From Gangbanger to Hope Dealer: The Plans of Man and the Voice of God (Part 2)
Although Myron Pierce faced a life sentence because of his crimes as a gang banger, the voice of God had different news for him. This is Part 2 of Myron Pierce’s story (for Part 1, click here).
Q: So, you were supposed to be in the penitentiary for 16-33 years, but at 6 months the law changed, and you were out on parole. Tell us how your occupation went from gangbanger to church planter.
During the stage of my sentencing called “community custody,” I had the opportunity to attend a small Bible college called Grace University. The board had to go into an executive session to decide whether they were going to let me in because of my rap sheet. They let me in by the grace of God! So, I got a degree in biblical studies and business leadership. It was around the time that I was doing my practicum and serving at an inner-city ministry as well that I met my future wife, and it was she who introduced me to a white guy from Iowa doing ministry in the inner city.
Two weeks before we met, this Iowan was in Kansas City praying a big prayer. He had been trying to plant churches, but the last church he’d tried to plant hadn’t worked out well; he’d had to replant and replant. So, he prayed, “God, would you send me an indigenous leader.” So, I didn’t even know until we met that I was actually being interviewed. Right after that conversation, he hired me to join his inner-city mission organization.
“I was able to launch a church in literally the same neighborhood I was a gangbanger in.”
About a year into that, I was able to launch a church in literally the same neighborhood I was a gangbanger in. God in His sovereignty had repositioned me back as an ambassador of peace in the same neighborhood in which I was causing chaos and doing drugs and all the stuff that comes with that lifestyle. So, that’s how we got started planting our first church.
Q: From Nebraska to Colorado. How’d that happen?
Within 2-3 years, I kept feeling this unction that it was time to plant again. At the time, I didn’t know the “apostolic,” “pioneering” language we use in Christianity, but that’s what was happening at the time, and I was ready to go.
So, throughout 2012 at 4:30 a.m., I would get up to pray every morning, and that really turned into a prayer movement in our city. And it was in May of that year that I felt the voice of God telling me to go to Colorado Springs and plant a church in the most vulnerable area of that city. I came back from prayer, went up to my wife, and said, “You won’t believe it, but God’s telling us to go plant.” She said, “I would—because at 4:30 I had a vision that we’re being prayed for and sent out.”
Q: But there was a hiccup in the plans.
So, the only problem with all this vision stuff and hearing God telling us to go to Colorado Springs was that I was still on parole. I was a church planter on parole. So, I go to my parole officer, and it was like a scene from when Moses went to Pharaoh and asked him to let his people go. I tell my parole officer that God has told me to go to Colorado Springs and start a church. And he just kind of looks at me and laughs. “God told you what?!”
I repeat it and he says, “Not going to happen.” I ask him why not, and he explains: 1) I don’t have any family there, 2) I don’t have a place to live, and 3) I don’t have a job there. Because I don’t meet those criteria, he can’t submit my information to Nebraska or Colorado per policy. I say, “Tell you what. Don’t even send them the criteria or go through their processes. I’m going to send you a one-paragraph email telling what God’s put in my heart, and I want you to send that to Nebraska.”
“1) I don’t have any family there, 2) I don’t have a place to live, and 3) I don’t have a job there.”
He laughs again. But I go ahead and send him the one-paragraph bio of my life since I had gotten out and I start gathering people. I explain to them, “God is sending us to Colorado Springs, and we’re going to do big things for the kingdom of God for the sake of the gospel.” People start rallying. Some even begin moving out to Colorado. Meanwhile, I’m still back here in Omaha.
At the end of 2012, I get a call from my parole officer, and he says, “I need you to come down here immediately.” Now, when a parole officer says “immediately,” it’s almost always something bad. So, I go down there and walk in his office, and he is beet red. I ask what’s going on, and he says, “You won’t believe this, but Nebraska has approved for you to go. We’ve already put your paperwork in for Colorado. They’ve green lighted you.”
“In 25 years, I have never seen this happen before.”
The senior parole officer of all of Nebraska walks in the office and says, “In 25 years, I have never seen this happen before.” (By the way, she became one of our church members.) So, I move to Colorado Springs, and we get busy with church planting there.
Q: Along the way, what did you learn about how to hear the voice of God?
It’s important to ask yourself how you view God. What’s He like? Are you able to receive anything from Him?
What I didn’t have was a dad growing up. By default, I saw God the way I saw our present-day justice system. So, God had to do a big work in me in helping me understand His fatherhood and my sonship. I think sonship is critical in learning to hear the voice of God. Equally important to my sonship is how healthy I am. If I’m a toxic son, what I hear from God I’ll view through the lens I’ve created based on the experiences I’ve had. So, God had to teach me that I’m a son, that He’s pleased with me. I’ve had a lot of healing, affirmation, soul care so I can really get to a place where I can hear the voice of God.
“Hearing God is often seen to be mystical and not so much practical. But I’m convinced that hearing God is actually very practical.”
Hearing God is often seen to be mystical and not so much practical. But I’m convinced that hearing God is actually very practical. For example, in addition to speaking through dreams and inspired thoughts, the Holy Spirit communicates to us in everyday ways through the body of Christ (other believers) and—very importantly—through the centrality of the Scripture to help us navigate the future.
Q: How many churches in inner cities have you planted, or have been planted from the churches you’ve planted?
From 2007/2008 until now, maybe 25-27. That includes churches, micro-churches, and missions.