For some, ministry means working full time in a church or Christian organization; for others, it means serving faithfully wherever God leads. Like those in this second group, Dr. Elias Gonzalez (Pre-Medicine ’09) has found over the years that his passion for dentistry could also be a powerful tool for serving Christ.
Even before attending PCC, Gonzalez had determined to pursue dentistry as a career. “I knew I wanted to help those in need by working in healthcare but wasn’t convinced that I wanted to become a physician,” he explained. “After exploring various healthcare careers, shadowing a local dentist, and writing a research paper on dentistry, I solidified my decision to become a dentist.”
With that goal in mind, Dr. Gonzalez chose to study pre-medicine at PCC, but he took away more than just core knowledge about the sciences. “PCC prepared me very well for my career, both academically and spiritually,” he said. “PCC’s pre-medicine program gave me a strong academic foundation that helped me succeed in dental school, and the Christian values that PCC instilled in me have helped me in all aspects of my career.”
Dr. Gonzalez’s career has been a successful one, allowing him to be a witness for Christ to those he serves with. After finishing dental school, he began working as a dentist in the U.S. Navy. Though this position required time away from his family, God was at work opening doors of ministry. “During my time in the military . . . I was unexpectedly deployed on the Navy’s hospital ship, the USNS Comfort,” he said. “This was the longest period of time we had ever been apart; however, God used that deployment to help me grow spiritually and allowed me to share Christ with others on the ship and be a shining light for Him.”
Along with sharing his faith with coworkers, Dr. Elias Gonzalez has volunteered his time and skills by participating in overseas medical missions trips. These trips connect doctors and nurses with those who may not be able to afford medical care. Dr. Gonzalez explained, “I’ve had the privilege of serving on two medical missions trips to Honduras and South Africa with Medical Missions Outreach.”
During one of these trips, Dr. Gonzalez’s wife, Aline (Management ’08), was able to join him. “Prior to that trip, she had zero medical experience and was in no way the ‘medical type,’ but she stepped out of her comfort zone and volunteered to help me in the dental department. She ended up enjoying the experience!” he added. In addition to assisting with people’s physical needs, Dr. Gonzalez said he “really enjoyed using dentistry as a tool to share the gospel with hundreds of people.”
In July 2021, Dr. Gonzalez transitioned into a new position: he joined a private practice in Pensacola, FL, where he serves the community in which he grew up. Additionally, he now gets to work with his wife, who decided to continue serving in the field of dentistry after the missions trip to South Africa. Together, they help some of the same people that taught or mentored them when they were teens.
“Now that I’m in private practice here in Pensacola, I’m really enjoying the opportunity to provide dental care to my family and friends,” Dr. Gonzalez said. “I’ve even had the honor of providing dental care to my past PCA/PCC teachers, which is very fulfilling.”
At Pensacola Family Dental Associates, Dr. Gonzalez takes care of patients ranging from children to adults. He provides routine exams and cleanings and completes fillings, crowns, and extractions. He also spends time fulfilling administrative duties such as marketing, managing staff, and working with insurance companies.
One of Dr. Gonzalez’s favorite things about his field of work is helping people. He shared, “It’s very rewarding when I’m able to instantly improve a patient’s quality of life, whether it’s getting them out of pain or repairing a front tooth that allows them to confidently smile again.”
As he looks back on how God has used him the past several years, Dr. Elias Gonzalez cannot help but feel grateful. He shared, “I’m thankful that God has given me a unique skillset that I can use to further His kingdom.”
Read more about how God is directing and working through PCC faculty and alumni.