People were always telling Daniel Camacho as he was growing up that he had a call to ministry. But what Camacho wanted was a call to play shortstop for the New York Mets. “I thought those claims were ridiculous,” he said of the predictions, “but they’ve come back to haunt me.”
Now a Calvin College religion and philosophy major, Camacho recently won an undergraduate fellowship from the Fund for Theological Education (FTE). The $2,000 fellowship supports “gifted young leaders from diverse racial and ethnic communities and a variety of Christian faith traditions who are exploring ministry as vocation.” It also enabled Camacho to attend a four-day FTE conference in New Orleans this summer.
Camacho grew up in Uniondale, N.Y., the son of Colombian parents who, though not full-time pastors, engaged in several types of ministry. “I think they know a lot more than I do,” he said. “Even if I know more knowledge in books, they know Jesus, and that continues to inspire me.”
His mother was a preacher, and Camacho compares her to Monica, the mother of St. Augustine. “It’s been her prayers and her love and her work that have pushed me forward,” he said. The family attended a Spanish-speaking United Methodist church— “a vibrant community that nourished my faith,” he said.
Despite prognostications, Camacho didn’t have a sense of his calling until high school. “I realized that among friends and in school, I was passionate about sharing the gospel, and I was passionate about sharing my faith,” he said. “That was the moment that I realized this might be what God wanted me to do.” His pastor confirmed his calling and encouraged it—even allowing Camacho to share the pulpit from time to time.
Camacho chose Calvin to give his ministry preparation a liberal arts foundation—which is why he studies philosophy as well as religion. “I see it as giving me a broader perspective. Just because I get involved in the church doesn’t mean I have to limit myself,” he said. “Philosophy asks the big questions.” Camacho also minors in church, society, and ministry through the department of congregational and ministry studies.