Christine Malinda Peart is a United States Air Force veteran and a retiree from the Department of Defense. All told, she dedicated 23 years of willing service to her country. However, it wasn’t until fourteen years ago that her life became challenging and scary.
It started with repeated hospital visits for respiratory infection. Months later, when that had cleared up, she was on vacation and began to experience severe muscle cramps. Within hours, she could not walk nor move. After she spent two weeks in the hospital, her doctors diagnosed her with Pseudomembranous Colitis, a condition where the large intestine swells due to an overgrowth of C difficile bacteria.
Several weeks later, Christine’s symptoms returned, and she was back in the hospital—suffering, unable to walk, and unable to take care of herself. This condition lasted for a year. The doctors had no answers; they thought her paralysis was temporary. Her mother had to quit her own job to help support and take care of Christine.
Then Christine received a call from her aunt one day, reminding her of James 5:14: “Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.” Christine traveled to her aunt’s home, where the pastor and family members prayed for her and anointed her.
As a result of those prayers, the Lord led Christine to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. After a year of numerous tests and examinations, the doctors there diagnosed her with an autoimmune disease called polymyositis, with antisynthetase syndrome and interstitial lung disease. They told her that she would have a shortened life span.
Christine has lived with this disease for 14 years now, and she spends her time encouraging and educating others to live life in a positive way, no matter what illness or trial life might offer. Two years ago, her biggest test of faith came when the doctors told Christine her lung disease was progressing, and she would have to go on the lung transplant list.
Christine, her husband Richard, and their family feared the worst. After much fervent prayer, Christine let go of the things she had no control over and accepted that God is in control. She says, “I realized the Bible was clear on how I needed to approach my illness. It instructed me to use the eight fundamental principles to achieve optimum health: Rest, Exercise, Water, Sunlight, Air, Nutrition, Temperance, and Trust. I also needed to be obedient to His words, even though at times they were contrary to the plans that I had for myself.”
Doctors are still scratching their heads and looking at Christine’s blood, trying to understand how someone who is oxygen dependent is able to do so much in life with such low lung capacity. Meanwhile, Christine (who goes by the name Malinda P.) has created a non-profit ministry called REFOCUSONU to help, educate, and motivate others who deal with health and life hiccups to turn those setbacks into victory. Her main goal is to help beautiful people (like you!) reach their fullest potential by focusing on God and revitalizing their spirits.
Christine’s faith has been able to help thousands of people realize that even after they have been diagnosed with an illness, they too can find happiness and success. Christine and her husband Richard do not believe in letting her disability stop her from living life; one of her favorite scriptures is 2 Corinthians 12:8-9: “Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’” Now Christine is glad to boast about her weakness so that the power of Christ can work through her.
Christine said the secret to her living so long and so well with a terminal illness is really no secret at all. She simply lives by faith.
Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I arrived here by taking life and my health for granted and not taking care of myself! I was always trying to take care of everyone else when it came to their health. If you had a problem, I always had the answer. I would recommend various herbs, health foods, or spa treatments, as well as simple techniques to relax and tips to take care of yourself. But what I wasn’t doing was taking care of myself. I was all about building up my little nest egg for future retirement. I often worked long hours, my diet was full of sugar, fried, and processed foods, and I was always on the go. I never sat down.
Fourteen years ago, I received my first wakeup call. One evening I became sick with a high fever and suffered paralysis from my neck to my feet. Doctors couldn’t explain what was going on; they just watched me deteriorate without a clue about the cause. For nine months I couldn’t walk, move, or take care of myself. My mother had to quit her job and temporarily relocate to Wichita Falls, Texas, to take care of me full time. I was about 34 years old, and the thought of dying consumed me with fear. I couldn’t understand—one day I had been talking and laughing with my cousin in Michigan, and the next day I couldn’t walk and was told that this was my new life.
I sank into deep depression, asking God, “Why me?” I cried for days. Neither side of my family had any history of this illness, so I was lost in a world I knew little about. But after I was anointed and received many prayers from family, friends, and pastors, God answered my cry and directed me to contact the Mayo Clinic in Arizona, where I was seen and transferred to the Rochester MN clinic. After three months of evaluation, they finally made a proper diagnosis. They call my condition polymyositis with antisynthetase syndrome and interstitial lung disease. In layman’s terms, this is a chronic autoimmune disease that causes severe pain, inflammation, and lung problems.
Because myositis is such a rare and debilitating disease, many physicians may not be familiar with the symptoms. The Mayo Clinic put me on a treatment that had me walking and back to work within a week. I had gone into remission and life was good.
Over the years, doctors kept reminding me that I needed to cut down my workload and avoid stress. They told me repeatedly to get more exercise for a quality lifestyle, but I didn’t take those words to heart. Instead, I got lazy and comfortable; after all, I was in remission. I found myself stuck in my old habits of working late, eating a lot of processed and fast foods, going to bed late, and letting stress consume me. In February 2017, I became sick with pneumonia and the flu, which was common for me. What was uncommon was when the pulmonary doctor told me that my lung disease was progressing and that I had about 25% lung capacity, less than five years left of life with these lungs, and that I would need a double lung transplant soon. Again, I spent my time in much prayer, fasting, and crying out to God. I knew this time I had to take my health seriously. We never know just how much we appreciate life until death waves at us.
I was determined to not be defeated, so a year later I attended a clinic called Wildwood Lifestyle, and a year after that I attended a clinic called Weimar Institute. Each center focused on educating attendees about the eight laws of health: Nutrition, Exercise, Water, Sunlight, Temperance, Air, Rest and Trust in God. As I surrendered to God, I asked Him to take control of my life. Since that day, God has given me a new life, body, and purpose. It will be up to me to maintain this gift by the choices I make today. After being on steroids for years, I have now been steroid free for the last year-and-a-half. Although I am still undergoing chemotherapy to keep the disease at bay, I have been blessed to keep my health to the point that I have not had any side effects that bring on other illnesses. After being restored and given another chance at life, I decided to create a ministry called REFOCUSONU to help, educate, and motivate others who deal with life hiccups to turn them into victory. My goal is to help others reach their potential to live life no matter what challenges they face. When people see me, they ask how I’m able to do so much in my condition. I answer truthfully, “It’s All God!”
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?
One day I was talking to God about how I would love to write a devotional book and touch the heart of someone who needed to be uplifted and encouraged. Later, when I took a trip to Kentucky to see some family members I hadn’t seen in years, I visited a few of my cousins and we talked about the good ol’ days and reminisced for hours. We shared our testimonies of faith about how God had seen us through our individual challenges. I mentioned to one of my cousins about my desire to write a book, and she said she knew a publisher who could help me. I was overjoyed, but I never expected the phone call I received that evening on my drive back home. Julia, from BK Royston Publishing Company, contacted me. She had a plan and purpose for how I was going to help motivate others.
I love the way God works things out even before you ask. I had no clue that my passion to get the word out and let people know that they must focus on helping themselves mentally, physically, and spiritually was already in action. Wilt Thou Be Made Whole, 31- Day Devotional of Health and Wellness released on Amazon this past February 2020.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Well, I’m not sure if it’s funny, but I surely learned a lesson. In the beginning, when I was first starting my ministry, REFOCUSONU I had this vision of helping millions of people who had been recently diagnosed with some type of illness. I wanted to show them how they could make a lifestyle change and encourage them, with God’s help, to live life again despite the diagnosis.
As I would run into different people who battled with various types of illness, I made an effort to put a little joy in their lives by encouraging them one way or another. I was talking to people as if my illness no longer existed. After all, REFOCUSONU is about taking care of your health. I would make appointments with some of them or promise to call them, but I couldn’t follow through, as I began to get sick again myself.
After about six months or so of running around meeting up with people, writing articles, trying to start a website, and staying up all night taking calls from people who were sick, depressed, or just needed to talk about their troubles, I began to get sick and had to stay in bed for a couple of weeks. First, I needed to realize I was not Wonder Woman, and then I needed to set boundaries for myself. I had to listen to my body again, especially my lungs. I have an auto immune disease that responds negatively to stress, poor diet, and lack of rest. I love helping and encouraging others to live life—that is my greatest passion—but I cannot help others if I am operating from an empty vessel. I was preaching about taking care of yourself, and how you must put yourself first before you can be useful to others, yet I was not practicing what I preached.
As I lay in bed, my lungs argued with me, telling me they were going to shut down if I didn’t slow down. Needless to say, I too had to rest, relax, refocus, renew myself and start re-living again. I still write to encourage others who need it and work on building my ministry to make a difference and live life, but this time I have set boundaries. I only do what I can, and when it’s overwhelming, I take a step back to relax and ask God for strength and guidance.
Can you tell me a story about a particular individual who was impacted by your cause?
A very dear friend of mine has been impacted by my cause. We have known each other since our military career in 1997, way before my myositis existed. Besides my mother and father, she’s the one person who knows me best. She took a real interest in my health when I started getting sick in 2005. She researched my condition, wanted to know what the doctors said after each visit, and supported me every step of the way.
After I started REFOCUSONU, my girlfriend saw a significant change in me—in how I handled stress, life, my marriage, and how I managed a terminal disease. She came to me and wanted to know what my greatest secret was in keeping it together. She remembered that in 2005 the first doctor told me I would have to depend on others to care for me for the rest of my life and that I would never walk again. She also knew that in 2007 a doctor told me that many people with this disease don’t live past seven years and that in 2017 I’d been told I was going to need a double lung transplant soon because I had less than five years left with these lungs. Many memories raced through her mind, and she spent many nights crying rather than sleeping. Yet she was amazed at how God had used me in such a special way. She told me I’m her role model, and whatever pill God gave me, she wanted that exact pill too. Little does she know she has been my role model urging me to keep fighting and staying healthy. She has seen the significant turnaround in my health over the last 14 years and has been there for me every step of the way. While being my biggest cheerleader, she has taken drastic steps to improve her health, mental capacity, and spirituality. I never knew I was being watched silently. All I knew was that after the news in 2017, I had to make a serious change. She has been a big contribution toward helping me heal and I love her dearly.
Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?
A. I think the government can be more honest about the daily food requirements that are on the food pyramid. Many of these foods are counterproductive to our health. I wish that the government would be driven by the health of the people rather than the bottom line of the food industry.
B. As a community, we need to recognize that the food we put on our plates is the frontline in our war against disease.
C. Society as a whole, including our lawmakers, needs to demand that nobody should die because they can’t afford healthcare or medication.
How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?
A leader is someone who is willing to take a difficult role and make difficult decisions. Leaders make great sacrifices so that an idea or a purpose can come to the surface and others can be served by it. Changing my lifestyle was the hardest thing I have ever done. However, changing my lifestyle has not only freed me from the negative effects of this disease, but it has allowed me to be an example to others who also suffer.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
1. Make sure you take care of yourself. In the beginning I didn’t set boundaries and limitations for myself, which sometimes affected my health. I realize change will come not by my words, but by the results people see in me.
2. Stay in your lane- In other words, my focus needs to remain on teaching others how they can live in order to restore their health.
3. Take one step at a time- I used to think that I needed to get everything done right now when I was starting REFOCUSONU. But Rome was not built in one day, so I had to learn how to focus on one goal at a time rather than be in a rush and waste time and money.
4. Recognize that the future is dependent on what you do today. For example, about 12 years ago, my doctor told me I needed to start exercising to avoid being oxygen dependent. At that time, I only used oxygen at night. Now, I recognize that if only I had made the choice to change my lifestyle then, my lung condition wouldn’t be in the state it is today.
5. Always be authentic and true. For example, I used to be embarrassed about wearing my oxygen in public. But now I realize that I can’t reach others who may be suffering like me, if they don’t see that I am suffering too.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
My greatest contribution would be to inspire the health and medical industry to focus on prevention and not on profit. While there is much money to be made in treating disease, the overall strength and integrity of our country rests upon our health, not our wealth.
Can you please give us your favorite” Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My greatest life lesson is that it takes much more effort to get healthy than to maintain your health. What I have learned after spending so much money, time, and energy in my quest to restore my health is that it would have been much easier to simply maintain good health while I still had it. Sometimes we don’t realize the value of what we have until we lose it.