Without even knowing you, Daniel Paredes knows what God’s will for your life is. “The context of those questions [about God’s will] can look different for different people,” he said, “but for Christians, the main answer is always the same, and that’s to go and make disciples.”
Daniel and his wife of 15 months, Kate, are very passionate about fulfilling that purpose—right where they are now, in Spokane, Washington, and potentially one day overseas as missionaries.
Kate is a part-time assistant in the tool room and lab for Moody Bible Institute’s Aviation Technology program. Daniel is a cook at an emergency shelter for foster kids. In addition to their jobs, they help with worship at their church, play with and mentor an elementary-aged brother and sister from church, mentor two young men (also from their church) who are trying to get their lives back on track, and occasionally help at their church’s warming shelter. They’re also getting ready to start leading a small group for young adults at their church.
The “go” in the Great Commission, Daniel explained, means “as you are going,” a principle he learned as a student at Moody.
The “go” in the Great Commission, Daniel explained, means “as you are going,” a principle he learned as a student at Moody. “You can ‘go’ wherever you are,” he said. “As I’m going to work at 11 at the emergency shelter—that’s my mission field. It’s with the maintenance guy there, with kids, and with anyone else in between.”
That’s not to say that Daniel hasn’t physically “gone” to new places for the gospel. Indeed, when he was six years old, his parents moved their family from Venezuela to the United States after discerning that the Lord was calling them to be missionaries in the Midwest. Leaving behind grandparents, cousins, aunts, and uncles, as well as his dad’s stable, well-paying job, they settled in the Chicago suburbs and began ministering in a bilingual Salvation Army church.
Watching his parents serve in the church left an impression on Daniel and birthed in him a similar desire. “I’ve always been interested in ministry,” he said. “I still am.” Traditional missions like his parents had done, however, was never on his radar due to the type of Visa he had; his short-term status meant he’d have difficulty getting back into the country if he left. So for 19 years he stayed, never even considering any of the short-term missions opportunities that came up through the Salvation Army.
Daniel’s thinking began to change, however, when he attended a Moody Bible Institute missions conference in Spokane while he was in college. “The thought that the Lord planted through the conference was, ‘I’m called to ministry. And it’s not just in the States. It’s wherever the Lord wants it to be,’” he said. The possibilities for ministry began to broaden in his mind.
At Urbana 12, David Platt’s message permanently changed his perspective on missions—so much so, in fact, that when it came time to fill out his commitment card at the end of the conference, Daniel marked all four boxes about joining Jesus in his global mission.
He emphasized that he felt no pressure from the stage to make those commitments. Rather, he checked the boxes out of a sense of leading from the Lord, and fully intended to follow through. Today, two years later, he admits, “That little piece of paper is still challenging.”
Kate has also influenced Daniel’s perspective on missions. They met and started dating while students at Moody. She had intentionally chosen the Aviation Technology program there in hopes of serving as a missionary overseas. “Living outside the States in another culture really appealed to her,” Daniel said. “It’s something we’ve always talked about.”
In fact, their marriage in 2013 was essentially what prompted Daniel to fulfill his first two Urbana 12 commitments. Kate was required to do an internship abroad for her Aviation Technology degree. And, having become a permanent resident of the United States in 2000, Daniel was free to go with her. They chose Africa Inland Mission (AIM)—one of the few organizations willing to take a married female mechanic as an intern—and were placed in AIM’s office in Kenya for July and August of 2014.
Though required by Moody, the time in Africa also served as a visionary trip for Daniel and Kate to see what it looked like for them to be a married couple doing missions overseas. During the week, while Kate worked on planes, Daniel did odd jobs in the office and hangar. On the weekends they visited an orphanage and a slum, where Daniel had the privilege of preaching. They also spent time in the homes of Kenyans—or invited friends over to theirs—and worked on learning Swahili. They experienced the culture of Kenya in significant ways and formed genuine relationships with people there.
As Daniel observed and learned from seasoned AIM missionaries, he also caught a vision for pastoral counseling with an emphasis in crisis and trauma. “You see things on the news,” he said. “Ukraine and Russia. There was an uprising in Venezuela against the government. Ebola. All the stuff in the States with racism and the death of cops and Black men. There are a lot of crises.... I want to be able to have a voice for the Lord. And I have that God-given ability to be a good listener.” He’d love, in particular, to counsel and care for missionaries and pastors. AIM staff affirmed the need for such help and support.
They returned to the United States thankful for the trip but still unsure whether God was calling them into full-time overseas missions. News of a baby on the way added one more factor to consider as they discuss, pray, and discern. Kate still longs to serve internationally. And Daniel wants to fulfill his last two Urbana 12 commitments—to serve mid-term and long-term overseas. But they’re not sure when or where or how. So they continue to wait on the Lord.
So they continue to wait on the Lord...taking what they’ve learned from their parents, from Moody, from David Platt and Urbana, and from Kenya, and fulfilling their purpose to make disciples right where they are in Spokane.
They’re actively waiting, though, taking what they’ve learned from their parents, from Moody, from David Platt and Urbana, and from Kenya, and fulfilling their purpose to make disciples right where they are in Spokane. As they serve those around them, they want to help other believers—especially the young adults in their church—gain a deeper understanding of God’s heart for the world. They have plans to use Operation World with their small group to help them establish a habit of praying for and supporting missionaries and nations. They also want to look at the stories of martyrs to gain perspective on suffering and on devotion to Jesus.
In all this, they never lose track of their purpose. “As far as God’s will goes,” Daniel reiterates, “there is one clear answer: to go and make disciples. I don’t need to wait to do that. I’m living that now.”
To read more about Daniel and Kate’s trip to Kenya and get a glimpse of their real-time processing about missions, visit their blog: ojosenel.wordpress.com.