FAITH IN THE STORM: A SPOTLIGHT SERIES ON MISSIONAL LIVING - Christine Porto
If you’ve watched our live stream at any point recently, there’s a good chance that Christine Porto was running it from our CrossPoint Campus. Christine has served faithfully on our media team for the last few years and this current pandemic has been a little tougher on Christine than it has for most. “Five and a half years ago, I was diagnosed with stage three lung cancer, I've never smoked, so it just kind of came out of left field. I remember the first thing that I told myself was, I wasn't going to ask ‘why'. I wasn't going to ask 'why me, why not somebody else', because I didn't want it to be somebody else. I was just going to trust God and follow whatever path He had for me. I remember the first thing I said to my husband when I when came home that day. He hugged me and I said, you just have to have faith.”
From that point on, life was not the same for Christine, but she was still able to continue doing the things she normally did. "I was blessed to be able to continue working and live a relatively normal life. It gave me a perspective on a lot of things. I was very grateful and that's kind of how I understood it, was that this is something that's going to give me a clearer vision of my life and what it should be.”
This is how Christine continued to live her life and after more than five years since her diagnosis, she received some very hopeful news from doctors. “After five and a half years I was told there was a chance for a cure and that they were going to remove the tumor, and I was going to be cancer free. So I prayed before the surgery, I wanted it all to go well, but I wanted it to be God's will. That was really scary for me and it shouldn't have been, it shouldn't have been scary. I should have been able to pray that with confidence, but in the back of my mind, there was the question of not knowing what His will was. That shouldn't have mattered, but it made me realize that I didn’t have as much faith as I should have had. So, I went in for surgery and instead of things working out the way we had planned, I found out that the cancer had actually spread. So, they closed everything back up and sent me home.”
Because of Covid beginning to spread more at this point, Christine was sent home quickly, without much of a follow-up plan until more could be figured out. So, once at home, She called her boss to say that she’d be back to work in just a few days. But, in that time, something happened that she wasn’t expecting. "I said, okay, well, this is it, you know, I'll go back to what I was doing before and I'm accepting it. But, over that weekend I woke up in the middle of the night and just felt this tremor in my arm, and it was moving up, and it hit my shoulder. I asked my husband for help, told him to call 911, and even then I was trying to put everything in it's place and I was reasoning through it. I was thinking, well, this is gonna move to my chest and it's going to move to my heart, and my heart is going to stop. So, I said goodbye to my husband, I told him I loved him. That was the last thing I remember. The beauty of it, which sounds weird to say, but the blessing of it was that when I was going through it there was no fear, I wasn't afraid, I wasn't panicking.”
“The only regret I had was that I haven't helped my husband to get to where he would feel the same peace, because I was looking at this face and he was worried and he was scared. I thought, I wish that I could tell him that it's okay, but I couldn’t.”
Thankfully, Christine made it through this experience, but found out more about what was happening with her cancer. "So obviously, I'm still here, and what we found out was that the cancer had spread to my brain. I had a pretty sizable tumor. COVID had hit the scene now, so It was very difficult to get in for any kind of treatment, but they squeezed me in for gamma knife treatment to the tumor.”
“The more important lesson really in the whole thing was that I really didn't have any control. We think we do, we take care of ourselves, we try to live healthy, we exercise but you really don't know. I didn't have control of whether the treatment was going to work. I couldn't drive and still can't drive, I couldn't do anything for myself. It was a wake up call for me to have that control taken away. But, at the same time, it was very freeing. It was very eye-opening because it felt like the last chain had been unlocked. There had been a chain holding me, that I didn't even know was there and God just unlocked that last chain, the need for control, because with that need for control comes fear, uncertainty, guilt, all of these other feelings, none of them good. It was like 1000 pounds had been taken off my shoulders because I didn't have to worry anymore, all I had to do was trust God."
Through everything Christine is dealing with, there’s still one thing that she said is showing through time and again. "The whole COVID thing is very similar to what I'm going through personally, you don't have control over it. Obviously, we have to take the proper precautions, but we also have to trust God to get us through it. We have to look for Him, even in this dark time. With COVID, and with the different conflicts going on across the country and across the world, we have to look for Him in that darkness, because you can see Him everywhere. You can see the good, you can see the love. It doesn't matter how high Satan wants to pile on the darkness and the misery, God's love always sprouts through. So, that's what I try to do, is I try to look for that and focus on that, in all of these crazy times."
Before we finished our conversation, Christine left me with this very “Buffalo” anecdote, for how we’re already victorious when we’re in Christ. "I know Buffalo is football town, so if the Bills were in the Superbowl again, everybody would be ecstatic. But imagine if you were on the team and you were actually gonna play in the game and somebody that you knew personally, who is trustworthy, came up to you on the sidelines and said, 'Hey, listen, I just want you to know, no matter how bad it gets the Bills are gonna win the Super Bowl today.' And you're standing there in a jersey, on the field and you're on the team, could you imagine the joy that you would feel? The abandonment that you would feel? The lack of fear that you would feel? You would play that game with joy, and love, and confidence, and that's how I want to live my life. That's how I want to serve, because we're on the winning team. Sometimes it gets bad, you get beat up, you get knocked down, but you're on the winning team. Don't ever forget that."