gresh was eight years old, she began praying that God would use her as a Bible teacher for “the nations.” When she sees the flags of many countries waving at a Revive Our Hearts event, it feels like an answer to her prayer.

Dannah is the founder of True Girl which provides tools for moms and grandmothers to disciple their 7–12 year-old girls. On Monday nights, you’ll find Dannah hosting them in her online Bible study. She has authored over twenty-eight books, including Ruth: Becoming a Girl of Loyalty, Lies Girls Believe, and a Bible study for adult women based on the book of Habakkuk. She and her husband, Bob, live on a hobby farm in central Pennsylvania.

Alejandra Slemin

Alejandra Slemin

Alejandra is a sinner who believed in Jesus at the age of seven in her native country, Dominican Republic. She is a wife and homeschool mom. She's passionate about Christ, studying the Scriptures, discipling, teaching, and learning alongside women. Currently, she supports her husband as he serves as a church planter in Victoria, BC, Canada. Alejandra loves herbs, designing headbands with her daughter, being outdoors, and serving her community.

About the Guests

Erin Coates

Erin Coates

Erin is married to the love of her life, James, the preaching Pastor at GraceLife Church of Edmonton (GLC) and graduate of the Master’s Seminary. She homeschools their two boys (18 & 12) and is the Women’s Ministry Director at GLC. This year marks their eleventh year anniversary serving this precious church.

When attending TMS, Erin was introduced to the women’s ministry church at Grace Community Church called Every Woman’s Grace. It modeled the significance of the Titus 2 ministry built upon verse-by-verse teaching through scripture. With a growing concern for the lack of discernment often seen among women and the unbiblical resources aimed them, it is her desire to see this kind of teaching in every women’s ministry. Erin is blessed to be surrounded by women who share the same heart for ministry and sound teaching. They encourage her in her daily life with Christ to excel further. Nothing excites her more than seeing local churches strengthened through Christ exalting biblical exposition, especially as this translates into the spread of the gospel to the nations.

Sammy Tippit

Sammy Tippit

Sammy Tippit is a revivalist/evangelist who has pioneered unique evangelistic efforts for more than fifty years. He’s preached in some of the world’s largest stadiums, in war zones in Africa, and in the middle of the revolution in Romania. He recently proclaimed the gospel to more than fifteen million people by using social media. He is the author of seventeen books. He has been married to Debara “Tex” Tippit for fifty-two years. They live in San Antonio, Texas and have two children and five grandchildren.