How did it happen?
After two years of interacting with Ukrainian refugees in his city of Greensboro, NC, Mark Koehler made a contact in Odessa Ukraine late in 2000. Through communication with his contact, he became aware of the poverty and hard life that faced the children of Odessa.
At this time, God put a deep burden upon his heart for these children. In fact, he believed that God was calling him to move to Ukraine as a missionary to care for the children. See his story in his own words
After living in Chornomorsk for one year, Mark looked for a massage therapist to relieve the tension in his neck due to the stress of his first year-and-a half living in this foreign country. After great results, Mark continued treatment, but now focused upon his own disability. After three months of treatment, he had an amazing breakthrough. At this time, God put it upon his heart to begin a massage therapy clinic for children with disabilities.
Soon after this, Mark’s mother Patricia Koehler began researching how to start a non-profit public charity to further support his two outreach programs in Ukraine. By August of 2004, Mission Ukraine Children’s Hope was established and recognized by the IRS as a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization.
Mark’s family and friends have rallied around his cause for the children of Ukraine. Mark looks to God as the true Director of his work. As founder of MUCH, he acknowledges that MUCH is a big team, both in America and in Ukraine, and he is only a part of it.
In January 2012, Mark married Sveta, a Ukrainian woman with a passion for the children equal to his own. He now has two children and four grandchildren.
Sveta has a degree in nursing from the medical college in Mykolaiv, Ukraine, and additional training as a massage therapist. She has worked in the Ukrainian sanatorium facility as a massage therapist. She worked at the Port of the city of Mykolaiv for seventeen years. Now, Sveta works as Mark’s assistant and translator.