Easter at Pearlside 2017_60.jpg

Norman Nakanishi

Founding and Senior Pastor,
Grace Bible Church Pearlside


Coach JJ with former UH standout QB Bryant Moniz, now with CFL Grey Cup champion Calagary. JJ: “You can play in the NFL right now.” 

Coach JJ with former UH standout QB Bryant Moniz, now with CFL Grey Cup champion Calagary. JJ: “You can play in the NFL right now.” 


In 1996 the Atlanta Falcons let him go because he wouldn’t allow one person’s ego to be bigger than the team. In 1998 he turned down millions from the San Diego Chargers to coach a Hawaii team that was the laughingstock of college football. In 2008 he left Hawaii after an undefeated regular season and a historic Sugar Bowl appearance to coach at Southern Methodist University, another laughingstock. And now, after reviving that program, he’s left again. What makes Coach June Jones move?

The ultimate bottom line in one word is JESUS. As a coach and former quarterback, he knows the importance of running the directive called by the leader on the field, and for most of his life, that’s been the Lord. As his Pastor, former University of Hawaii team chaplain and friend, I know three beacons do guide him – beacons we ourselves should observe as we discern God’s will:

First and foremost it’s FAITH. He lives with an open heart and an open hand so he can sense God’s leading and let go when God tells him to. Many people asked me why Coach left UH at the pinnacle of the program in 2008 and I said then what I still say today: He was led of God to do it. I still remember praying with him on Thanksgiving morning in 2007 just before the epic Boise State game at his request as he pondered the possibility of moving on. He wanted God’s perfect will and not just his acceptable will. As a friend and fan I so wanted him to stay. As his Pastor I wrestled with the reality that God may have been leading him to go. Over the next several weeks we prayed, processed and agonized over what would become a difficult emotional transition. It was never about money because UH had, in the end, just about matched SMU’s offer but June did not feel peace about receiving that much from UH.

Secondly, it’s FAMILY. He spurned the NFL’s Chargers and its millions for Hawaii because it was better for raising his family during a tenuous season of life. He then left the success in Hawaii for Dallas and struggling SMU because it would be an environment more conducive for his adolescent son Juner to grow up in – away from the Sugar Bowl crazed fishbowl of Honolulu. The move proved perfect and today, Juner is a thriving young adult. June is now an official empty-nester and thus poised for a new chapter.

Third, it’s HEART VALUES. June has always been about resurrecting struggling programs. Helping the underdog has always been his passion. It was intensified by his own miraculous recovery from a dreaded car wreck in 2001 – a turnaround that doctors still marvel over. You can also go to borninjunethemovie.com and learn about a movie in the works as film makers manifest interest in Coach’s life story painted on the unique canvas of Hawaii and football.


What’s next? Not even Coach June knows. But he knows God does. So he is doing what he has always done. He is asking Jesus for guidance so he knows what is truly the GOD opportunity apart from what is just a good opportunity.  He holds this Bible passage near to his heart: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (‭Philippians‬ ‭4‬:‭6-7‬ NKJV)

With this in mind I ask you to pray for him. But also, let these beacons guide your own journey into 2015. “Imua!”