Lonnie Camacho attended CCV students during 4 years in High School. It was there he felt God was calling him to reach the unreached. Today he will share his story and what his plans are in France.
Lonnie Camacho giving link and contact information.
https://give.cru.org/0957972 (Link to give towards Lonnie’s CRU account fundraising)
To contact Lonnie directly: email@example.com
Christ’s Church of the Valley: https://ccv.church/
CCV Missions: www.ccv.church/missions
Pastor Larrie Fraley: linkedin.com/in/larrie-fraley-53445032
Larrie: [00:00:35] Well, I'm so happy to be here today with a good friend, Lonnie Camacho. Lonnie has been a member at CCV for a number of years, and he grew up in the students ministry. And so I've asked Lonnie to be on the show today because he has made a decision to go into full time missionary work. So, Lonnie, welcome to the show.
Lonnie: [00:00:57] Thanks, Larrie. I really appreciate it and really happy to be here.
Larrie: [00:01:01] Well, why don't you share with us a little bit about your story and kind of how you got here.
Lonnie: [00:01:07] Absolutely. Yeah. Like you said, Larrie, I was blessed to have Christian parents. So I grew up in the Christian home church was prioritized going to vacation. Bible school and summer camps were a big part of my childhood. And by God's grace, when my parents when our family moved here in the summer of 2011, CCV was the first church we checked out here in the valley and we haven't ever left. So that's just a testament to what the Lord's doing here at CCV. So yeah, I got involved in the students ministry when I was a freshman in high school. I was right when we got here and all the way through high school and yeah, just, CCV just really built a good foundation of, okay, this is the Gospel, it's the effect it has on our lives, just the power that it's not merely just a get out of hell free card, but that the gospel actually impacts our everyday life. Like that was one of the things I really learned here at CCV and I was very thankful for that.
Larrie: [00:02:09] Did you just have to ask, did you, when you were in high school, did you have a dream or a vision to actually go into full time missionary work?
Lonnie: [00:02:20] Absolutely. Yeah. You know, that's funny you say that, Larrie, because I remember after CIY, so that's the church camp we have here every summer for the high school students. After my CIY, there would be these inspirational stories about these people that went on mission trips or that they are in full time ministry. And I remember talking with my coaches and with my friends after that, and I'm like, hey, like, wasn't that just so inspiring? Isn't that something that's so worthwhile? And most of the people I would talk to you like, Yeah, that's really awesome. But you know, not everyone's called to that. That's not for everybody. And so I'm like, Oh, okay, well, maybe what I'm feeling right now is just kind of this spiritual high, but that spiritual high never went away. And so that's when I realized, All right, Lord, this is what you have for me.
Larrie: [00:03:08] Well. And so did this happen like at a freshman or your senior year, or was there a particular trigger point during your high school time that you realized that you were called to the ministry?
Lonnie: [00:03:22] Yeah, that's a great question. I mean, I would say that that calling didn't really fully consummate itself until college. So when I went to college, I got really involved with the ministry I actually work full time with now called CRU and so Cru is a campus ministry. And so I just realized that after volunteering and CCV with the youth ministry, I just realized, hey, I really love ministering to the youth and to the young adults just because it's, it's such a unique and challenging time in their lives. And I really want these people to to know the gospel and know that Christ is right there alongside them in their walk and He wants the best for them. So, yes, I would say that that really definitely started in high school. I started to think about it, but it wasn't it didn't fully like the the light bulb didn't go off fully until like, all right, Lord, this is what you want for me until college.
Larrie: [00:04:18] Share with us a little bit about your college experience and where did you graduate from and what did you major in that kind of stuff?
Lonnie: [00:04:24] Absolutely, yeah. So I went to Cornell University, I studied biology, and so I think it was during this time. I mean, Cornell is a very academically rigorous school. It was very difficult. I mean, I realized that the Holy Spirit had just convicted me, that I put a lot of my identity and my self-worth in academics and in performance especially. I mean, you know, being valedictorian at my high school and then you go to Cornell, but then you're amongst thousands of valedictorians and thousands of incredibly intelligent and talented people. And so I would say that was the moment where I realized, wow, I was convicted of the fact that I had put so much worth into things that that weren't Christ. And so it was during that time where I had to cling to him the most tightly because I was experiencing like kind of, I mean, really these existential crisis, right? Of, okay, even though I am I am a Christian, I consider myself a follower of Christ. But what does that really mean? Because I kind of just thought it's, hey, I walk in here, I get this degree, I go to grad school, I get this high paying job, and then you kind of just get the white picket fence and go off into the sunset. But really being with my team leaders at CRU that just walked with me side by side, really discipled me, really show me what the Bible said about the importance of discipleship, the importance of evangelism, the importance of the Great Commission. These were all things that I hadn't really considered up until then, because it was very like my faith was very just me focused just between me and God. And my time at Cornell was very transformative because I realized that my faith was more than just a vertical relationship with God, but it was a horizontal relationship with others as well.
Larrie: [00:06:13] Now you are in an internship right now with CRU, correct?
Lonnie: [00:06:18] Yes. Well, so I, I interned with CRU for the past two years and I actually just joined full time staff in February. So I'm currently raising support to go on my my first assignment as a full time staff member with CRU.
Larrie: [00:06:34] Right. And one of the things that attracted me to you was this your passion to reach unreached peoples. And as you know, the Missions Department here is all about fulfilling the Great Commission by obeying the Great Commandments. And so you are planning to go to really an unreached people group. But it's a country we all know. France, right? Why? Why France?
Lonnie: [00:07:02] Absolutely. Yeah, that's a great question. And, you know, that was something I was wrestling with myself. So, yeah, it was during my time at Cornell actually, where I really learned about the 1040 window, which for those of you who aren't aware, it's an area on the map, like it goes from northwest Africa all the way across to East Asia, China, South Korea, Korea, Southeast Asia. And so in this area of the world is about 50% of the world's population. It's about over 4 billion people. And yet this area has the least access to the gospel. It has the most unbelievers. I mean, out of that 4 billion, there are over almost 3 billion people that don't even know a Christian. So, I mean, think about that, right? I mean, so in here at CCV, we talk about reaching the valley. We want to reach everybody in the valley and praise the Lord for that. And especially like a lot of people, that they have these this heart for justice, right? For like I love I've been listening to some of the episodes and I really love what CCV does when it comes to empowering the the poor, empowering the people, the broken, empowering the people that can't help themselves, which praise the Lord, that's what Christ calls us to. But what's a bigger injustice than the idea that over almost 3 billion people in the world have not even never heard the Gospel, but don't even have access to the Gospel and will never hear the gospel unless we do something about it.
Larrie: [00:08:32] Almost a third of the population of the world.
Lonnie: [00:08:36] Yes. Yep. It's it's. It's insane. Yeah.
Larrie: [00:08:41] Now, tell us a little bit about CRU. What, what? What is it all about?
Lonnie: [00:08:45] Right. Yeah. So, I mean, CRU, it was founded, our founder was by Bill Bright in 1951. He started it on a college campus and UCLA. And so the original idea of CRU was that our founder really thought that college students were a very strategic people to reach just because they're going to be leaders in the world. And also, I mean, if you think about it, like, let's say, for example, at UCLA, where we're I'll just use that as an example, since that was our first campus, there are, I don't know, 30,000, 40,000 students, however many it is, every four years those students graduate. So you're getting another 40,000, 30,000 students every four years. And so it was just very strategic of we're able to minister to a lot of people and these people are going to be influencers in the world. And imagine if our politicians, our CEOs, all of these people who are in leadership positions whom many will look up to if they were Christian. So that was the original idea of CRU. And since then the Lord has abundantly blessed this ministry and there are different branches of CRU, there are different things that we also have church planting. We also have a ministry that works with specifically with families called Family Life. We have college ministry that works with athletes specifically. So we have a lot of contextualized ministries. But I would say that campus ministry is still the heartbeat of CRU.
Larrie: [00:10:20] I didn't realize until just a few months ago that Athletes in Action is actually a CRU sports ministry. I had no idea. And I've known athletes in action for many years. And I know crew is in in a lot of different a lot of different venues, a lot of different ministries. You're even in the military, right? Your CRU’s got a military ministry.
Lonnie: [00:10:42] Yes. Yeah. So we have a ministry called Valor that is on the college level. It works with college students who are in ROTC. And then also the Valor Ministry also works with active duty military as well.
Larrie: [00:10:58] So you're in the middle of trying to raise your funds to be able to launch in, what, next year sometime or.
Lonnie: [00:11:07] Well, actually, I'm trusting the Lord that I'm going to be fully funded by August 1st of this year. So that way I can get to I'm hoping. Trusting the Lord to get in Paris, France, by about September of this year.
Larrie: [00:11:21] Got it. And you know where you're going. You've already got the area of the city. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Lonnie: [00:11:27] Absolutely. Yes. I would love to share about my ministry. So I will be my main campus I'll be working on is called ….. University. And so the the conception of the universe is actually very beautiful. It's very glorious beginnings, honestly. Origin story. So the university was built after World War One, so it's like early 20th century. And the idea behind it was, Hey, here's this horrible thing that happened in the world and in Paris. They wanted to sense I mean, Paris, like that's the New York City of Europe, right? So it's a very metropolitan cosmopolitan. It's a lot of people go there. And so they said, hey, we really want to lead in uniting people. So they have dorms on the campus that are specifically for different countries and different people groups. So right now I think they have over 40 different dorms that are dedicated to different countries. So, for example, they have a Tunisian dorm, they're building an Egyptian dorm, they have an Argentinean dorm. And so the idea was, was, hey, here's all these people that you're the same age, you're going through similar life circumstances. And even though you come from all over the world, you see that you have a lot more in common than things that that can drive us apart. Right. So the idea was just to bring a lot of young people together and just to rather than continue with the evil that was happening in World War One, to really show everybody, hey, this is we're all honestly, like, as a Christian, go one step, a couple steps further and say, hey, we're all made in God's image, right? We're all equal.
Lonnie: [00:13:09] And so that was kind of the idea behind the university. So that's where I'll be going. There are over, I think, 150 countries represented here. And so, I mean, going to the last question you asked where or a couple of questions where, you said, hey, why Paris? So the reason being is because here we talk I talked about earlier about the 1040 window, about how there are all these people that don't even have access to the gospel. Well, many of those countries in the 1040 window will be represented at this university. And not only that, many of those countries in the 1040 window. Don't have or their persecution rates are very high. The government either Christianity is illegal or there are militant groups that will come to if they find you, that they'll deport you or there are a lot of just difficulties around that. And I can speak from my own experience as doing a year long mission trip in the Middle East for the 2020, 20, 21 school year. But the hope here and just the dream is, hey, here are all these people coming from the 1040 window. They're going to Paris, France. And France has more much more freedom of religion than the Middle East or India or most of these other countries, especially when it comes to Christianity. So the hope would be to share the gospel with these people, to disciple them, to build them up in their faith so that once they're done with their college careers, they can come back to their own country, be influencers in their own environment and where they're from so that the gospel can be spread.
Larrie: [00:14:47] So share with us a little bit about how exactly does that work. In other words, you're there. Are you actually attending classes?
Lonnie: [00:14:55] Yeah, that's a great question. I mean, so typically, like when I interned here in the States, it can be kind of awkward sometimes when I'm in the dining hall, I meet somebody, I'm having this great conversation with them and then they're like, Oh, what year are you at? I'm like, Oh, I'm actually graduated or I'm not going to to classes. And so it can normally things are okay, but sometimes it can kind of creep people out. It's like, okay, why if you're not a student, why are you here? But the cool thing about this opportunity in France is I actually will be taking French courses and definitely be praying for me because I'm actually in the process of trying to live on campus. So take French courses at this university live on campus so that it would just be so organic and so easy to, Hey, I can just share the gospel, be bear witness to my roommates, to my suite mates, to the dorm, to people I'll see in the dining hall, what have you. So that's kind of what the day to day looks like is I'll be taking French courses and then as kind of like my, my cover, if you will, or just like a reason to live on the campus. And then the other majority of the time will be hosting Bible studies, hosting events, or it's like we'll have events, for example, where I'll hand out surveys, spiritual surveys. It's like if you could ask a Christian anything, what would you ask them? Or if you could ask God one thing, what would you ask them? Or we will host events where we can have a dialogue with people from other religions like, Hey, well, what do Christians really think? And these sorts of opportunities just to to get the word out and to just build community with the students on campus.
Larrie: [00:16:37] Fantastic. So tell us a little bit about what did you learn from your time in the Middle East?
Lonnie: [00:16:44] Absolutely. Yeah, I would say a lot of different things. I mean, first off, my heart just broke for these people. I mean, I, I thought of Matthew Chapter nine when Jesus looks out to the multitudes. Matthew Chapter 9:35 through 38 where he just says he looked out to the crowds and he had compassion for them because they were harassed and helpless like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few, so therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest, send out laborers into the harvest. So I had heard these verses before. I'd heard this passage, but it wasn't really until I went to the 1040 window and saw it with my own eyes, just how broken and destitute, just spiritually this place is. It was just so heartbreaking. I mean, for example, the country I was in, I can't say it because it's in a it's in a secure location. But where I was at, it's if you looked it up on Wikipedia, it would say it's 100% Muslim. Just because that's the if if you're a national and you're not Muslim, then you'll get in big trouble. And so, yeah, I just saw that these people and just like, like Jesus said or just like it said about Jesus in this verse, in chapter or this past in chapter nine, that he looked out to the crowds. He saw they were harassed. He saw they were helpless, like a sheep without a shepherd. And that's what I saw, just a ton of sheep without a shepherd. And it just really broke my heart. And I think just after my time there, it was like, okay, Lord, it's very clear that this is what you'll have for me for the rest of my life. So that's that, that's what I think for me personally. That was kind of the main thing I got out of it.
Larrie: [00:18:36] That's so cool. That's so cool. Well, as we begin to wrap up here, tell us, where do you see yourself in two years?
Lonnie: [00:18:44] Yeah, two years. That's a great question. I. Oftentimes when I think of the future, I'm reminded of the passage in James Chapter four, where he says, You ought not to say that I'll go into such and such a place and do such a such a thing, but that you have to say, if God wills, I will do such and such a thing and and go to such and such a place. So that's a great question. I mean, I'm just taking things one step at a time. So this this opportunity in Paris, France, to work with international students, I'm very excited about this will be so we go for the school year. So it'll be about from September through. We're actually hoping to have a summer mission out there with us. So God willing, be there deeper into the summer. So around this time last year, maybe late July, early August, and yeah, so after that, then just come home, pray, think about it. But I, I'll tell you this much. I would be surprised if I was not overseas doing ministry to Muslims in some regard.
Larrie: [00:19:44] But so is it safe to say that you will be in France in the summer of 2024?
Lonnie: [00:19:50] For summer of 2024? That's a maybe. I'll definitely be there through 2023. So my my contract right now is it's one school year with the opportunity to extend for another school year. But I may who knows, maybe go back to the Middle East. Who knows? I'm just really walking in with open hands to see what the Lord has for me. But that's where I'm at.
Larrie: [00:20:15] Well, the only reason I ask is that I'm going to be in Paris in the summer of 2024. I go every five years to celebrate World War Two in Normandy.
Lonnie: [00:20:27] Oh, wow.
Larrie: [00:20:27] And so my dad jumped in Normandy. I actually know the specific cornfield that he landed in. And so every year we go back and or not, every year, every five years for the fifth year, we go back and kind of celebrate. The French people, especially in Normandy there, just loves Americans. And so it's a great experience. So if if you're still there, we'll connect.
Lonnie: [00:20:51] Absolutely. Eh, who knows? I mean, because in the summer, if I'm not mistaken, the Olympics will also be there. So maybe that'll give me an excuse to go.
Larrie: [00:20:58] We'll have to go have a Starbucks and some French pastry or or French fries. Absolutely. Hey, so we want to thank you for joining us today. And so for those listeners who might be interested in helping Lonnie raise his finish, raising his support, we will include his information in our links, in our show notes so you can get in touch with him that way. And so, Lonnie, how can we pray for you?
Lonnie: [00:21:27] Yeah, absolutely. Well, I think I think what the prayer request I would have is, just as I said, the passage I share, just to pray for more laborers to the harvest. Right. I mean, like some of the statistics, I share it. It's just so heart wrenching and heartbreaking that there are almost 3 billion people, you know, fourth of the world's population that. Don't, like I said, don't even have access to the gospel. So you don't even these people don't even know another Christian like think about how how crazy that is. Right. And here in America, I mean, yes, there are a lot at the end of the day, a lost person. The lost person. Right. But here in America, you can download the Bible app you have access to. You could see something on social media. You could you could Google whatever you want. Whereas most of these countries, these people that live in the 1040 window, they don't have that access. And so they're just far fewer opportunities. So yeah, just pray for the Lord to produce more laborers. And yeah, when I say laborers, that doesn't mean people like me. I think a lot of the times you think, Oh, well, here's this guy that he's full time ministry, full time missions. I could never do that. But I mean, in the when Jesus commanded this, it's, hey, all Christians, this is what we're all called to do. So you may not go overseas, you may not work in missionary work full time. But if your whether you're a doctor, whether.
Lonnie: [00:22:56] Work whether you're working 9 to 5, whether you're a truck driver, whatever it is, and you call Jesus your savior and Lord, he has people that we can minister to. So yeah. So that's just what I would pray for is definitely just to bring more laborers to the harvest, especially to the 1040 window and people that have less access. So yeah, so I would strongly recommend you can look up, you can look at Joshua Project is a great website. You can learn a little bit more about the 1040 window and unreached people groups and yeah, so just pray give and who knows, the Lord may be calling you to be the answer to your own prayer. So who knows? Maybe. Maybe you may be called to to go out there and meet me out there. But yeah. So that's the biggest prayer request, Larrie, is really what we're called to do is the great commission and just to love, love God first and love others. And so so ultimately when it comes to okay, what's the application of that, it's sharing the gospel with people.
Larrie: [00:23:53] Well said. And so we will keep you in our prayers. And so thank you so much for joining us today.
Lonnie: [00:23:58] Absolutely. It's my pleasure, Larrie. Thank you.