Easter at Pearlside 2017_60.jpg

Norman Nakanishi

Founding and Senior Pastor,
Grace Bible Church Pearlside



     The extreme nature of the most recent shooting this time at Santa Fe High School in Galveston County, Texas has again rocked  our country. Make no mistake about it, this far transcends the relational, psychological and political.  It is spiritual. And spiritual opposition must be engaged with spiritual weaponry. We read in 2 Corinthians 10:4-5: "For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds." The Apostle Paul states clearly that  1) There is warfare, 2) Our weapons are not of the natural realm and 3) The power to prevail comes from God.  First the enemy establishes a stronghold or defined territory in one's mind usually triggered by the person being outed and left alone. Then he fleshes that out by strong-holding territory in our land - in this case another shooting on yet another High School campus. 

     Our first move should always be one of genuine, heartfelt prayer and repentance: 2 Chronicles 7:14 reminds us: "...If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land." This proclamation to King Solomon was prophetic instruction for a nation God knew would stray from him one day much as we have today. So while we pray for the Santa Fe High student body and community know that this is a larger call to seek God corporately for our country.  The lesson of history has always been that God hearkens to the cries of his people.

      At a time when kneeling for other causes has stirred great controversy, it is a time to kneel in prayer in unity to forge victory: Jesus said: "Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” (Matthew 18:19-20) Notice how he had to say it "again" almost as if his disciples back then couldn't quite get it. Likewise, God is saying this to us "again” so we do get it.


     Kneeling in prayer may be our first move but it is not our only move.  We must also stand and fight with spiritual might. Ephesians 6:12-13 tells us, "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm." The rest of the passage lays out the specific weaponry but suffice to say that embracing faith, mobilizing the gospel and brandishing the truth comprise much of it. This however  will only be activated as we - the church - stand and engage.

     The start of our church, Grace Bible Pearlside in late 1994 saw a few hundred disenfranchised youth from rough backgrounds, traumatized pasts and broken families start coming within the first two years. We hired city police as front door security for three months to watch for weapons because literal skirmishes would break out before, during and after services. We learned about deliverance quickly because we had to deliver many of them from inner voices telling them to cause destruction and put a stop to unusual and dangerous behavior. Sound familiar? 

     The surrounding community complained to the principal of the school that we rented. But here's the thing - she stood for us and she wasn't even a believer. She said something like "This is the best place for these youth. They could be getting into trouble and making trouble for you. Would you rather have that?"  Wow.  I was a bit embarrassed. While I was secretly devising a plan to divert these youth to churches that seemed to be more like them and closer to where they came from, this principal took a stand. There was no logical reason why these scary looking rowdies were coming from so far away to find a church so hard to find (we were located at the top of a hill) led by a tiny Asian pastor who was so hard to see. Except that God was shaping my character, enlarging my heart and thumb printing our church. But there was one more reason they came.


     They came and they kept coming (an even greater miracle) because a few caring friends went to their turf and brought them. And then because they felt loved they brought others like them. It became clear to me how lacking love was and how hungry young people longed for it. One of the more roughshod youths confronted me a couple of weeks after he nearly threw down with a police officer at church and stunned me with an appeal that went something like: "Please don't kick us out. (He could sense I was devising their "transition" plan) We look forward to coming. We feel love here and we know we need time away from where we come from." Needless to say I felt like the incredible shrinking man and was ashamed. Over time God changed them, but more importantly he changed me. And he broadened the heart of our church while  stretching the heart of our community. 

     It is a well known fact that rejection, loneliness and bitterness earmark just about every perpetrator who is behind almost every senseless act. That’s the bad news. However, the good news of the gospel wrapped in unconditional love can trump that. They won’t however come to us. We must go to them. Let’s sum it up: We must first kneel in prayer for God to move. Next we must stand and fight by allowing God to move through us as we renounce demonic influence. Then, we must show love and care to build a generational bridge that replaces a “them and us” chasm with a “this is us” culture. When and how do we start? Today. With prayer. And by being a friend to someone who appears to need one.