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In November of 1997, Francisco (Cisco) Villasenor attended a service at Horizon Church in San Diego. Miles McPherson was preaching and God touched his heart. Even though he had been attending the evening services for months, Cisco knew it was time to come forward and to go all-in with Jesus.
“I had been going to church with my girlfriend…but God was moving so powerfully in my life that I started attending services even without her. When we broke up, I kept going. I was searching…that night in November I felt God’s prompting. I knew I needed to trust God. I was ready to give up everything that was hindering my relationship with Jesus. Miles gave the altar call and my life changed forever.”
The oldest brother of four, Cisco had grown up in San Diego. Though he had taken that first step to surrender to Christ, the next eight months would be difficult.
“I was really broken-hearted over my lost relationship. Even though I was going to church every week and listening to sermons on the radio on weekdays, I still wasn’t in fellowship. I didn’t understand community or the church yet and felt pretty lonely.”
Cisco knew he needed a change. Doors opened through an academic scholarship to attend Western State College in Gunnison, Colorado. He was a walk-on to a winning cross-country team that boasted three state national championships while he was there. Long hours of training with his team in the Rocky Mountains helped to build his character in many ways.
“Colorado was a refreshingly new environment; it was a small town, and looking back now, I know why God brought me there.”
In time, Cisco would be welcomed into his first Christian community and would gain his first meaningful Christian friendships. God brought two older men in the faith to disciple and mentor him.
“I felt instantly connected to these people…I felt loved. I was learning so much from them by observing the ways they lived out their faith.”
Cisco joined the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and attended multiple Bible studies. He was gaining a burden for those on his cross-country team to know Christ personally, and God was giving him an added burden to see his entire campus won for Jesus.
“Yeah… I remember two years into college, our pastor leading the Bible study was being used powerfully by God. He could relate well with the runners on my team, but just a few months later he came to us and told us he had good news and bad news. The good news was that he was leaving to serve God as a missionary in Africa. The bad news was that we were not going to have anyone to take over our Bible study. I started praying, asking God to bring that right person to lead us… and then God told me that, that ‘right’ person I was praying for, was me. He gave me the courage to step into it.”
God blessed Cisco as he led the Bible study, shared Christ with his teammates and shared the Gospel in different settings on campus.
“That summer, God gave me an opportunity to serve as a leader at a summer camp in Texas. It was 24-7 discipleship for three months straight.”
Again, God changed Cisco’s life. It was at this camp and in the following summers serving there where God would confirm his calling into fulltime ministry and grant him a heart for the college age youth in America, as well as a heart to serve the Lord in the mission field.
“It became really clear that God wanted me to serve Him in the ministry with the rest of my life.”
In the same ways Cisco had learned to run to win on his cross-country team, he recognized God was also teaching him how to run to win for the cause of the Gospel.
“After I graduated college, I spent the next year and half in Texas doing an internship out there. I lived with eight people. We organized and executed service projects, outreaches and mission trips to places like Zambia, Panama and Paraguay.”
Following his internship, Cisco felt prompted to fast for 40 days. Through that intense time of seeking God, he felt led to return to San Diego and attend the Horizon School of Evangelism (also known as HSE) at Horizon Church.
“My plan was to attend HSE for one semester and then go to seminary in Denver. But one semester turned into two semesters and then I was given the opportunity to join the leadership team.”
Cisco remained in San Diego and served on the leadership team for the next four years.
“My time as a student at HSE was incredible! It was refreshing to be around people who were like-minded and pushing hard to know Jesus and make Him known. I always kind of felt alone in my burden to love God radically, and it was so encouraging to find there were other people like me out there. Stepping into leadership helped me to grow to be more others-focused. I love seeing people’s lives change and see them equipped to operate within their gifts.”
Cisco would help lead missions trips to Poland, Chiapas & Ensenada Mexico, South Korea, Israel, El Salvador and Belize, and it was at the sendoff party for his trip to Israel that he would catch his first glimpse of his future wife – Naomi.
Naomi Villasenor was raised in a Christian home.
“I went to church every Sunday and Wednesday. My father read from the Bible to us every night and prayed for us every night, too.”
The youngest girl of twelve siblings, Naomi read the Bible on her own up until the age of fourteen.
“Looking back, I don’t believe I was saved in my youth, it was more of a religion to me. I think I read through the entire Bible, but I didn’t know Jesus and the words weren’t penetrating my heart.”
At fourteen-years-old, Naomi drifted from her routines.
“I turned to drinking and drugs and ran away from home. At eighteen-years-old, I found myself pregnant and scared. I moved back home to be with my parents and I remember my dad pleading with me and asking me to consider the choices I was making. I cried a lot…I didn’t know what to do.”
In an effort to turn her life around, when Naomi was nineteen, she married the biological father of her ten-month-old daughter, Serena. Two years into the marriage, Naomi walked through one of the most devastating and difficult periods of her life.
“At twenty-one, my husband left me. It was then that I truly reached out to God and came to genuinely know Him. He spoke to me out of Isaiah 54 and told me that He was going to be a Husband to me…that He would provide for me and Serena and protect us, and that He was going to love me in a way that no one else could.”
Naomi vowed to follow God no matter the cost. She began getting involved at her home church with Pastor Raul Ries.
“I was helping out with children’s ministry, missions, evangelism, serving at park outreaches and concerts. I started taking Bible college classes in the evenings and I went on two mission trips to Chile.”
Eventually, her path would cross with a woman who had just recently returned home from the mission field in Hungary. The woman had attended the Calvary Chapel Bible College in Austria, which was under the leadership of George Clerie at the time.
“I met this girl on a missions trip to Mexico, and she shared her heart with me and some of her incredible experiences out on the field. I felt like God was confirming in me the desire to do missions work, too.”
In her pursuit to get equipped, Naomi would eventually make the drive to San Diego to check out the Horizon School of Evangelism and Horizon College.
“HSE seemed more of what I was looking for, so I applied. I had to wait a semester before I could start because there were so many details to figure out before I could commit.”
Months later, Naomi would end up taking a leap of faith to move to San Diego and attend the yearlong discipleship school.
“God spoke to me through the book of Ruth and through Abraham’s life and I had to obey. I thought I would only be in San Diego for a year; it’s been nine.”
God provided abundantly for Naomi and Serena like He had promised.
“My first month of rent was free. Serena was able to attend a private Christian school for free and my entire tuition at HSE was paid for.”
After their initial meeting at the Israel sendoff party, Cisco and Naomi would grow to be good friends.
Cisco remembers, “We were good friends for two years and then on a missions trip to South Korea, I began to look at Naomi differently. I knew what it would mean to begin to pursue her and so I was careful not to awaken love until it was time. I wasn’t just pursuing an amazing, God-fearing wife; I was also having to consider what it would take to become a father to her nine-year-old daughter.”
“Yes,” Naomi recalls, “I remember the first time I met Cisco. My heart leaped a little bit, but I ignored it because I didn’t want to get distracted. I was there to learn about God, though over the years, I saw what an amazing leader he was, his heart for evangelism, how generous and how compassionate he was. He only grew more and more attractive in my eyes.”
After two years of friendship and an eye-opening trip to South Korea, Cisco asked Naomi out on their first official date. Four hours in, he proposed.
“I didn’t expect it, but I was hoping it would come, and of course I said yes!”
Cisco would officially adopt Serena as his daughter on Father’s Day weekend in June 2012.
“I can’t imagine life without Serena now…I love her so much. Getting to walk through the process of adopting her, I learned so much more about the heart of God and His adopting of us, His sons and daughters!”
Months after the adoption was finalized, Naomi found out she was pregnant.
After serving together for a season on the leadership team at HSE, God opened a door for them to serve on the founding team of Impact195, the discipleship school of Rock Church. It was a big step of faith for them as a family; it would mean Cisco leaving a paid position at Horizon to serve the same amount of time without pay.
“It was a big leap for us, and there were moments where it was incredibly hard. I cried out to God, I mean really cried out to God, a lot. But our faith was perfected through His continual provision for us.”
Cisco and Naomi were asked to help the lead the first-ever Impact International Trip to Haiti in 2010.
“Even though rent had not been paid yet and we weren’t sure how it was going to be paid, we sensed God leading us to lead the trip anyways. He wanted us to trust Him. Boarding our first flight from San Diego to New York, we still had no money for rent. Thirty minutes before we boarded our last flight to Haiti, our rent was paid-in-full by six different people that God had prompted to support us. It was so humbling and so glorious.”
In Haiti, Cisco preached to a crowd of 500 Haitians and proclaimed God’s great love for them.
“Many came to a saving faith in Christ that day. There were people in some really hopeless situations that found the hope of Jesus.”
Later in the year, Cisco took a part-time job delivering pizzas while still serving fulltime at Impact with Naomi. He served as a Bible teacher, mentor, and wilderness leader within a pastoral role.
“Fifty percent of our needed income came in through Domino’s Pizza. God faithfully provided the other fifty-percent in creative ways. We never knew how it was going to come, nor did we know who He would provide it through – but every time, what we needed came. He never failed us…not once. These past four years have really prepared us as a family for this next leap of faith He is asking us to take.”
In just eight short months, Cisco will move with his family of four and eight additional graduates of Impact195 to Oaxaca, Mexico, for a two-year commitment to serve and love on the people there on behalf of Jesus.
“On our first short-term trip to Oaxaca, we put on an outreach and 400-500 people showed up. We put it together in just one week, and droves of people came open and hungry to hear about Jesus. It was such a powerful short-term trip and half of our team wanted to return to Oaxaca long term.”
On their second short-term trip there, God confirmed that the Villasenors were to move there long-term.
“We got to visit the villages in the local mountains. Oaxaca is home to the largest number of unengaged and unreached people groups in the western hemisphere. We saw many people from these people groups come to faith in Jesus. Doors opened to us in just two week’s time of ministry there. We would later find out from established missionaries there that they had never seen such opportunities open in such a short time in their 20 years of ministry in that particular part of Mexico. There is such a great need. Believers there need equipping and those in the mountains are yet to hear of the Savior.”
The Villasenor Family is requesting prayer for their family for continued financial provision. They are working hard and trusting God to provide them with the $36,000 needed yearly in Oaxaca to cover the cost of housing, food, transportation, health insurance and the basic needs as a family of four.
“Pray for God to protect the physical health of our team, for unity within the team and for those we go to serve. Pray for spiritual protection over us and those we are ministering to. Pray for God to open doors that no man can shut for us… for Him to be preparing the hearts of His future sons and daughters living in the villages in the mountains even now. Pray also for God to stir up the gifting that He has given us, so that we will be used by Him to point those future sons and daughters to Him and disciple the believers to ‘go’ and do the same.”
To follow Cisco & Naomi on their upcoming journey and/or partner with them financially as they go to serve the people of Oaxaca, Mexico – log onto: Mogiv.com/rockmissions/2107n/.