My name is Mark Donaldson, a loving husband to Nicole for almost 30 years, proud father of four, and 'Poppi" to two beautiful grandkids! I'm blessed to be sharing life with such a fantastic family, always on the go doing something adventurous.
I recently married off my oldest daughter Lora, after achieving licensed clergy status through CLI. Thanks to Covid-19, our incredible plans for a large castle wedding with family and friends vanished before our eyes. They became like Mary and Joseph, where everything reduced down to a simple setting and just them. It's amazing how God uses the simplest of beginnings to bring about His grand plans for our lives. I have no doubt God has big adventures in store for Kevin and Lora!
With a Design degree from Azusa Pacific University, I have been in Construction Management most of my life. I enjoyed classes at Azusa, but it was the dynamic family atmosphere and community of believers that forever shaped my spiritual life. The day I stepped foot on campus one hot August afternoon after my best friend, and I drove a thousand miles to visit his brother, I knew I found something very needed in my life. A Godly community! One week later, I was back home, begging my parents to let me transfer.
That was a tall order. Private school was expensive, and as a member of Central Washington University's National Championship swim team as a diver at the height of my sophomore year ranked, I had a lot to lose. But life was miserable. The team's out of control party atmosphere was taking me down a dark self-destructive road, and I needed real guidance in my life. I often say Christian universities aren't for everyone, but it was what I needed.
With no guarantees, I dropped everything, and with transcripts in hand boarded a red-eye flight, the day classes started. Arriving at the registrar's office unannounced, I somehow got in by the skin of my teeth, registered, and made it to my first class right on time. It was indeed a miracle!
Even though I knew God wanted me there, Azusa, unfortunately, did not have a swim team. Figuring I sacrificed something significant for a greater cause, I resourcefully found a pool and became a diving coach for age group kids just down the road. Not knowing it at the time, that pool was about to change my life.
It was fall, 1985, just two months after arriving in LA when the Monday morning call came in exclaiming the pool was shut down for three weeks to film a movie called 'Back to School' with Rodney Dangerfield. "Wait; what??? Did you say a movie featuring diving!"
I thought hey, I work at this pool and have clearance. Maybe the movie needed divers! I climbed into my car and once again took a chance and arrived unannounced. Working my way to the set the moment actor Billy Zappka was filming a goodbye kiss scene with actress Terry Farrell in the pool lobby, somehow I ran right into the Casting Director, Bill Dance. Wearing his signature white sleeveless jacket and reebok tennis shoes, he looked straight at me as I leaned in and whispered, "I'm Mark, a diving coach here. Just wondering if you can use another diver?" Still staring and sizing me up, "Its a big commitment. Can you be back at 6 am sharp tomorrow?" "YES!!!" I said ever so quietly. Forget those finals only a week away, I'm in!
Taking that step of faith opened up a world of adventure, and Hollywood became my playground. After filming alongside the US High Dive team for 'Back to School,' I quickly moved on to become a professional Stand-In, setting up scenes for top actors of the '80s. Filming everything from "Made for TV" movies to epic "Big Screen" blockbusters, Bill and I became the dearest of friends, and as one of the most respected casting directors in the business, he kept me as busy as the school would allow.
Life moved on after college, and so did the adventure of Hollywood. As impressive as it was working alongside famous people, being front and center to making movies, none of that ever compared to becoming Mr & Mrs. Donaldson. Loving and respecting one another and being front and center to raising four kids that bear our image and share our journey in life topped Hollywood. There is no make belief in marriage. Honesty, respect, transparency, and unconditional love are guiding attributes that transform us. Marriage to Nicole completed me like nothing else, and raising a family gave both of us a sense of purpose and destiny far beyond anything we could achieve on our own.
As a minister, I'm a designer/builder with a pastor's heart. My hands are busy creating and designing living areas, problem-solving through construction management challenges. My heart engages with people in their situations, getting to know families personally, bringing Jesus to the center of our conversations.
My wife always said I'm a builder on a deeper level. Presented with this opportunity to marry Lora and Kevin was as natural as designing and building something with my hands. Facilitating God's blessing over a couple declaring their undying love for each other, embarking on a journey to build a Godly family who serves Jesus in power and truth; it's all front and center to my spiritual ministry DNA.
Christian Leaders Institute became the launching pad God is using 'to equip me for this work of ministry, for the building up of the body of Christ.' Eph 4:12 (ESV) Becoming a Licensed Christian Wedding Officiant, ushering in the blessing of God and the empowering of the Holy Spirit for new couples coming together under the headship of Jesus. Wow, what an honor! Soon to be realized many times over.
Please pray for a new crop of Spirit-filled couples equipped with hearts on fire for raising God-fearing warriors for what's to come—for the advancing of the gospel and the ministry of reconciliation through their kids, declaring in the streets and school hallways the love of Jesus. These are the things I dream of in this calling. Marrying warrior couples that won't back down or be "tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes." Eph 4:14 (ESV)
They say life is a matter of perspective. I live life to the fullest, riding a big wave of spiritual adventure. I love it when we step out in faith, leaning on God in moments of pure trust knowing he is with us, loving us, wanting nothing but the BEST for us. I boarded a red-eye flight once and climbed into a car in complete faith. I especially said yes to a beautiful woman, grabbing ahold of her hand never to let go. Look where God has taken me!!!