Jesus My Shepherd and Physician
Suzie Gonzalez – Missionary in Athens, Greece
By Selma Komisky
Suzie Gonzalez, a missionary, has been serving alongside her husband Frank, since 2011 in Athens, Greece. Throughout Suzie’s childhood, she always struggled with her health. At twenty, she had three major back surgeries to correct severe lumbar scoliosis. Suzie states, “God used this pain to reveal Himself to me in very special ways over years and is the instrument that led me to Him years ago.”
In 1996 at twenty-one, Suzie gave her life to Jesus. She attended Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa in Southern California and later met Frank there and was married in January 2002. Frank a youth pastor for several years at Calvary Chapel South Bay in California. In the first years of their marriage and ministry Suzie had four different surgeries. Three to correct her bones in her feet that had grown incorrectly and one to remove a cyst, but in the process found a double uterus and she had complications that made child bearing a big challenge stating, “We’ve been married for thirteen years now and still do not have children.” Through this and ministry, Suzie said, “God taught us to serve together in the midst of difficult circumstances; it made us grow in our walks, marriage, ministry, and matured us in the Lord.” They realized the trials were predatory for what laid ahead on the mission field.
In 2004, they both discerned God was putting Poland on their hearts and was giving them an open door to go. Preparing to leave, Suzie learned another serious problem had arisen. She experienced more severe back pain and found two bulging discs in her lower lumbar. Suzie notes, “Most of the doctors said I needed surgery soon because of the chance that they could blow.” Considering everything, they began to seek the Lord and trust Him. So off to Poland they went without surgery, relying on God physically to sustain her.
Ministry in Poland started off by assisting in with church planting with the Kula family in Radom. Immediately the reality set in that she would have to live with this type of pain. They had no car and had to walk or take the bus everywhere! Unbearable, this took a toll on her feet and back. Suzie recalls, “God was faithful to provide in order to deal with the pain.” Suddenly, God directed them to a manual therapist in Warsaw who helped manage her back pain. However in 2007, Suzie continued to have painful feet that worsened but she chose to surrender to God.
After a fruitful year serving, God unexpectedly moved them from Poland. In 2008 Frank was invited to teach at the Bible College in Montebelluna, Italy. They returned to the U.S. to apply for Italian visas but the condition of her feel got so bad she was basically walking on her ankles because of lack of support. Suzie needed surgery and also found an abnormal defect in her heart. This time, God would lead them differently. With support of their church for surgery cost, they chose to stay in the U.S for an extended time to have surgeries. They remained in the states for all 2009 and after six months of recovery, Suzie returned to Italy by faith on a tourist visa but after a semester of teaching, God closed the door. Through much prayer God called them to Greece and revived their vision for church planting. Here, the Gonzalez arrived in Athens Greece in February of 2011. In 2014, she had corrective surgery in Thessaloniki, and found relief!
Rather than church planting among Greeks, they began teaching the Word to refugees from the Muslim world and foreign people within Athens. Frank also teaches an inductive Bible study for foreign pastors. Additionally, they were able to begin distributing the translated CD, How Can a Man Be Born Again? by Chuck Smith and two worship songs by worship leader, Scott Cunningham. The interest among the local Greek pastors has been so great that they have begun to place CD’s in local Greek churches and a Christian book store in Athens. Currently, the book Why Grace Changes Everything by Chuck Smith is also in the final stages of translation to be published.
In closing, Suzie declares, “I learned throughout my experience that I need to accept the limitations God has set for my life. He has called me to be a missionary and pastor’s wife. My physical issues have not disqualified me. I hope God uses my story to encourage you to see all He is able to do in your life.”
Keep Suzie and Frank in your prayers as they continue to spread the gospel in Greece and check out Calvary Chapel Hellas at:
http://www.Calvary Chapel Hellas.com