When Julio Dávila first met LDS missionaries
in 1968, he resisted becoming involved with the Church.
But no one in his native Colombia who knew Elder
Julio Dávila as a member of the Seventy would doubt his commitment to the gospel. When
he was sustained to the Second Quorum of the Seventy on 6 April 1991, he
saw the call as simply extending his responsibility to share the gospel
over a wider area.
In the beginning, he was annoyed when missionaries
pressed him to study the gospel. But he could not bring himself to refuse
their visits because of the spirit he felt when they were present.
Then there was tithing. He told his wife his salary
would not stretch to cover it. But he knew the gospel was true. He and
his wife talked off and on for most of one sleepless night about whether
they should be baptized. Finally, early in the morning, they knelt and
prayed about it. Then he was able to fall asleep. But he had a dream in
which he saw a hand writing figures on a blackboard—his salary, then the
cost of unnecessary expenses. What he could eliminate added up to more
than one-tenth of his income.
He told the missionaries that after his baptism,
he would not be called “Brother,” would not take part in missionary work,
and would not accept a calling. But then a suggestion he made brought him
responsibility in the branch even before his baptism,
and soon “Brother Dávila” was enthusiastically sharing the gospel
with others. He has since helped bring many people into the Church.
His sense of humor helped break the ice with others,
said his wife, Mary. “He is very spiritual,” and very sensitive to others’
needs, she added.
Julio Enrique Dávila was born a son of Julio
Dávila and Ana Rita Penaloza on 23 May 1932 in Bucaramanga, Colombia,
but grew up in Cartagena. He graduated from college and then moved to Bogotá,
where he worked for the next several years in the publishing industry.
At one time, he had a printing/public relations/advertising business.
In Bogotá, he became acquainted with a neighbor,
Mary Zapata, whom he considered especially attractive. They were married
on 23 May 1958.
They were sealed in the Salt Lake Temple in 1973.
The Dávilas’ trip to Utah was a gift from a friend of a friend in
the travel industry; the donor, who did not know them, stipulated that
the couple must tell no one and have no contact with him. Years later,
however, Brother Dávila spent some time with the man in a business
setting. The man asked President Dávila repeatedly, “Who are you?
I feel I’m so much better when I’m with you.” Finally, President Dávila
explained how much the trip had meant to him and his wife. The man, who
felt he had not done enough good in his life, was deeply touched that God
would use Brother Dávila to remind him of his own generosity.
Beginning in 1972, Brother Dávila worked as
a volunteer and then as a part-time employee for the Church Educational
System until he accepted a full-time position in 1973. Except for three
years when he presided over the Colombia Cali Mission
(1981-84), he was involved in CES administration in South America
since that time.
He also was a branch president, a counselor
in a district presidency, a district president, a stake president, and
a regional representative (twice).
He said his wife has been a great strength to him
because of her intelligence and wisdom. Whenever it is possible, he asks
her counsel. “When I don’t,” he adds, smiling, “I go wrong. But she never
says, ‘I told you so!’ ”
Did he feel ready for added responsibility in his
“I have felt a great responsibility in all of my
callings,” Elder Dávila replied. “The level isn’t important.” Receiving
a new Church assignment, he says, is not a signal that one has arrived
at some new spiritual stature, but a call to get to work. For that, he
Elder Dávila fulfilled his five year call to
the Second Quorum of the Seventy with distinction and was honorably released October 4,