Surviving the Inner City (7:18)
My name is Myron Pierce and I’m from Omaha, Nebraska. I just want to share a little bit of my story and how I’ve gotten to where I am.
If you know anything about Omaha, Nebraska, it’s the number one deadliest place for an African American to live. And yet I found myself in the home of a single parent mom. My dad was on crack cocaine, heroin. My mom on prostitution. She did everything that she could to take care of us.
And yet, the thing that ended up attracting me to the streets was the fact that I needed a dad. I needed somewhere to belong. And so that’s where I went. I went to the streets. I needed a place to belong. And so I joined a gang, Hilltop Crips, one of the most notorious gangs in Omaha, Nebraska.
And they embraced me, took me in. And yet with that came a whole gambit of problems, from drugs to crime. Ages 12 and 13, I started building this reputation of being that guy. So by the time I was 14, I’m in a youth center, again. In 15 and 16, I’m still in and out of jail. Dropped out of high school. Got a young lady pregnant.
And that’s when everything turned at the age of 16, when I’m standing before a judge and he’s about to sentence me to prison. And so he ends up sending me to prison. Spent 14 months there and I get out. Five months after that, I’m right back in jail facing more penitentiary time. In fact, 200 years, to be exact.
And as I stayed in that jail cell I made two phone calls. I made one phone call to my girlfriend. Hung up the phone and made another to my grandma. And I just said, “Man, I messed up big time and I think I’m going away for a long time.”
I had finally gotten to the end of myself. And that’s when everything changed. I fell on my face, right there, March 21st, 2002, at one o’clock in the morning, in the Omaha police department.
Fell on my face and I prayed this big prayer. I didn’t know if it was right. I didn’t know how to pray. I didn’t know what to say. But I said, “God, I’m destroying my life, but if you change me, I’ll serve you for the rest of my life.”
And that’s when I met Jesus. That’s when I met the lover of my soul. And I would love to say that in an instant everything changed and I got out of prison. But it was not that. In fact, it was these small steps, as I waited. I began studying God’s word and studying how much Jesus loved me and how much he had a plan for my life.
So months would go by, and here I am, it’s October 8th, 2002, and I’m standing before the judge and he looks at me and says, “Young man, today I’m going to make an example out of you.” And I just hear this whisper from God, “I’m going to get you out of prison.”
And that whisper is what got me through. That whisper on my way to the penitentiary is what gave me the foundation that I needed to trust God for the next season of my life in prison.
So when I got to prison, I got to business. I got to studying God’s Word. I’m sharing my faith. I’m having small groups. I mean all these things that are happening that I really didn’t have language for. I didn’t have language for how to lead a small group or Bible studies or anything. I just knew that I have this new-found passion for God who loved me and I wanted to share that passion.
As time culminated after seven months, I get a letter from the State of Nebraska. It said, “Mr. Myron Pierce, 55089 (everybody is a number in prison) we’ve changed the law.”
So I kind of chuckled a little bit, because I thought, “You know, you don’t change the laws for people who keep on breaking them.” And yet, the still small voice of God saying, “I’m going to get you out of prison” was actually coming true. So I would spend the next almost seven years in prison preparing for my release.
So I get out of prison. I ended up going to college. I ended up meeting a guy who kind of mentored me and helped me. And then one thing led to another and I’m back in the same community launching a hope-filled church. And that’s been the call of God on my life.
That as I was even in prison, God would speak to my heart saying, “Hey, you’re going to spend the rest of your life planting churches. You’re going to spend the rest of your life giving hope.”
I just kept hearing the Lord say, “I want this church to be about my mission. I want this church to not get wrapped up in programs. I want this church to not get wrapped up in metrics. I don’t want this church to get wrapped up in anything but the gospel, incarnating in a community that desperately needs to hear the message of hope.”
And what if we did it one neighborhood at a time. What if we chose the most cumbersome, challenging, violent inner cities and we say, “You know what? We’re going to go after, because Jesus loves those types of places. And what if we start in our own backyard?”
We are very serious about every inner city having a mission church. We’ve seen lives changed. We’ve seen people who are addicted to crack cocaine. We’ve seen people who are notorious gang members. We’ve seen people who’ve come out of the penitentiary and their lives are changing around. It’s been amazing. And we’re just getting started.
Here’s the dream that God put in our heart, that we would be a church that would unleash unprecedented hope in every inner city church around the world. God is not done. We’re joining him on the journey, enjoying the ride as we go. All the bumps, the bruises, all the celebrations, all the wins. And yet we realize that Jesus, like he said in Matthew, “I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail.”
So God has been doing amazing things and we’re looking forward the future of what mission church looks like in every inner city around the world. Jesus changes everything.