Born and raised in Houston, Daniel Gil grew up in a Christian homeschool family and had a love for sports and adventure. He also loved singing, dancing and performing arts. When he was in high school, he committed his whole life to the Lord.
"That was when the rubber really met the road for me in my own personal walk with the Lord," he explains on a recent episode of A Word in Season on the Charisma Podcast Network. Although Daniel knew his salvation was secure, he was experiencing peer pressure in ways that he never had from friends who did not share his faith. He promised the Lord, "From this day forward, I'm not just going to give You my heart, I'm going to actively give You my life and everything that makes me me. I'm going to put in your hands the good, the bad, the ugly—not only the hopes and dreams, but the fears and the doubts. I'm not just going to be a Sunday and Wednesday Christian. I'm not just going to call myself a Christian because I grew up in this environment. This relationship with You is going to be my own."
After high school, Daniel decided to pursue a degree in applied ministerial studies from All Nations School of Ministry before making a long-term career decision. During that time God opened a door for him to work at Iron Sports Gym, where he began teaching as well as training for American Ninja Warrior.
Daniel debuted with ANW in 2015 as a walk-on—after having two auditions rejected—making it all the way to the National Finals in Las Vegas. He was selected to compete in the American Ninja Warrior All-Stars Special, served as a team captain for three seasons, and has competed internationally with Team USA in American Ninja Warrior Indonesia. After narrowly missing out on the title in 2019, Daniel became the ANW champion in 2020.
I've had the opportunity to minister on many occasions at Daniel's home church, where he is a worship leader, and a few years ago we both traveled with a team that ministered in Japan. One thing I've noticed about Daniel throughout the years—even as his status as a celebrity on reality television has grown and flourished—is his consistency in character and commitment. I asked him how he stays tethered and focused in the midst of all the stress, pressure and attention.
"I haven't changed much at all in the last seven years that I've been a part of American Ninja Warrior," Daniel replied. "And I think that's because the foundation that I already had when I started American Ninja Warrior was solidly on Christ alone and on using whatever platform He gave me to build the kingdom of God."
To hear more of Daniel's inspiring testimony and how he chooses to lead by example, listen to this week's episode of A Word in Season with Doug Stringer and Friends. Be sure to subscribe and leave a review.
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