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Mark Gonzalez: Making a Difference for Ukraine

May 3, 2022
Yorba Linda
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Mark Gonzalez is passionate about loving people. He’s attended Friends Church since 2001, and his involvement is vast. Not only does he serve as an elder, but he and his wife have been a vital part of our high school and youth ministry for years, helping to support leaders as they pour into the next generation. He’s also a driving force behind our Homeless Street Teams outreach, and he’s compelled to mobilize people to make a difference.

That’s why he answered the call when God prompted him to turn a vacation into a mission.

Having planned a family trip to Prague and Poland last fall, when the war broke out in Ukraine, he had second thoughts. However, after doing research, praying about it, and feeling a nudge from the Lord, he decided that they should go, despite the uncertainty.

That’s when the Holy Spirit went to work in a big way.

Moved to make the trip count, he contacted the church and asked if they’d be willing to provide things like Bibles, food, and gifts for Ukrainian refugees. Not only were these supplied in short order, but he soon found himself meeting with Kyle Zimmerman about the relief efforts being facilitated by New Life Church in Ukraine. He and his family swiftly became part of Pastor Anatoly’s ongoing efforts to deliver urgently-needed medical supplies (things like tourniquets, bleed-stop, and bandages) to wounded soldiers. In fact, thanks to YOUR generosity, when they arrived, the Gonzalez family filled NINE shopping carts full of essentials for Ukrainian refugees and military.

It was a life-changing adventure.

While the trip provided many poignant encounters, Mark’s interaction with one refugee family impacted him most profoundly. When Kiev came under fire, this husband and wife, along with their 13 and 11-year old children, had just 15 minutes to grab their dog, a few belongings, and flee. Within 20 minutes of their departure, the bridge they crossed to escape was bombed. They headed for Germany, and despite leaving their home and all their worldly comforts, they continued praising the Lord. In fact, they drove eight hours to meet with the Gonzalez family, who filled their car with supplies to take across the border to their fellow Ukrainians.

We’re grateful to Mark and to each of YOU and your willingness to give so generously to others. Thanks for taking the time to send letters and sign Bibles. One Ukrainian woman was beyond excited to receive the Scriptures in her own language, and when she opened her new Bible and saw 20 notes hand-written in the front, she burst into tears. She couldn’t believe that brothers and sisters across the world cared so much about her — and it helped her to understand the depths of God’s love.

The Lord works mightily when we say “yes” to Him in big and small ways.

“The trip I took was only possible because the church came together and individuals said ‘yes’ to big things and little things,” Mark says. “It takes many people to carry out God’s plan, and doing what He puts on your heart — even if it’s something like signing Bibles — makes a difference. He multiples every effort and accomplishes more than we can ever see or understand through His Church.”