I met Lonny Hiramoto around 2005 at the Vans Skatepark in Orange, CA. He is a man with a checkered past, and it seemed that he had turned around when he gave his life to Jesus. He went to the Sanctuary Church, where Alabamy Haizlip and Christian Hosoi are pastors. Lonny was “on fire,” for God. He was an usher, a youth leader, on the prayer team, and in prison ministry. Since then, things have changed. I recently sat down with Lonny to talk about faith, life stories, and struggles. This is Lonny’s walk so far.
What was your life like for you before you found Jesus?
As a kid, I grew up a tough life. My older brothers and sisters— we lived in Santa Monica, so they were into the Mexican low rider culture. There was always drugs and alcohol. When I grew up, that's pretty much what I saw. All this would happen at my house while my mom and dad were at work. It sowed a seed in me where… that’s the way life was. So I grew up a bad boy. I was smoking weed when I was 9, 10 years old, drinking when I was 13, and it turned into doing harder drugs. I skated when I was 13, 14, 15, 16. When I was 18, I started hanging around a bad group, a bunch of gang members, started dealing and getting heavily into dope. I fell out of skateboarding, and there would be times where I would just be partying, up for like 3 days.
I knew of God. My mom used to always tell me, “Lonny, this is not Godly.” She would always tell me when I had friends over, and I would throw up a hand in her face and say, “C’mon mom, don’t do that.” And growing up hearing my dad say, “God. The day I see him is the day I believe in him.” So, that’s what I always had to grow up with. I’ve always had some sense of who God was, because my mom always embedded that in me. She would walk around, and read the bible constantly, and we all thought, “Mom’s crazy.”
So your mom was the only one in your house who knew God?
Yeah, she was the only one that would pray for us. I was 13 years old walking out of the house at midnight and she’s praying for me, and I’m like, “Mom, get away.” She would say, “You’re not supposed to be going out at this time at your age.” It’s just how it was. That was what we did.
As I got older, I started realizing, life’s hard! I fought for everything that I needed or did.
One night at this guy's place, I was up for like 3 days. I had tons of coke out on a table. I had to use the bathroom, so I went and threw water on my face, and I blacked out. I fell and hit my head on the sink. I got back up and there was blood running down my eye, and I was like, “Man, God if you are real, you need to take me out of this.” This was when I was a little older, maybe mid twenties, close to thirty. And He did. That night when I looked in the mirror and I had blood running down my face— this was when my son was born and I used to leave my wife and be gone for nights. I would get kicked out of my house, I had no place to go, because she would just be done with it. But this particular night, He took me out of that scene. I left all my dope there and just walked out. Everybody was like, “Where you going?”
“Oh, I gotta go.”
“What about your dope?” And I’m like, “Ah, I don’t need it.” And they told me, I wasn’t good, and to go wash my face. I said, “Nah,” and jumped in my car and left. Two hours after that, these two guys I was with, they killed the landlord that was living in the same complex as them. It was all over the news in Gardena. That’s one thing that made me realize that God is real. That would have been me with those two guys. It’s so crazy, because at that same time while all this was happening, I started running into people that were old friends of mine, and friends that I’d met— they would just talk about Jesus. They would talk about what God had in store for me, that my life was struggling, and that I’m lucky to be alive with all the things I’ve done. It’s pretty amazing. Of all the things I’ve been through, and I’m still kicking. I’m 50, and it’s amazing I’m still able to step on my skateboard, and… just wake up in the morning [laughing]. Life was hard back then.
So, when did you start going to church?
I think it was like, 2007 where I ran into Christian [Hosoi]. We got together. And he said, “You need to come to church with us.” So I started going. Pretty much from that point on, I had dedicated my life to the Lord. So from 2007, I was getting to know God. I was serving Him. I was one of the youth leaders. I got pretty embedded in it, with the Word, and just walked in it for years. Until just recently, about the middle of 2013, I kinda just got overloaded, you know. Just serving, prayer team, ushering, youth leader… not to make an excuse or anything, I pretty much just got overworked. And at the time, I was having problems with my wife. We were pretty much separated at a time when I was serving God. I got fed up — the things that I did to my family, doing dope, not coming home for days, it left a bad taste in their life, so it was hard for them to accept me, even when I was serving God. They were like, “No.”
So, from that time, from 2007 to 2013, I was praying, “Fix them. Lord, fix them. They need you.” Here I am praising God, I’m doing all the right things, how come you’re not bringing my family back together? That whole time, I realized that He was waiting for me to be fixed.
With me having a hard, tough life… I walked away from Him. By walking away from Him, it caused me to backslide, and it’s so true when you read God’s Word, it says once you know Him, and you walk away, it’s hard to get back into the flow and walk in the Spirit. I used to pray for people and cast out demons, and I walked away— it makes it hard to actually sit and praise Him for the state that I’m in today. It’s not the state that I want to be in— like a piece of clay trying to be molded [laughing]. It’s so crazy. Even to this day, when I am having a drink, I’ll walk up to somebody— I strongly believe every moment is a divine appointment. I’ll be drunk and someone will pass by and God will give me a Word for them and I’ll start to preach to them, and I’ll think, “I’m drunk! I can’t preach to this guy!” It’s so crazy that the Word of God is so deep in me, it gives me some sense of a good feeling and then again it just [choking up] makes my heart cry.
And it’s still convicting you.
Oh yeah. Big time.
For the things he's showed me— one time I was living in an apartment and there was a neighbor, who was a dancer (we'll call her Gina), and she would always talk about swinging. She always wanted me to hang out with her and I was like, “No,” because I was walking in the Spirit. It’s crazy how God works because I used to go to this Jamba Juice where this other girl (let's call her Cindy) worked. She and Gina used to dance together. I never knew that, but this is how God works when you're walking in the spirit. I would walk into the Jamba Juice, and God would put something on my heart, and when I saw Cindy, I would tell her, "Hey, can I pray with you?" I used to be on the prayer team and I used to love to pray for people. She broke down in tears, and every time I went in there, she would ask me, "Can you pray for me? Can you pray for me, because I do some pretty wicked things. I'm a house wrecker." Cindy started getting her life together and walking away from that lifestyle. One time she got together with Gina, and she told her, "Hey, I met this guy and he prays for me, and he's crazy on fire for God." So Gina asks, "What's his name?" And she says, "Lonny."
"Lonny? Is he like a skater guy that looks like...?" Cindy said, "Yeah." I went to Jamba Juice, and Cindy says, "Hey, Gina wants to get in touch with you," so I gave her my number. By this time, Gina wasn't in my complex anymore.
Gina calls me up after work, when I was at my office, and says, "I need to talk to you." And I said, "Cool, we'll go get some coffee or something." She said, "No, that's ok, I'll just come to your office." She came, we talked for a bit and then decided to get something to eat.
We drove separate, so all the way there I was praying, “God give me a word for her.” In the book of James, it talks about, lean on Him and all evil must flee. So, this is what I told her, I said, “God put this on my heart. Trust in God and all evil must flee.” We talked, and I asked her about her salvation, because she had told me she had been saved before. After I asked her how long it had been since she gave her life to the Lord, she answered, “A while ago,” and that’s where it stopped, she changed the subject. I told her that I always felt there is divine appointment for all things and that's the reason she was there.
A while later, we were back in front of my place, and I asked her, if she would like to dedicate her life to the Lord. I told her there is a reason why she contacted me. She said, “Yeah.” I took her hands and I told her to repeat after me. We started to say the prayer of salvation. As soon as we got to the part, "do you receive God as your Lord and Savior," her eyes rolled back in her head and she flew out of my hands, and she hit her head on my window, and she made this grunting sound. I asked her if she wanted to go to a friend’s house. There were two ladies, who were on the prayer team for the Sanctuary and they lived in Fontana. I called them up and told them that I have a friend, who has some "visitors," and asked them if they were up for praying and setting her free from that. These ladies were full on into deliverance, and they told me to bring her over. So, Gina agreed to go. When we got there, she was afraid to walk up to the door. A lot of people don’t believe in demons, but until you see it begin to shake and shiver— when I looked at her, she was trying to bundle herself up like she was cold, but it wasn’t cold out, it was the dead of summer, and her eyes were rolling back in her head.
When my friend Nancy opened the door, she had two Akitas, who always used to bark at people. When they saw Gina, they took two steps back and didn’t bark. Nancy put the dogs away, and then opened up all the windows. So Nancy talked to Gina for a bit, talking about what was going on in her life and the issues she had. Nancy dipped her finger into some anointing oil, put a cross on Gina's forehead, and said, “By the blood of Jesus.” And BAM! her back arched, her head cocked back, her eyes rolled back, and she went to take a swing at Nancy, so I had to grab her. I had her arms, and she pulled me down to the ground, and she was squirming like a snake. It was crazy. This girl was a small, petite girl and she became strong. She was squirming all over and finally, I had to bear my shoulders down on her. The ladies continued to pray for her and anointing her with oil, and telling the spirit to come out. And Gina would yell, [in a deep grunting voice], “No!” Nancy was telling the spirit it doesn’t have authority there and to leave, in the name of Jesus. Gina would yell, “No!”
After a while, Gina started to have a glow in her eye. She was able to answer questions, and claim Jesus as her Lord and Savior. She said that she had a sense of peace, but she felt empty, like something left her. And then Nancy said, “Hallelujah! Lonny, you didn’t see that?” She told me the demon hit a couple things and then left out the window.
When I drove Gina back to my apartment, I asked how she was feeling. She told me the only thing she remembered was the stucco ceiling in the shape of a cross. I touched her forehead and asked her how it feels. She said, “It’s crazy, I just feel at peace.”
It’s stories like that— God’s healing process of how He works, it’s crazy. How He said, "You can move mountains. All you need is faith the size of a mustard seed." The faith has to be a faith in your heart, not just say, “Oh yeah, I have faith.”
God has been showing me things. Recently, I slammed really hard, you and Christian prayed for me, it just blew my mind. He put these scriptures in my heart. Stuff that I never thought I would read— about Israel, how he wrestled with the angel. I was asking Him, "Why do I want to read that?" All the things I was going through— I was separated from my wife, but I read it and the similarities surprised me. I’m sitting there in tears, just crying and reading this.
He showed me so much, my whole backside was black and blue. I could barely step on my right side. The next day, I go to the doctor and he takes an x-ray, he thought it was funny. He hit my hip, laughing, and said, “So you broke that before, huh?” And I told him no. He was making jokes, and I told him, my buddies prayed for me. He said, “Well, you’ve been healed!” He was making jokes about it. But in my head, with the relationship that I still have with God, I looked at it in a different way. It’s crazy, because that same day I went to church and I showed Christian, and he was like, “Dude, you’re walking good!” I was telling him, “You don’t even know. A couple weeks ago, I broke my toe, and a year ago, I broke my finger andI haven’t been able to close my hand.” After that day I got on my knees and was crying. I woke up that next morning. I was able to make a fist, which I haven’t been able to do in a year, and move my toe, straighten it to where it is flat. These guys seen my toe and they knew it was broken. And you know confirmation comes in threes. I never really believed in that until I woke up and I was able to make a fist, and I said, “Whoa!” And I looked my toe, and I said, “Whoa! Toe’s good bro!” I was thinking no way. So I rolled out of bed and I stood up. I said, “Whoa!” And I took a couple steps, and I said, “Whoa!” And then I started jumping up and down, saying, “Whooooa! No way.”
I called Christian and I told him I was good. God healed me. I went to church and told him about it, and he said, “Siiick!” It was crazy, because Pastor Jay was talking about healing. It’s something everyone has in them, we just have to believe. Those are some of the things that God has showed me. I’ve come to realize that it’s what we feed our minds, our eyes, our ears. Everything that we intake, it will birth itself eventually. I set myself up to be backslidden by walking away from serving God. Slowly, I’m trying to get back into my walk with God. It’s been difficult, but you know, God’s grace is sufficient.
So how are you doing now? I thought that after He healed your hip, you’d be back. You’d be back in church.
I did too. You know, after what he did, I did too. It’s so crazy. There is a part in the bible, I believe it was Samuel, where he asks, who you gonna serve? Are you going to serve satan, or are you going to serve me? It’s so easy to see a miracle or be in a miracle, but be caught up in things so much that it makes it really hard to go back and serve God, because of the substantial effect it would have on the life I’m living now. There are things that I would need to cut off, and that’s the hardest thing, to cut things off, and just say, I’m gonna go this way now. I hope to God I never have to wait for that moment where I’m laid up and dying before I go back. I pray that that never happens because that’d be that last thing anyone wants to deal with. I would say that I’m a God-fearing man, but from the lifestyle that I’m living, it’s almost not that way. I pray everyday. Every morning I lift up my family, my friends, just thank Him for breath. Even though I see myself in more of a broken state than He probably does, I just try to put everything together, like He says. We’re like dirty rags. As godly and on fire at some moments that I can feel, I’m like a dirty rag. It’s not right. It’s not where I want to be. It’s just a matter of trying to walk back into that spirit. I read my bible every once in a while, and I’ll read something, and I’ll cry, because I’ll read something that will touch me, and then go out the next day and get drunk… curse somebody. It all falls back to, “Who you going to serve?” It’s like in Matthew when he talks about when you walk away, you get worse. I’ve actually been on my knees praying and felt that He showed me every step that I sowed in my life to backslide. I started saying, “This is too much work. I’m getting overwhelmed. I live too far. Gas costs too much. You know what? I’m just going to step down from this and find a church out where I live.” All those things were just an excuse to backslide. Slowly, I just went backward. Believe it or not, prayer and supplication is real. It’s real. They say that as much as I know, it’s easier just to be bad and not know God. Because you know all the things He can do. He exercised some of His miracles on you— it’s way harder than me just being some random, “Hey don’t preach to me,” kind of guy. Because those guys [laughing], they are a lot better off [than me].
I think that all those things that He shows you is Him telling you, “I’m still here. I’m still waiting.”
It’s crazy. I mean, when I talk about Him… I tear. It hurts. It’s gnarly. It’s a gnarly fight.
If you knew Lonny when he was on fire for the Lord, and you talk to him now, you can see the struggles he is dealing with. On the outside, he may seem like he's ok, but his heart is hurting. I love Lonny, and he is, and always will be my brother in Christ. He has been a great friend. I know God is not done with him. His story is not over, and I am believing his second testimony is coming soon, and it is going to touch more people than he could ever have imagined.