A Fresh Perspective: A Young, Mission-Minded Ecuadorian Joins Regional Board
When faithfully following the Lord’s steady leading, there are times that His response to our prayers of surrender will take us by surprise.
That was the case for 28-year-old Danni Aviles, as she was elected to the Ibero-America Regional Board at the Regional Conference in Lima this past November. When reflecting on how the Lord led her to this role, she laughed and said “I don’t understand exactly how it happened … It’s just the kind of thing that you have no idea God is working on.”
Prior to the conference, the spot in which Danni was elected didn’t even exist. It was during the conference the board added the spot for a lay representative, and after several nominations it was made official — Danni was to fill that spot.
In a culture that is typically led by men or married women, her election is both a testament to the way in which she has already been serving and leading the church, as well as to what the Lord is doing through her.
While it’s both exciting and unusual to see someone like Danni join the board, the Lord has been guiding her on a path that goes beyond this particular role.
Ibero-America Missionary Team Leader, Jim Rice, said Danni was elected to the board ultimately because of her calling into missions, and the ways she has pursued that calling. “It’s been the driving force that has put her in front of people,” he said.
Now a college student who is also working to finish the necessary requirements to serve as a full-time missionary through JIBACAM (Ibero-American and Caribbean Mission Board), Danni has faithfully followed the Lord through a lot of heartache to get to this point.
She first began to feel called into missions when attending a cross-cultural missionary training in Brazil, and felt further confirmation a few months later when attending a missionary camp in Colombia.
“God made me fall in love with him and his mission little by little until it filled my heart — so all I could do after that was follow Him,” Danni wrote.
But even her call to missions itself was a surprise to her. She said the Lord called her in the midst of a difficult and painful season of her life and at the time, she really didn’t understand why He was calling her. But it helped to have examples to look up to along the way.
Global Partners missionaries Sheree and George Wuertz, who have served in Ecuador since 2007, have watched Danni grow up since she was about 13 years old. Over that time, she became like an adopted daughter to them and an older sister to their four sons.
Sheree said she likens their relationship with Danni to how Paul felt with Timothy.
“ … It has been a privilege to walk alongside her, disciple her and even ‘adopt’ her into our home and family,” she wrote. “As she felt a stronger call to missions, it was encouraging to see her continue to say ‘YES’ to whatever Jesus was asking of her and leading her into.”
From organizing and facilitating missions camps in several Latin American countries, to helping mobilize the church through JIBACAM, Danni has said “yes” to several leadership opportunities that the Lord has led her to.
Jim, who served in Ecuador with his wife Lori for several years, said it’s been a huge blessing to watch Danni follow after God’s plans. “It spurs us on in doing what God has called us to do,” he added.
After beginning the process to become a missionary through JIBACAM, she served in Fotizo for three months. Since then, she also served in South Asia for one month, where she shared with the church how God is “calling everyone, regardless of race, culture, age or anything else that wants to be a barrier.”
Sheree also prays that “what (Danni) has experienced flows out of her like living water to others in Brazil and later on in the middle east.”
Jim said he believes that Danni is called to serve in Fotizo, so he hopes that she’s able to return there soon, to serve full-time. But in the meantime, he hopes she’s able to give leadership and encouragement to the board.
As she serves on the board, Danni said she plans to focus on listening for God’s voice, in order to use her own.
“I really hope that each of us personally — but also as a team — could hear God’s voice and see God’s heart for and through His church in Latin America,” she said. “so we can move under His direction for every plan He has in store.”
We praise God for the ways He is leading Danni and the generations that will follow!